To E, on her first birthday

My dearest girl

A year ago today you and I sat in the hospital ward, me a bit bewildered by the competence and confidence of the other mothers, you fast asleep. You were very sure of your wants from the start. I, on the other hand, was not. When you were awake, I ran through my mental checklist of food, nappy, cuddle, sleep and did all I could for you, worrying all the time about how to soothe you, worrying that we were strangers and yet you were completely dependent on me. When you were asleep I spent a lot of time staring at you, marvelling that I produced you. You amaze me. Every time I pick you up I feel your ribs, so strong beneath my hands. It astounds me that I grew you, that I could produce someone of substance. The basic biological fact of you blows my mind.

When we went home things got better. I could take time to watch you and get to know you. And I wasn’t alone. Your dad was here too. You were unlike anything we had known before – we had to test you out like a new piece of equipment. We did our best to work you out.

When you first arrived with us you were an ‘other.’ So much so that when you did something normal and human, like coughing or sneezing, I would find it enchanting – “she sneezes just like a real person!” Slowly your personality came through. You are naturally curious, placid and a very happy baby. You are affectionate and funny. You are clever.

No-one told me how funny you would be. How much you you would make me laugh by just doing little things: feeding yourself, staring at your hands in wonder or bashing a wooden spoon against a table top. No-one told me how I would love to see you working things out. One morning you watched a pigeon fly across the sky and, as it flew over the house, you turned your head to see if you could spot it across the ceiling. No-one told me how primeval I would feel about you, how protective, how able I feel I am to rip the throat out of anyone who would hurt you. No-one told me that having you would make me terrified of my own death, that being without you will hurt, that knowing you will be there after I’m gone will comfort yet upset me. I don’t want to miss anything. 

You have been here a whole year today. I have been planning this blog post in my head for several months, wanting to make sure I tell you everything I want. You have made my last year a mixture of joy and fear, of frustration and laughter, of finding elation in the smallest thing, of seeing you change and grow, of falling in love and desperately wanting to please and amuse you. You have made me want to strive to be better, to want to try new things, to plan and think of the future in new ways.

Thank you for all of that. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Happy birthday my dearest girl. I love you so very much.

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This entry was posted in Motherhood, Observations and general nonsense, Parenting and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to To E, on her first birthday

  1. Polly Butterworth says:

    I’m glad you told me some people had cried after reading this, I knew I would too & I have!

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