Every year when I sit down to write these letters to you I ask myself how your birthday can possibly have come around again so fast, how I have failed to notice, as the weeks turned to months, that you have grown taller and more beautiful right before my very eyes. And yet here you are at seven, losing all of those baby features I have come to know and love, and becoming the most beautiful big girl who makes me so happy every single day.
Seven years ago today, fraught with worry after a high risk pregnancy, during a 35 hour induction, so close I could almost touch you, I still refused to believe that you would be mine to keep. I will never forget the fear that crept in with every contraction, convinced that all too soon our world would come crashing down around us, that our hearts would be broken all over again. That moment when you came into the world, your eyes wide open and screaming at the top of your lungs, will always be one of the most incredibly experiences of my whole life and I have been pinching myself for every second of every day since.
Seven years on and I struggle to remember a time when our lives were filled with such darkness, to remember the days before you lit up our world with a whole rainbow of colour, taught us to believe in miracles, and reminded me that there is so much of life to live. And I think that’s the thing I love the most about you Eva, the fact that you always want to make the best of each day, to make the most of each adventure, to milk as much fun as possible in everything we do. You are my greatest adventure, that is for sure.
Last year was tough for you – struggling to settle in at school, battling with your crippling shyness and anxiety which physically pained you at times. And where as the year you’ve had your wobbles, for the most part you’ve gone to school each day with a smile on your face and rushed back into my arms at pick up with bright eyes, a wide smile, full of stories of your day, the things you have learned, and the friends you have played with.
And every parents evening, or play date, or just when I’m chatting to other parents in the school yard, everyone comments on what a lovely little girl you are, and that always makes me burst with pride. There are no real words to explain just how lovely you are to those who don’t have the pleasure of knowing you, no words to express just how kind, or how caring, or how gentle-natured you can be. And whilst you save your affections for just a select few, the thing about you Eva is that when you love someone, you love them fiercely, with your whole heart, and you have a way of making others feel like the most important person in the whole world right there in that moment. Every night when I tuck you into bed, even on the days when I feel like I’ve failed you, when you gaze into my eyes, those pupils of yours wide like saucers, you don’t even need to say how much you love me because it’s written all over your face. And you make me feel like the best Mummy in the whole wide world, always.
And so as much as I am grateful for you sat here beside me, aged seven, I have to admit I have a lump in my throat thinking that you will never again be six, my most favourite year we have shared together yet. We have had the most fun together travelling right across the country, enjoying a whirlwind of days out and new experiences, feeling the wind in the hair and the sun on our faces, always with your little hand in mine.
Six was the year we braved Formby beach in the winter, building dens, hunting shells, running wild in our endless pursuit of Elliot the dragon. The year we travelled down to London to visit the “Queens House” and see your very first show on the West End, and how, later, when we had gone back stage and met the cast I’m sure you held your breath the whole time our of complete and utter disbelief.
Six was the year you experienced your very first heat wave down in Devon, eating ice creams on Paignton beach, watching the Red Arrows on Goodrington Sands, fishing for crabs at Brixham Harbour, seeing the sights of the world at Babbacome Model Village.
Six was the year you holidayed abroad for the first time since you was a baby, your excitement at going on a plane forcing me to swallow my own fears and enjoy your look of surprise as we left the runway and how it made your tummy all wobbly. Six was the year you learned to swim without arm bands, danced the Macarena at Spanish discos, napped under the parasol in 40 degrees heat. Six was the year your hair went white, your skin went brown, and you spent the entire week telling me that you wish each day could last forever.
Six was the year you went on a ferry for the first time, experienced sea sickness for the first time, when you fell in love with Jersey in just the same way as I did. Six was the year you jumped waves at St Helier, saw the lighthouse at St Ouens Bay, flew down zip lines at Tamba Park, and watched the sunset in my arms at St Brelade beach.
