How are we here again so soon? Another year gone in the blink of an eye, just twelve short months since I sat here writing to you on your fifth birthday. For today you are six and, as proud as I am that you have grown so beautifully, I can’t help but swallow the lump in my throat that you will never again be five.
It’s funny because six years ago, before you came screaming into the world at 7.45pm, just as Manchester United was about to kick off (something your big brother still holds against you all these years later), I found it impossible to imagine a life with you in it. After the most terrifying 35 weeks carrying you, when I was so convinced that you wouldn’t make it, I simply could not allow myself to believe that you would be ours to keep.
And now, six wonderful years later, I find it impossible to imagine a life without you.
And despite all of my worries and fears that I wouldn’t bond with you as I should, so desperate to protect myself from any more heartache, the moment you opened those big blue eyes and looked into mine, I knew that everything would be okay. And it was.
Six years on and I find it so hard to see the four of you grow so fast, to accept that the older you, Lewis, Megan and Harry get, the more redundant I become. And yet with you, I feel wanted, and needed, every single day. You are the one who will always rush into my arms, slip your little hand in mine, snuggle up beside me and tell me, a hundred times a day, “I love you Mama.”
Your favourite thing to do is to write, just like Mummy, and I have hundreds of notes you have sent me this year, all kept safely in the front page of my journal, literally bursting at the seams. And one day when I am old and grey, and you are preoccupied with a family of your own, those notes will be my most treasured possession I’m sure, and for that reason I can’t bear to part with a single one.
This year has been tough for you Eva, something which broke all of our hearts . Seeing you struggle to settle at school was the hardest thing I have ever faced as a parent and, although I tried my hardest to help you with your fears, I spent so much of this last year feeling that I had failed you. For every morning you cried into my arms, and every bedtime you sobbed into your pillow, I felt every single one of your worries and fears, and I would have done anything at all to take them away from you.
And yet now, after the most amazing efforts from your teacher, you have finally discovered that school can be a whole world of wonderful. You have started looking forward to seeing your friends, learning new things, and every single day you amaze me with something new. Just the other week you stood on stage in your class assembly and, for the first time in six years, you found the confidence to say your line out loud, so lovely and clear, and I have never been more proud of you.
I guess that’s a word we use a lot when we talk about you – proud. And I am proud, the proudest mummy in all the world, from the moment you were placed into my arms and every second of every day since. Not only are you breathtakingly beautiful but you are the kindest, most loving, clever and intuitive little girl in all the world. Every time somebody stops us in the supermarket to comment on your big blue eyes, or to marvel at your hair, right down to your waist, I feel ten feet tall. Every night when you sit down and read to me, or present me with your latest masterpiece, I burst with pride a thousand times over.
We’ve had the most fun together this year haven’t we? So many days out and family holidays away, and you have adored every single one. From our Summer in Devon to Autumn in Scotland, our days have been filled with so much adventure, and yet my favourite memory of you this year is from our camping trip to Anglesey, a last minute bid to enjoy the last of sunshine, and quite possibly the best holiday we’ve ever had.
I have genuinely never seen you look as happy as you did sat there, crabbing on the pier, the sun on your face, a twinkle in your eye, your whole face lighting up with excitement every time you reeled in a crab. “I can teach crabs to dance!” you told me, “They do it just like this!” And dancing up and down the pier, moving your arms and legs from side to side, hysterical with laughter, is one memory I will cherish for always.
Because five was a wonderful year for you in so many ways Eva. It was the year you discovered a love of the theatre, the hot tub, and “going out for tea”, the year you rode a bike, built dens and cardboard forts.
Five was the year you searched for fairies in bluebell woods, played at princesses in lavender fields, climbed trees, splashed in streams, ate picnics with grubby hands and a wet bottom.
Five was the year you picked strawberries and pumpkins, made daisy chains in the garden, whizzed down the zip wires at the park, the year you woke every single morning and asked “Where shall we go today?”.
Five was the year you went camping, built sandcastles, jumped waves, rode donkeys, dug holes, played football, felt the sun on your face and begged me, “Can we please stay here forever?”.
Five was the year you learned it’s okay to be silly and lose your inhibitions; the year you, Megan and Harry joined forces to cause mayhem, run riot, and spent your days filled with laughter….and often tears!
Five was the year you welcomed Meggy to school each day, when you skipped down the road holding hands, played gymnastics at play time, and rushed into each others arms at pick up.
Five was the year when Megan was your bestest friend in all the world.
Five was the year you learned to protect Harry, the year Lewis was your absolute hero and Joseph was never far from your thoughts.
Five was the year we went back to Lapland, when you were utterly certain of Father Christmas, of fairies and magic; when you dreamed of owning a pet unicorn and believed that anything was possible.
Five was the year you climbed trees and rode rollercoasters, flew down water slides and shed your arm bands. Five was the year you found your voice, your feet, and your courage.
Last night I asked you, “Will you still love me when you’re six?”, and, as you threw your arms around my neck, you told me, “I’ll love you more because there will be more of me to love you!”. And as I sniffed away my tears and drank in one last hug of being five, I willed with all my heart that you will always love me just as much as you do right now.
Happy 6th Birthday to my beautiful little rainbow, you have brightened my very darkest days.
Love you all the stars in the sky.