It is the middle of the night and your croaky voice wakes me through the monitor, you have been coughing and need a drink. It is just a cold – one of many this winter – and I stroke your head as you gratefully guzzle your water, while hoping you settle back down. I am tired, I need the loo and my legs are aching and unsteady. But then you say, ‘Want to lie in Mummy and Daddy’s bed,’ and I don’t hesitate. Of course that’s what you want, and secretly I do too tonight, not just because it is the quickest path to lying back down again.
I scoop you up over my bump and you lay your head on my shoulder, you have always been the snuggly type and I’m so glad of this. We lie together – all three, well four of us – and you do that funny thing where you can’t seem to get close enough, so laying on my head becomes your spot of choice. You are a few months from three but still my baby, really, and you just want to be close.
Sleep calls you back quickly – thankfully no longer on my head – and I watch you because I realise I don’t know how many more times we will do this. Beside you, my stomach moves, limbs pushing out beneath my skin; both my babies are close to my heart, I have all I want.
One of the main reasons we tried and tried for another baby was to give you a sibling, we both wanted this so much for you and I can’t wait to see you grow together… to play… to love. But recently I have been feeling a little lumpy of throat too; your whole world is about to change beyond all recognition and I won’t be able to give you what I have up until now. It will be your toughest lesson in sharing or turn-taking, and much harder than giving up the toy aeroplane to another child at playgroup.
I worry that you will miss me, that I will be stuck under a feeding baby and restricted. You might be bored, and I’m going to be tired and maybe all round bit rubbish for a while. You are so excited about your soon-to-be brother or sister but of course can’t comprehend how much they will change things, or that actually little babies aren’t even terribly interesting. They take a lot but don’t give much back bar half their milk and some exploding nappies. It’s nothing personal, you were the same; we’ll just have to put in our time and soon you will be reaping the rewards with smiles and giggles and raspberries. All for you – this baby’s going to adore its big brother – and we can’t think of anyone better for the role… you will be awesome.
I just need to say, even though you are too young to really understand, I have loved and valued the time we have had together just us – the days you have taken to calling, ‘Me and you!’ The Hide & Seek you haven’t quite grasped, ‘I’m hiding Mummy, can you find me? I’m behind the curtain!’ Reading your books as we cuddle on the sofa, and sitting opposite you in the supermarket café as you jabber away, reminding me that you’re no longer so little.
They are all such tiny moments, details that must seem insignificant to so many, but not to me. I know I don’t appreciate everything about motherhood and that each day I could do so many things better, but I know your worth. When all is said and done, I know what I have in you.
‘I love you from the sea to the sky,’ I tell you often; sometimes you smile, sometimes you ignore me and occasionally, you answer. ‘I love you the garden,’ you replied last week, making me laugh and filling my heart up. So often these kind of gifts burst from you, making me remember how lucky I am.
I suggested dancing around the kitchen yesterday, mainly as a ploy to allow me to pack away the shopping without you grabbing the glass jars or opening all the snacks. But then I looked at you – so joyful, so beautiful – and I put down the shopping and danced right along with you, because why would I want to do anything else in that moment? I spun you around and then I scooped you up and you laughed right into my eyes as I sang (badly) and you joined in too, us both tuneless and happy: a perfect moment amidst tiredness and tears, stresses and strains.
So here we are on the cusp of big change… me: who you allowed to love you, and you: who taught me how to be a mother. Thank you for the last two and a half years. Thank you for changing my world. Thank you for teaching me about love and my limits and how to brim with life.
Thank you for being my son.
Just… thank you.
Let’s run and stumble and find our way together as we begin this new chapter. And remember all that we have still is and this love you are surrounded by will only increase. Between all of us, there will be more than you could ever need, always.
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