During the last year, the mantle of parenthood has settled on us like a heavy cloak; sweeping, swamping, and covering every moment of our lives. Every waking moment, every thing we do or think about, Toby is there in the background. Everything we plan, Toby is the first factor we have to consider. He's filled our lives to the point where, when I remember myself 18 months ago, it's like thinking about a different person. Like remembering someone I used to know from a long time ago, but have long since drifted away from.
Parenthood has, without a doubt, been the hardest journey I've ever embarked upon. The exhaustion, the fear (I've never in my life been scared driving before, but whenever I've got Toby in the car, I drive like a grandmother), the emotional ups and downs - we've had plenty of both - and, oddly, the dawning knowledge that part of your life - the part that didn't involve you being completely and utterly at the mercy of someone else's needs - is irrevocably behind you.
I've worried that the lack of time and the constant fatigue would mean the end of my writing - in the past I've been able to set aside months at a time and use them obsessively to write, at the exclusion of all else. That's not an option any more. Now, between parenthood and my new job, I write when I can squeeze in an hour here and there. And in many ways, I think it's making me a better writer.
If all this sounds rather down -it isn't. As well as being the hardest 12 months of my life, this past year has also been the best. Imogen, Toby and I have been learning to understand one another, working out how we're going to make our lives mesh into one another's and building our little family. And even now, in these early, early days, it's a family I'm so proud of.
I love walking down the street with Toby in his stroller. I love taking him places he's never been before and watching his reactions. I love the look on his face when he tries a new flavour for the first time, or when he's doing his best to climb on top of the dog. I love the way he pokes his tongue out when he's concentrating really hard. I love the fact that he's already trying to play the piano. I love it when Min and Toby and I get on a plane together. Or travel somewhere as a family, or just kick back at home.
During the last year, the mantle of parenthood has indeed settled upon us like a heavy cloak. But it's the warmest, best cloak ever.
Happy Birthday, Mate.