Tomorrow is a big day.
Tomorrow my little one, my baby, turns two.
There are two things about this that I find strange.
The first is directly linked to how very, painfully clearly I remember the first few days and months after we brought him home. I suffered hard with the “baby blues” about three days after he was born. The sleep deprivation was catching up with me and I was just so fucking tired. I couldn’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t be just exhausted.
Then the other stuff came. The reflux. The flat refusal to feed at 1am. The vomit-soaked sheets at 3am. The endless crying through the night. By the time F was two months old I was bewilderedly wondering what the fuck I’d done to my life by deciding to have a second child.
It felt like it would never, ever end.
You know the story. We got help. We got it via A&E on a dismal Sunday afternoon and we left without our son in the early hours of the following morning, but we got help. Things got better, slowly at first and then with gathering momentum. The cute, heart-melting moments gradually began to outstrip the moments of panic and strangulating fear.
By F’s first birthday, I was more in love with him than I could ever have imagined in those early, awful months.
That love has only grown as I’ve watched him change and develop. He has a cheeky wit and a fierce stubbornness that both amuses and infuriates me in equal measure. I love him. I love the life out of him, the very bones of him, every little thing that makes him who he is.
But a part of me also feels sad tonight, which brings me to the other strange thing:
The fact that my youngest child is now two.
By this milestone in his brother’s life, I was halfway through my second pregnancy. And I know that I’m not going to have any more babies. Which means that all of the cute things that F is doing now, all of the first times, the hilariously mispronounced words, the post-nap snuggles… all of those things are gradually going to stop. And then I’ll have to navigate life with older boys, who don’t want to cuddle me so much, who don’t need me to reassure them when they go someplace new, and who won’t tell me, “I yoooooooove yoooooo!” with reckless abandon.
And I know I can’t stop them from growing up. I don’t want to stop them; I want them to go ahead and become whoever it is that they’re going to be, because they will be brilliant no matter what.
Can we just stop? Just for a tiny, little while? Can we keep these moments for just a little longer?
My mom used to tell me, “I wish that I could pickle these cuddles and keep them in a jar.” I always thought she was so weird when she said that.
Now I know exactly what she meant.
Happy birthday, F. You wonderful, brave, strong and very special little boy, you.