I’m writing you another letter because that’s what I find helps me when I’m feeling sad and heavy-hearted, as I am tonight. We’re so similar, you and me, with our sensitivities and our emotions. We feel things deeply and strongly and that’s a beautiful thing my sweet girl. I struggle sometimes to feel the way I do, to feel every ounce of your emotion and pain as if it were my own and to feel intensely sad about sad things. I sometimes wish I could switch off my overthinking brain and things might be easier, more black and white and more straightforward, but then, I wouldn’t be me, would I?
Today you turn 3 years old and I find myself repeating, “I can’t believe it,” over and over again. I’m sorry if all the birthday excitement from me has seemed a little crazy but for me, as your Mummy, your birthday is a day of huge significance. Your birth day was the day that I became a Mother and my whole world changed in that moment. Not only that but your birthday is a celebration of you, of all your achievements this past year and the first day in a new chapter of exciting things to come.
A year ago, at just 2, you were a little person with your own thoughts, ideas and preferences and a year on, whilst so much of that is still the very essence of you, there’s also been a shift this year. Some days it feels as if you’ve grown up two years this year, not just one, because the transformation in you is just too big to fathom. Now, you are even more able to do things for yourself. Whether it’s helping yourself to food, taking your own milk from the fridge, using the big toilet, turning on and off the tv or the latest skill…doing your own hair clips, your determination for independence and, “I want to do it by myself,” attitude is actually very inspiring.
Back in June last year you became a big sister to Summer and I think, although you couldn’t say it as such, your world got a little bit turned upside down. We went through some tricky patches, me losing my patience, you adapting to change and I think it’s fair to say things were tricky. There were times, if I’m really honest with you my sweet Jasmine, that I’ve found this year of parenting really tricky. “Age 2-3″ has certainly had its ups and downs. The demands of two children, very little sleep and a feisty toddler (that’s you) have at times driven me to the point where I have wanted to scream. Don’t be sad reading that because it’s not anything you did wrong, not at all. It’s just been hard work and many times I felt out of my depth, not knowing what to do for the best for either of us. ‘Two” definitely hasn’t been terrible but it certainly has been tricky and I think that’s OK for me to admit.
This year you became a big sister
So whilst that sounds all dark and gloomy, it’s not supposed to be! In a million ways we’ve had an amazing year too. We’ve laughed together, danced together and played together for hours. Your unique soul has shone brighter than ever before with your personality and interests revealing themselves to us more each day. Of course we still have our moments here and there but I’m pretty sure the fog has lifted in recent months and in that shift we’ve found a new ease and a new rhythm together…even without your day time nap!
Now you’re 3 whole years old and I’m more in love with you than ever, of course. I think i’ll be saying that even when you’re 30 years old too and imagine the letter I’ll have to write then! Jasmine, my sweet, kind, sensitive, funny, beautiful, curious girl, here are a few of my favourite things about you now on the day that you’re turning 3:
I love the way you ask questions, all day everyday, about everything. Your desire for knowledge and your desire to understand the world is amazing. You ask me what day it is, where we’re going today, what Daddy is doing, what Grandma is wearing, what’s wrong with Summer, who we saw yesterday, what’s so-and-so’s brother called, what can you have for a snack, did I see that, did I see this, are we going there, what’s that what’s that what’s that?
I love the way you have “best friends” now and although the best friend, changes each day, I can tell that your friendships mean a lot to you already. You missed your friends when we were away in Israel for a month, you look forward to seeing them talk about your adventures together at Nursery. Your friends cheer you up, spur you on and bring a smile to your face and it’s such a joy to see.
“Girls are the best,” is your mantra and you tell me at least 5 times a day, sometimes adding, “not boys” onto the end, to which I add that we do like boys too because, equality, and all that. I love that you have a strong female identity and in a world where you may still have to fight if not for your own equality, then for the equality of girls around the world, I’m going to let you keep repeating this mantra for as long as you want to.
You are an amazing big sister to Summer. I know it hasn’t always been easy and it still isn’t. I know Mummy carries Summer on her hip all day long and pays close attention to her at meal times and bath time. I know I’m not there for you like I was when it was just us but Jasmine, you are so kind to her and so caring. You soothe her when she’s sad and your words make her feel better. You only have to be in the room with Summer and she’s happier. You find sharing me difficult at times but you also understand it deeply, that she needs me too and I guess that’s why it hurts you. Sometimes you’ll say, “Mummy, you need to give Summer a cuddle,” and in those moments, I’m so grateful for your wisdom. Summer is so lucky to have you as her big sister, she really is.
I love the way you only wear dresses now and have done every day for at least 6 months. You choose your own outfits every day and strongly reject any suggestion that doesn’t involve a “pretty dress.” You love pink, princesses, jewellery, high heels and hair clips and love a soak in a hot, deep bath at the end of every day. That’s my girl! You embrace your body and love to dance in front of the mirror declaring body positive statements about yourself with pure and delightful self-confidence. Please, do this forever.
