On the Day you Start School

Dear Thomas,

The time is here, kiddo. Tomorrow is the day that you start big school.

It’s a huge milestone. And a huge one for Mummy too. I stood hanging out your clothes to dry this weekend and I suddenly remembered doing exactly the same thing the weekend before you were born. I was so aware, then, that life was about to change in ways I couldn’t quite truly imagine. This might not be quite such a massive shift, but it’s a significant change nonetheless. No longer a baby, a toddler or even a preschooler. You’ll be a real-deal school boy.

I look at you, in your uniform and you at once look both so tiny – hands disappearing inside a blazer that slightly swamps you – but also so grown up. And I can’t help but wonder how exactly we got here. In some ways that weekend of hanging out tiny baby clothes feels like yesterday, but simultaneously the time that you were not in our lives feels a whole lifetime ago. Perhaps I feel that more acutely because this month marks four years of trying to give you a sibling. And those four years have been interminably long. (I’m sorry we haven’t succeeded on that one, but I know that you are going to be part of such a warm, friendly school and hopefully your friends will continue to be your surrogate siblings.)

I look back, too, at just how much you’ve learned in the last five years. From the scrunched up little boy with a mop of dark hair who knew only how to suck and to scream (oh, how you could scream) you’re now a little boy full of knowledge. And not just facts but ideas, imagination, opinions. Yes, plenty of those and you’re not afraid to share them. You’re a character with a personality to rival the size of your newborn screams.

It’s true that children are like sponges. You’ve proven that. You’ve learned to crawl, to walk and then to talk. You’ve learned shapes, colours and numbers. You’ve learned to read. The list goes on. And now you constantly surprise me by just how much you know about so many different subjects. Trains are still your top obsession, but space – the sun, the planets, asteroids and comets – comes a close second. One of you favourite games this summer has been “Give me a fact about…” where we have to ask you for a fact about a variety of given subjects. And the stuff you come out with when we ask for a fact about the sun, or trees, or insects, so often amazes me, if not for the fact itself, but where you get this stuff from. You just soak up information and bring it out again at will.

And that is why, my most favourite little boy, you are so, so ready for this next step. Life with you is filled with a never ending barrage of questions about what, when, why, how. You’re ready to learn more. And I know you will. Not just more facts and information, but skills too. (And some of those will be more challenging for you that the basics of letters and numbers. Learning to lose gracefully for starters!)

Of course I have my worries about you. It’s true that we send children to school here in the UK when you are all still so tiny and sometimes your anxieties and your behaviour give us a glimpse of the baby boy still inside.

But I have to let you go. It’s time.

You’re excited.

And I’m excited too. To watch you take this next step. I’m ready for there to be someone else to respond to all your many, many questions and to start to teach you the things I have no idea how to teach. I’ll miss you. Of course I will. Those two days a week that I don’t work have always been “Mummy and Thomas time”. And no matter how nice it might be to have a quiet cup of tea or do the shopping in peace, I’m going to really miss your company. The funny things you say and the adventures we have. I’m so glad that schools have holidays and that I get you back.

You know, it’s a real privilege to be your mum.

And that is why, amongst all the things that you learn at big school, I hope that you don’t unlearn the skill you’ve perfected of being the indescribable you.

I love you, always and unconditionally. But I hope you already know that.

Mummy xxx

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Everything Changes (But You)

Dear Thomas,

I’ve been putting off writing this letter, in much the same way that I’ve kept dithering over talking to you in depth about the changes we’re about to inflict upon your life and your routine. But now, it’s just weeks away and there is no more escaping it.

In a few weeks we’ll be moving you from the only nursery and preschool that you’ve ever known. You’ve been there since a few days shy of six months. When you started you could only just sit up. You couldn’t crawl, let alone stand. You were just days in to your weaning journey and I still had to visit you each day to feed you your milk because you never did get the hang of taking it from a bottle, stubborn as you are. You’ve moved through the rooms there, forming attachments to the staff, who all know you and your (huge) personality now, making friends and making yourself thoroughly at home.

