A love poem to my son on his 8th birthday.

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Eight years I’ve been trying to capture time. In photographs. In epitaphs to a moment past.
To hold something bright burning just a little longer. To string-together all the moments I’ve held you, but those are the ties loves strength made stronger.

I’ve never been more significant to another. I’ve never been more myself than since being your mother.

Happy heart, my surest shore.
You’re the one I was waiting for.

 

Love, Mama x

On Father’s Day.

I didn’t have an old man until a few years ago. Some tender moments of wisdom shared with fleeting father figures; with taxi drivers, in hardware stores. Everyone else’s dad always laughing at my jokes. I looked for my dad for years; in hard work, and in shame and in seeking approval. He wasn’t in any of those places. He never showed up.

Fathers day’s a weird day when you don’t have one. When you have a mother who stood up and stood in. Who raised you completely and in spite of how hard it was for your heart to blossom in the long shadow of someones absence. I fell in love with what I didn’t have. Chased that, hard. Trying to cast sparks from stones I could get no blood from. Though every day she loved me. Loyally. And every birthday there was a party and presents and a cake that looked like a pony. And I was sneaking out before the sun, checking the mailbox in secret, in shame, for word from him. Something to say, I’m happy you’re alive. I acknowledge you. But nothing came. Though I checked every hour until bed. And every year until I was an adult. I don’t check anymore.

Yesterday, on Father’s Day, my Dad picks me up for dinner. We couldn’t look more different. His accent tells a story of how far he’s traveled to be with us; how important we must be for him to do that. And we get souvlakis though they’re not the same as when he was young, in Athens. And we talk about missing home even when you’re in it; all those places you can’t return to. The geography of disaster. The importance of garlic. And we’re laughing. When we get home, to the house he shares with my mother, everything he does for her is love, love, love. From where he parks the car, to how he holds her in conversation. Every day he loves her. Loyally. He’s always thinking of her. People don’t realise how special that is, to be in someone’s thoughts. You really feel it when you’re not.

I cut my finger last week, making the lunches. Trying, trying, trying to get everything done. And last night, at nearly 31, my Dad said ‘oh, darling!’ when I showed him. And got up from the dinner table to put a plaster on the cut. To address the wound. To show me he cares that I’m hurting. And I commit this all to memory, the best way I know how. I write it down. These love letters; to myself; to you.

Sending word.

I’m thinking of you.

A happy Father’s Day.

A love letter to my daughter on the day she turned 4.

One day you’ll be 14, or 24, or 84, or 40. These letters are for every when, though there’s no where so real as here and now.

Here. And now…

You take run ups to come and hug me. Starting further and further away each time. I sit on my bed and you run from the couch, the kitchen, screaming with laughter.

Here’s what I know; it’s not like in the movies, but it can be better, sometimes. And you should believe some things you read; when someone else’s story resonates within you. Listen to music that makes you want to lie in the floor. Let things floor you.

Smile at yourself in the mirror. Your loveliness is all-pervading. I know. I see it every day. You’re the kind of person they write stories about. You’re the reason there’s songs. You’re the heart of the piece.

Maybe have some goals. Maybe have a 5 year plan. Try not to be a nihilist – they’re so dull at parties. Ditto, communists. Though we all have our phases. Whatever you believe in, believe in the values at its heart. Believe in the values of your own heart most of all.

Spend much more time considering whether and why you want to invest in someone, than worrying about how they are feeling about you. I wish I’d done that. Extend yourself the generosity of kindness. Don’t worry all the time. It’ll all work out. It’s a process. You’ll get there.

You’re brilliant, darling. You’re in every smile I’ve ever had. When people say, ‘that’s the spirit!’ they’re talking about you.

You’re the sun on my back.

Happy Birthday, Mabel Poppy.

All my love,
Mama x

Previous birthday letters: Three

 

A love letter to my son on his 5th birthday.

