I gave birth to a beautiful bouncing boy in 1989. My own newborn. I was 22 years old. I had been married the year before. I was new to mothering. I was a career girl. A successful manager.
I fell in love with my helpless child and knew that I needed to look after him myself. I wanted to try not using throw away nappies and making my own fresh puréed food. Luckily for me this was possible because we’d bought our house when I was a teenager. We could afford for me to leave work.
I sold my old car and we bought second hand furniture. The local church sent someone round with a suitcase full of babywear. My mum knitted new and matching suits, hats, mittens and cardigans.
I watched you, my newborn baby, speak your first new word, walk your first new step, ride your first new bike, swim your first length, run your first race, write your name, read your first book, make your first new friend, play your first new instrument, classical guitar. Play the violin, rip your first new pair of trousers, write your first letter to me, congratulating me on taking you all swimming twice in one week.
I gave birth to a second newborn, a girl.
The second was born on a Sunday in May. It was the following year in May. Breastfeeding wasn’t such a good contraceptive after all. The midwife has told me that. I didn’t.mind. I’d willed her to be born as I didn’t want a big gap between them. I fully intended to return to my career at some point.
She was perfect. Fed every four hours and went straight to sleep. Very content.
I noticed she was very creative. She was always laying her toys around the floor in shapes. I had no idea how she could do that. I took a photograph of a pen house she made.
She used to draw pictures in black chalk. She seemed to like the rain. I didn’t mind. I’d always enjoyed the rain. We went for walks in the puddles with her brother and made mud pies and read books with similar themes.
She had this knack of memorising whole books. From beginning to end. When I saw what she could do, I nurtured this skill and took pleasure in her prowess.
Her brother was at nursery for a couple of hours so I sent her to a Montesorri nursery, as I thought
the outdoors and their methods would suit her.
She loved it, particularly the Spanish. I had learnt some languages myself so I tried Spanish, but I didn’t find it easy. My French was ok. I found a French tutor and we all took lessons on Saturday mornings.
I found a Spanish tutor so that she could continue with the Spanish after school for a while.
I decided to hire an Italian tutor, and to be fair, my son and I took lessons for a while.
She wanted to act, so she went to a drama group with her brother.
We used to watch her plays, and I made her a make-shift theatre.
Her favourite film was that Disney film, Jungle Book, with that song Bare Necessities. We used to dance up the street singing that song.