You really are at home there. Confident, sociable, outgoing. You chatter about your days and you friends. You have favourite places, from the window where you wave to me in the morning, to the book corner and the playhouse in the garden. By now you can, of course, run, jump, skip, hop, talk nineteen-to-the-dozen and even read and write, and so many of these developments have been aided by your fantastic nursery and the people there who have watched you grow. People who really know you and genuinely care about you.

So making the decision to move you has been one of the hardest choices we’ve had to make as parents so far. It’s hard, this aspect of parenting: making decisions on behalf of your child, trying to decide what is best for them when you can’t really know how it will all turn out, and all the while being aware that it could have far reaching consequences. We talked for so many hours about the pros and cons. We looked at the option of moving you after another term. We looked at the option of leaving you where you are for one day a week and moving you for two. Believe me when I say, we really thought this through. But in the end, the choice was made.

In my heart, I know this is right. We’re moving you to the preschool at what, all being well, will be your “big school” and where you’ll be until you’re eleven. Eleven! Imagine that? (I can’t.)

No matter how much your current preschool has helped you flourish, I know you are ready for some new challenges. Being an older child in your school year, you’ve already done three terms of “official preschool”. And before that you always moved up a room every few months. I know that staying in the same place again may make you stagnate. You might lose your currently seemingly infinite passion for learning and exploring. And the very last thing I want to do is switch you off education before you’ve even had a chance to properly begin. I firmly believe that you’re someone who benefits from change, and variety. And I want to encourage that.

I know that you will miss your friends. But we picked the timing carefully. So many of your friends are already four, and they’re all off to school in September anyway. It makes sense for you to move at the same time. In fact, I sort of thought you’d think everyone was leaving, but for just a moment I forgot how smart you are. As you told me “I’m too small to go to school”.

Yes, you are kiddo. But then, I’ll probably always think you’re too small to be such a grown up boy. I think we’ve overcome the confusion that panicked me for a while, where I think you believed we were packing you off to “big school” early. You know that this is still preschool. Just different preschool.

So, yes, this is happening. You’ve visited your new preschool over and over. You’ve told us how much you like it there. In three weeks it will be where you go three days a week. It will be a big change. You’ll wear a uniform. We’ll have to leave earlier in the mornings because instead of dropping you off on my walk to work, I’ll have to drive you to the top of town, before turning round, driving home and then walking to work alone. That drive will mean your pick up is a little later too. The routine will be different. And because the preschool is attached to a school, you’ll go from being one of the biggest fish to being one of the teeny tiniest, as you mix with the reception children during playtime.

Such a big change for you, because you know nothing different to what you do now.

But everything changes.

Everything except you. Because no matter what, I know that you’ll still be my bright, bubbly and confident boy. At least, I hope you will. I hope that I’ve made the right decision on your behalf and that this move will help you soar, rather than hold you back.

Everything changes. But you’ll always be my best boy.

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All my love, always

Mummy

A Snapshot of Life at Three and a Half

Ignoring completely that it’s a long time since I wrote anything at all here, it feels like forever since I wrote to, or for, or about Thomas specifically. That’s partly for the sake of some degree of privacy, and not wanting this space to just be a blow by blow account of his every milestone as it unfolds. It’s also because I’ve preferred to record aspects of our lives as a whole family. And, of course, not least of all it’s because I’ve been rather wrapped up in my own emotional state in the last couple of years. But whatever I want from this blog and my online presence, a reason to document the things I don’t want to forget about my precious only son is still foremost amongst them.

And so here we are, at three-and-a-half-and-a-bit-more.

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And first and foremost: The kid can read. I’m not plonking this here in any attempt to brag about my son, because I only know that not all three year olds can read with the fluency that Thomas can because other people keep banging on about it, but for all I know, perhaps most of them can. However, it would be wrong to say that I’m not a little bit proud of him. He’s the boy who remains completely obsessed with numbers to the point that I was afraid he wouldn’t find the same joy in the written word. So to have him be so utterly determined to decipher the world around him by reading words, and to be so keen to read books to himself and figure out the story from the symbols on the page is absolutely heart warming.

