It is Leo’s fourth birthday on Monday, just ask him he will tell you.
Four years ago I was waiting, not so patiently, for our baby to come, not knowing who he was or how much he would change our lives. His due date came and went, November 6, it was Melbourne Cup Day that year and I was so sure that would be the day. I hung on to that date my whole pregnancy, convinced we would have our baby by then. Then Cup Day came and went, the days after the Cup came and went and I started to think that this was it, I was just going to be pregnant forever (not really but anyone who has gone over in pregnancy knows what I am talking about). A week after his due date he came in to this world, our big, bald, baby boy.
We knew nothing about being parents. We had never been around babies, I still remember driving home from the hospital in disbelief that they actually let us take him home, that we were responsible, that he was ours.
We learnt on the job, like most new parents we were thrown in the deep end and we had one choice, to sink or swim. We had our moments, the times where we would look at each other, not knowing what the hell we were doing, so much of his quirks we accepted as normal and it wasn’t until we had our girls that we realized maybe they weren’t so ‘normal’ more just what Leo did. Like the way he fed like he would never eat again, or the way he would vomit ALL THE TIME, with me carrying him around a constant vomit cloth draped over my shoulder, that slight stench following me everywhere. I didn’t know any different. I thought all babies spat up that much, I thought all babies wolfed down their food, I thought all babies dribbled so much they needed at least four changes of clothes a day, but that was just my baby and it was just how he was.
I look at him now and his baby-ness is well and truly gone. That once big and round head has grown a mop of curls which have now all been chopped off because “he likes it short”, his solid little body that was once so heavy, chubby and permanently attached to my hip is now long and spindly, he jumps and he hops and he doesn’t need carrying anymore. He talks, all the time he talks. The boy who was once so shy that the slightest bit of communication from a stranger would warrant his head to firmly bury itself into my legs now answers back and elaborates. He tells stories, he recites things that he has learned, he wants to know how to spell everything, he drives me crazy and he is wonderful.
This past year in particular he has gone from a toddler to a boy, a little kid.
Tall, cheeky, clever and creative.
He has started preschool, he has become a big brother once again and despite him once telling me he wouldn’t be able to handle another sister he is handling it perfectly. He sings, he dances, he is obsessed with Taylor Swift and he loves drawing rainbows with our names written all around them.
He is still learning to catch and kick a footy, he still struggles to say the ‘S’ sound when it is at the start of a word and he still tells me he doesn’t have friends only teachers at school.
I was once so worried about him all the time. Will this shy boy ever survive anywhere without me? What will he be like when I am not there to comfort him? When he doesn’t have my leg to hide into? Will anyone else ever see how clever and funny he is or will he always be covered in this blanket of shyness?
Then he came out of his shell. He went from a shy 3-year-old to a confident 4-year-old, he is completely different and I am no longer worried. I know he will be just fine.
In many ways, he was our learner baby. The one we practiced on. The one that taught us what worked for us, that taught us that babies don’t follow a textbook or anyone else’s pattern but their own.
He was the reason for much frustration, self-doubt, googling, love, joy and laughter.
He was the one that taught us to be parents, that taught me what it was to be someone’s Mum. He may have only been here four years, but he has shaped who I am, he is a huge part of the reason I am who I am today.
Four years ago I had no idea what amazing chapter I was about to enter into. Now I could never imagine my life without that chapter.
Leo James you changed who we are, you made our lives wonderful and you were the beginning of this wonderful little tribe that we have collected. I will always be grateful that you chose us to be your parents, I will always love the sound of your little sister yelling out “LEO JAMES MOODIE” when she is playing with you and I promise I will always try to appreciate your inquisitive mind, even when your questions are far past the knowledge of my own.
The week of their birthdays I always get sentimental. I think of their birth, I think of my baby, who they were, what they liked, how they have changed, how they have grown.
Ultimately as each birthday passes the same realization seems to hit me every time, these years are going too quickly. I can’t help but feel I just want to bottle it up and remember it all because something tells me I will look back on these as the best years of my life.