Yesterday you turned four. When you woke up you whispered in my ear, ‘I feel very different today mama.’ I asked you why and you told me, ‘I don’t know, I suppose it must just be what happens when you get a whole other year older.‘ You are right of course… You do change and you grow and you become more and more yourself with every passing minute and I tell you this, it is a spectacular pleasure and honour for me to have the opportunity to be a part of that journey of yours.
The changes in you are, in me, rife with that kind of adult longing and nostalgia that only a parent could truly understand. I sit with you and I comfort you, I feed and clothe you, I read to you and often now these days you read to me telling me your favourite stories over and over and over again. You are learning all of these amazing new skills – often in spite of my own failures – and I am watching you become this entirely separate human from me, walking your own path in this world as you venture off to school and make new friends and welcome other people into your life with understanding and compassion and curiosity.
Being your mother, indeed being a mother to anyone I’m sure, is rife with enormous discrepancies. There is a vast difference between the true reality of motherhood and the image of it. Between my love for you and for our life together and for my need to be myself within that life. There are great lessons to be learned about the heart, about time, about the impermanence of it all – how quickly life changes and how quickly we all change along with it. There are lessons to be learned about mindfulness and patience, about self love and generosity, about balance and fear and all of lifes greatest joys and darkest struggles. There are lessons to be learned about love, the love for a lover, the love for friends and family and learning that sometimes you have to let go of those loves when they bring you great pain and despair.
These letters were always meant for you to only read once you become an adult yourself. I write them to help you to understand, as you grow older, who I was when I parented you, and what I hope for you when you are grown and how much I appreciated the time I got to spend with you when my arms were the safest place in the world for you. There is few things more important for an adult than understanding where you came from because I’m sure both my successes and my failures in parenting you will impact you for many years on, as my own parents’ do to me. In the hope that we can all do better than those that came before us, to learn more, to walk our own path and to never be destined to make the same mistakes over and over and over again.
The other day you started swimming lessons for the first time after being pretty traumatised by them two years ago. You woke up in the morning, in my bed and put your head on my shoulder.
‘I’m really nervous about swimming lessons,‘ you whispered.
‘Are you nervous because you don’t know what to expect?’ I asked, eyes still closed, brain still in a fog.
‘I’m nervous. What if I can’t find the courage I need? What if I am too small to have big courage?..’
‘Then I will give you some of mine. I will be there. And we can be brave together. Maybe then it won’t feel so scary after all…‘ I whispered back to you, and then we lay there in silence, for a very long time.
There is one thing I want you to always remember, now and until the day that I die (and even beyond that if you like). Even when it seems like I don’t, when we may argue or you may push back against me through all the different phases that we may have in our lives… I will always have your best interest at heart. I will always have your back. I will always be on your team, supporting you.
In the incredible ocean of people that exist in this unbearably vast and beautiful world. No matter where we are. No matter how far we are away from each other or wide your path may roam… My eyes will always search for you, first. Not to interrupt you or to get in your way, not to judge you or to question you, but just to make sure you are ok.
And when you feel as if you don’t have enough courage to summon, I will always lend you some of mine.
Thank you for trusting me and for teaching me and for returning my love for you.
I love you so very much.