Archie turns one today. And I am feeling suprisingly nostalgic and emo about it all, so obviously I wrote a freaking behemoth of a post about it. Lee and Mum must be getting sick of me saying “And this time last year, I started having contractions! And now, I was vomiting two-minute noodles in the shower whilst singing the alphabet! And now, I was waddling through the foyer of the Mercy screaming and banging on the walls!”
Oh, the joys.
We have had a lovely day. The little guy was spoilt with new toys and had his first proper taste of cake with icing, so henceforth will not want to eat anything ever again besides cake. And bananas, because I’m pretty sure that if he had the chance, he would literally trade me in for a never-ending banana, such is the depth of his banana-ey love.
Oh, little man. You are my best thing. I know that every mother feels like this about their child, but, darling boy, the world shifted slightly the moment you were born. The moment that we separated and you stopped living inside of me and instead breathed and blinked all on your own. All that breathing and blinking lead to smiling and laughing, then rolling and crawling and sitting and waving and talking and standing and now, today, turning one year old. I feel as though I gave birth to you just yesterday.
But even though we are separate bodies, you are still part of me, little guy. You’ve got the bellybutton to prove it. You will read this one day when you’re a teenager, taller than me, and roll your eyes and be all like, “Ugh, mum! Seriously.” But it’s true. I grew you inside of me and you are my precious extra limb, off into the world, and I will keep building walls to protect you, knowing that you will tear them down, asserting yourself, showing the world who you are.
Over the past year, you have grown into a sassy, cheeky, crazy little guy full of personality and giggles and noise. Your every emotion is plastered across your chubby face and you can switch from glee to an epic chin-wobble sadface in seconds and then back again. I am living in your world now. We both are, me and your dad. Your needs dictate the rhythms of our days and nights. You are my main topic of conversation and the first thoughts that run through my mind upon waking are of you – and not just because you also serve as my alarm clock.
You help to get yourself dressed and can feed yourself pretty much independently. I was sure you would be walking by now, but you crawl like a demon and until you can run everywhere, crawling is still the fastest way to get around. You are constantly busy, frantically flinging every magnet off the fridge then chasing the cat then trying to get under the couch then ‘reading’ a book at lighting speed then then then… You know when you see someone walking a dog, but it is clear that really the dog is walking the owner? That is you and me, little man. I am scurrying after you in the wake of the chaos, mumbling a chorus of “Careful!”, “Watch your head”, “Uh-UH!” and “No, no NO…oh, okay.”
Your fearlessness scares me a little bit, but also makes immensely proud. You are ALL man and love to climb and throw and dig, but you have a tenderness and softness as well. You melt into me and hold on tight to my neck, your peachy breath tickling my ears. No one has ever made me feel as loved as you do. I hope you keep that softness and tenderness, little man. Boys who are comfortable being both tough and tender are a rare breed.
You can say Dave and Layla and Dad and Mum and Nan and ball and meow and book. Your favourite word is “Ah-da,” which can mean “Can you please pick me up now Mummy dearest?” or “I am so happy right now!” or “Can you please pass me one of those delicious bananas?” depending on the emphasis and urgency of the situation. Speaking of bananas, we have had to hide them as you turn into a crazed man when you catch sight of one, hurling yourself out of the highchair or my arms to lunge at the fruit bowl. “Ah-da! Ah-DA! AH- DAH!!!!!!!!!” and then just start shrieking like a fire alarm until we give in to you.
Eating is still probably your bestest, most favourite thing ever. And God damn it, can you put away some food. You shove handfuls of Weetbix, mashed potato, zucchini fritters, toast, cat fur, carpet and soil into your gob indiscriminately. There is no fear of food and no concern about whether or not you’ll like something. It all gets shoved in first, then if it is not to your particular tastes (I’m looking at you, avocado) you carefully take it out of your mouth with a grimace and fling the offending mouthful to the floor, while shooting me a look of pure contempt and disgust. Meals can take a while, because I invariably have to prepare a second dish after you polish off the first in 0.6 seconds and start flapping your arms and legs in unison like some sort of wind-up toy, while yelping and looking at me pleadingly like you have never been fed before ever, and are wasting away by the second.
I have SO MANY FEELINGS about your birthday. I am so proud of you and thrilled that we have made it this far. I love the little guy that you are becoming. But part of me misses the teeny, rumpled, pink newborn that you were. Tiny fingers balled into fists. Chunky thighs and ears like shells. Your little snuffly snores and soft fingernails. I miss all that. It’s bittersweet, as I imagine all your birthdays will be.
I was a mother long before you arrived, but over the past year you have taught me how to parent. How to be YOUR mum. How to wrestle you into a nappy and how to muster endless patience and cook mush and read alphabet books and sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ in the car for a whole hour because sometimes the only thing that makes you happy is your mama singing loudly and out of tune about the babies on the bus going waa waa waa. You taught me that when you have sore teeth and a tummyache all you want to do is sit on my lap, hold my hand and watch Play School. We have grown up together, you and me.
Happy birthday my little prince. I love you, always.