My youngest baby turned five last week. I cried. And cried. Not in front of him. Not in front of anyone in fact, not even my husband. But in the car right after we had a blissful birthday morning of feeding the birds at the Palmwoods Duck Ponds and going to the bakery to pick up morning tea, I sat there as big fat salty tears rolled down my eyes.
I had just dropped my cheeky son to kindy and hopped in my car to go to work when the tear machine kicked into overdrive. Next year he will be at school for his birthday and I will not be able to have a morning of adventures. Next year he will have someone else who will probably be a bigger influence than me when it comes to his learning. We still have not done half the things I have always wanted to do, such as catch a train from Gympie to the Coast and jump in muddy puddles.
You are in one of two camps when it comes to your kids’ birthdays: you think nothing of it, or you spend the week leading up to the big day looking at Facebook photos and wondering nostalgically how on earth that little baby has grown up so very quickly.
I am really lucky to have three kids, as some of my friends never got their wish to have children. Other friends have lost their children. I would have loved more kids. I am not sure why it is so emotional for me when they turn another year older. Maybe I am plain bonkers. Maybe it is the mortal clock ticking a little louder, reminding me we are all heading for the golden sunset at some stage. I mean death, not a great bar for happy hour.
Or maybe it is because we know these little beings are ours for such a short time that it is bittersweet. I don’t know how on earth you let children go and face the world as they grow up and leave home. All I know is, I get really melancholy around their birthdays and want to freeze time.
My five-year-old, Augie, slept in the hallway the night before his birthday. I found him on the cold floorboards with a pillow under his head and a blanket he had thrown over himself, sucking his thumb and clutching his tattered Batman toy. We scooped him up and placed him back in his bed. The next morning I asked him why he had set up camp on the floor. “I wanted to get a head start on the day,” was Augie’s adorable and earnest reply.
Indeed, he lives life at full pace and makes his mum’s heart burst with pride as he scampers from dawn until dusk, full of energy. So perhaps he is the teacher in our relationship and we need to live a little more in the moment each day because 2020 is speeding at us all like a Japanese bullet train.
So my goal for the next five months is to get a headstart on most days and suck that beautiful marrow out of life. And maybe I will wag school with him the day he turns six next year and we will go on a grand adventure indeed.