‘It’s nearly my birthday!’ my eldest is playing on loop, every day.
She is to turn six, emphasised complete with numbered fingers in the face, just in case her mum has had a sudden brush of amnesia.
Of course I haven’t – 10 days overdue on a snowy January morning, through a haze of gas and air, the vivid memory of a doctor armed with a pair of forceps will be forever imprinted on the mind.
And forever grateful to the wonderful midwife, who was adamant I should be able to go it alone ‘just one last time’.
With everything resting on that final attempt, all 5lbs and 13 ounces of her arrived soon after at 7.34am precisely.
And how we celebrate – each passing year has been a joy with this little lady, not least with the fun and amazement of what the stretch of her imagination has brought to our world.
Half of her is usually living in a land of unicorns, fairies, more recently llamas and the excitement of the birthday rolling around again has radiated through the house since she upgraded to Year One in September.
Turning six is a major milestone in the life of a five-year-old and everyone must share in the celebration.
However the turn of the year has left me washed with mum guilt as on that day, everyone will be there, except me.
While she spends the day happily flashing her new age badge with pride at school, I’ll be taking some R and R in the French Alps along with my sister.
As parents, we’re programmed to cherish every moment – birthdays define those moments, they are the bread and butter.
Missing one will be etched on the brain as vividly of those 18 hours of first time labour –you swear you’ll only ever do it once.
Confession time haunted me, what could be said to soften the blow but having plucked up the courage to tell her. The response: “Oooh a holiday mummy, that will be lovely, can I help pack your suitcase?
“Don’t forget I need a new passport for when we go to Greece, like in Mamma Mia.”
And that was that. Not sure it helped – and what a way to cast a little bribery of her own, I’ve furiously been googling package holidays based on filming locations for a trip to Greece that wasn’t on the calendar.
At six she’s smart, very smart.
The trip is an opportunity and a rare one-off seven days of dedicated ‘me’ time, maintaining a bit of independence. It just feels horribly indulgent.
‘But I’m back for the weekend when we’ll celebrate the birthday properly’ which is supposed to make it okay and me feel better.
It doesn’t. The guilt got me hard. So much is said about that nasty parental guilt gremlin, it creeps up on you all times of the day and night, always lurking but it serves as a sign as how much we care.
The immediate default was to go about lavishing on all sorts of unnecessary gifts to somehow compensate in my absence
Instead my mum and I spent an evening lovingly up-cycling a Sindy caravan once treasured by my six-year-old self – I can’t wait to see her face, I’ll give it her early.