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Relatively speaking: Mother and son, Caroline and Jack

By Karen Ireland

Caroline Fleck combines two jobs while bringing up a family with her partner Tom Fuller, a musician in the United States. Caroline is currently on maternity leave looking after her 15-week-old daughter, Molly and son Jack, who is 16.

Name: Caroline Fleck

Age: 43

Occupation: Marketing executive at Randox Laboratories and presenter on Downtown Radio

Relationship with Jack: Mother

A t the moment I am balancing living with Jack, who is 16 years old and about to start his GCSEs with looking after my 15-week-old daughter Molly. Both are at crucial points in their young lives and both need me in equal amounts in different ways. To complicate matters further we are a transatlantic family - my partner, Tom Fuller, a musician and Molly's dad, lives in Chicago and so we spend half our time over in the States with him.

He is in the Tom Fuller band and based out there, so every three weeks one of us makes the journey across the Atlantic so we can all be together as a family. In fact, we are just back home as we spent our Easter break in the US.

Travel has always been a huge part of Jack's life. I took him to Australia when he was just 18 months old and we have been globe-trotting ever since.

People ask me what it's like starting again with a new baby when I already have a teenager.

Admittedly, it is quite a gap, but you never stop being a mum and you quickly remember how to look after a little one again. Interestingly, I find I have more patience as an older mum and I'm also more confident. I take the time to enjoy Molly and I'm much more relaxed now. The flip side is that I'm definitely much more tired than I was the first time round, and all the travelling back and forth doesn't help on that front, either.

As for the future, the plan is that as soon as Jack has finished his education as far as he wants to go here, then we will all move to the States. What Jack wants is very important so we will wait until he is ready.

Molly is a real blessing - I never thought I'd have another child at this stage.

But I'm also on my own 24/7 with a new baby and Jack has been my rock. He helps me so much with Molly and is more proactive in her life than most 16-year-old boys would be. We take turns at cooking and Jack keeps an eye on her while I do simple things like grab a shower or get changed.

He really loves his wee sister and plays with her all the time.

Jack and I have always been close. He is my first-born and my best friend, and we can talk about anything.

He is also very laid-back, considerate and loyal to his family.

Mind you, he is a typical teenager when it comes to being asked to clean his room or turn the lights and the TV off before he goes to bed.

Name: Jack Crawford

Age: 16

Occupation: Student

Relationship to Caroline: Son

I am a fifth year student at Coleraine Inst, where I'm studying for my GCSEs. It is hard work but I enjoy school. I'm also loving being a big brother - Molly has changed our lives. I love helping mum to look after her and mum has been great in ensuring that we get equal amounts of attention.

Mum does a fantastic job of looking after Molly and me. We've always been very close, as for years it was just the two of us at home.

We spend all our weekends together - we'll go into Portstewart for breakfast and go for walks or to the movies.

Thanks to mum's job with Downtown Radio, we also get to go to concerts together - we went to see Kanye West and Nickelback recently.

We have very different tastes in music but we try to educate each other and learn from each other. She teaches me about rock music and I teach her about modern teenage dance music.

Mum is very kind and caring, she is also very hard-working, charismatic and exceptionally funny.

She dreams big dreams and always achieves her goals and she has inspired me to be like that. She has shown me I can be whatever I want to be. When I leave school I want to go to technical college and study graphic design and animation. After that, I'd like to go to college in America.

As it is, we spend half of our time in the States and I love it. I really want to live there when I am older.

Some of the best times I've had with mum involve travel. The first time she took me to New York was amazing - standing in Times Square and walking through Central Park are memories which will stay with me forever and are so precious.

I love spending time with our extended family, too. Family means everything to me.

Of course, sometimes mum drives me nuts too - for example, she asks me to make her a cup of coffee about five times a day.

She can also be a bit grumpy if she hasn't had enough sleep and she tends to be over-protective of me - then again, that's just her motherly instinct and I love her for it. I couldn't be more proud of her.

Queen of the airwaves

  • Caroline Fleck studied nursing at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, going on to work in various departments at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry
  • She then specialised in cardiac nursing for four-and-a-half years at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast
  • Caroline then made a career change and went into broadcasting, working for the Q Network and the BBC, before taking up her current post with Downtown Radio

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