Friday, 10 February 2012

Eight years of reading to my baby girl

It is A's birthday today, and I am feeling very nostalgic. In fact, this morning, I had a quiet blub because she suddenly seems so grown up and big.

I know I am biased, but A is amazing. I won't detail her amazingness here for fear of turning into one of those parents who buys Aquila magazine (yeah, I know), but she makes my life so much more wonderful by being in it.

A was born at a very, very dark time in my life. I was very unsure of exactly what to do with her, although I always tried my very best, but often felt as though I was blundering in the dark (and often I was blundering in the dark to go and feed her for the 17th time in one evening).

I remember the day the darkness started to lift. I can't remember exactly how old A was, but it was a beautiful bright sunny afternoon. A and I were both sporting strappy vests. We had had a morning at home and I remember looking outside and deciding to take her for a walk. I put her in her sling and set off down the road. We used to live by a railway station, set slightly out of a city centre. We took a walk by the riverside into town and up to the cathedral. The sun was beating down on my shoulders and onto A's little broderie anglaise sunhat. I remember looking down at her and she gave me the most enormous heart-melting grin. I had a sudden awareness of what a wonderful person she was, and such a feeling of excitement that I would get to spend the rest of my life being her Mum.

Some of my happiest memories with her are of sitting her on my knee and reading a story. When she was a crawling baby, we would go to the library, come back and spread the books we had chosen around the living room floor. She would crawl to each book in turn, bring it back to me, and we would read it. This could go on for well over an hour at a time. With a first baby, it is impossible to know what is normal and what is not, but certainly, at the age of 9 months, C did not do this. He would have been more likely to try to eat the books or chuck them around the room. Of the two, however, C has got into reading at an earlier age. I think A used to enjoy the sitting on Mummy's knee aspect of reading, more than the actual books. But that's OK. I used to enjoy that aspect too.

I caught A staring at me the other day, and said "What?" or something equally eloquent. "I remember when you used to be young, Mummy." For a moment I was a little bit put-out. I think I offered a slightly sardonic "hmmm". Later, I thought, she does remember when I used to be young. And she helped me to grow up. God bless you, best daughter a Mummy could have. Happy 8th birthday.

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