He’s been trying to read for a long while but fear of being seen as a “pushy” mum, never mind not really knowing anything about phonics or how to go about helping him led me to keep pushing the issue aside, hoping to hold him off until he goes to school at the end of next year. But his frustration at being able to read numbers but not letters soon led to some pretty epic tantrums. I couldn’t blame him. The closest thing to knowing how he felt for me was thinking of visiting countries that don’t use a Roman alphabet, and therefore being unable to even guess what so many words around me said. It’s no wonder kids get overwhelmed. Thomas would look heartbroken as he sat on his bed with a book and said “I want to read. I can’t read the words. Please teach me to read.” It seemed cruel to say no to something he wanted to understand so badly.

So, after a quick crash course for myself, off we went. Within two weeks he’d mastered all of the most common phonemes and the art of both blending and segmenting. Since then he’s raced his way through Julia Donaldson’s Songbirds books and many of the Read Write Inc books. Everywhere we go he points out letters and sounds and reads words he recognises. Every conversation is punctuated by him declaring the sounds that the various objects we are discussing begin with, or segmenting a particular word to figure out how it is spelled. Seeing him decoding so many things in the world around him has been an amazing journey for us too.

All I can hope is that this is just the beginning of a life long love affair with the written word, reading and writing.

The love has numbers has not gone, either. He mastered counting to one hundred earlier in the year, and the idea of one more and one less. he can now recognise a group as being a particular number without the need to count them out, which makes playing dice games much, much easier! He’s currently absorbed in basic addition, subtraction and sharing of numbers. His ability to manipulate numbers, however, far outstrips his drawing and writing ability. So many of the paper based number activities involve drawing more of something. For example, he knows that if you have two buttons and add two more you will have four buttons, but he cannot draw two more buttons next to the ones on the page for love nor money! I’m wondering if writing and drawing will be the next big interest in the same way that reading followed counting!

Just in case anyone is worried that I chain Thomas to a desk to practice reading and number puzzles, don’t worry, he’s still very much an over enthusiastic, boisterous handful of a little boy. He’s still as obsessed with trains as ever and still wants to be one at every opportunity. He makes us line up to be tenders or coaches and race along the “rails” on the pavement, stopping to open our doors and let in passengers, or fill up with coal and water at every other lamp post . We visit rooms in the house picking up and dropping off various toys that stand in as passengers. He will tell anyone that will listen about how stream trains work and we still watch plenty of videos of trains on You Tube. In fact “can I have a video?” is one of the most oft heard phrases in our house right now.

His other absolute favourite game right now is hide and seek. Not that he’s any good at it, mind you. He wriggles and giggles to give the game away long before we’re even in the right room, but that joy he gets from both “hiding” and seeking is immense and evident from the face-splitting smiles. He could also play “snap” for hours and “Can I do an app?” is another frequent refrain.

We get plenty of standard pre-school behaviour too, and some that I’m concerned is not so standard. He’s a deeply particular person who wants things exactly so. What Thomas doesn’t realise is that we aren’t capable of reading his mind and we don’t always understand how he is imagining that something will work. He gets so frustrated if we don’t do or say exactly what he wants, even if he has not made it clear what that is. One middle of the night meltdown involved the order in which we went in to his room and left and what exactly we each needed to say to him. At three in the morning on the fourth wake up call of the night, is was easier and faster to try to comply, but even that took a long time and left me back in bed with my mind wondering to how he will ever cope in the world when people don’t do things exactly as he wants. It is as simple as being bossy (although he is that) or wanting to be in control (ditto) but more that he seems to genuinely believe that something terrible might happen if things don’t happen as he envisages.

On a similar vein, he is very ritual led. He doesn’t have particularly rigid overall routines, but there are certain specific sequences that mustt be played out. Lately we have to pretend to race him to do certain things – such as take his clothes off for the bath, turn the television off, go up the stairs – and then pretend to be upset when we “lose” (which is not helping his competitive “me first” streak at all!) We have a very rigid sequence of things which have to be done at bedtime and any deviation means we have to go right back to the beginning.

I’m telling myself this is all normal, and it, too, shall pass.

