Matilda, what do I say on this day?
Apart from happy birthday, obviously.
I realise, after nearly a decade of these posts, that I will probably repeat myself here. Never mind. What I have to say to you today bears saying again and again. I hope that you remember these words in the days when you want to push me off a cliff. I hope you know that even when I’m in my best; ‘Don’t be dead in a ditch,’ mum mode, I love you. I think these things all the time.
I mean these things.
Seventeen. Seven-bloody-teen. How can we be here already? What has happened to the other sixteen years of your life, our life? It is only a twink ago that you were looking at me with those ages old eyes in that tiny, new body and I thought: ‘Fuck me, she’s been here before. This will be interesting.’
It has been, hasn’t it? My lovely, girl/woman. I hope I’ve given you that on your journey so far. I know you’ve given it to me, in spades, and then some. We’ve travelled very far you and I, from imaginary pet monkeys called Crack-Along to revolutionary socialism and boyfriends, with added roller skates. It’s been a wild ride in Tilly-land my fountain splashing, wannabe skip diving, daughter.
I have to say that I like it, the place you inhabit, that in-between world that isn’t quite here and is mostly over there, in your head where your imagination flowers as fiercely as it ever did. I love that you are learning to express it in new ways (although I’m glad we’ve moved out of the gesso phase). I’m happy that you’re finding your space and your place in the world. I’m so incredibly impressed that despite being a bimbler of the first water, you seem to know where you’re going, and what you’re doing, and what you want. In the grand scheme of things, if not with the small stuff. And who wants to sweat the small stuff, right?
I love that you are busy, busy, busy, feeding your mind and your soul and your spirit. I love that you question, and think, and that you are never, ever even remotely inclined to follow the herd. I’m so pleased that you’ve figured out that the greatest thing you can have is happiness and if you have that, nothing else matters.
I love that you have found your tribe, and that they love you and support you, and see you for the wonderful, beautiful person that you are. You are lucky to have them, and they are lucky to have you. As are we. Dad said to me yesterday that he would not be the person he is without me. I know that to be true about you, too. I can never thank you enough for what you have taught me, what you have shaped me into being. You really do make me a better me. I watch you navigate the world, and I learn.
As ever, you amaze me with your emotional aplomb, your absolute and total habitation of your own skin and who you are. I am so proud of the fact that although you apologise for things about ninety times a day, you never, quite rightly, apologise for that.
I love your quiet strength, the determination that lurks steelily behind the ditziness, your bravery in getting out there and making a stand for what you believe in. I genuinely aspire to be as brave as you, one day, when I grow up.
A few months ago, you said that the worst thing you could imagine was being boring. You said you just wanted to live an interesting life, because living an interesting life makes you an interesting person. You asked me if I thought you were boring?
Never. Not for one minute. Not ever. Not you. You couldn’t be if you tried.
I love you, my smart, clever, compassionate, kind, interesting girl. Thank you for another year.
p.s. This does not mean that you get to buy a goat, or a llama, or an alpaca, or many goats/llamas/alpacas.
p.p.s. I am not even remotely sorry about the goat/llama/alpaca thing.
p.p.p.s. If you’re thinking of pushing me off a cliff now, please read the above and reconsider.