My dearest Ava, two weeks ago you turned four, and despite all of my hopes and desires, I wasn’t there to celebrate beside you. The past few weeks have been the most testing of this nine month separation. Has it really been nine months already? Watching your mother tirelessly prepare for your birthday has put a harsh context on the time that we’ve been apart. Seeing videos of you, I feel like a malnourished Matthew McConaughey during a tear jerking scene from Dallas Buyers Club Interstellar. Spoiler alert, it may not have been 23 years, but nothing gives more gravity to lost time than to have seen you grow in the blink of an eye. Am I being over dramatic? Am I? probably. Yet, these are the thoughts that haunt me.

Forgetting all of that, this is a joyous occasion that demands to be celebrated, and like every other day, this one was all about me you. I couldn’t be prouder of the person you’re becoming, even despite your misguided fondness for the new Ghostbusters movie, after all, these errors in judgement are what growing up is all about. The same can be said for parenting. To think of all the Tamagotchi’s that unwittingly gave their lives before you. I never knew I had it in me.

Being a parent is hard.

Each day presents a brand new challenge, like learning how to open candy wrappers incognito, or to tell you off for jumping on the bed instead of joining in. Not all lessons have proved fruitful, yet you have taught me one of the greatest lessons of all, from merely viewing the world through your eyes. Getting older is mandatory, but growing up is optional. It’s a phrase I’ve heard countless times over the years, and it’s even a regular excuse that I use to justify, well, just about everything that I do.

At such a tender age, you have this natural warmth. A gift to see the good in people that could have only come from your mother. One could argue that you’re simply naïve to the struggles around you, with a lack of understanding the only thing that separates you from the realities of the world. You see the lovable Mr Tumble, while I see the future headlines of a BBC cover up into his string of child sex dungeons, but you know, tomato tomato.

You watch each day pass you by without a single care in the world and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little envious. Being a child is a wonderful thing, and one of the fundamental foundations to a happy youth is the innocence that you are born with. When I look at you, I see how wonderful yet fragile this innocence can be. It makes you kind and thoughtful, and eases you through each day without a single worry. What I would give to be like that. Perhaps not kind, but to experience every day without worry.

As adults we worry about everything, and it took me to see how care free you are to realise that worrying is what holds us back. It’s hard not to feel swamped by responsibilities or circumstances, and often we suffer twice by worrying. I worry that you’ll forget about me. I worry that you’ll resent me. I worry when I shouldn’t. The truth is, you will always be my girl, and I will continue to love you from afar until I can love you in person.

Never grow up, Ava. I cant wait to see what else you show me.