It’s been a very long time since I have written something directly to you Bill.
I have tried, as you have gotten older, not to feature you quite so much. Just because, this is my life, not yours. So you should be able to have some freedom from your mother’s need to write, to document, to have something that’s just hers.
You’re going to be three so soon. You can count to three – and beyond – and you know it’s your birthday too. In fact, you won’t stop telling us about it. And telling us things that you would like.
In fact, we have gotten to the “Can I have?” stage, where I now hate TV adverts, because you look at the telly like it’s God and then turn around and ask for something that I can’t even pronounce.
I honestly feel, with every year that passes, that you’re stretching your imaginary baby reins. Like an extendable lead you might put on a dog. You are weaving your own web through life now, and you come back and forth as you please.
Our relationship has evolved so much over the years. Once you were a baby that needed me. Relied on me. Crying for milk. Or to be held. For a fistful of hair in your chubby hand. And big blue eyes that would stare up at me, like I was your entire world.
I look back on that time and I think I put it on a pedestal. Even though you were a surprise, I remember feeling so much joy when I was pregnant with you. I was so excited and it was such an important part of my life. Then you arrived and I felt like I’d made it. I felt like someone had finally let me in to the secret of what life was all about. And it’s not that life without you was bad, it just felt like I was only on the first level of a computer game. It was fun, but I was trying to find out what the ending would be.
That feeling stuck with me though. Delirious happiness. And I’m not saying raising you is easy, because you are really quite stubborn, and stroppy sometimes. And you’re also a toddler, so you come with the challenges that all toddlers come with (except you haven’t drawn on our walls…yet). But I do feel like loving you is easy.
But a year ago I felt like I had betrayed you. I remember writing to apologise. I remember crying at the way my decision had changed your life and you had absolutely no say in the changes that came your way.
I really struggled then. I struggled to know what to do. I struggled to define the kind of mother I wanted to be. I felt so young, even though I was only a year younger. I just felt like I was drowning in the responsibility of my decision.
I always wanted to raise you in a family. I wanted you to know the upbringing I had. I wanted you to feel secure. And loved. And happy.
But what I didn’t realise is that you have all of those things and that doesn’t rely on that perfect family set-up.
I hope that, as you grow older, you come to realise that you have all of those things. And that you wouldn’t change your life at all.
So many people take an incredible joy in seeing you grow up. We live for your smiles. Your singing voice. Your funny, accidental quips, that are hilarious to us, but just logical to you. We miss your hugs. Your goofy smile (see the very first photograph in this post). The way we can’t seem to find a style for your hair – so messy it is (unless Granny tries to make you look smart).
There’s so much to look forward to in your fourth year, on the way to being four. It may actually be the last year that you are an only child and so I’m going to soak up every moment with you and cherish that.
I’m looking forward to the conversations we’ll have. As your little voice grows in confidence and words.
I’m looking forward to doing new things with you. Perhaps you’ll learn how to ride a trike. Maybe we’ll count and not skip number four. You’ll hopefully have a brand new bedroom. And a kitchen where we can all be together and I can teach you to cook some more – you’re not too bad at cutting mushrooms kiddo.
And I’m looking forward to watching you grow.
I wonder how you’ll look in another year.
Either way, your face will be one I always want to see.