A pretty dress and hair clips makes for a happy Jasmine
You’ve inherited creativity from Daddy‘s side of the family although your musicality comes from me! There’s few things you love more than art and being creative. You can spend hours playing with play dough, drawing, painting and making things and our current prediction is that you’ll be creative when you’re older, too. We flit between that and CEO of a major company, you know, because you just love to be the boss! When you’re not busy with your arts and crafts, you’re usually dancing or singing spinning around or tip-toeing like a ballerina.
You’ve got a sweet tooth and love all things cake, chocolate and biscuits which of course we only give you in extreme moderation! “I want a snack from the snack cupboard” is possibly your most used phrase of all time followed by, “no, not that one….a special treat.” Once again, it’s Daddy you can thank for this habit! You really do love your food though and your latest favourite is pistachio nuts! You are beginning to understand your identity as a vegan and what that means to you and our family. I can’t wait to continue this journey together.
Happy birthday my sweet girl. You are my absolute joy, every single day. I love you to the moon and the stars and back, or, “this much,” as we say with arms stretched out wide. You are simply incredible and I honestly cannot wait to get this next year started. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be our best yet.
Time changes our children at a remarkable rate and time replaces our memories that were once so vivid with ones that have now become a little hazy, much to our disbelief. Time changes the appearance of our children too. Longer hair, longer legs, a bigger smile. It fulfils for us a wish we made when they were babies, when we could only begin to imagine how they’d be as they grew and what a delight this change is to behold.
As our children approach their next birthday and become a year older, it becomes harder to remember them before, with the newer version of them forever replacing the older one even though really, they’re still the same. Layer upon layer builds up, each day providing new joys, new memories and new things to absorb. Do we have endless capacity to remember each and every change?
Photos and videos we took provide a heartwarming and beautiful way to remember times gone by yet also make us question how we let these moments pass and how, maybe, we didn’t realise then just how magical they were. Or maybe we did? We document first steps, first words, first birthdays, first shoes and first moments of everything in an attempt to lock these moments in time forever because otherwise, they just vanish. We can’t trust that our memories alone will stand the test of time in years to come.
Time is a constant in our world and it is always moving forward, never stopping. A second will always be as long as a second has always been and a day, the same length too. Yet on some days time seems to stretch and drag and on others it races us to the finish line. Time reminds us that nothing, be it good or bad, lasts forever.
Time confuses our minds into feeling that the numbers can’t be true. “How can that have happened a year ago?” we ask, our minds searching to make sense of this confusion. Our brains scramble that this week marks the start of year three of parenting yet day one feels like yesterday and in an instant we are stunned by how much time has passed, the proof being the child stood before us.
Time passing is a reminder of the need to slow down, to pause and to breathe and to take things in just as they are but then we remember that “slowing down” is simply a perception too because time waits for no man. Memories don’t stay as vivid as we believe they will. Not all memories anyway. The details slip away. What age they did that and what age they did this. Some of it is foggy now, not that it matters I suppose, as long as the memory itself still exists. It’s just scary how passing time makes us forget, isn’t it?
Jasmine at 16 months, appearing to me now to be just a baby
Our children are constantly growing, blooming and changing at a far greater rate than we are, even though we grow as they do. Our child today, at nearly 3 is the same child she was at 2 because she was destined to be this way but who she is now was impossible to know as time doesn’t allow us to truly see into the future but just to live project forward using imagination.
Time makes things appear differently depending from where, or when, we are viewing them. Our once “so grown up” two year old now seems so baby-like to look back on. So small, so sweet and so young. At the time she’d never been as big as in that moment and so in that moment, that’s how she was. Now we are in a different time and therefore my view of that same child is warped and we are confronted with feelings of longing for that once so small child.
This childhood. This precious time of which parents so often speak. It is going so quickly though the speed of time has never changed. It is yet another perception. An interfering emotion. A desire to be able to hold on a little tighter to feelings and moments so that time doesn’t dissolve them as it so cruelly does and perhaps a desire too to speed things up sometimes, the long days, the hard bits, the not-so-fun moments.
We long for a way to be able to hold moments in time forever. That cuddle with arms wrapped round wide, that kiss on the soft and still chubby cheeks, that sweet and curious voice. We don’t want to forget that sentence that made us chuckle or that question that in it’s innocence made us momentarily remember childhood ourselves. Time allows our children to learn, to make sense of the world a little bit more each day. Time gives them the ability to experience life, moment by moment.
Jasmine, one year ago today
Will time allow us to remember it all, to lock it up forever and have it all to look back on? The sacred details of the most wonderful moments that are a struggle to recall nowadays. Time often seems to be rushing us and it’s hard to keep up. It is the most precious commodity, each day only providing a finite amount, urging us in this quiet way to learn to live fully.
Time gifts us so much and is the gift that keeps on giving. Every day we are granted another day to Mother, to parent, to love and to laugh and to marvel at the funny games time plays with our minds. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds to use as we please. Every day our children live so presently as we, the adults, dart back and forth between past, present and future, forgetting so often that the only time that is truly ever guaranteed, is now.