After all, his sleep is better. He generally actually stays in bed now, and goes off to sleep well more than half of the time. We’re up at some point in the night pretty much every night, but it’s often only once which is a big improvement. He’s still an early riser and we often see 5am, however we did put some renewed effort in to the Gro-Clock and a sticker chart. he got a sticker each day he stayed in his room until the sun came up and these days it’s often 6am until we hear “Mummy and Daddy come and play with meeee! It’s morning”

Ah yes, sticker charts. there are a lot of “incentives” in Thomas’s life right now. I prefer that term to “bribes”. I see it as teaching him that things can be earned with hard work, and effort, and doing things you don’t necessarily want to. After all, the vast majority of adults go to work primarily to get paid! Whilst Thomas will talk to anyone and soon round up a bunch of kids of all ages at the park and have them under his control in a game of “Shops” or “Postmen” or “Trains” he can be quite physically timid – afraid of climbing or new slides and things like that. We’ve used offers of treats to get him to try the things we know he will actually love, like the water slides at Center Parcs. We’ve also had sticker charts for everything from staying in bed, to dressing himself and trying new foods.

Yeah, that. Eating is still a bit hit and miss. Overall he’s more adventurous than he was. He has now earned a total of three new trains for trying fifteen new foods in the last six months, which I think is pretty amazing! They’ve included things like kidney beans, lamb and green beans. In fact, last month he happily ate first one green bean, then nine more with no fuss at all, which a few months ago would have been unthinkable. It brings the vegetable count to peas, carrots, sweet corn, corn on the cob (his favourite) and green beans. I’ll happily take that. (Fruit is going less well. We’re stuck with apples, tinned peaches and anything pureed. Ah well, perhaps eating pureed fruit from pouches will be a future adult craze!)

Other than all of that, he’s just a rally fantastic little boy. He talks non-stop to anyone and everyone. He has a fantastic sense of humour and really gets jokes now. He runs (or now skips, often hand-in-hand with me) everywhere and I’m unsure if he knows how to walk! He still loves his bike and is a balancing pro now. He’s too smart for his own good at times. (Doing “Stranger Danger” at preschool the staff expressed concerns that he was quite happy to keep going off with “strangers” whilst they were acting it out. On the way home he brought the subject up himself told me all about how you should never go with someone you don’t know, or accept things from them and recited the “rules” perfectly. I asked him why, then, he had gone with the “strangers”. He gave me such a withering look and said “Mummy that wasn’t a stranger, that was ” I had to admit he had a point!”)

On the one had he has a great attention to detail and brilliant memory, remembering things from two years ago with clarity I cannot always match. Sometimes he’ll become engaged in an activity for so long that time seems to stand still. And he can be incredibly patient if waiting for something that neither he, nor we, can control, such as the start of a show. On the other hand, he often has a typical short attention span and cloth ears. Often he wants everything “now” especially if that is my attention.

Of course, I don’t begrudge him that. He’s my only one. My special son. His smile brightens my day and stills my heart all at once. I still love him more than I can find the words for. in fact, I’m not sure the words for it will ever come, even if I should live to be one hundred and one.

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I’m Sorry That You’ll Never Have a Sibling

Dear Thomas,

A year ago, just after your second birthday, I wrote you a letter, explaining just how much we wanted to give you a sibling for your birthday and how sorry I was that it hadn’t happened. I also promised to try the best we could to make it happen this year, for your third birthday.

Your third birthday has been and gone. You loved your new train set and your Buzz Lightyear.

But you still don’t have a sibling.

The sad truth is that you will never have a sibling.

When, a couple of weeks ago, you asked me where your baby sister was, my heart cracked in two. I couldn’t answer that question, not only because the hurt in my heart made it hard for me to speak without tears, but more simply because I don’t know the answer. I know that you believe that there is no question I can’t answer and that “Daddy is good at fixing things”. But I don’t know the answer to this, or why this has happened, and sadly, this is something that Daddy just can’t fix.

It’s not for lack of trying. The one thing I can promise you is that we didn’t give up easily. After I wrote that letter last year, everything went a bit crazy. Just a few short weeks later, we received the crushing news that medical science was our only chance to have another child. So that is what we’ve spent this year doing; Three rounds of IVF. We came close on the first try. So close that for a blissful but brief time I really believed it could happen. That baby would have been due the week before your birthday.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

It seems that another member of our family just isn’t meant to be.

