Dear Daniel and Emily
At the minute you are nearly 3 years old and just over one month respectively. You are still my babies. You will always be my babies, although I will try to stop myself calling you that when your friends are round from school. Probably.
But at some point you are going to grow up. You will go to school, then secondary school. You will go to university, and/or get a job. You will make friends, fall in love, and fall out again. One day you will meet the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with; you might know this as soon as you see them, or the realisation might grow on you gradually.
And you might have children of your own. I hope you do – there is nothing like the feeling of holding your baby in your arms. It isn’t all joy; like the rest of life you have times when you think it can’t get any better but also times when you feel you can’t cope. No other experience in your life dominates your day to day existence in the same way. As I type this, I’m using one hand because you, Emily, are suffering from wind and need the comfort of being held constantly. I’m using half my attention because you, Daniel, are talking to me and expecting me to have answers. I suspect that’s the way it will be forever – some part of me, physical or mental, will always be on high alert for when you need me. (Do remember that, by the way? We will always be there when you need us.)
So, your time won’t be yours anymore. You will have many days, like today, when you feel so tired you are actually disconnected from the world, running on a very primitive auto-pilot through a thick fog. You will be exhausted and emotional, impatient and intolerant. You will have days of fondly remembering a time when you didn’t eat a cold dinner or sit up with a sick child all night. Your heart will ache when your children are ill or in pain – again, I have a feeling that will never change. You will feel dread at that first squawking cry, followed immediately by guilt for feeling the dread. You won’t want to close your eyes, because opening them again in ten minutes will feel so much worse.
You need to know these things. You need to know it’s normal to feel this way, because when you’re in the middle of it you won’t feel normal, and you’ll be afraid that you’ll never be normal again. And you need to know when you are going through it that we went through it all with both of you, and we’re waiting right there with a cuddle and a cup of tea.
But then your baby girl will give you her first smile. Your little boy will put his arms around you and tell you he loves you. You’ll look at your child and see all the aspects of your partner that you love the most. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.
With all my love