I’m late in posting this, partly due to the same reason that this birthday has stood out a little from the rest. In addition to the invite that brings out the inner graphic designer in me, months of space-themed crafting, days of number 5 cookie baking and careful imagining of a cake that took till the early hours of party day to execute, this year we also had a separate celebration on the Queen’s birthday holiday for our little prince—a Yarra River cruise with his grandparents, and not long after, a second celebration of his 5th voyage around the sun with 20 of his closest friends, followed by a slightly more terrestrial event that shifted the focus from star gazing and cake eating, with commencement of our new living arrangements. Knowing this was going to be the case, I tried to savour every single moment leading up to his day even more than I normally would. I was squeezing him a little tighter, telling him I love him far more frequently, and making a greater effort to be present, even in unremarkable moments (how special it has become to yet again be asked to close my eyes as he hides underneath the dining table and I feign surprise at his disappearance). Moments that from now on will happen only for half his week and half of mine, with what will feel for my heart like an eternity between cuddles.
The beauty of posting so long after the event though is that I can report that the transition has been smooth, and my hope is that he will look back on it not as though something was taken away from him, but rather that he got something greater—two homes filled with love.
If you’ve read previous years’ birthday posts, you’ll know about my somewhat extra approach to birthday party planning, and this year was no exception. Fitting the theme nicely, during late-night cake decorating, a.k.a fondant foolery, I paused for some minutes and stepped outside of the space which had been the centre of my universe for hours, to stand in awe of a lunar spectacle. At around 11pm, in the clear, light-pollution-free sky, there was an incredible ring of light, a portal into another dimension that encircled the full moon and the luminated speck that was Jupiter with its lunar entourage, a far more resplendent vision of the cloud-swirled giant than the coloured pop cake version I’d baked into a sweet galaxy and moulded into an astronaut’s helmet. As mesmerising as the sky show was, however, the niggling feeling that my fondant might harden before I finished bringing the 3D cake to life pulled me away from the heavenly wonder, back to the kitchen that was clouded in cornflour and smelt of the sickly sweet sculpture in progress as my 5 years, 5 day old (or 260.7 week old in the measure used in the sleep deprived days) lay sound asleep.
The cake got the requisite ‘wow’ and ‘cool’ from the birthday boy when he woke up, and he had a fantastic day, enjoying the fun of science, the universe, friendship, presents and cake.
With the relative calm of post birthday and move, I made time to open a copy of The Prophet that’d I’d recently picked up (a bargain at the perpetual closing down sale of the Book Grocer in Kangaroo Flat). I was familiar with some of the often quoted lines in the ‘on children’ section of the epic poem, but I re- read it while my boy and I were keeping quiet company in our new home- me on the couch reading while he was an arm’s length away, focused on the Lego creatures he was building. The poem speaks to me and the longing I have to hold onto him and this time forever. I know it is in that grasping and that overwhelming, possessive love that my deepest hurt resides. I know the words are true ‘…their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams’ but oh how hard it is to let go, to accept that our time together is so short, that there is a future calling him that will not include me by his side, but as he, in his beautiful innocence, wisdom and unbothered bluntness says “I will love you even when I am dead”. Yes, I don’t have a place in all of his future, but my love for my boy will transcend place and time and the future Ruben will hopefully be a content, loving and loved soul with the same unwavering knowledge that I love him, and that love is not going anywhere no matter where in the universe either of us are. As he says, “I love you to infinity and back, infinity and back, infinity and back.”
Happy 5th Birthday my sweet potato (he recently requested I stop using sweetheart, but gave the nod to my preferred ‘sweet potato’). I am so glad to be your mamma. I cannot slow down time, but I can eek out more of the sweetness of our lives together by being more present and mindful one moment at a time, and that is my priceless birthday gift to you this year (I couldn’t find the Lego version, and it would probably involve an infinite number of tiny pieces that would take more than a lifetime to piece together).
My little Sunrai, I am so proud of the person you are. To paraphrase Gibran, I will gladly bend in the archer’s hand as she fixes her gaze on a mark upon the path of the infinite, so that you, my living arrow may travel swift and far.
Lots of love, your lucky mamma xx