Oh, my beautiful boys.
There is so much about you that I love at this age. I have been saying for months that if I could freeze you in time now and keep you this way forever, I would give it serious consideration. You are capable and independent, conversant and witty, sweet little people with hearts so enormous that it is a wonder that they fit into your little chests.
You make us laugh so much. You are all new thoughts and big ideas, spontaneous kisses and hugs that are just that fraction too tight. Parenting you at three has taught me to be patient, to be silly, to tell dreadful bedtime stories that have become one of your most valuable currencies.
This year has been the best yet. You began it as toddlers, all golden locks and baby faces, and have finished it as pre-schoolers, brimming with confidence and knowledge and your own sense of selves. You ask so many questions and volunteer so many ideas; you are so engaged with the world around you. Over the course of this year you have grown to become my own small companions, my friends. You hold my hands – one on either side of me – and my heart brims with love and pride that you are mine.
Every mother thinks that her child is the nicest child that there could ever be, but you are genuinely such good, kind little souls. You are so eager to help; to carry my bags, to touch my Oyster card against the reader, to enter my world and to welcome me to yours. And not just me; everyone you encounter, you smother in warmth and enthusiasm, fingers twining through their hair. Before I had children, I had no idea that they could be so charming. You are enchanting little souls and I do not feel that I deserve you, but I am so glad to have you in my life.
Little boys, it was touch and go as to whether you would be big(ger) brothers by the time that your fourth birthday rolled around this year. Your little sister was due six days before your birthday, but I was determined that she would be late and that I would be able to prioritise you on the day – and I was right! Ever since you were born, I have been waiting for your fourth birthday in order to introduce you to ponies. This was my own first love, and the stables were my sanctuary; my escape. I rode here on the weekends and during the week, thoughts of riding occupied my thoughts, smothering the nastiness until it was a mere background hum. I wanted so badly to own my own pony, to keep my own pony here, to be able to gallop away across these fields at will. And although I did buy my own horse eventually, I was an adult then and he lived somewhere else, and it was not the same.
On the morning of your birthday, you awoke to brioche. We helped you to unwrap your gifts, and your mother played with you and your sisters whilst I dozed on the sofa. I felt so guilty; I wanted to be present but I simply couldn’t stay awake. It was lovely to listen to the four of you chattering and laughing with your mummy whilst I drifted in and out of sleep. And then at ten o’ clock it was time to take you riding.
When I was a little girl, as small as you are now, I loved this place so fiercely. And when I was a little older than you, I felt that I knew these fields, these horses, as intimately as my own heart. If I am true to myself, I know that ponies won’t mean the same to you as they did to me – but I hope that you will come to share with me the joy, the sense of freedom, of four legs beneath you and the wind blurring tears from your eyes. Thank you for letting me give you, for your fourth birthday, the beginnings of an understanding of what it means to know horses.
I love you so much. I can’t wait for everything that your next year will bring, and I hope that it will be as magical for you as it will inevitably be for us, your lucky mummies.