I asked Jasmin a few days before her third birthday what she would like for it. “Don’t go to work mummy. Stay home with me.”
I’d already booked the day off, but I couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d said. She’d made her statement without hesitation and with such certainty. She’d already thought about this.
I went to the toyshop a day later and picked up some silly little trinkets. She loved them when she opened them (nail stickers, colouring pens, Elsa slippers…) but they really weren’t up there with the best things about the day of her birthday. What mattered was that we were all at home together, just hanging out.
Tony and I had thought about a day trip to the beach – but in the end, we decided we were tired and the kids were tired. We kind of all just needed a day together. And so it’s been lovely and simple. A slow morning, presents, and then a picnic in the park, just us four. We spent the afternoon pottering in the garden, watching tv, playing toys – and really just not doing very much. Milin and Jasmin have been happy – and, it didn’t feel like a birthday at all. (We’d had a few friends round and sang happy birthday the day before.) And so, on the day Jasmin turned three, the children unceremoniously ate leftover cake on the garden steps, Tony put up some shelves in their room he’s been meaning to do for ages, I washed the floors….
I take it for granted that the children are happy without things on their mind – but maybe I need to remember how young they really are and how much things do get to them, even if they don’t always say so. I know they’re happy while I’m at work, I know that I work for good reason (as well as necessity), but still, I’d give anything for more time with Milin and Jasmin.
I can’t always make that happen, but today – on Jasmin’s third birthday – I did. We didn’t rush anything, we didn’t do anything because we felt we should, we didn’t do anything apart from the stuff we felt like. And that felt right.
(Yes I was emotional and got all soppy reminiscing about the day she was born and how loud her cries were… and then I saw how bloody lovely she is now, at three, and I got even more teary about the present than the past.)