My girl is 4. It’s hard to express the complex ball of weirdness that are my feelings about this. Utter pride, like I birthed a GODDESS, with a little sadness, relief and regret. It’s a heady mix.
We celebrated all weekend, in true Bullivant tradition. She was delighted to be at Kindergaten on the morning of her birthday where she wore a birthday crown and was read a special birthday story. A quiet family celebration followed with my Dad and Dave on Friday at home, and we then had a big party in the woods on Saturday which was wonderful! (and exhausting. that, too).
A simple Birthday in the woods.
The party was incredibly simple. Heres what we did.
- It was 10-12 which meant we needed to provide minimal food; croissants, hot cross buns, a cake- and some drinks- nothing else. Dave made the cake (low sugar carrot cake with icing dyed with beetroot)
- I commissioned my friend Sandy to make the crown and banner (they're AMAZING no?)
- I asked Alexis from Cotton Twist to send over some party bag kits too- they went down a treat with the kids, I highly recommend them! The party bags were Spring themed so I added a fruit roll, a wooden egg to paint at home and a packet of wild flower seeds too. I could have saved 50% of the effort if I had not done party bags however- will bear in mind for next year!
- I printed out some of our Nature Bingo's illustrated by Emilie Maguin to have out at the party which the kids loved, but I didn't plan any formal activities, I didn't need too, the kids were so happy climbing trees and puddle spalshing.
- I dressed a camping table in linen and jars of flowers on which to put the food.
- I hung some biodegradable latex balloons from Pretty Little Party Shop and also hung up my Pink Avocado dyed garlands. (tutorial from Curate and Display ) I put up the tipi I made a couple of years ago too.
- We were late arriving (obvs) so our friends ended up helping us to set up too which was much appreciated! Always ask for help!
Her Birthday means it's time for me to post another motherhood update. I have been recording sweet moments with Frankie Rose since she was a baby on a note on my phone. It’s almost always with me so perfect for recording moments you never ever want to forget. I love scrolling through the note and am always surprised that I’d forgotten something utterly adorable she used to do only a couple of months ago. I’ve recorded these posts since I was pregnant, then every 6 -12 months or so since, so I have a lovely recording of the whole thing; My first trimester pregnancy post , second trimester update, third trimester update, Introducing Frankie-Rose, 6 months, one year, 18 months, 2 years and 3 years.
Here are some choice nuggets from that note on my phone over the last year, interspersed with some party pics.
“Mama, I know something really clever.”
Me “Oooh, What do you know?”
F “Electric mountains.”
She mostly sleeps through the night! It’s a miracle! Past me literally cannot believe that this is happening! She still crawls into our bed in the early hours, and sometimes at some point in the night. I now love the snuggles, but I think my resounding memory associated with co-cleeping is going to be being kicked in the vagina. I have to build a defensive wall of duvet between the lower half of our bodies to protect my poor lady garden.
“Listen to my teeth, my teeth can make trumpalumps!” (Grinding teeth!)
Ray (her aunt): so, how was work today?
F "not great, I didn't get loads of emails done"
A favourite game is playing imaginary monsters of any sort. She uses vivid descriptions and names. We take shelter behind the blanket on the sofa- her ‘house’ and she whispers closely to my face about when it might be safe to come out. Often the monsters turn out to be kind and just want to play.
Frankie: “Am I your godmother?”
Me: ’No, you're my daughter'
Frankie: ’Tortoise? I'm your tortoise?’
I love the feel of her little soft hand in mind, able to grip mine ever more strongly. Her knuckle dimples are still there… but fading fast.
Whilst trying to fit 2 crumpets and a cake in her tummy: “There's a bit of room here, feel it!” *Points to her tummy.* "I'm going to use these teeth here (points) to put that bit of crumpet in here (points) and it will squeeze in there in my tummy, look!"
Watching Olympic gymnastics and synchronised swimming this morning (as you do)
F: “Mummy, is that you?!”
me “No, I'm not an Olympic gymnast.”
