Twelve years today you burst into my life and nothing has been the same since. I loved you the moment I met you. A love of an intensity I had never experienced before. A love that grows every day. It was a love that, in a single moment, ensured that you would be given the best of all I had to give. Determined to feed you myself, I failed at the first hurdle. I had no milk to give, yet I continued doggedly on. You failed to flourish and at three weeks old I was told you looked like a ‘third world baby’. It broke my heart and I reluctantly gave you a bottle. From that moment on you thrived.
And, as you know, so long as you are well fed, you are as happy as you were during that first proper feed all those years ago. I cried many tears over my inability to feed you, yet it taught me an important lesson very early on. I learnt that I would never be able to give you perfection. I learnt that sometimes, however much I wanted to, I would not have the resources to give you what I thought you needed. I learnt that there would be times you would hurt and I wouldn’t be able to stop that hurt. And it was at that moment I realised I didn’t need to. We were in this together. A baby and a mummy, neither of whom knew what they were doing. It didn’t matter though. We were partners and had a love for each other that would overcome any inadequacies in my parenting, any failings I had.
Weeks after your birth I found out I was pregnant again with twins. Daddy and I were over the moon. The idea of more little people like you just thrilled us. Much of your babyhood was spent cuddling. You, me and your two tiny siblings growing inside me. You were such a complete joy to be with, a smiley baby and incredibly good company.
Every day brought more joys as we watched you grow.
When you were 9 months I gave birth to your twin sisters. It was love at first sight for all three of you and you have all been best buds ever since. I anticipated jealousy and yet what I got was an out pouring of love. You were anxious to be as helpful as you could and even though you were only crawling you did whatever you could.
The girls couldn’t have wished for a better big brother. They adored you as much as Daddy and I. Your wonderful imagination and ability to get things started in the make-believe world ensured that you always had two girls who wanted to hang out with you, play with you and generally enjoy you.
You had always enjoyed animals, having been around cats, rabbits and guinea pigs from a very early age, so when we got Oscar you were particularly delighted.
And you and he remain close, even now in his old age. Apart from Daddy, you are the only one he listens to and is often seen nudging at your hand for a cuddle. I love your gentleness, especially now as you are growing older. I think a mother always appreciates that in a son.
When you were three we moved en mass to Northern Ireland:
And it was here we had some of the happiest times of our lives. All of us flourished, loving the relaxed way of life to be found there.
It has always delighted me watching the three of you together.
The make-believe games you dreamt up! I’ll never forget the fireman’s lift you designed and built from our landing stairs to the floor. I’m thinking health and safety might have had something to say but Daddy and I thought it was brilliant!
Every new day was a blank canvas, its picture only limited by your imaginations:
A simple trip to the beach would become a great rescue mission.
Even a trip to the park became something special as you all lined up to await the whistle to GO!
It was your propensity for play acting that encouraged me to organise various themed parties for you all.
From Mr Men to Thomas the Tank; from doctors and nurses to pirates, each was made wonderful because you and your sisters threw yourself with abandonment into each one. The pirate one must have been a particular favourite because when we came to bed that night, this is what we found:
Always you have been Daddy’s right hand man (dressing up for the occasion of course):
And this is where you have preferred to be the most. Outside in the garden, with daddy if at all possible.
Even now, I think if you weren’t so academically minded, you would spend every moment outside working away, tending to your plants.
Whilst we were in Ireland we did manage to fit in a few visits to England where we would enjoy time with those who meant and mean so much to all of you:
When you were six, after much prayer and two miscarriages, I became pregnant with A5. Sweetheart, you must have prayed everyday for a little baby brother, but it was not to be.
I remember the tears that were shed when we found out during the sonogram that he was actually a she. You were heart broken….until you met her. And then everything changed.
Now you were a big brother to three adoring sisters:
Shortly after A5 was born we moved back to England, and lived next door to my mum, Once more I have been over joyed to see a very tender relationship build between the two of you. Granny and Grandson. Both gentle, loving and serious characters, both animal lovers and both gardeners.
Life in England remained much the same as it had in Ireland. You still craved to be in the garden every spare moment:
We still had our parties:
The three musketeers still enjoyed hours and hours of play:
Whilst your relationship with A5 continued to grow and grow:
When you turned 9, B2 was born. You were older and wiser this time and whilst I think you still would have liked a brother, you knew it was pretty special being the only brother of four sisters:
I think probably the past couple of months have been the hardest so far. The transition to adulthood is often tricky, holding so much change in such a short time. Yet I see you handling it all with poise and dignity, asking for help when you feel you need some input and weighing up our counsel and then choosing what you believe to be best for your life. I am so proud of you.
And the lesson I learnt just after you were born is as true today as it was back then. I might not always be able to take away the pain; I might not always be able to protect you from hurt; and I might not always have the resources to make everything okay. But I can promise you two things. Firstly, I will always try, and secondly, we are in this together; you never have to be alone and facing what life throws at you. You will always have your family. We are your biggest cheerleaders; your strongest support and your bestest friends.
I thank God for you everyday. You will never know how much you mean to me. You make every day special simply by being in it.
Sweetheart, I know you are not expecting anything for your birthday, having received your present back in September, but we couldn’t let your birthday pass without celebrating your life. Grandad and Granny have kindly agreed to look after your sisters so that Daddy and I can take you out to RHS Wisley, just the three of us. You can look round the gardens to your heart’s delight. We’ll have lunch there and you will be given some vouchers to spend on your garden. Happy birthday, gorgeous boy!