I have always thought of my birthday as being all about me; my memorable day, my day to celebrate and experience with my friends and my family. But now you are one, I realise that my birthday was never just about me after all – it was and is also about my parents, about my mother experiencing childbirth for the second time, about our family changing to include me, with all my idiosyncrasies, and about my parents striving to find the balance in a new family dynamic. My birthday had significance to all who existed before me and went on to love me in a way that I had never fully recognised before.
Now you are one, I am suddenly overwhelmed with so many emotions that I thought had mellowed into the back of my mind; because my darling boy your arrival heralded my mental unravelling. As I look at you now, walking, smiling, babbling, a halo of blonde curls on your head, chunky thighs and rounded tummy, pointing, giggling and sparkling so brightly my heart soars for you. But it also breaks. Because now you are one, I am reminded of how I used to look at you – suspicious of your origin, an intruder in my life, unwanted, unloved, devastating. Now you are one, I am confronted by the times I sat and cried over the ruins of my life as I fed you, changed you, bathed you – the way I pitied you for your misfortune in having a mother like me. The guilt. The incredible guilt. I wished that you would disappear. I wished for even worse. The nauseating guilt.
Now you are one, I am back at work, back to yoga practice, I’m seeing my friends, I’m taking my medication. I am happy, I am me, I am your mummy. And you are a bundle of beautiful energy, clapping, mimicking, climbing the stairs – still not sleeping my sleepless little darling – crying out for milk and love in the night, making up for time lost in the days, letting me know that you still need me. Now you are one and I look forward to feeding you, to stroking your hair as you stare up at me, the occasional smile of gratitude playing on your lips.
On the eve of your first birthday I am caught by surprise when I find tears stinging my face in post-yoga relaxation – I try to think of what I am thankful for, and my head is filled with images of you. I am utterly overcome with gratitude. When I return home you look at me with such wonder, walking slowly towards me at first but then dropping to a crawl because you want me to hold you so badly. Now you are one, I cannot wait to see your face the first time you use the rocking horse we have lovingly picked for your first birthday present. I simply cannot imagine my life without you in it.
So now more than ever I wish that I could go back and show my broken self how much I would come to love you, that my illness was never an indicator of who I was or of my capacity to be amazed by you, to love you fiercely. I am pained by the memories of your early life, memories which I am so grateful you will never have. I mourn for those lost months that might have been so different. But I also see the incredible journey we have been on together, because just as your arrival triggered a frightening shift in my mental health, so too your development was part of the great light that pulled me back to myself. Now you are one I can reflect on the firsts; smiling, laughing, peekaboo, rolling and babbling, sitting then crawling now suddenly walking, clap hands, pointing, banging pots and pans. I realise that you have changed so much. That we both have.
Now you are one and I am so proud to be your Mummy. I will never again doubt my love for you.
Happy Birthday to you my darling boy.
33 year old first-time mum muddling her way through one nappy change at a time. Lover of yoga, music, walking, roast dinners, cosy nights in and chocolate.