I just want to say Happy Birthday to my son, today. OK, so I already have, like about 1000 times but this one is in writing so it's different. I think. I waltzed him around the garden this morning singing the Altered Image song 'Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday' but since I can only remember the chorus I just sang it over and over and over again until the neighbours undoubtedly put their heads under the covers (it was 9am) and prayed for silence. He bobbled around on my hip with a big grin on his face because we were outside and dancing and Mummy was being silly, presumably.
One set of his grandparents gave him money for a winter coat. The other set gave him a toy drum complete with sticks, a tambourine, maraca, xylophone and jingle-bells, ie, a head-ache-in-a-box. Guess which was the gift from MY parents????!! He loved loved loved the drum however and so I can hardly hold it against them... although I will try to do so in a creative way when it comes to their up-coming birthdays...
We had a picnic for a few of his friends in the park this afternoon and he spent all day eating organic baby snacks and being very happy hanging with a big group of people outside on a nice day. I guess it's sort of the way we as humans would naturally have lived in the past, great hairless groups of us lazing about under trees with our offspring. Not sure about the place of Pringles and fairy cakes in this historical view of mankind mind you but there you go.
Anyway, on to say Happy Birthday to my lovely son, who, having crawled and rough-housed all afternoon is now sleeping the careless sleep of the tired infant, both arms flung out and breathing the sort of deep, quiet breaths that make a parent dash frantically over to listen at his nostrils.
We sat, the three of us, before the arrival of our friends, we sat on the grass and felt like a family. Or at least, the Frog and I sat on the grass, the spud tore off as fast as his knees could carry him into the great green yonder. We sat and sort of smiled in wonder that an entire year could have passed so quickly, without us really noticing. They tell you that this is going to happen, they, the books, Those Who Have Gone Before, they say 'It'll just fly past, you won't believe it' and it does, and we don't. A whole year. Gone.
I know why though, it's because before one is a parent, one has many, many things to focus on. Work, friends, family, life, the changing of the seasons, shoe sales. One notices time going past because one is waiting for various things to happen, one sits at a desk looking at a calendar, reads newspapers, takes holidays, buys shoes. Time does pass more quickly as one ages but it doesn't disappear. Not completely. Once one is a parent however, things are crammed into the moments around the edge of one's offspring and one only takes quick bites at the life one once consumed completely. Time passes un-noticed except for the daily changes and developments. Moving, grabbing, holding, picking up, rolling, crawling, teething, standing, units of time measured by growth and development, not by the ticking of a clock or the turning of a calendar.
A year. A year of the spud. A year ago today, right here in this living room, he pushed out into the warm waters of the birth pool and bubbled up to the surface. I remember being surprised at how solid he was when the midwife lifted him out of the water and put him on my chest, as if babies should be soft and floppy and unresisting. He was a bit blue and grey at the edges and had a dreadful cone head. Once the cord was cut he was dried off and put against his father's chest to warm up and go pink while I was diverted into the mopping up part of childbirth, the bit they never show in movies, the bit where you push out the placenta and get dropped into a bath to clean up.
After my bath the midwife put him on a boob... and he's pretty much stayed there for an entire year. He could hold his head up from the moment he came out of the womb, his little conical grey noggin was questing around for the remote controls before his cord was even cut or his eyes could focus. He cried a little bit and I, who would probably have imagined that my first words to my son would be something deeply profound to put him on track for the rest of his life could only say 'and who are you? who are you?' to him as if he could possibly answer. The answer, of course, was that he was my dearest darling spud and the light of my life, but I could only guess at that back then.
A year ago he lay in the moses basket by our bed making little creaking noises and looking like an alien. We stayed up all night listening to him breathe and taking off and putting on various items of his clothing as we tried to guess whether or not he was too hot or too cold. Back then we had no idea what to expect from him and now, a year later, he lies in his big cot in his own room and we still have no idea what to expect from him, most of the time at least.
It's been an amazing year, a wonderful year and I can only hope that this next year will be the same.
Happy Birthday, Charlie, Happy 1st birthday. I love you, spudlet.
Thanks for coming by, everyone, it's been great to have the word, wit and wisdom of others in this time.