One year. A fairly unremarkable period of time. I have had twelve month periods of my life pass quickly and without much ado. Perhaps I could pick out a few highlights but it might take some concentrated recollection. This was not one of those years.
The last three hundred and sixty-five days have been the most significant of my life. My baby boy, Lucas Hunter, arrived, I turned thirty and I launched my own interiors brand. For better or worse, much of it has been spent awake; watching the world go to sleep every evening as I lie still, a tiny creature bound to my chest, utterly dependent, feeling his breath moving in time with my own. The emotions have been plentiful and polarised. Some elated, some exhausted, some loud, some lonely. But all accompanied by an increasingly overwhelming love that threatens to burst from my being at any moment.
Today my little human turned one and I must warn you that much gushing lies ahead. Some people are of the opinion that having a birthday celebration for a baby is nonsense; an exercise for the parents, an excuse to buy and spend. Maybe for some that is the case, but for us it is so much more.
I have been lucky enough to witness first hand Lucas at his most perceptive. Observation and learning are his only occupation. Every morning he wakes as a fresh canvas for knowledge, he is beginning to vocalise his desires and can read our voices and expressions. The responsibility lies, therefore, with us to create an environment in which he feels safe and loved to capacity, in which he can develop skills at his own pace and in his own manner.
So we chose to celebrate his day by gathering the people who love him most and charging the air around him with joy. He won’t remember the decor, the presents or the cake but what he will remember, somewhere in his deep sub-conscious, is an intense feeling being adored.
He is the most wonderful thing we have ever made so I wanted to make him lots of wonderful little things in return. A foraged garland entwined with fragrant lavender from my garden was an obvious place to start and a fairly transparent nudge towards the bohemian. I expect it will last less than a minute on his beautiful head but I’ll dry this out to use as a decorative piece in the future.
His gifts would, of course, have been incomplete without a nod to his namesake. Using the palm leaf from our textile collection, I block printed lightweight, laundered linen and sewed a simple baseball tee. Linen is the ultimate choice for little bodies; breathable, supple and appropriate for all seasons. A chill is growing in the air here as Autumn begins to make itself known so knit trousers were the perfect pairing. A repurposed, old sweater lent itself effortlessly to comfortable, pull-on pants, the leather knee patches an essential addition for busy knees. I imagine one day soon we’ll look back in wonder that these tiny garments fitted our growing man.
I don’t have a special stuffie or a blanket carried with me from childhood. I’m not sure I ever did and it’s maybe that which inspired this sleepy little rabbit. He loved it almost immediately, the combination of textures designed to encourage curious hands. And, of course, the fabric is another trademark of hunter’s bohemia, symbolic of where this year has taken us.
Something that has struck a resonant chord with me in recent months is the old truth that, among many other things, motherhood is a slow process of letting your children go. Loving selflessly, nurturing honestly, giving his wings room to grow. My heart swells with sentimentality at the notion of him holding on to this sweet talisman, a tangible memory of me no matter how far he flies.
My darling Julia Lucia, who you will know from our recent collaboration, gifted him with the most spectacular epicurean delight. A thoroughly regal cake dressed with bay leaves and glistening, wild blackberries. Sumptuous, rough-iced frosting smothered the exterior revealing hints of what lay within. As we serve, layers of light, airy sponge are revealed, stained with the most heavenly, handmade blackberry and bay preserve which continues to pour from its epicentre. The cake is entirely gluten free – a feat in itself – and though I know never to expect any less from the queen of patisserie, her creations still take me aback every time.
Now is the time I should point out that today’s story is not just a celebration of Lucas Hunter’s birthday; it is also a personal celebration of my own Birth Day. An opportunity to reflect on one of the most momentous days of my life to date.
Three little ones came before Lucas but none were destined to join us and the years before his safe arrival were fraught with anxiety and a hollow grief. A stigma remains tightly bound to infant loss and where you just want to be held and loved you are greeted for the most part with awkward silences and platitudes. I had quietly made the decision that he would be our last attempt and my expectations were low. The nerves didn’t leave me until long after his birth.
It’s true that the pain of birth fades, but the memories of his arrival are as vivid as the day they took place. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t quick, much like the journey to his conception, but it was spectacular. Five months later I was lying in a rare, hot bath when it hit me – I gave birth. Pride washed over me and I felt a renewed sense of self-appreciation. Strength comes in many forms for many different people and it is an individual task on our own personal journeys to identify those things and champion them. That’s not to say if things hadn’t worked out how they did that I wouldn’t have found strength in other ways. But he’s here and my soul feels triumphant.
Lucas Hunter is a source of my strength and to him I will be forever thankful. He lives an uncomplicated existence, reacting without inhibitions or concern. Not all his emotions are right, but they are all raw. It’s refreshing and reminds me every day to just be.
Lucas means ‘light’ and he is that in abundance. I can only hope that we will be untarnished mirrors, reflecting back at him that same bright sunshine he bestows on us.
Happy birthday, my little man.
[ Photos by myself and Julia Lucia. ]