Last night it hit me like a train, my youngest is about to become a teenager. As I look at her I am struck by how much she has changed in the past year. She has grown taller than myself, and now shares the clothes belonging to her older sisters. She enjoys being alone in her bedroom, and is becoming a part of her older siblings conversations. The Sylvanian Family village gathered over many years, is covered in dust, never to be played with again.
For a moment I wallowed in my loss. I am no longer a mother to young children. My life is hurtling forward, with so much behind me. Moments I will never again enjoy, such as holding my small babies, walking baby steps holding the hand of a young child who is fascinated by everything they pass, the closeness of reading bed time stories, the bear hug of my children or the extreme welcome home received, regardless of how long I have been missing. It is over. There is so much in the past.
As I lay in bed I turned on my lamp. Something fell to the floor and as I picked it up I saw it was my book mark of Daniel. On it are 11 photos. I looked at him through the years, a small boy of two, a school going boy of five, a lively boy of seven, a wonderful character at eleven. Then I looked at the final photo, the most recent one, of him bald, wearing his baseball cap and cheeky grin. The one that was taken at the age of 13. His final year of life. The year he suffered more than anyone ever should. The year we saw how brave a boy he was.
I thought of my own darling girl, with the long hair and pretty smile, how full of life she is and I remembered… The young boy I visited most days, the young boy, the same age as my little lady is now, who was told he had cancer. I remembered how sick he was, how tired he became, how stoical he was, how little he got to smile in his thirteenth year, and I was ashamed.
It is wrong for anyone to feel pity for me because my baby is growing up. I should celebrate all her milestones, and be as full of excitement for the year and years ahead as she is. My life as a mother is not to rear babies, but to nourish and support my children throughout all their lives. To praise them when they do well, to celebrate their happy days, and to be there when life throws difficulties in their direction. I have enjoyed so many of their baby days, but now real parenting begins, and it is up to me to continue to enjoy the many happy days that lie ahead.
Today as I collect my still twelve year old from school I will listen as she describes her day, and when she becomes all excited about Thursday I will give a sneaky glance at Daniel, as he smiles out at me, and I will wink in his direction, ‘Thanks for the reminder sweetheart, where ever you are”.