It’s Saturday evening. I am on my own. The girl and I eat rice pudding despite it being summer, the baby is looking at us. We have been to the zoo. J has gone to watch football with some friends. It’s the night before her birthday. She’s been obsessed with birthdays lately. We have kept telling her she’ll turn three in the summer.
I tuck her in. The baby is crying in my arms while I sing to her. She wants to play hide and seek under the covers, she asks for her dad, I sing and try to overhear the baby’s crying. She goes to sleep not knowing that Sunday is her birthday. J and I agree not to tell her, there’s no need to make her even more excited, no need for her to wake up at 4am wanting to start the day.
I have been planning the cake for ages. It’s white chocolate, mascarpone, rhubarb and strawberries. I have been reading the recipe over and over again, I have shopped and I am excited to begin. Only my plan had been to begin earlier, but then shopping and the zoo got in the way.
At 9:15pm I finally have two sleeping children. I start the cake. I melt the white chocolate, I beat the egg whites. I mix things together, I follow the recipe, I am as tired as can be.
While the white chocolate cake bottom is in the oven, I start the rhubarb compote. I am tired. The cake is done, I turn it upside down as it says in the recipe. Something’s wrong. I am tired.
At 10:45pm I start making custard for a cake I know how to make. At 11:15 pm I am in bed. I am tired.
Sunday 6:10am. The girl wakes up. We lure her over to our bed. J and I are both tired. We have spent some time arguing around 3am. I was mad about the cake going wrong and therefore mad about basically everything. J was tired and a little drunk and wanted to sleep. When the girl wakes up, we take turns cuddling her and talking to her – one is awake, the other is sleeping. It gives us some much-needed extra rest. She still doesn’t know it’s her birthday.
The boy wakes up and wants his morning milk. I take him to the living room, the girl follows. The table is set with the flag and presents, but she doesn’t see it. She finds a book, sits beside me on the sofa, talks, wakes up, and then suddenly sees the flag and realises it’s her birthday. She runs to the bedroom to tell J, she talks about the presents.
The day has begun.
J sleeps a few extra hours while I prepare the well-known, tried and tested strawberry tart. I make a batch of brownies. The girl is watching Pippi and playing with her presents.
Around lunch time we tell her that our families are coming in the afternoon. She cries hysterically telling us she doesn’t want them to. J and I look at each other. Terrible twos have turned into terrible threes.
Families arrive, presents are opened, song is sung, cake is eaten, families depart. Not a word of complaint is spoken. Family is after all alright it seems.
She’s three. She is in kindergarten, she’s so small and so big at the same time. She tests us at every single opportunity she gets and yet, we still go to bed at night more in love with her than when we woke up.
Thank you, thank you, thank you lovely, lovely girl for making the way into our world three years ago. We love you more than words can say. Right now the best moments are those when you’re peacefully sleeping, blonde hair framing your face, your lips warm and kissable. I find that hard, but they all say it’s a sign that you’re healthy – if you weren’t testing, if you weren’t screaming, if you weren’t crying, something would be wrong. This might be the terrible threes, but I am sure we have fabulous fours waiting just around the corner.