Seamus tomorrow you are turning one. There have been many moments, all strung together to link the 365 days from when you entered the world, to the celebration of being in it for a whole year.
In the days after your birth we were told I needed important, urgent tests and treatment which could not be performed at the local hospital in which you were born. They would find me a bed as soon as possible but the message from the major Hospital was that you could not stay on the Oncology Ward and your Daddy would have to find alternative accommodation with you. Your Daddy and I were distraught at the idea of being separated but resigned ourselves to it. When we arrived at the Canberra Hospital in the early evening, we were greeted by a beautiful nurse named Cheryl. She smiled and said how she’d been expecting us and we had apologised for being late. She led us down a rabbit warren like corridor and showed us to the room at the very end. It was the biggest on the ward and had a view of the garden. There was a hospital gurney close to the door, and a small fridge next to two armchairs beneath the window. She explained how the big leather couch folded out into a bed and asked what else we needed. When we explained that we had been told you were not allowed to stay she was outraged.
‘Nonsense’! She said; ‘You must stay together and if anyone has an issue they can take it up with me’!
With that she left the room and returned with extra bedding and a hot meal. Shortly after that a nurse from maternity left a cot, some baby blankets and a packet of nappies outside the door. Nurses were arriving to take my blood pressure and sneak a peek at your gorgeous little face. Strangers would knock politely at the door and hand me beautifully hand knitted booties. A lady doing pastoral care popped in to ask if I need to talk or pray with her and when she spied the empty cot she became very curious as to your whereabouts. She returned three times before lunch when your Daddy finally brought you back from a stroll to the shop. She gazed at you and put her hand on her chest.
‘Oh, so beautiful’ she told us. We already knew.
A gaggle of aunties, uncles and cousins descended to fuss over you and take a million photographs.
It turned out that even though I was the patient, you were the one everyone kept coming to see.
So you see, we were in it together from the beginning. You were such an amazing comfort to me. You were my light at the end of the tunnel. You were the dessert if I ate all my green vegetables. You were the golden trophy I would be holding as I stood on the dais.
This past year has been a challenge in so many ways. It has also been a real test of my limits; physical, mental and emotional. I have been exhausted from sleepless nights and the side effects of treatment. I have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of the reality of raising a child. When you were five months old I stood crying in your bedroom in a moment of deep insecurity, clutching baby powder and a size 1 coat hanger and telling your Father that I just didn’t think I was cut out for this whole Motherhood thing.
However, you power my will to do the very best I can. Your very presence is the force I sometimes rely on when I feel I cannot source my own energy. By looking after you I have been able to make some loving changes to the way I experience life. My pride and fixed determination to always do things for myself is softening and fading away. I am getting better at asking for help. I am getting better at letting others in. I am getting better at showing my vulnerability. I am getting better at being in the moment. I am getting better at accepting that I need not be nervous when I am experiencing happiness. I am getting better at knowing that I deserve it.
It was breakfast time and you were about nine months old. I was holding you and you were looking around the room. Suddenly your eyes fixed on mine and you stared at me intensely. It was like you saw the real me, who I am inside. My true self. I felt like we were experiencing a deep soul connection. Then you laughed and kissed me on the mouth. It was such an incredible and powerful moment we shared I felt like I would burst with joy.
These occurrences are laced with timelessness and beauty beyond my comprehension. They are the jewels that live in my heart and are fast collecting.
I am energised by your lust for life and curiosity. I am fuelled by the desire to provide a space where your tenacity and spirit can experience freedom. As your Mother I choose for you to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are treasured and embraced within an extended family circle of incredible love.
Whilst there have been plenty of moments over the past year that any new Mother would call normal, there are many things about your year old life that have been unique. Yesterday it was my turn to get up to you in the morning. As I stood in the doorway I saw our hand reared baby Kangaroo, Ruby, was standing beside your cot. She had obviously helped herself in through the doggy door sometime through the night, so god only knows how long she had been in the house. You were having a lovely chat to her. Both of you looked up at me and I couldn’t help but smile.
I never wanted normal for you anyway.
Happy first birthday my darling, thank you for giving me the incredible gift of being your Mother.
“When a mother hugs a child, energy is flowing. That energy is invisible – we have called it love, warmth. Something is jumping from the mother to the child, and not only from the mother to the child, from the child to the mother also. That is why a woman is never so beautiful as when she becomes a mother” – Osho