How can it be that it was five years ago today that I was wheeled into Wellington Hospital ready to get on with the business of being induced? Your Dad and I were buzzing with excitement, so eager to finally meet you after nine months of wondering who you'd look like, how big you would be, whether you would look like your big sister or not. It was like the biggest, most incredible Christmas morning but even better because the gift was so precious and it was just for us.
That morning Dad and I chatted and laughed and worked on a crossword together as we waited for you to arrive. Your entry into the world was calm and relaxed, just like you. When I first saw you your eyes were wide open, taking in the world. You didn't cry - you just stared at me quietly, and I thought, I know you. Looking down at you it was like we had known each other always. Even then I could see pieces of me, and pieces of Dad in you. Dad's dark olive skin. My nose. My eyes but with Dad's slight slant at the corners. Dad's brow and toes. We loved each other then didn't we? It was like the world shifted and suddenly it was you and me.
It hasn't always been easy, this journey so far. You've had so many more hospital visits than I wanted for you. You've grown up always being slightly different to the other kids your age. But oh Ben, the way you handle it with such grace makes Dad and I so proud.
Our years together at home have been some of the happiest in my life. I can genuinely say that I have loved this season. The past year has been particularly wonderful with you growing into such a funny and inquisitive boy who always has us laughing.
At four you asked the most interesting questions. Your best questions come when we're in the car or out on a walk together.
Some of my favourites are:
"Why do men who play the bagpipes wear dresses?"
"How does the music from instruments come into the speakers in the car?"
"What is a short cut?"
"What happens to all of the water that falls down as rain?"
Today we were talking about letterboxes and you said that squirrels should have a number stamped onto the trunk of their trees so their friends could find them. Then you broke into a run yelling "Did you see that truck? It was AWESOME!". One of the things I love the most about you Ben is your optimism. If I ask you how you are, you'll say "Great!".
You're also very charming. You're an actor, a performer, and you're so so funny. One of your new tricks is something we've named "The Death Stare". If someone calls you cute, or says that you're small, or if I give you too many vegetables for dinner for your liking you stare straight ahead with a completely blank face. You can keep it up for ages without smiling. It makes me laugh.
You're such a great artist Ben. You see things that no-one sees. Last week you explained perspective to Jemima when you were drawing fruit in a fruit bowl. You said that if you were too close up you would only see the side of the bowl and not the fruit inside. Everything has a hidden picture to you. Food is made into faces, a tree trunk looks like an anchor, the clouds hold endless possibilities.
You tell me "You smell wonderful", "I love you more than the stars in the sky", the other day as we were looking at trophies in a cabinet at tennis you whispered to me "Mummy you're my trophy". Sometimes I wonder what truly good thing I did to be given the gift of being your mum.
We've been together from that first day, through first words and steps, through illnesses and hospitals, through moving to a new place, through this journey of the preschool years.
And today, my beautiful boy, you are five. In a couple of months you'll put on your new grey shorts and blue t-shirt, lift that big bag onto your back, and we'll walk into school together. You'll see that the world is so much bigger than you thought. Bigger than our house, painting together, your robots and books, our walks to look at the trees, the games you play with Jemima.
We love you Benny! Happy Birthday.