Last night you fell asleep on the windowsill, waiting for me to return home from work. Your mother had been in to ask you to settle down, because we don’t mind you playing after bedtime but when you are loud you risk disturbing the girls, and she told you that I would be home shortly and would be sad if dinner was not cooked because she was upstairs policing your game. When she left, the two of you were tucked up together, half-asleep, but you must have got back up, Balthazar, and climbed up on the windowsill to wait for me. Had I glanced up at your window when I opened the gate, I might have seen you, a small boy in character pajamas, slumped against the glass, but I didn’t, and so we were quite surprised by your cries of alarm a few hours later when you awoke to find yourself balanced precariously on the sill.
You are such kind boys. Before you were born I wanted you to be so many things, and it surprises me a little to find that kindness is the quality that I value the most in you. You are quick to praise or compliment me, admiring my clothes and showing me yours, and desperate to include me in all of your fun and your games. You hold my hands so sweetly when we walk together, soft little paws gripping mine. When I look down at your little heads I am filled such love for you, and such shame. I wish that I were a better mother to you. I am sorry that exhaustion and overwhelm take me from you at times, that I don’t have the patience that I swore that I would always be able to muster for you.
This morning, Lysander, you sat on my lap and told me that you missed me when you were at nursery and I was at work. You told me that you were happy that I was “back in our little house”. We try to do fun things together at the weekends; I try to make them count. It’s hard these days, because I only have the energy for one day of outings rather than two. I hate to disappoint you. I’m sorry that sometimes you want to chase and play hide and seek and practice catching your ball, and all I want to do is doze on the kitchen floor – where I can see you and hear you, but without necessarily being disturbed by you. I know – I know – that it will all be worth it, that your new little sibling will bring so much love and laughter to your lives, but it hurts that at the moment, I am just too tired for you. And I don’t know how to explain that in a way that doesn’t hurt your feelings. It is awful to watch your little faces fall.
On Saturday, the three of us left Mama and the girlies at home and took a trip into London. We rode a boat from London Bridge to Battersea, and from there we walked down to Battersea Park and the zoo. You were such good boys, full of exclamations of wonder on the boat, eating blueberry ‘muffles’ and pointing out every boat that we passed. Balthazar, you fell asleep and although I knew that I had to wake you, I let myself hold you for just a few minutes and enjoy how young you seemed. You have reached the most wonderful age where you are so easy to take out, following me like ducklings, or holding my hands. You see magic and adventure everywhere, pulling me along in your eager wake. I am so grateful to you, and to your sisters (and your mama!), for the joy with which you light up our family home, the laughter and the happy chaos and the mess – the mess everywhere! It exceeds my wildest dreams to be your mother. I didn’t know that I could be so happy until I came to know you.
I don’t know whether this letter is I love you or I’m sorry. I think motherhood is like this sometimes. Everything comes a little bit more easily for your sisters because we have done it before; you get all of our blundering first attempts, all of our next-time-will-be-betters. But in compensation, all of those giddy firsts are yours too, bringing with it so much excitement and wonder. And there has been nothing more wonderful for me than this stage in your lives. I think that you are at my favourite age right now, small and adorable and hilarious with your enormous feelings and ridiculous mispronunciations, but independent of movement and so easily portable. Exploring the world with you, discovering the world through your eyes, is one of my favourite things to do. I hope that I am enough for you. I am not sure that I will ever deserve you. But I don’t think that any mother ever feels that she truly deserves her children; it is just the way of things.
I love you. Thank you for being my little firsts.