Grown up brother

There’s a funny thing about watching someone you love grow up without you. It’s perfect and wonderful - especially if the growing up is going well and the person is happy - but it’s also lonely and sad at times. Lonely because of course it would be ridiculous to admit that you miss certain things, so you keep it bottled up. Sad, because of the missing.
My brother and I grew up sharing a room. Even when we didn’t, we did. Our parents built a divide but it was gappy and thin so I could tell when he put his light on and he could hear me coming in teenage-drunk from the pub.
When I went to university I got the thing I wanted most of all in all the world: my own room. I put my feet up on my desk, smoked a cigarette and thought: this is living. But that night I couldn’t sleep. I missed the sound of my brother yelling and laughing in his sleep. Crazy.
Anyway, who would I admit that to? What sort of weirdo is homesick for her sleep-talking 14 year old brother?
Fast forward 17 years (OH MY GOD I AM SO OLD) and I’m lying here in bed thinking about the fact my brother is having his first birthday in the US this year, with his lovely wife Maddie. I’m thinking how I’m going to miss him, I’m thinking about all the birthdays we spent together, bursting into his teeny room with presents first thing in the morning, mum making the cake the night before. And then I sort of realise that he did a lot of growing up between the day I moved out (and he took my bedroom…) and today. And I’m so proud and so happy that every decision he made somehow led him to Maddie and their life together now. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was also a bit sad.

Don't pity me

Writing this note makes me sad. It makes me sad because there’s no reason why I should feel like I need to write this. This, what I am about to write, should be implicitly understood and respected. But it is not. And so here I write - here I scream from the bloody rafters, if you will: being a mother is the best bloody thing I have ever done.
Do not pity me, do not think your life is better than mine because you can still fit into your size ten jeans and you go to sleep each night without mashed banana in your hair. It is not.
Do not assume I want to go on girlie holidays and now am sad I cannot. I can, by the way, but I do not want to. I want to go on holidays with my girl. I want to hold her hands while she feels the sea run over her chubby feet. I want to blow soft raspberries on her pudgy belly under a sun umbrella, hold her close to me in a swimming pool as she flaps with delight. I want to fall asleep in the middle of the day next to her and wake to her beautiful face next to mine, babbling. I’ll take the nappies, the shrieks, the lack of sleep. I’ll take it all fifty times over to have these moments with my girl.
I do not want to go to clubbing. I am 35 and clubbing makes me feel old. Although it’s not an age thing. I haven’t wanted to go clubbing for years. I want to lie in the still night and listen to my girl breathe and snort. I want to feed her in the half light of the moon. You like clubbing, I do not. But it is not as a consequence of being a mother.
Do not assume that my life is easy, do not assume it is hard. It is both. Loving her is easy and, luckily for me, natural. Parenting is hard, harder than anything I have ever done and infinitely more rewarding.
Do ask after her. She exists. Do ask how she is, what is she doing. You’ll see a light come on behind my eyes as I tell you. If you love me, you must love her.
Do continue to ask me out for drinks, meals, plays. Our friendship has not altered and I want to know what is going on in your life. I love you, but don’t pity me.