A Diary of Motherhood: Week Thirty-One

This Diary of Motherhood is a series of weekly letters to my first baby, my little son who I call Baby Bird. I know not everyone wants to read about the highs and lows of motherhood so you can read non-baby related posts about travelwritingfreelancing or Amsterdam instead. Alternatively read one of my short stories or check out some book reviews and recommendations.

Dear Baby Bird,

On Friday this past week, you turned 7 months old.

On that same day, I turned 34 years old.

Thirty-four. It seems like a very full age. Fuller than any of my previous ages. And yes, older, of course. I don't know why but this birthday crept up on me. I didn't mark it in my diary - that always feels a little weird anyway - and I actually booked us into a baby & me yoga class like we'd normally do on a Friday. Then as the day came closer, people began to ask me what I was doing and I would give them an uncertain reply because I had honestly forgotten it was my birthday. Maybe this is normal once you have a child or you have a brain that is regularly starved of sleep. And maybe this age feels so much fuller because my days are so much fuller than they used to be, I honestly sometimes can't believe how many things I do in a day with you around.

I am very lucky and happy to say that your father hadn't forgotten and he made it a very special day, bringing me a cup of tea in bed in the morning where I opened my cards with you by my side. Then he cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast and handed me over some lovely little gifts to open. He told me he had arranged a babysitter and a late lunch reservation but it was up to me what I wanted to do before that and he offered to babysit, but I didn't really want to not be with you I thought about going to baby & me yoga but actually thought that what I would like most is to do something that you and I do nearly every day. I just wanted to go to for a walk with you. So we did. And we went to the coffee shop we often go to and you sat on my lap as I drank my coffee and played with you and you smiled at all the people around us. A woman even came over and asked to hold you, which she enjoyed a lot more than you did though you still gave her a few smiles. It was so normal but brilliant and fun being in that coffee shop with you. You are so fun to hang out with now, of course I wanted to do just that on my birthday.

We took the long way home and you fell asleep so I listened to the playlist that I made for you when you were still in my belly. This in itself was quite a big deal as I'd not listened to that playlist since being pregnant. It wasn't that I didn't want to listen to the songs, it was that in the first few months I had some "problems" listening to all music, especially music that had any meaning to me. And of course, all of those songs on that playlist had huge, significant meaning. It made me realise that at all of the hardest times in my life, I've rejected music. This in itself is strange because I adore music, it's otherwise a steady constant in my life, filling my days and my head with the soundtrack to a million memories. I can't imagine my life without music, but when things get difficult I prefer silence. I suspect it's because music, especially certain songs, can be like salt on an open wound. Music always plays to my emotions - even songs I don't like, they can still move me or make me feel or think something - and when you're overwhelmed with emotions anyway, why would you want to throw more into the painful mix? But now, the music is playing and I love listening to the songs I imagined I would sing to you. Not that I haven't sung to you. I have no doubt you're sick and tired of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, but I hope that maybe one day soon, when the emotions have died down a little more still, I'll start singing these special songs I chose for you a long time ago.

But back to my birthday. After I got home, took a shower and turned on my hair straighteners for the first time in a few months, our friend came over to babysit you and your dad and I enjoyed two of the most relaxed, happiest hours we've shared in, well, seven months. And it wasn't just because of the food. It was a really special lunch for many reasons I should probably tell your dad about not you.

We cycled home along Amsterdam's beautiful canals and I enjoyed the journey through the cold. And it wasn't just because of the picturesque views. It was because we were on our way home to you.

When we walked through the door you searched our faces and in a few seconds it clicked who we were. Then you smiled. And it's those smiles that have made everything so different recently.

I nearly wrote easier - because yes, it does feel much easier compared to those newborn months - but I am regularly reminded how challenging this parenting gig continues to be. However, those smiles that say "Hey, you're my mum and you make me happy!" and "Hey, you're my dad and you make me happy!" they make a lot of the challenges worth it. They also make me feel like I can picture what the future looks like better. I'm not naive enough to think that you're going to smile at me like that forever, but at least you now know who I am.

Later that night after you were in bed, your dad and I were eating spaghetti in our pyjamas and he asked me what had been my favourite part of my birthday. I told him the lunch, because that's what I knew he had gone to the most trouble to organise. And it was so very special.

But truth be told, that wasn't my favourite part of the day. It was actually that moment when we got home from lunch and you recognised me and grinned so wide that it changed everything about your face, that made my birthday... and maybe possibly all of my thirty-four years.

Your full-of-cake-and-prosecco, full-of-optimism-and-intrigue-for-my-thirty-fifth-year, crazy-in-love mother x

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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