Years and years ago one of my still closest friends in the world bought me a wishes and dreams journal. In it, over many years, I’ve dared on every New Year’s Eve to make wishes for the following year. And, also, on two separate occasions I wrote of major dreams, ones I dared not speak out loud and both of them came true. It is a special journal, a keeper of dreams and secrets.
In amongst it all there is a wish that I wrote for Eldest from New Year’s Eve in 2001, when he had just turned four. The wish was simple, it was to help him to talk and to keep our promise to him to take him back to Disneyland Paris.
Back then Eldest had been diagnosed with developmental verbal dyspraxia and could not be understood when he talked. He was struggling socially and speech therapy was intensive. We’d been to Disneyland Paris at the beginning of the year and Eldest had met Buzz Lightyear. Up until that moment, he’d never bothered with role play and many toys didn’t interest him at all, but then on meeting Buzz everything changed. Buzz Lightyear became his favourite and as a result Eldest had everything that we could find to do with Toy Story and specifically to do with Buzz. Limited edition, glow in the dark, different sizes, clothes, cuddly toys, everything. We completely over-indulged, but we were just so thrilled that he’d finally found something that he enjoyed playing with.
Now, so many years on there is nothing of Buzz Lightyear in Eldest’s room. I guess that’s to be expected, he’s almost a teenager and he has a very practical (if not minimalistic) approach to his bedroom. This means that every memory of Buzz is in a green box in the attic. I haven’t seen inside that box for years, but I know that I will still be able to tell you where I found each and every Buzz in that box and that I will be able to look at the items and still see my small son playing with them.
Today we went to the cinema to watch Toy Story 3. I worried that Eldest wouldn’t want to come, but he did and he sat next to me. The story is a continuation from Toy Story 2, but now Andy is seventeen and about to leave home for college. He is emptying his room and he has to make a decision about the toys, some to go in an attic, others to be thrown away or given away. The story unravels from there.
At one point in the film Littlest sobbed so loudly that everyone in the cinema turned to look at her. I watched the film trying to hide my tears but my crying wasn’t for the same reason as Littlest. She cried for the toys and for Andy. I cried because that boy, that Andy, was Eldest in a few years time and clearly it hit a nerve. Guess it proved to be a reminder about just how quickly these precious years with children fly past.
I miss my children when they’re not with me. I miss them being tiny and my being strong enough to carry them around the house. I miss then nuzzling into my neck and dribbling small wet patches. I miss the baby smell. I miss being ‘mummy’. I miss lazy days and not having to leave the house. I miss being woken in the night, sometimes. Instead my babies have grown into independent children. Their needs have changed and our interaction has too. Now my house is always messy and the noise is constant. They bicker, they play, they cry, they scream, I scream, but still I can honestly say that they make me laugh and smile every single day.
It’s all good, this isn’t a moaning post, it’s simply about capturing this moment.
Today, hours after seeing Toy Story 3, I still feel drained. The reality is that new stages and new circles occur all the time when you have children. Sometimes we hardly notice them, we’re too busy coping with daily life. Other times, like today, like watching that film, we’re prompted to think about just how far we’ve travelled.
Today I feel sadness. This sadness is mine, it’s silly, it’ll pass.
Littlest came home from watching Toy Story 3 and went to her room. She lay on her bed sobbing. She told me that she didn’t realise that one day she’d have to leave home. I explained that she never, not ever, has to leave us. I said those words and meant them, but I also hope with all my heart that one day she finds love and happiness… and that means that one day she’ll leave us and that’s just about too much for me to think about today.
We were home for half an hour before the Buzz Lightyear box came down from the attic.