Today, you are five. You awoke last night shortly after midnight and crept into my bed. You hooked your knee over my hip as I lay with my back to you, feeding your baby sister. When you wrap your limbs around me now, they're not the short, fleshy limbs of years gone by, they are leaner and longer.
This morning you woke up full of smiles and excitement. "Is it time to open my presents?" You whispered excitedly, for once taking care not to wake your baby sister. I looked at my phone, it was almost 7am. On the floor next to me lay your unwritten unbirthday card, quickly pushed aside when you snuck into the room last night just as I was about to write it.
This is the first time you've been at school on your birthday. It feels strange to be here without you on such an important day. We had a party yesterday. You invited all of your class, all of your friends from nursery and all of your friends from other corners of your life. The room was loud and hectic with children screaming and laughing and running. You helped the magician with her magic tricks, you handed out the party bags and you cried when your helium balloon ended up on the ceiling.
Normally, I say that it doesn't feel like x many years has passed since I first held you in my arms, but today that first cuddle feels like a lifetime ago. Maybe it is the fact we have Ember now, or the fact we've moved house so I'm not typing this in that living room, or simply the fact that my aging mind is growing hazy, but the day you were born doesn't feel like yesterday anymore. I can remember how much we loved you, how hard I cried when I saw you for the first time and how proud I was to have met you. I can remember that first day together, you sleeping soundly in your moses basket while I peered at you from the edge of the bed. I was exhausted but too besotted to sleep, I didn't want to miss a single breath.
And now you are five. A curious little girl who loves fiercely, cares deeply and fights for what she wants. I am so proud of you, my biggest girl. You are everything I hoped you would be. You are funny and kind and loving and strong. You give withering looks to anyone and everyone who gets in your way. You are the perfect daughter and a complete nightmare both at the same time.
I love spending time with you. I would be lying if I said I didn't enjoy the quiet with your sister during the school day, but I love those few hours we all have together before bed. When we draw and read and play and talk about your day. When you tell me who pushed who or why you got cross at school. You direct most of your play at your sister now, singing and dancing and doing pretty much anything you can think of to keep her entertained. And she loves you so much. I love seeing her face break into a smile when she hears your voice. She loves you and you love her so fiercely. She bit me once during a feed and I shouted out in pain. You thought I was shouting at her and you immediately told me that I should never do that again, she's only a baby, she doesn't understand and her ears are very very precious, you told me.
One morning last week, we were sitting on the edge of my bed. I was getting Ember changed so we could go out, carefully slipping her arms into a new onesie. "You're not a bad mummy," you said, out of the blue "You're a really good one. You take such good care of us. I love you so much." If I'm a good mother, it's only because you made me one. Because, even on the days when I'm perfectly imperfect, I strive to do better because I want you to have the best parents you possibly can.
So, little girl, let us see what adventures five holds for us.