My blog post today serves a dual purpose. It's my Gallery post, for which the prompt this week is "One Word" but today is a more auspicious occasion. For today is Monkey's 6th birthday. Six years ago today, I became a mother. I may never republish his birth story (I wrote it for a discussion board I used to be on when he was born), mainly because it was so long and drawn out, I'd bore you all to tears. It featured lots of stops and starts, twists and turns, things that nearly happened but didn't. It went on for days. I was so exhausted when he was born that I couldn't really feel anything for him - I'd barely slept for several days and not at all overnight on the day he was born.
He was a difficult baby as a newborn - not the sort that would sleep easily, and I really struggled for a while to adjust to motherhood. I swear he knew how to drive us mad sometimes - he'd cry in the evenings after being put to bed, and stop just as one of us would get to outside his room, then start again when we got back downstairs! But eventually, things settled down and I soon realised how much he meant to me.
Over the intervening five or so years since, I have watched him grow from a baby to a toddler into the boy he is today. I've seen him learn to walk and talk, I've seen him meet, get to know and love his sister. I've endured his tantrums, some of which have made me cry and feel like a dreadful mother. I've seen him flourish at school, approaching everything he does with enthusiasm and a relish for new challenges; he's progressing in leaps and bounds. Last weekend, we took him to Barcelona to go to the Nou Camp and watch his dad run the marathon. He was a total trooper, prepared to pull his own case around when travelling, trying out new food and loving all the new experiences, even if some of them scared him at first.
He's funny, smart, and has an infectious laugh that can lift everyone around him. He may be naughty sometimes but he is also polite and usually rises to the situation if you explain to him that you really need him to be good for you. He's a football obsessive, which is maddening (though we only have ourselves to blame!) but it has been a joy to watch his interest and passion grow for the sport.
On Sunday, when we were waiting for my husband to finish his marathon, I realised that lots of runners were getting their children to run the final couple of hundred metres with them. One guy even picked up his sleeping newborn! I asked Monkey if he wanted to do the same and when he said yes, I popped him over the barrier to wait by the side of the road to join Daddy. He sat quietly until he appeared, ran up to him, took his hand and happily trotted off to the finish line. It was an amazing moment - even though I actually missed them crossing the line as they disappeared into the distance.
So, my picture today is of Monkey, my birthday boy, dressed in the Barcelona shirt he'd managed to talk us into buying. It has David Villa's name on the back - bet you really wanted to know that, but it's important to him! It may not be the best picture in the world but it encapsulates the boy he has become.
And in case you were thinking I'd forgotten the Gallery theme, I haven't. I've given this photo a title that describes how I feel about my boy, my Monkey. I give you one word - and that's "proud".
Happy Birthday Monkey. We love you loads.