A couple of weeks ago Mimi, our middle daughter, turned nine.
I think I’m still in a little bit of denial. I can’t believe that nine whole years have passed since I welcomed her into the world, ten days after her due date, her crazy head of pitch black hair and her powerful lungs surprising us all.
She still surprises us on a daily basis even now and that’s one of the things I love most about her – you never know quite what to expect. She’s feisty, hysterically funny, incredibly loving, endlessly inquisitive, stubborn, hot-tempered and a little bundle of energy who never ever stops. It’s challenging at times – she is the extrovert to my introvert, the ‘messy chaos’ to my ‘neat and organised’, the literal to my inferential. Her love language is ‘quality time’ which I try to give her as often as I can and watching her light up inside when we do spend time together just the two of us, even if it’s just doing homework together or having a cuddle on the sofa, makes my heart so happy.
I’ve been looking back at photos from her birthday last year and I can’t believe how much she seems to have grown up and changed in past twelve months. She was literally counting down the days until her birthday this year, just so excited for her birthday treat with her best friend and looking forward to spending time with family.
Her actual birthday fell on a school day, just like last year. I still maintain that there should be a rule that you don’t have to go to school or work on your birthday! The night before the big day, as I tucked her up in bed and kissed her goodnight, she whispered to me that she was pretending that tomorrow was just like any other day otherwise she’d never be able to get to sleep. It’s those little moments that remind me just how magical birthdays are for children. As we get older they lose their appeal a little bit and you have less of a fuss made of you, but when you’re a child it’s just the best thing in the world. And as her birthday dawned she was up with the larks, a full hour before I normally wake her up, excited to enjoy her special day.
We waited until after school to open cards and presents and she was so grateful for everything she received, taking the time to read the messages in each card (this one, from her best friend, was my favourite: “You are one of my greatest friends who has been there when I’ve been sad. Also you are fun, amazing, caring, funny, fast and a lot of other things too including crazy. Marvellous in all things, Mimi is my inspiration. My amazing sporty friend, in my memories forever. Mimi thank you for being my friend and for helping me be happy, you’re the best” – I have to admit I got tears in my eyes as she read it out to us!) and savouring the unwrapping of every present. I love her expressions in these photos – all completely genuine! As a surprise I also got her a little cake for after tea – just look at her face in the photo below! She was so happy 🙂
We’ve only ever done a couple of ‘proper’ birthday parties for the girls, where they invite numerous friends from their classes at school – a cupcake decorating party for one year, a bowling party, and hiring a hall and playing party games and having a bit of a homemade disco was about as far as we could stretch. Mainly because when they were little we didn’t really have the money to do it and now that they’re older we don’t really have the space! And with two Winter birthdays (Mimi is the only summer baby) it’s tough to think of things to keep them entertained indoors – it would be much easier if we could just chuck them all out in the garden! And so instead we take them and a friend of their choosing out for a birthday treat. Usually it’s to go and see something at the cinema but this year Mimi decided that she wanted to take her best friend to Flip Out (which is what Lola chose for her birthday back in January) – it’s basically a huge funky warehouse full of trampolines. We had Sophie for the weekend too and all the girls had an absolute blast – it’s a really fun place. We followed it up with more birthday cake (of course!).
It’s also a bit of a tradition of ours that the birthday girl (or boy – mustn’t forget Daddy!) gets to choose a special birthday dinner. This year Mimi decided that she wanted to go out for a meal with us and her Nanny and Grandad (my in-laws), and so that’s what we did. The only people we haven’t celebrated with yet are my parents as they’ve been away on holiday. Hopefully we’ll be seeing them in the next couple of weeks – they’re going to buy Mimi her very first pair of proper football boots and she is going to be so thrilled when she finds out! I can’t wait to see her face.
And so now our independent and unique little soul is another year older and I’m loving watching her evolve. She’s not who she’s going to be yet and seeing her change and grow and develop in every way, from her personality to her likes & dislikes, her interests to her understanding of the world, feels like such a privilege. I am so lucky that I get to be her Mummy – she has taught me so much about myself and I love her more than she will ever know.