I know that right now, at the age of three, you don’t really care about any of this. You only ask questions about a baby brother or sister because so many people in your world have new baby siblings. You don’t grasp at all what having a sibling really means or the finality of our inability to give you one. My greatest hope has been that the upheavals we, as your parents, have put ourselves through this year haven’t impacted on you negatively. Given what a happy kid you are, I’m pretty confident that reading these letters when you’re old enough may well be the first hint you’ll get of the turmoil we’ve been through.

I also know that there’s every chance that the “older you” will be wondering just what I’m making a fuss about. I know of plenty of people who’ve grown up happily without siblings and say they wouldn’t change it for the world – your own Grandpa included. After all, you cannot miss what you’ve never had.

But then, you don’t know what you’re missing either. And sometimes I just feel so sad that this is being thrust upon us and you, and that none of us have a choice. I can understand where people’s sympathy wanes when it comes your Dad and I. After all, we’ve already had the joy of parenthood once, and perhaps we don’t deserve any more. But you. You’ve done nothing to deserve to be denied the opportunity of a sibling relationship.

This is why secondary infertility really hurts. Of course there’s my own unsatisfied longing to become a mother all over again. But there is also my unsatisfied longing to see you as a sibling. It’s a double punch.

I don’t want you to think for even a moment, however, that my pain at not having another child can eclipse my joy at having you in my life. I hope that you’ll know that intrinsically as you grow up. I’d be lost without your cheeky smile, your infectious giggle and your quirky obsessions. If we can’t have two, thank goodness we have you.

I can’t really say much more that hasn’t already been said in last year’s letter. My feelings are largely the same. The main difference is that back then we had hope.

Now, we have none.

Or at least, no realistic hope.

I’m just grateful that this doesn’t hurt you yet. And if you should grow up to be unhappy about your “only” status, at least we have time until that happens. And I will cherish every moment of your childhood until then.

Just know, kiddo, that I love you endlessly.

That’s the most important thing of all.

Mummy xxx

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Thomas Turns Three!

BirthdayBoy
So Thomas, you’re three!

It’s amazing to think that just over three years ago you’d yet to take a breath in this world. But now, you’re very much here in glorious, unmissable four dimensional technicolour. I think it’s fair to say that you’re already determined to make your mark and make sure that everyone knows you’re here. You have opinions, and you’re not afraid to share them.

I actually can’t overstate this. You’re so vivacious, with an infectious enthusiasm for life. You chat non-stop to everyone – even strangers. You tell them about your trains, or trains in general. You tell them what you did yesterday. Or what you had for lunch. You tell them about your mummy, your daddy, your house and your car. And you’re so interested in everything. You look around you, taking it all in and asking questions that sometimes blow my mind.

You’ve always been a wriggle pants and a fidget bum, and that much hasn’t changed. You are pretty much always moving, even in your sleep. (Sleep which you still don’t like much – your answer to tiredness is to run around even more!) Your speeds are still “stop” at which you dawdle incredibly slowly, examining every last minute detail in your vicinity, or “go” which means full pelt, top speed, as fast as you can, be that on two feet or the two wheels of your beloved balance bike. Everywhere we go you can be heard shouting “Let’s be a train” and we follow lines where the pavement has been dug up (“get on the rails mummy”). You’re usually the engine. Of Daddy is with us he’s usually the tender. I’m invariably a coach. We’re most often steam trains, but lately we’re increasingly asked to be Pendolinos – your new favourite. We have to stop at stations, (or because the road has been dug up, or the imaginary signal is red) open our doors, let the passengers on and then you “whoo whoo” as we take off again, snaking our way through the town in a line – I do wonder what people think of us!

Speaking of “whoo whoo-ing” you’ve got a little fan club at our local station. When we sit and watch the trains – usually on a Friday evening – you “whoo” loudly as the train dispatchers blow their whistles. They all know you now, and you’ve caused at least one to burst in to fits of laughter with your exuberant whistle blowing.

You’re still obsessed with your wooden train track and your collection of trains. You love to make your “Thomas Wooden Railway Collection” videos, emulating some favourites on YouTube, where you line up all your trains and tell us who they are. We’ve given you your very first proper electric train set for your birthday, and it’s definitely fair to say it’s a hit!

