Since starting this blog, I have written to my Dad, to my son, but not to you. So here it is my girl, my letter to you. You came and changed everything; you are my world and the world is a better place with you in it.You turn four at the end of October. Four years ago, I was writing and preparing my CV to send to a private school near where we live; I have never particularly wanted to work in a private school, but the opportunity arose and with the school being a stone’s throw away from our house, I had to apply. So I did. Out of twenty five applicants, I made the short list and out of five interviewees, I was offered the job on a sunny Friday afternoon in March. I accepted the job on the Saturday, but something just didn’t feel right. I told your dad that I thought I was pregnant and he laughed at me and told me that it wouldn’t happen so quickly and easily. But I just knew. I recall sneaking off into town before the shops opened on a Sunday; I stole into Boots unseen and purchased my first ever pregnancy test. Upon returning to the car, a song came on the radio and it was Willie Nelson’s version of ‘You were always on my mind’, a song we played at my Dad’s funeral. A song that he used to joke about with my Mum. He made her promise that we would play it at his funeral and we did. We just didn’t go with the Elvis version he suggested. As the song played, my eyes filled and I just knew. I knew I had just wasted £17 on a Clear Blue pregnancy test because the song confirmed what I had been feeling all along.
I returned home, did the test in secret, waited a few minutes and went downstairs to tell your Dad the news. We were very happy and in shock, however, I knew that I would have to turn down the the teaching job. After finally convincing your Dad that I was pregnant, I drove over to my mum’s house. Upon opening the door to me, I presented her with the pregnancy test and subsequently burst into tears. Not because I didn’t want you (we all wanted you so much), but because I didn’t know what to do about my new job offer and because I knew that she too would cry when I told her about my morning sitting in the car park in Tesco’s Pontefract listening to Willie Nelson confirm that I was pregnant and that maybe, just maybe, my dad was up there smiling at the thought that his only daughter was going to become a mother.
A few weeks prior to this, or perhaps a few months, my Mum called me late one evening upset. You’ll soon learn that when you see or hear your mum crying, then your whole world falls apart. If parents can cry and show weakness, then who the hell can look after you? She was crying because it had all finally got a little bit too much for her; she had nursed my dad through his illness, she was the primary carer for her mum who had just moved into a home and was suffering from dementia and she had just become the primary carer for my dad’s mum who, at 90 years old, was fiercely independent, but refused to admit that she too, like my other Grandma, was ill and needed help. She called and asked me to go stay over at her house because she had finally been to see a grievance councillor who had told her not to be alone. Not because she might do something drastic, but because she needed to not feel lonely. A few weeks later, I literally shoved a pregnancy test in her face and your existence taped our heartbroken little family up.
You were born three weeks early. It was October half term and I had chosen to go to a soft play with my friends and their children. I was (of course) childless at the time and knowing what I know now, I should have stayed at home with my feet up and practiced my favourite past time of watching TV with a cup of tea and chocolate because little did I know that the past time was about to disappear forever. Despite being eight months pregnant, I played in the soft play with my friends’ children (now I just sit in them and moan into lukewarm tea), I climbed up and down the ropes and lifted the children from one apparatus to another. The next day, my waters broke at 7am, I sneezed (!) and you arrived at 4.45pm.And now we are here. You are almost four and I look back and try to remember the early days and find that I have forgotten what you were like as a tiny vulnerable new born. I can obviously remember being stuck in the hospital for two nights because you wouldn’t feed. I can also recall a midwife looking at me like I was the most stupid girl on the planet because I didn’t know how to put a nappy on. I remember on my second night in the hospital that you almost slept through and I thought to myself ‘wow, this is a piece of p*ss’ However, the silence in the night was due to the fact that you were weak and starving and not because you were the most awesome sleeper in Wakefield. These memories are still so vivid in my mind, and yet, I can’t remember how your tiny little legs felt as I wrestled you into huge (tiny) socks and I have forgotten what your milk coma face looked like when I fed you to sleep time and time again. When I see a picture of you as a tiny baby, I can’t quite get my head around that it is you because as an almost four year old, you are a force of nature, a strong willed young lady who is quite frankly the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. But, of course I have to say that don’t I? Often, you make me want to tear my hair out because you are so demanding; I am already dreading your teenage years. Right now, you are afraid to be left in a room on your own and when you realise that either me or your dad have sneaked off to cook or hang some washing out, it is as if the sky has fallen. Your heart wrenching scream sends us running into you only for us to tell you off for being such a wimp. ‘I’m not a wimp’ you cry, but you know that you have us on a piece of string, because no matter what, we’ll always come running. I have really enjoyed you at three years old. It was a significant year for you as it was the year that you became a big sister; at three years old, you achieved something that I never will. You started ballet in January (I kind of hope you drop it for netball soon) and swimming a few weeks ago. Every week you wear a uniform and go to ‘big school’ where you, despite me asking if you learn numbers and letters, say you just ‘play and play and play’. (I might get Ofsted involved. Where’s the progress…?) Only tonight in the bath, with your brother peering over the sides giggling at you, I asked you if you remembered when it was just me you and Daddy. You thought about it for a few seconds and told me that you didn’t and that there’s always been the four of us. It saddened me to know that, like me, you can’t remember your first days, but I love that you think that it’s always been the four of us and long may it stay that way.
There are many a days where I question what I have achieved and what I haven’t and I often feel down at the fact that I haven’t travelled the world and made my mark on it. But, I only have to look at you and your brother for a second to realise how ‘four’unate I am.
Thank you for choosing me to be your Mum even if I shout and scream in frustration when I can’t put a stupid ballet bun in your hair.