You burst into our lives two years ago, a much anticipated early Christmas present, a much hoped for healthy baby. And a boy! It was as though we didn’t know you could be a boy. Two big sisters – just two, but it could have been a dozen for how it left us feeling – how do we look after a boy? We soon worked it out – just like we did with your sisters; we cuddled you and snuggled you and fed you and carried you and fretted over you and watched you and kept watching you. Sleeping in your basket, sleeping in my arms. Watching, mesmerized by your cupid bow lips and your tiny hands resting either side of your head. Your baby breath, your chest rising and falling almost imperceptibly. Worrying and checking and holding and carrying and feeding and scooping. From that day to this.
You have appeared here on these pages as a supporting actor, as the cast-member responsible for plot-turns such as sleepless nights and back-to-work tears and spilled porridge and more sleepless nights.
But this supporting role belies the centre-stage place you hold. You are the heart of our family, the centre of our world. Your smile is a daily light, towards which we are drawn – your parents, your sisters. You do lots wrong but can do no wrong.
Marker marks on white walls, headless dolls, toothpaste smeared into an ill-considered biscuit-coloured carpet. Broken eggs, broken toys. Yogurt in hair, paint on face, grapes in shoes. But all is forgiven, every act, every mishap, every day.
Your little run with those almost-sturdy legs. your excitement when I come home from work, your perfect call – somewhere between “mammy” and “mommy” but not quite either. Your hug that makes my world stop. Your smile that makes my day. Happy Birthday little man.