Despite your unwavering train love, there’s also some room for other obsessions. Toy Story is one. And role playing as a doctor is another. For some reason your diagnosis is always “Bees” and we’re cured by tweezer extraction of the offending critters! In fact, role play in general is big thing. You devise tea parties for your toys (although insist there must be actual water in the kettle and tea pot!) and you act out stories you imagine with your trains, cars or other models. The insight in to your mind from these games is amazing!

Your other new love is numbers. You learned to read all of your numbers up to 20 several months ago, and you’ve since worked out by yourself how to count higher by adding the numbers to twenty. Everywhere we go, you point out numbers, which makes a trip to the supermarket painful! You’ve now started wanting to write them, and your pen control really astounds me. You’re also making strides to decode the world around you by reading. You can sight-read an impressive number of words and spell your name. You can also read many letters individually, although you currently know a mix of phonic sounds and letter names – the hazard of learning in the Internet age, I think!

Above all though, you’re still my funny, smiley, cheeky little boy. Since you’ve learned to crack jokes, we hear your laugh even more, and my heart still melts where your face cracks in to a grin and your dimples emerge. (The fact that the jokes have a disturbing tendency to involve poo or willies is something I’m overlooking for now. You are only three, after all!) it’s hard to argue with that cheeky grin when you barter for more biscuits, or present a convincing argument as to why you need ice cream.

And inside, there is still my cuddly little boy. I absolutely adore that you love cuddles so much. And then when I kiss you, tuck you up in bed and tell you that I love you, you always lift your head and say “I love you too Mummy.”

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How My Two-Year-Old Has Saved Me {Where We Are}

Dear Thomas,

It’s been a while since I published a public letter to you. The older you get, the more it seems like an intrusion to post every nuance of your burgeoning personality, and to reveal every aspect of our evolving relationship. So though I still write to you often, I usually do so privately, saving my reflections for the future you, whatever you may turn out to be.

But what do I blog for if not in part to tell the world about you, and about how loved you are?

So here is where we are right now. You, just shy of two and half years old. Me, just past the third Mothering Sunday I have spent as a mother.

One of your favourite new phrases right now may be “Thomas first”, but let’s focus on me for just a moment. (After all, the only other time I ever get to go first lately is when brushing your teeth. And believe me, that’s tough for a mother who once was just like her son in her desire to always be first! I’m sure you’ll hear all about that from your grandparents.)

Right now I still feel that I may be a little lost in motherhood. I’m often exhausted, at times anxious and unsure exactly what I’m doing. I know that I don’t have it all figured out, and I’m absolutely sure that I never will. I vacillate between worrying that I’m not doing enough for you, and fearing that I do too much and, hence, stifle your independence.

And right now, I’m busy worrying about how motherhood hasn’t ended up shaped quite the way I would have imagined. I’m feeling very acutely the hole in our midst – the missing second child, the sibling you will probably never have.

You, on the other hand, couldn’t care less about that. To you, I’m still everything. Me and your Dad are more than enough for you, and you find new ways to prove that to me all the time.

And that is how you, my two year old, have managed to save me.

You’ve kept me from slipping helplessly towards the deeper pits of depression, for how can I be sad when I have you in my life? You’ve given me perspective in the moment that you interrupt a massive tantrum over the availability, or lack thereof, of further biscuits to tell me that “it’s okay, I had one biscuit”. (I may have cried, and given you a second one.) You’ve reminded me that there is so much joy to be had in simple things: digging in the dirt with a stick; tossing stones in to puddles; dragging a branch along railings to play a tune; discovering the world around you and treating it all with utter awe and reverence. Not a day passes without you literally jumping for joy, and it’s a joy in itself to behold.

Each of your days sees great moments of triumph for hope and optimism over logic and experience. It’s a lesson we can all learn from. Especially your Mummy, who lately has been rather prone to negativity.

Right now you’re bright, outgoing, confident, curious, vivacious, imaginative, argumentative and strong willed. You’re still train obsessed, but are bringing increasing amounts of creativity and storytelling to your play. You literally never stop talking and never stop moving, managing to do both simultaneously whilst also sleeping. You’re my bundle of energy and my ball of chaos, yet you’re also so loving, with all your frequent requests for cuddles and kisses that you reciprocate so beautifully.

