I always knew I wanted to be a mum. I thought it would come naturally to me, motherhood, and it did.
Your Dad and I discussed names for our children just weeks into our relationship. They stuck with us until I became pregnant with you and then it was open season. We kept your original middle name though — ‘Grace’. You just seemed more like a ‘Lily’ than an ‘Elizabeth’ in the end.
I had imagined you in my mind for years. Feisty, fierce, strong and successful. You are everything I imagined but wow, just wow, you are so much more than I could have ever fully comprehended.
The depths of your emotions, your personality, your characteristics, I learn something new about you every day just as you learn something new about yourself.
You know, somewhere along the way in those years before you arrived I started to distance myself from children.
If somebody brought their newborn baby into work I would shy away, too many phone calls to make, too much work to do. Sorry, maybe next time eh?
The truth is that I didn’t feel womanly. I felt like I was always striving to be like other girls (in all aspects) but it was a goal I thought I would never reach. Sometimes I still feel that way but it’s so much better than it was and I know it’s just my insecurities playing tricks with my mind.
Six years. Six years of ‘just incase’ pregnancy tests with negative result after negative result. We weren’t actively trying for you but we weren’t actively trying not to have you either.
I was in my late teens and then my early twenties. Where were you? Would there ever be a ‘you’? When we were ‘proper grown-ups’ and started trying properly (around 26, I imagined) what would happen then? Your Dad swore he wouldn’t leave, that he loved me all the same, but I knew he wanted you as much as I did. Would he stay? Or would I have to watch him live the life we should’ve had with somebody else through the veil of social media?
But, you took those thoughts away. Monday 16th June 2014. The day we came back from Download Festival. The day we bought another one of those ‘just incase’ tests from Tesco. The result so very unlikely that I took the test whilst your Dad wasn’t even in the house because I didn’t think I would have any good news to share, it would just be another one of those conversations…
Him: Did you take that test yet?
Me: *shakes head*
And so we would move on to something else. It was like checking if you’d turned the oven off or if you had the keys before leaving the house. Nothing to report, as usual.
I remember my heart stopping, forgetting to beat, skipping in its own excited celebration. The relief, oh my goodness, the relief was incredible! The blue lines on the pregnancy test crossed over to make a + just like the box had described. It was clear as day and it had come up almost immediately.
I was pregnant. And approximately 8 pregnancy tests later, I was still pregnant. A couple of weeks later we had a private scan in Guildford and there you were, bouncing around on the screen, my little girl, and already you couldn’t keep still (nothing much has changed there has it?)
I’d been a bigger girl since my teens. Severely bullied, seeking comfort in the chocolate bars from the vending machines.
I lost weight slowly in college and when I met your Dad I wasn’t quite ‘there’ yet but I was normal.
For once, men were paying attention. I was young, just 17, and whilst I quietly revelled in the feelings of being finally being desired — I only wanted his attention.
We were happy and quickly grew comfortable with each other. Both fresh from the rules and conditions that come from living with your parents, we drank what we wanted, stayed up as late as we wanted, we ate whatever we wanted.
We both gradually began to gain weight, together, and I’m here today with the scales shooting up to the highest numbers I’ve ever seen whilst putting my feet upon them.
I was lucky to become blessed with you. I don’t know if I will ever be blessed in that way again.
I suppose I just want to say thank you, and I know I can never thank you enough for the experiences you have and will continue to give me, to share with me, all of the love, all of the hugs and smooches, all of those ‘cheshire cat’ proud smiles that I can’t wipe away, the instant feelings of calm and comfort and ‘all being well in the world’ that wash over me whenever you relax in my arms.
Motherhood can be so hard. It’s not the ‘mothering’ that’s the problem. It’s the sleep deprivation and the feeling of stretching yourself in every direction to meet every need that takes its toll but, in all honestly, I completely adore it. Even those moments, when I’m exhausted and I think I will fall asleep right there and then, I miss them when you start sleeping again, when it becomes easier for a while.
Motherhood is everything I ever wished for, everything I could’ve imagined, a role I never thought I would play but hoped beyond hope I would get picked for, against all odds.
And now you are growing up, things are changing for us, and I’m so bloody proud of you.
I love you so, so much — Lily — and I will always be grateful for you.