All week I had been looking so positively upon tomorrow. How could I not? It’s my son’s third birthday. It’s your third birthday Bill. Are you excited? I hope you are. I hope you are having the happiest dreams tonight.
I put you to bed last night and as Mark and I were kissing you goodnight, I felt my eyes beginning to well-up and my heart stung. Why does your heart sting? It’s the most painful feeling I can think of. It was the last time I would put my two year-old to bed.
Every single night we come in and check on you before we go to sleep. You’re always flushed, a sweaty forehead, hair in gentle spikes all over your head, and every toy, every animal, every stuffed teddy is banished apart from good, old Teddy. Who you clutch even in your sleep.
You look so beautiful and so perfect. And it’s the only time, these days, that I can just watch you, without my eyes growing tired at the pace with which you move. You’re such a a whir of colour. Such a vibrant, fast-paced little man. My son. My sunshine.
This morning I woke up extra early. No one else was awake. And I packed up your things. I got your animals ready for you. I laid out an outfit for today, and tucked an outfit, your birthday outfit, in your bag. And I tried to get as ready as I could, half a face of make-up done, before I woke you. Mark joined me. He was about to shower and didn’t want to miss saying goodbye.
I had to get you dressed, like I do every week. And I had to be a smiley and jolly mummy. When really I was being a little bit brave, as you’d say.
Because today I said goodbye to you. And you were two. And when you come back tomorrow, you’ll be three.
At 12:22pm, I won’t be able to hold you. I won’t be able to do anything. It will just be another minute of everyone else’s day, but a really special minute of mine.
At 12:22pm, on Tuesday the 12th June 2012, you were born.
At 12:22pm, on Tuesday the 12th June 2012, you made me a mother.
Pain like I had never felt. Followed by love that I could never have imagined.
I know that, when you add tomorrow to a list of all the days we’ll share in our lifetime, it will not be the most important. I know that we will share so much more.
And I wanted to tell you something happy. I wanted to so badly. But in truth I can only tell you how much I love you.
I went out tonight Bill. To a cinema. You won’t know what they are. But I wondered, as I sat there in the dark, with popcorn on my knee, if you might like to go one day. I thought back to the first time I went to the cinema – or at least the first time I remember – I think it was Pocahontas. And I wondered if, at three, you might like to go. I wondered what you would think. How you’d react.
And I had a really nice time. I laughed. I bopped in my seat to music. And I looked across and smiled at Mark every five minutes or so, because he makes me so happy too. Especially happy when he comes and sees girly films with me.
And we got home, and we fed the cats. And we pottered about. And he went up to bed. And I was reluctant. I was unsettled. I kissed him goodnight. And I stayed here.
I rearranged the presents we’d collected for you. I tried so hard to think of what you’d love. So did Mark. We’ve really tried.
I made a neat little pile for you. I updated my Lightbox to spell out ‘Bill’s 3rd Birthday’. Though it’s missing an apostrophe, which annoys me. You’ll probably know that about me by now – stickler for grammar.
And I pushed myself back towards the sofa. Tucked my knees up.
And I cried.
I want so desperate to be the first person to wish you happy birthday.
And this is just so hard.
I want to be the one to wake you. To kiss you. And cuddle you. Tickle you and hear that musical laugh. And sing happy birthday.
I want to see you fluffy, morning cockatoo hair. And have you tell me that the sun is hurting your eyes, as I open your curtains, like you always do. As though you’re some mini vampire. I want to swirl you around. And tell you how special you are.
On the day that you were born. I was the first.
I was the first to hold you. Putting my hands on your skin and feeling you move, instead of on my own stretched skin. Meeting the person I felt like I knew.
I loved you before I knew you.
I loved you first.
I may not be the first to wish you happy birthday. And I may not be the first to hold you close.
But I will settle for last.
Happy birthday little boy.
I love you.