It was a hot, sunny Monday, the day you were born. I lay in a bath for hours, from early morning right through lunch time, for some relief from the contractions. I worried about your sister, who was with your Nanny but probably wondering why I was gone so long. I worried about your father, who seemed restless and eager to find reasons to leave me alone. Perhaps he was feeling the stress, or the heat.
I closed my eyes and tried to picture your face. In my visions, you had the same brown eyes as your sister and a smile that would melt the coldest heart. Overwhelming love for this person I had not yet met, but kept so close, brought tears to my eyes. My second child, my first son… who would you become?
It was late evening before I met you, and I saw you whisked away, limbs hanging limp from the doctor’s hands. Sheer terror gripped me then, suddenly certain that you would not survive to be the boy in my head. The minutes that passed felt much longer than they really were, while I waited for someone to say something, anything… and then you cried.
The sweetest noise I ever heard, that wail. There was nothing but you after that, as I cradled you in my arms; it was just you and I. Eventually the outside world crept in again, and I gave you up temporarily to be adored by others, while I watched your squashed little face as you adjusted to life outside the womb.
Since then, your life has been a million moments of wonder. You were a quiet little boy, one happy to sit back and watch your sister with her theatrical performances. You let her talk for you for so long, I used to wonder when you would ever feel the need to speak. But your heart-warming smile that made your chocolate button eyes sparkle told me enough; you were happy, perfectly content in our little house, with our little family.
As you grew, you made your first friend. You met her at nursery school and she reminded me so much of your sister. Again, you took a backseat as she shrieked and giggled, happy to be along for the ride. Until the day she shut you in a cupboard, anyway… you cried that day, and sat with me, always a little warier of her after that.
It was a long time until you found your voice. Even at school, “We wouldn’t know there was anything wrong, until he’s crying quietly in the corner. He doesn’t tell us if anything happens… we wish he would!” But to me, you always spoke. I heard your stories of Spiderman and Venom; you directed me as we acted them out. We were spies, burglars, superheroes, squirrel trainers… whatever your vivid imagination conjured up. With me, you could be anything.
You loved song time before bed, would join in with me and your sister, keeping the beat with your djembe drums and singing silliness out loud. Perfect moments in my memory.
I loved to hear you talk about whatever you had learned at school, or from those programs you loved to watch… science, history, nature. A clever lad you were, coming up with theories and ideas sometimes fantastical but often close to the truth. You wanted to know how everything worked and I had my work cut out keeping up with you sometimes.
But I hated your lack of confidence. I hated that you would watch your sister do so much and feel less than her. You were never that, my kind, empathic boy. You found some things harder than she did, without a doubt, but that just meant you tried harder. You were one of a kind, truly remarkable, and you still are.
Now you are 18. My little boy is a giant of a man, with a giant heart to match. I don’t pretend to keep up with your knowledge any more, you ‘science’ much better than I do and I love it. Black holes, nuclear fusion… and still that analytical, logical mind that wants to work out more.
You give so much to people, you shoulder their worries and you care. You care so very much. That makes it sadder that I don’t see that smile so often anymore. I am worried about you.
You, my watcher, seem to absorb the energy of those around you… you are happy when everyone else is happy. I know it is stressful here, with a new arrival imminent and our home opened to others, and I am grieved to see the effect his has had on my boy.
I have let it slide, our Mum and boy time, and I am trying my best to put that right. I hope that you will keep talking to me… never forget that with me, you can be anything. Let’s find our harmony again.