Pausing to Ponder

How can one even begin to capture the essence that is Hudson?

His whole body embrace of anything that excites him, his sly palming of any form of technology, his frustrated retort of “I’m working!’ whenever we catch him studiously engaged in hacking into anyone’s computer/phone… the full body bear hugs, the sudden and complete conversion of words to strange sounds whenever he realises people are paying attention to him, the devoted attention to his siblings, the passionate adoration of his Dad.

Dave and I revisited Hudson’s third birthday party this afternoon and laughed in disbelief. In so many ways, this burst of energy hasn’t changed one bit. It makes you wonder how much of life is already programmed into us and how much becomes instilled as we experience reality within our families of origin.

I secretly wish it were Hudson’s birthday at least once a month.

The giddy energy that he brings to our family as he anticipates the frivolity and fun is just a little intoxicating. He threw himself into planning the menu (curried egg sandwiches, hot dogs, yoghurt tarts, chicken pies) and opened eyes wide with wonder every time he spied a new decoration or dish for the big day. “Oh wow! Is that for my party? That’s amazing, Mum! How did you DO that?!” Each day of the approach was opened with a hopeful “Is it my party today?” 

For a boy who was supposed to be born before Christmas, the ensuing years have made me endlessly glad that he decided to enter the world a week later. If only my former self had known the benefit of such perspective (though had anyone tried to tell me this wisdom at the time they would certainly have received a smarting blow to the face).

We slightly recover from Christmas and then the planning begins. Themes, decorations, food and games. After a revolving round of theme options, we finally got Hudson to nail down his preference – Paw Patrol. We went with a hot dog bar, oodles of strawberries and a cake that was almost purely chocolate.

When the day dawned Hudson could barely contain his excitement. When I stumbled into the kitchen – bleary eyed from a late night of cake decorating – his enthusiasm was contagious as he bobbed up and down in front of the birthday cake. As each of his siblings woke up, he took them, squawking with happiness, to the magic that had appeared overnight – chalkboard etchings, sweets with paws.

The guests began to appear and Hudson was ecstatic about each new arrival. The games began and he was in his element with all the additional attention. A water bomb game had all the adults ducking for cover while the kids gleefully aimed their weapons, thankfully no one suffered too much.

We kept the food simple with a Hot Dog Bar – slow cooking the skinless hot dogs in their own juices made the process deceptively easy. There were oodles of sides – kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, onions, aioli, mustard, ketchup, rocket, swiss cheese and jalapenos. We had Portuguese chicken pies and curried egg sandwiches (thanks to Nanny) as well as a snack board. For sweets we went for light and tangy – meringues with fruit and cream, strawberry yoghurt tarts, strawberry and marshmallow skewers (thanks to Grandma) and blue jelly shots. The cake was one of the easiest I have attempted yet – a version of the Kit Kat cake, with maltesers and chocolate dirt (cocoa and crumbled sweet biscuits). Paw themed cupcakes rounded out the selection.

Hudson’s love of baking is fast becoming an obsession and we wondered where he had disappeared to after opening a present from his Aunty and Uncle of his very own cooking implements. We found him in his play kitchen with his Kinder friends, busily concocting a meal with them – whisking, stirring, pouring. He has asked me passionately every day since if he can use his equipment – whipping up an incredible sauce for our fish and chips (with mayonnaise, plain yoghurt, olive oil, mustard, salt and sumac), some Baci di Ricotta (Italian ricotta donuts) and dressing for the salad two nights running.

I cannot imagine a world without Hudson. His first year brought us all to our knees and we questioned everything throughout the constant screaming, the agonising pain and the continual health problems. We lament the constant misdiagnoses and palming off of our frustrations by an inept system. And yet, his suffering became an unlikely gift for us all – teaching us resilience, empathy, softness. We shed our judgemental casings, threw off the personas that had so far served us and learned how to ‘be’ when all was falling apart.

Five years. How incredibly, utterly lucky we are. How utterly lucky we are.

Dear Hudson,

There is something about you that shimmers. As if you belong to another dimension, another magical place that the rest of us long for. You embody joy so completely. Passion, life, energy, vitality spring out from you. 

Your compassion is remarkable. You reach into pain, confront it head on and softly offer your hand towards those who suffer. I am in awe of you. 

You feel life keenly. Riding the highs and expressing your frustration with force, briefly. It always amazes me how quickly you can rise out of your losses, cresting the wave of the moment, seeking the next experience. 

I see how connected you are to your friends, your siblings. You love without abandon, wrapping your arms around life, around those dear to you, giving everything you have without question. 

Your mind for patterns is uncanny. You make connections quickly, tongue darting in and out of your concentrating mouth. I wonder at where this skill will take you. 

I love baking with you. Creating, cultivating, concocting with you. Your creativity bursts into life as you ponder new flavour combinations and inspires me to approach cooking afresh. I suspect you will be teaching me about the culinary arts before I know it. 

Hudson Patrick Hughes, thank you for being part of our family. We are so much the better for knowing and loving you. 

Love forever,

Mum

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