F Mummy, is THAT one you?”
me: Err still no, You’re probably never going to see me do that with my legs”
F “But I want to see you do that! Will you do that? Now? Please! You’e got to at least try”
On her first day of kindergarten (which was wonderful) :
“Wow, that was intensible” (intense)
After an argument with her aunt (same age)
May: you're not my best friend anymore"
Frankie " well I love you!"
They carried on, then the same interaction happened again:
May: you're not my best friend anymore"
Frankie "well I love you!"
After this second time, May smiled and said "I love you too" (my heart might have exploded)
I’m really loving my kiddo the mo. After a challenging first half of 3, the 2nd half has been much more harmonious. Not without challenges but somehow the challenges don’t seem as insurmountable as they did a few months ago, when I literally fell like someone had replaced my daughters personality. Three is a biiiiig age for kiddo’s; the triple whammy of asserting their selfhood and autonomy (healthy and crucial- but challenging sometimes!), discovering ever deepening feelings and learning how to express them in more complex ways.
She is in the questioning everything phase, today's gems:
“what's a goth?”
“what's in my heart?”
“where is the earth?”
“why do people have blood in them?”
“Tell me all about bats”
…and they're just the ones I can remember. Each of these spurned tens more questions. Slightly exhausting; perhaps, brilliantly soul edifying; yes.
I still have to remind myself daily that her behaviour is communication, and that it also directly reflects how connected and secure she feels with us. These two realisations continue to revolutionise how I parent.
“All of my friends favourite colours are in my heart.”
“That song is straight in my heart.”
Me, after a slightly hyper afternoon/early evening kids party: “those kids were quite excited weren't they?”
F: “yes. And a bit tired and a bit hungry and a bit angry.”
“I keep losting my hair clips!”
Her w's as r's are so cute. singing: ”4 cuwwent buns in a bakers shop, waund and fat wiv a cherry on top..."
I warmed her bed with the hairdryer for her tonight and she loved it- like me. Squealed with the deliciousness of it. Then we snuggled face to face, and talked about what we wanted to dream about. she said me! And her daddy. That we'd be in the woods and find a reindeer and a camel. Natch. 😍
"You were disposed to bring me a drink!"
So. Many. Questions. Still soul edifying and only mildly irritating. Why does the moon change shape, why do people do bad things, where do babies come from etc etc etc etc etc etc etc
As we drive round the corner of kindy: "good morning kindergarten!" Every morning. Never forgets.
Very early one morning:
"No baby I'm not going downstairs yet, it's the middle of the night. I promise you, with all of my heart, that beavers haven't eaten our kitchen" (a strange, fleeting, fear from a book we read!)
"Mama, I have a whisper for you"
She then leans over, and in the loudest, breathiest, heart breakingly adorable whisper you can possibly imagine: "I love you as much as the mountains/as long as South Africa“ . I’ve also had "shall we go to a cafe" and my fave, "I need a wee". I love her whispers for me, cherish them, lean into them with a grin on my face. I wish there was a way to accurately record how they feel on my ear and cheek.
I have found the most recent phase of motherhood- of increasing independence from one another- both liberating and also really difficult. The more “free” time I have, the more I want to cram into it. It’s simply never enough. If I don’t keep myself in check I spend way too much of everyday making mental lists of everything I need to do for work or in the house, and need constant reminders of the importance of sometimes/most of the time just fucking it all off and playing. These days of hot breathy kid whispers about cats and being the centre of her universe and her absolute favourite person are numbered.
”Mummy why do you have spots all over your face?"
Later "you have suuuuper dry lips mama. I'll get you some lip balm."
Later still- same day
"I love you but I don't love your hair"
(That was a wine night)
I’ve been thinking about the privilege of motherhood a lot recently. I’m not sure what brought it on, but things like the intimacy of helping your kid use the toilet. The total and utter trust they have in your love. Being the person they need to comfort them when they wake at night. Being the recipient of their first secrets and unfolding stories. The person who gets to introduce delicious food, incredible music, or a wonderful new sensation etc. Its hard work sometimes but my most profound privilege.
I could go on and ooooonnnnnn. She is my favourite person and best friend. She has changed me for the better in so many ways.
As I often say to her; ‘I’m so glad that when I grew a baby in my tummy, it was YOU that came out.’
Happy Birthday sweet girl.