Emily is 12 years old today. 12. How time flies.
I remember the day I found out I was pregnant. I was 20 years old. A very young 20, I'd say. I liked smoking cigarettes, lip gloss, drinking halves of lager in night clubs and staying out all night dancing. I remember buying a cheap pregnancy test as I'd felt a bit strange for a few days. I did the test in work in the toilet, the two pink lines staring up at me, were they lying? I flushed the loo and walked out of the building in a daze, half-excited, half-dizzy. A bit of a mess.
When I sat back at my desk I phoned my cousin. "Can you get me a Clear Blue? - I'll give you the money when I get to yours." Clear Blues were £10 - a lot of money back then for someone like me on a low wage. I got the bus to my cousin's flat. I didn't open the test right away. I was certain that the first test had been lying, it was faulty - it was wrong. We sat on the floor of my cousin's flat, gossipped, ate take-away curries, drank Lambrini wine and smoked Lambert and Butler's.
Once taken, the test was positive staring back at me, the blue + sign clear as day. A big bright positive.
You see, from that night onwards. That strange, bewildering night - I decided that I was going on an adventure. Something quite new, something quite exciting, scary, exhilarating and even magical was going to happen. I was going on an adventure, and once you were born, we were to go on our adventure together - as mother and daughter.
How far we've come, Em. Just me and you for the first few years.
I remember how you used to gurgle at the sight of me. You used to wake up in the cot next to me, arms and legs wriggling, big smile on your face, big beautiful dribbly gurgles for your Mummy.
I remember when we bought our own house and you had your own room. You had your dummies (doh-dees) until you were four and liked to brush your nose with the one that had the most fluff on. ("Fluffy-One Dode")
You went to nursery while I worked and your best friend was April. One day I picked you up and you both ran up to me and sang "Don't you wish your girlfriend was-a-hot like me DON'TCHAAAA!"
You went to school and in the first year your teacher told me she had never known a child like you. She said you were so funny, intelligent and such a character. This same teacher still asks about you, even though we live miles away now.
When you were 5 we met your Dad. We went on a "family date" to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. We had dinner in a pub. I'd dressed you in white and green, and you ate bolognaise and got it all over your top.
We went to Liverpool a few times on "dates" too. You liked to dress up in "Boy's Stuff" and wouldn't dream of wearing a dress. You loved that we were all cool with whatever you wanted to wear.
When you were 6 you saw your Dad get down on one knee in the park opposite the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
Then at 7 you were the beautiful bridesmaid at our wedding.
And now, wow... how the time has flown. It is not just me and you on our adventure. We are part of something much larger. You now have two sisters, Alice and Rosie, and more extended family members than we can count. We live in a busy home full of love, life, laughter. (And a few tears and tantrums along the way, of course.)
And so, our adventure continues. We're a long way from where we began, 12 years is a long time. Our adventure is like a snowball Em, it gets bigger, faster, stronger. We collect our memories along the way - we stay close and we take care of each other. Our family is everything.
Happy Birthday my biggest girl. We love you all the world. x