How my rebel teenage daughter became my greatest ally in life / Sue Plunkett column
Today I become the mother of a 23-year-old!
How on earth has that happened? I still feel like I am only about 25 or 30 in my head but, alas, the mirror tells me otherwise and also the fact that if a night out goes beyond midnight it takes me two days to recover now.
She may be turning 23 but I remember as if it were yesterday the day my daughter Jenny arrived in the world, screaming the place down. She was actually one of the most placid babies I have known, sweet natured, smiley and she could sleep for England.
The moment she was placed in my arms I knew in an instant I would never have a worry free day again. It was a life changing moment when everything in your world becomes about the child who looks to you for absolutely everything they need to survive.
Watching her grow into a delightful little girl was a joy and the love she showed for her brother Robbie, when he was born when Jenny was eight, still makes me emotional today.
"I loved him the minute I saw him," were the words of this fiercely protective eight year old as she watched over him like a mother hen. And she continues to do so, protecting him like a lioness with her cub.
She has become like a second mum to her brother, he confides in her and they share little secrets and stories that I am not privy to. And I love that special bond they have. They will always look out for each other.
I always thought that my mum would be the strongest female influence in my life but I didn't count for my daughter being right up there with her.
Not when she was a rebel teen, of course, out partying with her friends until daylight while I lay awake worried sick about her.
And let's not talk about the time she had her first tattoo at the age of 16... without my knowledge! We were in Spain at the time and she was determined to do it, whether I approved or not.
I didn't. And I actually cried when I saw it even though it was just a tiny heart. She has a full sleeve now practically.!
Jenny has a strength of character and resilience I could only dream of. When she has made a decision nothing will sway her from it, from dyeing her beautiful auburn hair to bright, brassy blonde when she was 14 to making the huge decision that university was not for her after a year.
Like me she is a bit daft and likes to play the joker, but she has a heart of gold and a will of steel.
She has seen me through some tough, emotional times and she is the one person who has been totally honest with me, even if the advice she gave was tough to take. At the age of 16 she was helping me to make big life decisions.. that rebel teen who was so hard to tame, became my counsellor and shoulder to cry on.
When you have kids you always think about what you will have to do for them but it also works the other way and your offspring can become your greatest allies in life. I know mine are.
Unsure about what she has wanted to do in life Jenny has worked in hospitality and retail and for the last six months the care sector. From looking after elderly people with dementia to special needs adult to those at 'end of life' care.
The long hours and abysmal pay have daunted her at times but she has stuck with it and I do believe she has found her niche in life. And could there be a more important role than taking care of people at the most vulnerable time in their life?
She is due to move into a new role as a support worker for young adults with challenging behaviour and special needs, again a vital role.
I told her I could not be prouder of her if she was the next Prime Minister. And I mean it.
So I would like to wish my beautiful daughter a very Happy Birthday and also say 'please, no more tattoos!'