Six was the year you milked every single moment of our Summer in Lincolnshire, eating apples from the orchard, playing football on the lawn, riding the old wooden rocking horse with a smile on your face. Six was the year you rode on a combine harvester, swung on rope swings, climbed trees, made daisy chains, ate far too many sweets and stayed up way too late.
Six was the year you ventured out of your comfort zone with our weekend in Newcastle, the year you enjoyed your first sleepover, your first horse riding lesson, your first pillow fight at midnight. Six was the year when you forged friendships in the space of just one day, when you left my side, and my sight, and told me, “Mummy I’ll be okay.”
Six was the year you travelled right the way down to Cornwall, where we took wrong turns and ate Dominos in the back seat of the car, where we played I spy so many times even you got bored eventually. Six was the year we visited countless castles, each one fascinating you in the same way as the last, when you read each and every information board with interest, when you would lean in and whisper to me during every guided tour, “So which Princess lived here?”.
Six was the year you went back to Lapland, where you decorated gingerbread, helped the elves in the toy factory, and ice skated all by yourself. The year when you sat beside Father Christmas and asked him for as much slime as he could carry that Christmas Eve, when you added another Husky to your collection, your eyes filled with magic and your cheeks flushed with happiness, from start until finish.
Six was the year we stayed in Wigwams in York, enjoyed afternoon tea at Betty’s, explored dinosaur museums and old Abbey ruins; the year me, you, and Meggy cuddled up together at night, eating marshmallows and watching “the singing programme”, before falling asleep to the sound of the owl hooting in the distance.
Six was the year you went to Dorset where you learned how to ski, whizzed down toboggan runs, swooshed down water slides, petted wild deer, and squealed with delight in the hot tub. It was the year you met a real life unicorn and Robin Hood in Nottingham, when you rode rollercoasters, held a snake, a mouse, and a lizard. Six was the year you rode the big wheel in the Market Square by night, explored old caves, fed llamas and goats, ate churros and tapas and fried eggs on toast every single morning.
Six was the year did you so many impressive things, in so many amazing places, and yet the truth is, it’s the little things I will remember the most. I’ll remember the look on your face, the glint in your eye, the sharp intakes of breath, the utter conviction in which you believed in magic with all of your heart.
I’ll remember the way your eyes lit up at every menu, how you made one ice cream last for all eternity, how no matter where we went, or what we did, you’d have a backpack filled with teddy bears and notebooks hanging heavy on your back.
I’ll remember the moments for just you, Meggy, Harry, and Lewis; the times I would catch the two of you, the three of you, the four of you, with your heads together, sharing a secret, a joke, a game. I’ll remember the way you’d throw back your head and laugh when Harry did something silly, or your forehead would crease into a frown as you scolded Meggy for not playing fair.
I’ll remember the way you would sneak into Lewis’s room whilst he played on the Xbox, giggling under your breath as you tried to sneak a sweet or some chocolate, slipping his phone into your pocket with the guiltiest look on your face as you scarpered out of the door.
I’ll remember the lazy days at home watching The Greatest Showman together, eating popcorn in our matching pyjamas, your head resting on my shoulder, your feet intertwined with mine. I’ll remember our days in the garden, playing in the paddling pool, making bird feeders and sun catchers, eating hot dogs sat cross legged on the grass. I’ll remember how you jumped for joy the first time you got a wobbly tooth, and your tears of devastation when that same tooth fell down the plug hole.
I’ll remember the way your eyes changed colour in the sunshine, or how your hair grew so long it went right past your bottom; I’ll remember how every night when I tucked you into bed you would hold my hand for as long as possible, stretching out your arm until I left the room, and you’d shout out to me as I went down the stairs, “I love you the mostest Mama.” I’ll remember how we laughed, how we loved, and how we lived every moment of that year through the ordinary and the extraordinary.
I’ll remember all of those moments, and all of your quirky little traits, and one day, when you are grown and my memories fade, I hope you’ll remind me that six was the year when you were the luckiest little girl in all the world.
Happy 7th Birthday to my beautiful little rainbow, may seven be as special as you are.
Love you all the stars in the sky.