An entire decade has passed since you rushed into the world, two and a half weeks before your due date. I hadn’t finished work yet, and perhaps it was your way of setting the scene; letting me know that nothing would ever be properly planned again.
And indeed, of all the things you’ve taught me, that’s one of the loudest – there’s always a plan B now, or at least an expectation that plan A may not come to pass.
But that’s not all you’ve taught me. You’re taught me that little things don’t matter as much as I thought they did. That silly work squabbles are just silly work squabbles. That holidays are the best days. That weekends are very much like weekdays when they all start at 5am. That one hour of quality TV late at night is far more enjoyable than three hours of channel surfing and CSI Miami. That a glass of wine and a film on Saturday night is almost as good as going out – and frequently better. That sometimes you’re my excuse to stay home, and often you’re the reason I don’t want to be anywhere else.
You’ve taught me to take compliments and unintentional insults equal measure. To accept it with grace when you tell me (on the night of my book launch) that you’re not mad about my makeup. To take your “old lady” jibes on the chin because I know you’re joking (you are joking, right?)
You’ve taught me that YouTube videos on slime are the 21st century equivalent of MTV – equally adept at prompting a parental “I don’t get it” eye-roll. You’ve taught me that I can’t pick your clothes anymore, that when I’m right I’m actually wrong, and that black is the new pink.
You’ve taught me to choose my battles, and that everything I assumed I knew about parenting was wrong or short-sighted or out of context. You’ve taught me that my plans to keep you away from TV were foolhardy and counterproductive. That my attempts to keep you treat-free were daft. That the slippery slope to the online world was inevitable and not as scary as I thought it would be. That you sometimes read my posts and might see this.
You’ve taught me that the freckles I had as a child look beautiful on you.
You’ve taught me to listen. To slow down. To make time to hug for no reason other than the very existence of you – the girl who arrived with a whoosh, and changed things forever.
I watch you sleep at night and marvel that someone once so tiny could set the pace, beat the path, pave the way. I am lucky to know you, to have been part of your first decade. I don’t always get it right, but I know you’ll keep teaching. Happy birthday little-big girl, thank you for lighting the corners and leading the way.