I always thought I would have four children.
Or rather I knew it.
According to my step mother, as a little girl I spoke about it a lot.
My husband and I spoke about it.
When pregnant with my second I had a dream of four sandcastles on the beach - they were my four children.
After having my fourth, and my husband's swift vasectomy I felt bereft, distraught, like a piece of the puzzle was missing, forever, there was a rip in the fabric of how my life was intended to be.
And yet I know I could not care for another child.
When my last child was about six months old I had another dream of four children. And this time my soul sister's only child was my fourth. That felt right. About two days later, unprompted our three year old refered to him as "our brother". Interesting.
And then, as you know, I have been wrestling with my need to mother and my need to write.
And it suddenly came to me. I have always referred to my books as my "other children". Only half jokingly. It is sad but true. My books, whilst all replaceable, hold a map to my soul and growth as a person on every level. And in the past few days it has become clear to me that my "mission" as a writer is to write the books I have always wanted to read, but never found. My writing is my fourth child. Just like we can sense our children years before they come to us, so I can with my writing. It takes the love and space and time and patience, and courage of a child in my life. It takes my energy and vision. It has my complete devotion and heart - and sometimes it disappoints me. I am never as good a writer as I want to be. Just like being a mother.
When my book arrived through the post this week, it truly felt like being a new mama again. The sheer elation, the sense of achievement. The sense of vision, destiny and reality coinciding in one barely believable moment which we have dreamed of all our lives, yet did not dare to believe could come true.
I am a newborn mama. I cradle my baby gently, carry her with me everywhere I go. She is precious. Perfect in my eyes. And I am beaming with delight, showing it off to everyone: look what I made!