|Photo courtesy of Gemini Woman 2015|
Happy 21st Birthday sweetheart. Wow, I can't believe I'm saying that, it seems only yesterday that Dad and I strapped you into a shiny new car seat to take you home from hospital. We drove 10mph all the way for fear of jolting your 6lb 15oz frame. Tiny you were! And yet you still showed your little personality, right from the beginning. We had to gobble our food in the evening because come 7.30pm you demanded our attention. Not dissimilar to now!
And the stubbornness, well that came later as a toddler. You stood resolute against the enemy, (us) if we dared to suggest that wearing a sun hat in December might not be the best idea. Let's talk about the hats. For the first 3 years of your life, you wouldn't leave the house without one. Amassed quite a collection you did.
Most babies have noonoos in one form or another. You had James the rabbit. Poor James, he's very much worse for wear now. He's been stitched and patched more times than I care to remember. One of his ears is almost worn through where, with finger and thumb you stroked it night after night after night. And oh boy is he well travelled. He came away on every single holiday until you (and he) reached the ripe old age of 16 and we ever so gently suggested that maybe he'd be better staying at home. That's a lot of aeroplanes for an old bunny. But there was no question about it, he moved down to London a few weeks ago and takes pride of place on your bed.
I still remember your first day at school, you walked in through the front door without a backward glance. And how proud you came out at the end of the day clutching one of many paintings that we were obliged to keep for years to come.
Your brother came along when you were 5 1/2. I think it was a bit of a shock to us both that he was a boy!! Still you took it in your stride and happily immersed yourself in Power Rangers and Doctor Who. Although you never lost your love of all things girly, pink and sparkly.
It was obvious from those early years that you had an inbuilt work ethic and tried your very best. Well except the blip in Year 12 when you terrorised the teachers. That poor biology professor who shall remain nameless never did know what you did to her white board!
You dipped your toes into a plethora of extra-curriculum activities in and outside of school; ballet, brownies, swimming, to name but a few, finally settling on netball. I put my foot down, when at the age of 15 you said you wanted a horse! Mucking out isn't really your style is it?
There's a lot of you around the house (let's not talk about the messy gene) no more so than the holiday diaries that you insisted on keeping. Most had some recount of a drowning incident normally involving Dad who was more bothered about retrieving his sunglasses/flipflops from the ocean floor. Never ever show these to the social services!
You've surrounded yourself with good people, lovely girls who are all cut from the same cloth and boys who have your back. Friends that you'll have forever.
At 16 you made us proud parents when you came out of school on GCSE results day. And then again at 18 which meant that you realised your ambition of studying at the University of Leeds. Remember when you walked in to primary school for the first time and didn't turn back? Well it happened again on the first day of Uni, except you told us later that you didn't look back because you would have jumped right back in to the car. I sobbed my heart out on the way home. That was 2 years ago and look at you now, lots of new Uni friends, living in a beautiful house in West Kensington and working as an intern at Sky. We couldn't be prouder.
But you've left a huge hole back home. It's so quiet! No baby elephants in your bedroom or screaming downstairs when just a quiet word would do. We miss your craziness, your unpredictability but not your grumpy self, first thing in a morning. We miss that you make us laugh daily. Your lack of geographical knowledge has us in stitches. Of course Southport is down south. Ok, it is if you live in Scotland - I'll give you that one.
Your personality is infectious. You're clever and smart, kind and considerate, champion the under-dog and always think of others. One of my most favourite presents ever was a basket of 19 gifts on my 19th Mother's Day. Carefully chosen presents of candles and photographs and my favourite chocolate. Might get a little expensive in another 20 years though.
You have high emotional intelligence, are never afraid to ask for guidance (and directions!), are a natural leader and an excellent organiser (sadly not your room). Who else could organise a surprise party without me finding out? As soon as I caught a glimpse of that bouncy castle in the garden, I turned to Dad and said "whatever has she been up to now?" There was never a doubt in my mind, it was down to you. Your future employer will be very fortunate to have you on board when you graduate. But I'm your mum so I would say that wouldn't I. Mum's are never wrong by the way.
You have a maturity beyond your years in many ways and yet a little naive streak that runs through your veins. I don't think you're aware of this and its totally endearing.
|You age 14 or 15??|
So as your mum, I want you to know how terribly proud I am of you, of everything you've achieved and every thing you'll go on to do. I only ever asked two things of you and that was to try hard and be kind to everyone. You passed with flying colours and some more. I would like to ask one more thing of you Ashleigh and that is, never change, always be you.