To Innes in 2037

Dear Innes,

 

Happy 18th birthday from 2020! I hope you’re having a wonderful day. We recently celebrated your first birthday here. The sun shone, I bought far too many helium balloons and we sat in the back green at Wilton Street drinking champagne and eating sugar-free cake (about as tasty as it sounds). The coronavirus meant we were only allowed four guests, and your poor grandparents weren’t even allowed to pick you up for a cuddle. But we had live music from good pals, enormous piles of presents and you crawled around delightedly in the scrubby grass. Never happier than when you’ve got grubby knees. 

 

One year of having you in the world with me. One year of waking up to your sleepy smiles. One year of being your mother. A word which still feels alien to me.

 

And what a year it has been. It’s impossible now, of course, to imagine the world without you in it. You came and your arrival shifted everything, tilted the axis of my world, and nothing was ever quite the same again. Including me. In the last year, you’ve taught me more about patience, anxiety, tenderness and the intricacies of different tractors than I ever thought possible. And love of course. Unimaginable love.

 

Becoming a mother feels like embarking on a life-long journey of transformation, one that I’m only just at the start of. It’s been a tough ride at times, but with you beside me, I’m beginning to appreciate this new person I’m becoming.

 

It’s fascinating to wonder who you will be at eighteen. Right now, you are so golden and delicious. Chubby, sturdy little legs, sandy curls at the nape of your neck. An obsessive hoover lover and a neophyte harmonica player. Today I love nothing more than to kiss the unlined soles of your feet, to receive your wet, open-mouthed kisses. It’s impossible to believe that one day you will be a grown man. I hope that we have done an OK job of getting you there. That we’ve kept you safe and secure; that you are happy and confident. Are you bookish and creative like me? Or sporty and scientific like your dad? Perhaps you’re both. Maybe you’re neither. I already know that, whoever you are, I’ll love you the same. And surely by now you’ll let me sleep later than 6.30am.

 

And who might I be by then? Only time will tell, but I have no doubt you’ll continue to stretch me: to push me to my limits, to make me cry with laughter and boil with rage. To teach me about who I am and to shape the person I am still becoming. I’m going to miss these precious baby times so much — your sleepy head on my chest, the indescribably lovely sight of your bottom in the bath. But there will be many more adventures to come. No matter how old we get, let’s still dance to David Bowie in the kitchen.

 

Most importantly, I hope you know that you are very loved. That you always have been and that you always will be.

 

Have a great birthday (and don’t get too drunk please).

With love, your mother xxxx

 

By Deanne Cunningham

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