Well here we are, your first day of school, and I can’t quite believe that my baby boy, my last little Dove, is leaving me for five days each week. And whilst I’ve always known that, as the baby of the family, this would be my hardest goodbye, I didn’t realise it would come around quite so fast.
When Eva started school two years ago I consoled myself with the fact that I still had you and Meggy at home each day and, when Meggy joined her the following year, I was comforted by your little hand in mine. I can still remember how you had wiped away my tears, snuggled up beside me, and told me, “You’ve still got me Mummy.”
And so tomorrow, as I wave you goodbye and return home alone, I already know that my heart will be breaking that this finally marks the end of our pre-school years; that after six long years at home with you all, I am finally being made redundant. And I am going to miss you so much.
You, my beautiful little boy, were never a part of our plans. When I fell pregnant again, with Megan just 3 months old and Eva 18 months, we genuinely wondered how we would ever cope with 3 under 3. A family of 6. My pregnancy was fraught with worry, even more so as we learned that we would have a son, and I was convinced we would never be lucky enough to have you arrive safely into our arms, to take you home and live a long and happy life together.
When you were born, completely grey and silent, I genuinely believed that history was repeating itself all over again. And when you spent those first few weeks in NICU, a machine to help you breathe, your tiny little body covered in tubes and wires, it simply reinforced my belief that we had tempted fate by adding to our family, that we had asked for too much in wanting another little boy to love.
And yet slowly but surely you opened your eyes, you ripped out that feeding tube, and you started to breathe on your own. And on the day we finally brought you home, the proudest parents in all the world, I knew that you were special – our bonus baby, the missing piece of our jigsaw, our little piece of Heaven.
You are undoubtedly, the most beautiful, loving, hilarious little boy in all the world, and over the last four years you have been a shining light through a really difficult time for me. Through so many ups and downs we have had the most incredible four years together – the six of us, the four of us, and lately, just the two of us. And I have loved every single moment with you.
Over the last twelve months, with the girls in school and in-between your 15 hours of pre-school, we have had two and a half days a week just for the two of us. And we have had the most fun together. Whether we’ve been playing at dinosaurs, watching Paw Patrol, singing songs from ‘The Greatest Showman’, or exploring in the woods, your enthusiasm and zest for life is contagious. I can’t imagine how quiet my days are going to be without the sound of your laughter, how empty my arms will feel without your cuddles, or how lonely I will be without you by my side.
At the start of the Summer I promised you that we would have the Summer of our lives, enjoying every single moment together, creating as many memories as possible, and we have done exactly that.
You’ve rode on aeroplanes, ferries, tractors and donkeys; enjoyed holidays in Spain, Dorset, Jersey and Lincolnshire. You’ve built sandcastles on Spanish beaches, jumped waves on Jersey shores, rode rollercoasters at Paulton’s Park, climbed trees on the farm, basked in the heatwave, sheltered from storms, and eaten your body weight in ice creams. And then some.
You’ve visited castles, lighthouses and zoos, seen tigers and lions and ‘real life dinosaurs’; you’ve played on a whole host of playgrounds, visited countless parks and beaches, stayed in some of the most amazing hotels, and you have laughed and smiled through all of it.
But my favourite moments are the ones which were just for you and I, when you slipped your little hand into mine, or you crawled up onto my lap and rested your head against my chest; when you told me, with those big brown eyes gazing into mine, that I was your best friend in all the world.
And you, my beautiful baby boy, will always be mine.
Because deep down I know that you are more than ready for ‘big school’ and I can see just how excited you are to be joining your big sisters – God knows they are excited to have you there too. I know that you will flourish under the care of your teacher, that you will endear yourself to every single child and member of staff at school (how could they not love you!), that you will take it all in your stride, as you do with whatever life throws at you, and that school will be the making of you, giving you a real outlet for your imagination and feeding your hunger to learn.
And whilst I do know all of that, when I look at you I still see that baby boy who I held in my arms just moments ago, and I am so sad that the years have gone by so fast.
And so tomorrow, as you put on your uniform and head into school, forgive me if my heart breaks just a little. Excuse the lump in my throat as I hold you close, my shaking hand as I wave you goodbye, and the tears which will inevitably fall as you disappear from view.
You have been my greatest adventure Harrison Joseph. My very best friend, my little piece of heaven, my very last little Dove.
And I am so very proud of you, always.
Love you all the stars in the sky