We walk together, the february sun feeling warmer on our backs than it should for the time of year, the birds singing like its the middle of spring, and not for the first time, I wonder at how life takes the most amazing twists and turns.
The warm air prompts me to open a picture in my memory, one of a very small girl. It was the early promise of spring that reminded me, and indeed it was probably 15 years ago to the day; a warm february day, on a different walk with a different man and a one year old, who had changed my life beyond all expectations.
Before being a mother I was a different person, though I am closer now to what I once was, than I have been since but Motherhood was a massive shock. Post-natal depression didn't help, all at once I was ricochet from a promising design career to a full time mother who couldn't understand why she was still in pyjamas at 3pm and had spent most of the day trying to look after a small bundle with no instruction manual.
Our lowest point on this massive journey that she has joined me on (or perhaps I have joined her?)was one dark December day, after trying to get her to feed for what seemed hours, just sitting on the sofa with tears rolling down my face, and as I cried, she cried, we were both in despair and there seemed little respite in the lonely days of early motherhood. And there we were for most of the daylight hours; November is not a great month to give birth, it felt very cold and dark and lonely. I was overwhelmed by the feeling (for the first time in my life)of responsibility and it gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. I wanted my old life back, at that moment I don't think I had ever wanted anything more.
Yet a year and a bit later I remember walking in a beautiful park on a day just like this one, unusually hot for the time of year, and a little girl, once so small, now looking like a proper person. I have a photograph of this day, she is smiling an insane smile, full of cheekiness, she has on a long sleeved t-shirt with flowers on the front and she is brandishing a pair of sun glasses at the camera. My baby girl, the two of us together on this long and dangerous journey of life, discovering what makes us both tick, what hurts us and how to carry on.
In what seems like an instant, all of a sudden, she is 15 and we are living a life so far away from the one back then, further away than I had ever expected, that it is hard to imaging the other walk with the other man and the hotter than it should be sun on our backs all that time ago.
We have come a long way, baby girl and I. I never realised what it was to love a child until I became a mother, it grows and as far as I know, it has no end. I can't imagine my world without her. She has so much further to go now than I do; I do hope her route is not too hard, for I don't think I could bear that.