My last born child…
Yesterday was Little Lenny’s Naming Day. He was 10 months and 16 days old, exactly the same age as his big brother, Smiley was on his Naming Day two years ago. It was such a beautiful day! Sun shining, blue skies and family and friends to share laughter (and tears!) with. It was special and wonderful and perfect and bittersweet. Partly because his namesake, his grandfather (who’s name he now holds as a middle name) passed away nearly two years ago – and so could not be there with us.
It would have been his Poppy’s birthday tomorrow… he would have turned 66. Even now, nearly two years later, it’s hard to believe he is gone. I’d have thought that by now it would feel more real, sunk in, but it doesn’t. I still can’t wrap my head around it the fact that we’ll never see him again.
I love that Little Lenny has inherited his ‘expressive frown’. I love that it provides us with daily reminders of Poppy… which means he will never ever be forgotten, or out of our conversations. His memory lives on and is kept alive by our anecdotes and stories that are regularly shared with our tribe. And know I he would have been looking down on us yesterday, smiling with pride at his family.
And now I step back and look at our family. All seven of us. Now complete. Finished. Whole. That was the other bittersweet part of the day yesterday… the other aspect that is hard to believe… the fact that this is our last one. Our last baby, our last Naming Day, our last celebration of a new life entering this Earth.
This week I wrote my own letter to my last born son… one I read aloud (through many tears!) yesterday.
My last born child…
This has been a long time coming.
It’s now been over a decade since I learned that, for the first time, a small baby was growing inside me. And now here we are, with five beautiful children to hold in my arms. Each one just as special as the last.
And now we have the last.
Our last born son. From the moment we knew you existed, so tiny, I couldn’t yet feel you moving, we knew you were it. This would be the last time. The last bouts of morning sickness, restless legs and fluid retention. The last feelings of fluttery kicks, trips to the baby shop and that pregnancy glow. During the 9 months I carried you I tried to slow down time. I tried to cherish each trimester and relish my ever changing body. I tried closing my eyes when I felt you moving so I could imprint the feeling on my soul. I wanted to remember it forever. The feeling of life inside me, growing, changing, moving. Because you would be the last baby I would ever birth.
This year, your first year of life on Earth, has passed in a whirlwind of nappy changing, sleepless nights, siblings and loving chaos. But all it takes is a cheeky grin, a grip of your tiny hand around my finger, or even just a look, a flash of those amazing eyes – reflecting the ocean – just like your brother’s and your Daddy’s – staring right back at me…and time stops. I take a breath and my heart skips a beat – because this is it.
All those ‘firsts’ you begin recording – so pedantically in the carefully sought after baby journal with your first, and on the scrap pieces of paper or Notes section of your iPhone with your 5th… the first smile, first laugh, first tooth, first steps. In the beginning you bumble your way through parenting books, mummy magazines and baby recipe blogs. You forget what a full night’s sleep feels like, what a hot cup of tea tastes like, what silence sounds like, what a clean house smells like and what your boobs used to look like… Before.
Before tiny babies in gro suits, or little toddlers running full tilt at your shins to bear hug you when you’ve only been gone half an hour. Before small children were leaving Lego pieces on the floor for you to step on in the middle of the night or before your afternoons were suddenly spent helping with homework, assisting with piano practices or emptying the fuel tank as you drive to netball or gymnastics, or swimming or dancing, or play group… for the umpteenth time that week.
But the Before is a blur. Before you, my last born baby… it’s hard to imagine a time when you weren’t here. Part of our life, taking your place in our family circle – just gliding in from the moment you were born, like this place was being held this whole time, just waiting for you to come and fill it. Your Daddy and your sisters and brother agree – you fill our hearts with joy. You are sunshine in our cyclone and icing on our cake. You are life and love and joy and fun – you are beautiful and perfect and wonderful and loved.
You are the finale to a decade of my child bearing years. You are the culmination of a life time of longing and yet here we are at the very beginning of your life on Earth. And so, my eyes fill with tears.
Happy tears – but, sad tears as well. Because, with you – this is it.
This is the last time. The last time we’ll have a baby crawling around our feet. The last time we’ll have to keep moving the dog water out of reach. The last time I’ll have to make pureed food. The last time I’ll be tying a baby sling and last time I’ll climb down the steps of a hydro-pool in with an infant in my arms. The last time I’ll shout to your Daddy to grab the camera because you’re practicing your pincer grip and the last time I’ll be showing someone how to jump with two feet or use a knife and fork.
Each one of the milestones you reach will bring happiness and pride. But they’ll also be bittersweet. Because my baby boy, each one of your firsts will also be my last.
All too soon I know it will be the last time I’ll be getting up to you to rock you in the night, the last time I will cradle you in my arms, staring up at me as I sing to you, the last breastfeed, the last nappy to be changed, the last dummy to be found… those lasts are all still to come.
You will be the last one of my babies to start school. The last one to begin take up music lessons, to learn to swim or run in an Athletics carnival. You will be the last one to kick a footy, sing in a choir, finger paint or eat play dough. You’ll be the last one to graduate, go to an interview or learn to drive.
So please know my darling, that when you look up to me on your first day of school, or when you’ve tied your shoe-laces for the first time, ridden a bike, or written your name… when you look at me and my eyes fill with tears, please know it is not because I am unhappy or because you do not fill me with such joy and gratitude and pride that I can barely breathe. It is because this is it. These are the last first times.
And as I fold your baby blankets, give away your outgrown clothes and pack away your bassinet, I sigh and I am tugged in all directions, in a twisted sea of emotions because while part of me is ready to move on, to look forward and begin this next chapter of growing up and getting older, there is also still a part of me that still yearns for the never again. The smell of you, as a baby, that I will never forget as long as I live. The taste of your tears when I hold you to my face because the world is a bit a loud and scary at times. The feel of your silent form sleeping in my arms, the sound of you drinking milk cradled against me, the sight of your toothy smile grinning with happiness when I enter a room.
You will soon come to know that your life, compared to some, is louder, brighter and more colourful. Peace and quiet aren’t really words that will be part of your vocabulary for quite a while (or mine!) but love, friendship, games, siblings and fun will be, I am sure, the foundation of your childhood memories.
And so, my beautiful, last born baby… know this. You are loved. Loudly and harshly, gently and quietly, by each one of us. And we will always be on the sidelines of your life cheering you on, in the change rooms giving you a pep talk or on the field next to, watching your back. Our team is finally whole.
You are the perfect ending to our happy family. The full stop in our sentence, the conclusion to our chapter and the final piece in our puzzle. Our family is now complete yet our journey is just beginning. May your journey my darling, be happy. More happiness and love and hope and wonder than one could ever dream to fit into a lifetime.
This is my wish for you.
I love you sweet boy,
Love your Mumma