It’s Not A Secret

Emily Sutton's avatar

by Emily Sutton

It's not a secret that you can't walk

Although we truly believed you would

Last summer

And this summer

But we are still waiting


It's not a secret that you can't talk

But the few words that you can say are like the sweetest music

And when I say ‘I love you’, you say 'bike' or 'cat' and may never say ‘I love you too mummy’


It's not a secret that you have difficulty learning

Learning to read, write, paint a picture for mummy’s fridge

Learning to push the train along the track

Rather than destroy the track

Learning that it’s not ok to hug strangers

Or throw your iPad across Starbucks


It's not a secret that you wear a spinal brace 

Although I used to buy extra-large jumpers to conceal it

And I want to punch people when they ask how long you will have to wear it for

Because it may be forever


It's not a secret that you wear specialised boots   

And will never wear Converse or Nike


It's not a secret that you own a walking aid, a wheelchair, a school activity chair, an orthopaedic chair, a bath board, a toilet seat and a standing frame

And we have a cupboard full of free nappies


It's not a secret that your best friends are Iggle Piggle, Noddy and Thomas the Tank

And your favourite playground is the consultant's waiting room


It's not a secret that I have cried seven times this week

And it's seven days since I had a bath


It's not a secret that I feel constant anguish over your future

Or the lack of it

Or the uncertainty of it


It's not a secret that my fridge is full of wine

My cupboard is full of chocolate

And my calendar is full of appointments


It's not a secret that I want to spend precious weekends with you 

Not drinking wine with my mates

Like the old days

But reserve the right to want to drink wine with my mates at a moment’s notice

When I really need to talk about my woes

And expect them to understand


It's not a secret that I used your disabled badge in Sainsbury's car park the other day when you weren't with me


It's not a secret that the last four years have felt like forty

But forty of the best years of my life


It's not a secret that I swear under my breath about 27 times a day

Some of them at you

Some of them at your baby brother 

And some of them at your daddy

Not under my breath 


It's not a secret that I wake in the middle of the night to listen to you breathing 

And sometimes creep in and stroke your face 

Because you don't really like me doing that when you're awake


It's not a secret that we wound the bobbin up 

And back again

About twelve times yesterday

And I pointed to the ceiling, the door, the window and the floor

And you looked at me

And clapped

And signed 'again'


It's not a secret that I sometimes lie when friends ask if I'm ok

Because to explain why I'm not ok

Would be too painful 


It's not a secret that I sometimes have to hurt you

To keep you safe

To keep you out of harm’s way

To keep your quivering body still 

Under the X-ray machine

Or to administer your medicine


It's not a secret that the tears I shed for you

Are mostly tears of happiness

When you say a new word

Use a new sign

Get another award from school

Or give your baby brother a cuddle


It's not a secret that I wipe your nose

Your bottom

Your tears

And will continue to do so for much longer than most mums will do for their children


It's not a secret that everyone who meets you is intoxicated by your enchanting spirit

And that it's because of you we have become better people


It's not a secret that I only share a small proportion of my life with the world…

…because the rest is a secret.

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