Parenting: 12-18 months


Your first birthday party was every bit of overwhelming chaos I’d anticipated but was worth it – for the rainbow cake. And of course for all three of us to be surrounded by some of our biggest supporters; champions of our sleep deprived, frayed nerve cause. I’ve just about forgiven the person that booked us for October not September 10th and left us outside in the community centre car park with an entertainer and bin bags full of helium balloons.

We recuperated soon after on sun loungers together in Rhodes. Even my ear drums survived the longest, most hysterical 17 minutes of the flight as we wrestled – your sleep resistance against my shushing and physical restraint. The poor Tiffany bracelet, snapped, likely still entwined in seat J40, but thankfully the only casualty of the holiday. I’ve still got the empty gin miniatures. Little souvenirs that saved and soothed me for the remainder of the flight as you slept blissfully in my arms. Collect memories not things they say and so many memories that week in Rhodes we made. I hope we continue to travel the world and you continue to appreciate with such gusto each country’s fine delicacies – like spaghetti Bolognese, in Greece…

Sunshine is so restorative. It set us up, ready to do it all again. Another year of your life that we’re now already half way through. Our return home coincided with my return to work. A long anticipated one in many ways yet a completely fresh start. New routines, new colleagues, new clothes that felt so good to pull on. Black. I’ve dared to wear it again. I’m not afraid to admit I keep you at arm’s length before I leave the house but I don’t give a damn what happens to it at the end of the day. I’m that pleased to see you, I’d roll around in your slobber if you asked me to.

I live for Tuesdays and Fridays yet work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays gives me so much more than just steaming hot coffee and subsidised podiatry. Clearly 25 year old me that longed to be a stay at home Mum with four children by the age of 35 was ignorant to so much. But I’ve changed in the many millions of ways that you have too and as your walking became so much more established, a small heel and a pencil skirt put a much needed strut back into my stride.

We’ve done Christmas together once before but this was definitely your first proper one. You won’t remember your wide eyed amazement at kitchens and tipis or Buster from the John Lewis ad, but I will remind you of all the joy you brought me, especially as you devoured red cabbage and sprouts. It was a short-lived affection for those cruciferous delights, I never can keep up with your pallet’s preferences – unless it’s du pain or Pom Bears.

You’re not afraid to make it known what you like, or indeed don’t. My lady, so often you doth protest too much but if it primes you for standing up for what you believe in, in life you crack on – just not in the middle of restaurants or supermarkets, please. Pretty please? And there are certain activities and causes I can support you pouring all your energy into but emptying the freezer circa 50 times a day isn’t, I’m afraid, one of them.

With the arrival of this toddler phase I’ve been quick to learn there’s a very fine line between allowing you to do what you love and what’s actually good for you. I almost deleted the video of you running, diving, squealing, laughing and jumping on the bed that was shot just the day before we ended up in casualty from you doing exactly the same thing / falling off. You were hysterical, I was hysterical. As I held you in my arms, your eyes rolled, your head flopped back. It was just seconds your crying stopped as my whole life flashed before me. Those were three of the most painful seconds of my life when I honestly thought you were dead. “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry” I wailed as you came back round.

I hold onto you so tightly every night. The intensity of the love is sometimes terrifying. It’s still a mixed bag, but the good nights now outnumber the bad and I’m ‘last seen’ on What’sApp at a far more respectable hour. It gets easier yet much trickier all at once, the constant that is your head fitting between my chin and my shoulder thankfully remains. For every beautiful attempt at a new word, a better understood instruction I know we’re getting closer to many more exciting things. But will you still tenderly pat my arm and rest your head in that perfectly-sized spot for much longer? It’s those moments, memories I’m so desperate to cling onto.