My middle boy turned six.
And with the day came a sense of overwhelming joy, that I never would have understood was possible before I had children.
Yet as the day draws to a close, a mellow grief envelops me for the time already passed. I lay in bed with a tired soul snuggled up in his new pyjamas, and I say to him before I tuck him in, ‘what do you think you’ll do differently now that you’re six?’
‘I think I’ll probably ride my bike less.’
And that, right there, hurts. One more day ticks over and he thinks the older he gets the less he’ll like to ride his bike. The same bike he’s covered hundreds of miles on. The one responsible for the sheer number of angry red scars on knobbly elbows. The reason I won’t let him wear shorts to Beavers because he’s fallen off so many times his legs are black and blue.
But he’s loved every minute of it. Begging me to let him take his bike blackberry picking like we did last year, or the genuine, all-consuming happiness at getting to buy a new helmet. Watching him help Daddy to replace tyres or fix brakes or raising the seat. Endless trips to the BMX track where he races until he’s red in the face, breathless and in desperate need of water. We cheer from the sidelines, watching the concentration on his face as he navigates the ramps.
His passion is so consuming, I can’t imagine a day where he no longer loves his bike. Yet, I remember the days when I wondered if he’d ever play with anything other than the wooden train track. But it sits in the corner these days, gathering dust and faded memories.
It’s bittersweet, this motherhood journey. But my goodness, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
As sleep begins to caress him, he mumbles about having had the best day. I kiss him softly on the forehead, savouring these kisses while he lets me indulge them. I tuck him in, glad he still asks me for this night time ritual.
Birthdays remind me of how blessed we are to have so many wonderful friends who make the boys’ special days so damn good. The cards and gifts and the time that people give to us to share the celebration of my gorgeous boys.
The days are shortening now and 9 p.m. brings darkness and a chill to the air that’s not been there for a while. I sit, patio door still open, with a glass of red wine. I’m content, knowing my boys are sleeping soundly upstairs, happiness coursing through them.
And tomorrow, we’ll spend the day building the Lego sets he received today as presents. I can’t imagine a day when Lego no longer makes everything better. Though I know it will come, probably sooner than expected.
It’s the sweetest sadness and the greatest joy, and I’ve got so many more of these birthdays to come.