Our relationship is as much summed up in the quiet moments where you snuggle against me and gently stroke my hand as in the times I am the truck to your engine, racing about the house through imaginary tunnels, chasing to keep up with you. It’s as much about the cuddles and kisses as the impromptu dance parties and tickle fights.

We are each other’s warm and tender comfort, and each other’s fun and laughter too.

Right now, we fit together. And with you, I can just be.

All my love, always

Mummy xxx

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This post is partly inspired by Rachel – whose blog I have fairly newly discovered – and her letter to her boys on Mother’s Day, which I’m linking up to.

I’m Sorry You Don’t Have A Sibling

Dear Thomas

Yesterday was your second birthday, and amongst the many wonderful parts of the day was seeing the joy you got from opening presents, discovering their contents and then exploring each one fully. The way you play has become so creative and imaginative in the last couple of months, and your new toys fueled your fire perfectly. A second magical moment was watching you share it all with your cousin, who is just a few weeks beyond two years older than you. Seeing the two of you play together with cars, with the “big bus”, your trains and your new shopping till warmed my heart.

But it also broke it a little too.

You see Thomas, the gift that I’d really hoped to give you hasn’t arrived, and won’t be here any time soon. Mummy and Daddy have been working on trying to get it for your for a long time now, but it turns out that this is more difficult than securing a Christmas must-have or snapping up a bargain in the sales.

What I most wish, with all my heart, that I could have given you (or at least had well on the way) for your second birthday is a sibling of your very own. A playmate. A partner-in-crime. And most of all, a family that will hopefully go on with you in to your old age.

When you’re older, reading this back, possibly with a sibling by your side, you’ll probably be rolling your eyes and telling your old mum not to be so soft. That you didn’t care at two years old. Hopefully that you’re quite happy with how everything turned out. But writing this, the day after your second birthday, we’re not in that happy place yet and, rightly or wrongly, I want to capture exactly how it feels, and to let you know just how much we wanted a brother or sister for you.

People dismiss it all the time. They tell me to be grateful for you. That not having a second child is nothing like as bad as not having a first child. But the person they’re not thinking about when they make these comments is you, Thomas. Of course I’m grateful to have you in our lives and I can barely remember you not being here. Not having you would be unthinkable. I love you endlessly, more than I’ve so far found the words to properly express. But unlike wanting a first child, which is often borne of slightly selfish motivations, having a second child is as much about what is right for the first child as it is for the parents. We don’t just have the two of us to think of any longer; now we’re a team of three.

I know you have the potential to be a great big brother. Of course, you’ll have your share of tantrums, frustrations and jealousy, and I know having two small children will be incredibly hard work. But you’re so outgoing and sociable, loving the company of and interaction with other children of all ages, that I’m sure having your very own little brother or sister, to bring home and be with you everyday, will be a source of enormous joy. You love to fix things, to “help” and to entertain, which will all be fantastic qualities in an older brother. It feels like you were born to be a big brother, to take care or someone younger and help them learn their way.

I have to hide my tears from you when you ask about “a baby” or utter the word “brother”. I think these are things you’ve learned about at nursery, and you don’t really understand. You certainly don’t mention them to upset me, but I’d much rather I could turn those moments into a conversation about the new baby in Mummy’s tummy, on it’s way to join our family. Instead, I pretend I haven’t heard or can’t understand as I divert the subject to something else.

I know these conversations will only get harder in the coming months, as you begin to notice your little friends having siblings and start genuinely asking for one of your own. I’m hoping with all my might that by a miracle of nature or the wonder of medical science, we can bring you that sibling before your third birthday. I hope that you won’t hold it against me if it takes longer, or if the age gap means that your baby brother or sister takes a long time to reach a point where you can actually play together and enjoy the same games. I want you to know that we wanted you to be close in age to increase the chances of you becoming proper buddies. Perhaps it will happen anyway. Perhaps it was never meant to be.

Most of all though, whatever happens, I just hope you’re not lonely.

I love you – every last bit of you. And that won’t change whether you do or don’t get a brother or sister.

Mummy xx

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