I’m going to be straight-up here and say four scares me a bit.
There’s no pretending you’re a baby, or even a toddler, anymore.
Your independence grows every day and with each fierce declaration of ‘I can do it by myself’ a little part of my heart hurts because it means you’re needing me less and less.
Of course, that’s what it’s all about. I look after you in the best way I can and in turn teach you how to look after yourself.
But, you see, looking after you has become my favourite thing in the world. I don’t want it to stop. Ever.
The hospital rules stated your dadda had to leave after dark, so it was just me and you, rocking, cuddling, singing, even reading, through the night. I hadn’t slept for two days, what was another 12 hours?
When your first visitors arrived they all said you didn’t look like a newborn. Only now do I know what they meant. You were too alert. You still are.
You walked on your first birthday and had many spills as you confused ambition with ability. Holding you down while the doctor super-glued a cut back together on your scalp was horrific for me, but not so for you. I expected you to scream, but instead you looked into my eyes and asked ‘can I have a pear?’
At one-and-a-half I nursed you through German measles, cursing the low vaccination rates of our region. When your temperature subsided, you were fine, chasing Maggie (our dog) with your rash-covered belly exposed.
At two, you thought it was funny to ‘surf’ on a soapy washcloth in the bath and chipped off a chunk of top-front tooth. The dentist had to pry your stubbornly pursed lips open to take a look. It was just cosmetic and you’ve never really noticed.
At three you started pre-school. It broke my heart to leave you crying at the gate on some of those early mornings, but the teachers insist you love it. I figure they’re right because you never want to come home when I pick you up. Sometimes you hide from me. OK, you always hide from me.
Now one of your favourite lines is ‘I already know that’ as I try to teach you a new fact or two. I think you try to do most of the teaching though, always randomly explaining things like the difference between a turtle and a tortoise, deciduous and evergreen trees, or percussion and wind instruments.
There are too many moments to list, but I’ve chosen these few to prove to myself that perhaps you’ve never needed me as much as I like to think you do. So, I shouldn’t be sad or scared by four. Or five. Or 21.
But, I’m going to make a promise to you.
I’ll always be here, by your side, caring for you as much as is humanly possible, whether you think you need it or not. OK?
I love you so very much,