My Dear Little Chap,
I can’t believe that today we celebrated your third birthday. It seems just like yesterday I felt your first tiny movements in my belly, and just a few months later gave you your first Mummy cuddle.
Looking back at our early years together, you have achieved so many milestones in this short time. Your first year was a bit of a culture shock for Mummy and Daddy as we had to restructure our routine a little to accommodate your arrival! All in a good way of course, but when you were none you were a little high maintenance compared to just the two of us! You needed six feeds a day, what felt like constant nappy changing, dressing and undressing, and not to mention all those bottles we had to wash! Daddy and I had a few debates about how best to go about it all from time to time and I learned more about myself and your Daddy in your first year than in the eighteen years we’d spent together before that. So thank you for giving us that. I think we’re stronger for it.
I got to spend a whole beautiful year in your company, and we had a lot of lovely cuddles together as well as playing lots of fun games and singing (mostly me!) but you always seemed to know how to make your needs known. You have always been a clever little chap. Your little frown let us know when you didn’t approve, no cross words or tears, just a look that said it all and from such a tiny scrap. You still do it. Then there’s your almost inexhaustible cheerfulness and zest for life. I often missed the adult company and banter of my job in the early days, but it was hard to feel down for long with your delightful gurgles and giggles to listen to. It was a constant conversation.
Your second year saw lots of changes again. You learned to walk and talk. Your first word, “Dat!” covered pretty much everything you needed, from “What’s Dat?” to “I want Dat!” depending on the intonation in your little voice. Life continued to change for us all. I had to go back to work at the end of my maternity leave. My old job as a business development manager was no longer there. This made me sad, frightened and cross. It was a job I had worked hard to get and one that I enjoyed. I felt badly let down by my employer of more than a decade at a time when I needed their support more than ever as I transitioned back to the working environment.
The situation left me with some tough choices to make and in a short space of time. The pressure was pretty horrific. Your Daddy was a great source of strength, rationality and compassion and I would not have made it through that time without his support. My one concern was that my decision should have the least impact on you. Taking the full-time job offered to me instead, albeit in a different role, allowed me to prepare and position myself to take a part-time role that would allow me to spend as much time with you as possible.
That was the longest five months of my life. I resented losing so much of almost half your second year and was so envious of your darling Grannie and Mama who stood in for me to allow you to stay at home four days a week, while making new friends and taking on new adventures at day nursery for the other. I couldn’t bear not being there to share your achievements so I quit to search for the part-time role I wanted.
The next three months job hunting weren’t easy either. I had mixed feelings. I was so elated, back in your company, having so much fun teaching you about your world. You were growing up so fast, learning new skills and words all the time, it was sometimes hard to keep up. I was also frightened the job I wanted might not exist and I hated having to take time away from you to write my cv, make or take calls, visit agencies and interview for positions.
It also meant that I had to put our social life on hold a little. We’d socialised with your aunties and little cousins but not joined any baby groups in your first year. Daddy and I were both rather poorly in the first four months of your life and that was the time we should have made friends with other new mums and dads but we just didn’t have the time or the energy. By the time I resurfaced, it felt too late to join any mother and baby groups and most would have shut for the summer holidays and then I would be back at work. My employers (obviously plotting my redundancy at this time!) wouldn’t tell me if I was to expect to return full or (as requested), part-time. This made it hard to plan anything for the Autumn term you turned one. Working full-time meant that baby groups were not an option and then spending so long worrying and focusing on finding another job I didn’t have the time or know which day of the week would work best.
Finding the part-time job I wanted when you were eighteen months old literally lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders. I felt I was helping your Daddy to contribute to our family’s security again, something that had been important to me since I married him all those years ago. I also knew I was able to spend some quality time with you and that meant organising some baby groups for us to join as soon as possible!
We joined Sing & Sign and Fun Factory music groups and we have never had so much fun together or made such good friends. You also helped me to make friends with Lovely Neighbour and her Little Girl. That day you were walking home from the park and kept stopping to turn around and wait for her to catch us up. Lovely Neighbour’s Little Girl is just a week younger than you but has been a super little pal for you to play with and I know you love her very much and hope you two will stay friends for a long time yet. Lovely Neighbour and I often joke about you two hooking up one day!
Then you were two and this last year, your third, has been so busy it has just flown by. We’ve had so much fun with our new friends, going to Sing & Sign classes together, spending lazy afternoons in each other’s gardens, having exhausting, raucous fun in the playground, joining new activity groups with them and making new friends. We’ve spent time together, with Daddy and with your cousins at Fun Factory. You continue to spend precious time with your lovely Grannie and Mama while I’m at work and you’ve made good friends at your day nursery. This varied environment can be tiring for you sometimes but generally seems to suit your independence, confidence and sense of adventure.
Now you are three! My little boy is growing up. You aren’t a baby or a toddler any more. You start pre-school next week and next month you’ll be spending more time away from Grannie as you increase your days there. I just know that you’re going to love it. They’re going to have so many fun things lined up for you and your friends to do. They will help you learn to read. I know how much you love books and it often makes you sad and frustrated that you can’t do this yet by yourself. Don’t worry, I know you can do it and I’ll do what I can to help you get there as soon as you want to.
So here’s to your fourth year with us my little man. As I sit here writing this, there are tears pouring down my face. I know it is ridiculous (I don’t think those pregnancy/maternity hormones will ever leave me!). I know you still need me so much now, despite your independence, and you will for a while yet in so many ways. We have almost daily battles about the things you think you are able to do, and the things I think you are ready to do but these are increasingly fewer as you grow stronger and taller and more agile. Today I see my little toddler has all but toddled off. I’m happy though, because when all traces of him are truly gone, in his place there’s such a lovely little boy already. You have said such lovely things the last few days about your little friends, behaved so nicely with them all and with your cousins, you have made me very proud.
Happy Birthday Little Chap – you deserve all the joy, love and surprises. May there be many, many more to come!
© Mayfair Mum, 2012