On The Eve of Your First Birthday…

A glass of wine to celebrate…

Head full of ; ‘this time a year ago I was…’

Your brother and sisters are behind me writing in your card. Your presents on the floor, waiting to be wrapped. All I can think is; how? How can it be a year already? A year is nothing. Not a blink or a breath. It’s nothing. I sit here trying to remember how that happened…how those months passed, what happened and when…how old you were when you did this, or that. But it’s a blur, it’s out of my grasp. Surely you were always exactly as you are now?

Your red curls are turning blonde. Your new hair grows in straight. When I look at you I see one of the others depending on your expression and your mood. You are a perfect mix of all of them, and yet totally and utterly you. Walking for two months now, you push my hand away when I try to take yours. Already. You like to climb. You want to do everything that we do. You try to sweep the floor with my broom. You try to carry their heavy school bags about. You put toys down the toilet and try to scale the stairs every time my back is turned. You throw everything. You shake your head when I say ‘no’. You hate going to bed. You say ‘bub-bub-bub’ all day long. You love books. I know how to keep you quiet. Give you a pile of books. Any books. Our books. Your books. Board books. Soft books. Anything you can turn the pages of…and you will sit there for ages, a look of sheer concentration on your face, and that’s when you remind me most of your biggest sister. And when you get cross. When you get all mad and go all rigid and throw yourself backwards, with your mouth an open wail. We are all cruel and sit and laugh.

A year, a year, how can it be a year? They don’t give you enough time. Parenthood is one big rush. One big blur. Tearing about, never catching up. Trying so hard to slow a moment down, to grasp it, hold it, feel it and treasure it, to somehow sink it deep into your bones, into your consciousness, into your memory forever, but you can’t, you can’t, time moves you on. Life rushes you on. Months fly by. So much about you changes. It never seems possible that you will be any different than you are right now, and yet it never seems possible that you have already changed. I’m flagging every step of the way, breathless, left behind, knowing helplessly that every time you change, every time you move on, you are leaving me.

Parenthood is not enough time. Motherhood is the fiercest thing in the world. The thing grows inside of you, is part of you, breathes as you breathe, lives because you live. You talk to it. You are never alone. It kicks you and beats you from the inside, preparing you for the pain to come. It keeps you awake for the same reason. It is a thing, an unknown, a stranger and yet you love it more than you ever knew it was possible to love…

You hate it when the pain comes. The agonies of labour make you selfish. Just get it out. Get it out now. You think only of yourself and you dying. You think only of it being over, over, getting it out, out, out, and then the wet pop. The gush of uterine fluids followed by the gush of maternal love. Love is not a big enough word for it. You want it right away, You want to claim it. After all that agony. Your hands reach down, clawing desperately for the newborn child. You still don’t know it. It is still a stranger.

Until you get it in your arms. Until you pull it up to your chest, smell its hair, muck and all. See its face. Then you know it, and it knows you. And it doesn’t matter about the rest of the world, or anybody else. It is just you and your baby. Your child. Your flesh. Your blood and bones. Your seed. Staring back at you. Eyes look black and sparkling under swollen folds of fat flesh. Hair wet and bloody. Nose flat and wide. Lips full and pouting. Tiny bird like hands curling and flexing. The most beautiful thing in the world. The thing you would kill for.

Silence. Mesmerized. You take each other in. That is the longest moment you will ever get. That is the moment you could almost bottle up. You could almost trap into your bones. That moment goes on, and on, and on.

Until someone speaks. Someone outside of you and your baby. They speak, and things start moving on. Wash the baby, weigh the baby, dress the baby, feed the baby, take photos of the baby. Your moment is broken. Life tugs you both on. Time starts again. Chugging you forward. Into the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that, and the sleepless nights, and the endless nappies, and the first tooth and the first meal and the first noises and the first words and the first steps and the first birthday is here.

From then on you keep looking for that unbroken moment. You seek it out. I know them when they come. I know them and I hold them and I breathe them in, but I am as helpless as ever to the passing of our time. Me and you. Bub bub bub. Pulling at my lip. That little agitated giggle you do when you know you are about to be fed. The way you rest your head on mine, the way you wake up suddenly smiling, and laying your head on me, up and down, up and down. Moments of pure bliss. Pure joy. Feeding you in our bed. Feeling the tug of your latch, the milky swallows, the droop of your eyes, the smell of your head. The feel of your small body in my arms, in my hands, on my lap, on my hip. How I will miss it when you no longer fit…

Happy birthday my sweet boy.

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