Finally, after weeks of planning, hours of wrapping and almost a year of ‘is it my birthday yet?’, the big day arrived and I am now parent to a four year old.
Or, as I’ve been instructed to say at every opportunity, ‘parent to a big girl four year old’. And, whilst I realise the day belongs to my daughter, it is also a day for me to celebrate becoming a mum.
It’s funny to think that, just over four years ago, I had no idea what was in store, what my life would become, and how wonderfully frustrating every moment of each day would be. In the space of a few hours – and with a few huffs and puffs – (I’m paraphrasing wildly here) – I went from being someone to being someone’s mum. Forever.
When I first announced I was pregnant, a good friend of mine told me ‘you’ll never sleep the sleep of the childless again’.
At the time I thought it was a comment on the dramatic downturn in the amount of sleep you enjoy once you’re handed your baby, but I now realise it’s much more than that. Even when (if? *sob*) your child stops trying to kill you with sleep deprivation, you’ll never achieve that blissful comatose state you took for granted for all those years. There is always a part of your brain awake – worrying, planning and worrying some more. And that’s whether your child is four or forty – as I’m sure my parents will confirm – (although, let’s make it clear, I am definitely not forty).
As soon as you become a parent, there is no going back, which is why as well as spending the day reflecting on the amazing things my daughter has learnt to do over the last year – write her name, count to twenty in Spanish, swim without armbands, be a big sister – it’s also a day for me to look back. To stop and think about all the ways both I and my life have changed.
I’m not the same person I was four years ago and I never will be again.
For some people, once close to me, those changes aren’t good – I’m less spontaneous, more cautious and not as interesting (how nice of them to tell me that).
But to those people who don’t judge the worth of a person based on the last book they read and, most importantly, to myself, those changes have been wonderful. I am a different person now, but I am a better one.
So forgive me that, during a day spent bestowing presents and treats on the birthday girl, I’ll also spend a moment raising a glass to myself for not only surviving the last four years, but for thriving.