Nearly 22 years ago, I made the transition from being a wife, to being a mother. In that split second of time, when the midwife handed my baby girl to me, the world stood still.
Nothing and nobody else mattered – life carried on around us, but you and I already had an understanding.
I understood that from that moment on, I would always be a mother. I would always look after you, and protect you, and catch you when you fell.
And you understood that right there – that was your safe place…I was your safe place.
We learned together, you and I. Motherhood was as new to me, as life was to you. Every new experience you had, I saw it through your eyes.
And it was magical.
You were by my side constantly, my little buddy. Whatever I had to do, I did it with you next to me.
You dusted as I vacuumed, and you handed me pegs when I hung washing out on the line. You helped me pair up the socks, and you dropped peeled potatoes into the saucepan. Whatever I had to do, you helped me.
And then, when I became pregnant again, you were still by my side. You rubbed lotion into my ever growing bump, and spent hours playing with my hair.
When your brother was born, I saw that, instead of you resenting him as I had feared you would, you adored him.
You still never left my side, except now it wasn’t just because of me, you wanted to be around him too.
I loved that.
You were so patient with him, and he was always happy and tolerant of the games you used to play with him, like putting him in your little pushchair and walking around the room with him.
Years later, I gave birth to your sister. Again you showed loyalty and love towards her, even though by this time you were 10. You were such a help, this time with bigger things, like changing her nappy, or reading her a story.
Years passed, and you fell in love. It wasn’t long before you came to me and told me you were expecting your own baby.
You were so young, my darling, but you have become a wonderful mother. I was there by your side as you laboured, and stayed with you until they rushed you off to theatre for an emergency section. It broke my heart when they wouldn’t let me see you afterwards – I wanted to scream at them that that was MY little girl they had just cut open, and I felt as protective of you then as I did the very first time I held you. I just wanted to make sure you were ok, even though I knew you were. Your fiancé was with you, and I knew he’d let me know if anything was wrong.
But still…you’re my baby.
Your little boy is two now, and I’ve watched you blossom into a truly beautiful mother. The way you look at him fills my heart with pride. You’re such a gentle, loving mama, and although you don’t know it, I often watch you with him.
It seems impossible that my baby girl, the smallest of my three babies, is about to give birth to her second child, another boy.
I see the guilt you are feeling about not being able to give your first born your undivided attention.
I see the fear that you won’t have enough love for another baby.
I see the worry that you will find it overwhelming, trying to cope with a toddler and a new-born.
And the truth is, yes, at times it will all seem like it’s too much. But I’ll be there for you baby girl, I’ll have your back, just like I always have.
Just like I did when you had a hard time at school and I marched down the school corridors in my high heels.
Just like I did when you fell out with friends.
Just like I did when people who should have been there for you let you down.
And just like I will be whenever you need me.
The four of us have spent most of our lives together as a single parent family, but I never minded, I always had my babies with me.
We were poor – SO poor sometimes, but we didn’t care. We turned everything into an adventure.
And now I have the joy of being a grandmother.
My initial reservations about you being so young when you had him were unfounded, and now I am a young grandmother and I have plenty of years (I hope) to watch your babies grow up, the way I watched mine.
It is a new era, one which I find both beautiful and heart-breaking.
It points out the glaringly obvious fact that you are no longer my responsibility; that I have no say in your life, which of course is as it should be.
And it also emphasises my mortality. I am getting older, my hair is becoming greyer, and I can no longer wear those heels which struck fear into the hearts of your teachers, for any length of time.
But it is also beautiful, because I am still young enough to play with my grand-babies, and really enjoy them.
My beautiful first-born, love your babies as I have loved, and still love, you. Cuddle them, and give them your presence, and not just presents. Laugh with them, be silly with them, and see the world through their eyes.
Protect them from any conceivable harm, fiercely and without hesitation.
You will one day look away, and in that moment they will be grown, and have their own lives.
And that is what you hope will happen, without a doubt.
But it will also pierce your heart. In moments of silence, you will miss the mayhem, the mess, and chaos that life with children brings.
I am grateful, so very grateful, that I got to spend so much time with you all. It meant that we struggled, but you don’t remember that. Through many conversations you and I have had, I know that you remember me always being there with you.
Whether I am with you in person, or on the end of the phone, you know I am always holding your hand.
And I’ll never let go.
With all my love