We have one month left together. One month in our perfectly imperfect little bubble. Just you and me. One month before you start to make your own way in this world. You will be 9 months old exactly. You will go to nursery 3 days a week and I have no doubt that you will enrapture everyone who spends time with you, just as you have enraptured me. You will be the same age as your brother was when he started, but this time around I can’t help but feel that the time has gone far too quickly. It has come around too soon. I’m not ready to share you with the world just yet.
I feel ashamed to say that when Artie started nursery I felt a huge sense of relief. Relief that I didn’t have to deal with the consequences of missed naps or missed meals (of which there were many!), didn’t have to spend the majority of my day trying to get him to sleep or trying to get him to eat. But, most of all, that I didn’t have to face my anxieties head on every minute of the day. I could drop him off at nursery and go to work and pretend for those few hours that I was more together than I felt and have a hot cup of tea. Or five. I thought about him constantly in those first few weeks and months. I missed him immensely. But I didn’t feel upset that he wasn’t always by my side. You see, it has only been more recently that we have really, truly understood the depth of my struggle to find myself again after being pregnant with your brother. I felt like I was a stranger looking in. I totally adored him, would have laid down my life for him without giving it a second thought but I just wasn’t me. He never had me. Just some sort of half-hearted attempt at me. It’s as if I loved him from the outside in. I loved him because he was my son and because he was (and of course still is!) handsome and insanely clever and funny and bonkers and kind and cheeky and, at times, hugely annoying. But did I feel like being a Mum was my vocation, like suddenly life made sense, like if I never worked another day in my life that would be ok because this is what life was all about, being his Mum? No. I did not. A lot of the time I felt anxious and frightened and overwhelmed and GUILTY. Oh, so guilty that I wasn’t a Mummy who wanted to stay at home and lovingly prepare home cooked meals and who went on play dates and just generally looked like she had any vague control over her life. But deep down, so deep I couldn’t even really recognise it anymore, I was still that person who has always wanted her family to come first and who had a picture in her dreams of two children sitting around the kitchen table. It was hard getting so lost along the way. I felt like I just wasn’t fit for the job.
We waited a little while to bring you into our family because of the struggles we’d had but you are, without a shadow of a doubt, the very best decision we have ever made. From the minute – quite literally – that you started to grow inside me a switch flicked and the sun started to shine again. Something about you kicked me back into working order. Like things had got a bit jumbled up and you came along and straightened them all out. And now that I know you, I can absolutely see why. Not for you this moping and wallowing, sad face or sad heart. You bring so much joy to every single day, you see the fun in every minute, it would have been impossible for me to be anything other than happy the very second you existed. At times your reflux has been excruciatingly awful; your first two teeth brought a vomit apocalypse the like of which I hope mankind never has to face again. And yet your smile still lights up the room. You’ve learnt to deal with it and you just keep on keeping on.
And just like that…BOOM…the whole world changed. Finally I could just relax and enjoy what is both the hardest and most amazing job in the world. Yes, there was rather a major blip before we had your reflux better under control, where we wondered whether everything was going to come crashing down again. But together we have ridden out the storm and, although I have seen more vomit than I ever want to see again in my entire life, and although I have spent more time at the pharmacy picking up your various prescriptions than is strictly decent – in fact even the overly serious young pharmacist has recently been known to crack a smile in your presence and we now get a personal delivery service to the car – I have also felt more joy than I could ever have hoped to feel again. I finally feel that, although I still make mistake after mistake and although when faced with two options I always seem to choose the wrong one, it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter because as long as we all make it to the end of the day and as long as you and Artie are both still smiling then we’re doing ok (I’d say all of us but come on let’s get serious, there are still days I want to cry under a table because both of you are screaming at the same time about nothing in particular. This morning it was because Artie wanted the pillows plumping by me and not Daddy so he screamed until you screamed as well and then you both looked at each other and screamed because neither of you knew why you were both screaming. I mean GET. A. GRIP.).
Your Daddy once said to me that I have a very small world just now and it’s true, I do. But I see that as such a positive thing. We might not be out and about as much as some people seem to manage because you will only sleep in your bed and we might spend a lot of time just in each other’s company doing nothing in particular but that suits me just fine. In fact there is nowhere I would rather be. You have taught me so much about myself in these last few months. You have given me the confidence to believe that I’ve got this, sometimes. That one bad day does not a bad mother maketh. That it’s ok if things go off schedule or if things never get on schedule in the first place. You have taught me to live more in the moment and not worry about what might happen if one thing doesn’t go exactly to plan. Most importantly you have given my little boy back his Mum. He is an absolute wonder and I am realising that I didn’t do such a bad job after all. It was all the anxiety talking. Making me think I was getting it all wrong.
My very favourite part of the day is when we pick Artie up from pre-school and you beam at each other and we have that time together just the three of us where I get to hear you both chatting away on the journey home. He prattles on endlessly about nothing and you coo and giggle and squeal and almost fall out of your seat you’re so desperate to see him and to hear what he has to say. I watch you both in the mirror when you think I can’t see you and my heart could almost burst. I am so grateful we have made it to this point because it has made absolutely everything, all of it, worthwhile.
We have one month left together. One month in our perfectly imperfect little bubble. Just you and me. The real me. And I don’t want to waste a minute.
With all my love