Oh the glorious symmetries. Our fifth child was born on the fifth of the fifth. The dangerous perfectionist streak in me delighted in this far too much at the time and delights in it still. When all else around me is falling asunder I can always remember that one great feat. And then revert to beating myself up for not managing it for the rest of them. The thirteenth of the eleventh for the poor first child. Not trying hard enough at all at all. There are therapy bills looming for someone down the line. Although it was the millennium, so that’s some sort of consolation I suppose. At least we’ll always know what age he’s turning without being too taxed in the poorly resourced maths department.
Oh the high when my fifth of the fifth fifth child turned five. Does it actually get any better than that? There are burdens for him with it though. Being the youngest of five. Burdens of excessive love.
‘Isn’t he just the icing on the cake’ we used to say often, because whether he liked it or not, he was the last. A very hotly debated last. There was a traumatic late loss before him and I just didn’t know if I could do it. Someone sensible spoke up, loud and clear. We should not end our child bearing on a sad note. We were lucky in the past and we were lucky that we had the choice. To go for it or not. It’s unthinkable now. If I’d remained like that, stuck, not finding the courage, we might never have met him. We burden him in our own minds with that a little too. That there’s an extra spoonful of magic about him. There’s magic about all of them, of course. But he was conceived when our lost baby was due to be born. Exactly when. And there’s something lovely about that. A continuity of spirit. But then he is his own little person and he happens to be blessed with the sunniest of dispositions. A joker. A joiner. Always laughing. A real little lover, as his granddad once said about him. And that he is. Full to the brim with it.
‘Have you any idea?’ I used to mutter to him, often while feeding. Have you any idea how much we love you, was the question thrumming in me, but it always came out as have you any idea, and was as much to myself as to him, overcome with the oxytocin fuelled joy of having him safely here with us. Then one day he pulled away, looked up at me beaming and said ‘yes idea’ before continuing on. His Dad chimed in chuckling with ‘well you know the breast feeding has gone on too long when they start to answer you back’. That you do. ‘Yes idea’ became a little mantra of positivity. And today, on the fifth of the fifth as our fifth child turns eight he tells me something on the way into school.
‘The only word I have is thank-you, that’s all I can say for everything and I wish I had more words, better words than just thank-you all the time because I just can’t explain how much you make me happy. You’re the best ever’.
Ditto and happy birthday baby.