Your brother has toilet trained himself in my absence and it has left me feeling a little low. I know it’s ridiculous, but there are so many ways in which I can’t parent you and some small part of me feels I haven’t been a mother to your brother either. He’s not even eighteen months old yet and already he is doing things for himself. I wonder how long he will let me guide him, how hard I will have to fight to remind him be a kid once in a while. You should know a few things about your brother for future reference.
First, he asks a lot of questions. I’m hoping this phase will pass, but I doubt it. This morning when I dropped him off with Ma he asked me why I stop at red lights and go on green lights. On the way there he indulged his curiosity even more asking me “Who’s that?” Whenever he spotted a pedestrian. Then “What’s his job, and where does he live?” I won’t lie; many of my answers were made up. He’s still too young to realise that I’m not being entirely truthful when I tell him every second person’s name is Bob and most of our neighbours are in fact post men and women who live at the house they happen to be walking in front of on the pacific highway.
He loves trains in a most unnatural way. He loves building the tracks even more than he loves playing with the trains, which he collects more so than driving them. And he is the kindest, gentlest soul you could have as a big brother. One day he will be your protector – it’s in his nature. But he’s generally a thinker despite his whirlwind energy and devilish laugh.
I’m glad to be here today, and I can’t wait till tomorrow to hold you. Things are slowly starting to feel normal again, and we’ve settled in to our new routines well. I will visit you every morning for your 10am and 1pm cares, though you have been feeding very well and may move to 4 hourly cares soon. That means I leave at about 2 when the shifts change to go and pick up your brother. We spend the afternoon together walking to the park and playing trains and then I come back in at night time. It’s a strange routine, but slowly I am realising we are a family. But I still ache for the day when you come home to the rest of us. When we are a normal family again.
In the back of my head I can hear the voice starting to rise again. I thought it was gone after you were born but it appears it has returned. I’m not sure if it’s some weird form of anxiety or if my instincts have taken on their own persona. Or if there really is a force out there in the ether watching out for us. I would love that to be true, but I think this is probably just an unusual coping mechanism. I want to stop listening at the moment because his prediction is dire. “She will be fine, but things will get tough. Don’t worry.”
After your party yesterday you are thoroughly exhausted. It’s the first time you have realised what a birthday really is and your exuberance tired all of us out. When the moment came to sing happy birthday it all become too much and you hid in my shoulder. The day reminded me that although your birthday feels as though it’s a mixed blessing, there is nothing mixed about it. You are a true gift and I should relish every moment with you. You are now officially three. The celebrations are over and I can go back to observing every new change in you. Every way that you are growing up before I can capture the image of you as a child in my memory forever. I want to photograph and tape every minute so I remember this time. I want to bottle the festivities you make of your daily goings on and inhale its contents. I suppose my experience with you has made me very aware of the fragility of life and the way the ground can swallow you whole when the other shoe drops, even if you are waiting for it to happen. I suppose in a sense this makes me lucky. There is no chance I could ever take a second for granted. But as your Dad always reminds me I must remember to watch you in the moment and not just record it in my memory for later viewing. Live the memories while they are being made and enjoy watching you and your brother emerge from the chrysalis. It’s a frightening thought, but one I will relish.