Darling, you’re 5! A 5-year-old person. And what a fine job you’ve done. You, who from your very instance, have been an experience of impossible beauty. Especially for me.
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Sometimes, life will really present you an opportunity to grow up. And I mean ‘grow up’ however you wish to see it. Whatever it was or will be for you. Whatever makes you wiser. Or stronger. More resilient. Whatever makes you hold true to what you really know for certain, no longer willing to be distracted by that which has no answer. Whatever pushes you closer to where you are meant to be. And to who. But see it in its metaphor too. To stretch toward to sun.

You were that great occurrence in my life. You are, every day.

My eyes opened with yours, Theo. And in that moment, I knew everything would be alright.

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There’s no one I’d rather walk a long road with.

You’re all my best wishes,
Mama xx

 

(Last years letter: here.)

A love letter to my Mother on her birthday.

Happy Birthday, Mumma.

Right now, my weird sausage dog is repeatedly trying to eat a small black diamante that Mabel has stashed in my bed for safe keeping from her brother. You’d be horrified, but not surprised by that statement. Don’t worry, I’ve taken it off him.

Thank you for being so accepting of me. Though I’d live in the bed if I could and my will is made of iron and I’ve been so messy and both too quiet and too loud and there’s always a book in my handbag and I used to crash my bike into the house when I’d been out drinking and make you come out, in your nighty, and search the garden for my cell phone, which turned out to be in my hand. And there was that time I had a baby in your kitchen. And the time I put you in a headlock when I had a baby in my bedroom. Thank you for being so endlessly there for me. Especially when my choices were so far from what you would have wished for me. You always welcomed me home.

Thank you for always creating an environment of empathy, of care and of humour. Thank you for being a safe place. And not just for me and the babies and my myriad of bizarre and brilliant friends and animals over the years. But in the work you do. The excellence you are able to see in people. Your ability to nurture and nourish. Your enthusiasm. Your passion for your art and your interests is forever inspiring and motivating. ‘It feels good to work hard’ is such a powerful and promising lesson, especially for someone who was so scared of beginning. Who is scared of who they might, or mightn’t be. What they can or can’t do. The strengths you have taught me by example are some of the best things about me. I know a lot of people feel that way about you.

Thank you for always telling me the truth, even when I wasn’t listening. Thank you for your boundless love, even when I was working so hard to test all boundaries. You have taught me about worth and value and truth and love. You have shown me how to be a mother and how to be myself. You’ve shown me the importance of both.

Theo has sat next to me the whole time I’ve been writing this, asking all his questions, wanting to make sure I get it just right. Mabel has just burst into the room; ‘Mama!’ she’s roared in my face, clutching on to me with force. ‘I know what I want to make Gabba! I want to make her a statue of a duck because she misses her ducks so much!’. You’re loved, Mumma. You’re loved, you’re loved, you’re loved.

Your vitality enriches everything it comes into contact with. You’re so beautiful. You’re such a gift.

Happy Birthday to you.

All my love,
Alice Elizabeth Lambikins Bunnykins.

I like Gabba’s carrots. (a message from Theo)

A Letter to My Daughter: when she found herself lost in the supermarket.

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You’re carrying around a huge pink handbag, embroidered with flowers. Inside it are a small tan Pug dog plush (He’s your new favourite; you’ve named him Pug-Pug) and a Kelly green copy of the Heinemann’s New Zealand Dictionary. It used to belong to my grandmother. Her name is written, in her ever-elegant cursive, inside the front cover. You think this dictionary is best for telling your stories, and you flip open its pages and begin.

You have told me today that when you are older you will live in a windmill. That you will ride a purple motorcycle and you will look after yourself. You told me today, like every day, to remember that we are always in each others hearts, no matter where we are.

I reminded you of this when, yesterday, you found yourself lost, so ever briefly, in between isles in the local supermarket. I saw on your face, that expansion of reality. Saw you feel so lost, so alone. I swept you up; so wanting and willing to take that feeling from you. To keep you from it and have it never bother you again. To stuff you inside my t-shirt, where you lived for so long when you were cooking then new. I held on to you, laid safe in my arms, and kissed the tears from your ears and told you all those truths. All our old truths. Truths as old as ever, as old as you. And some new ones, too. Some new ways to find your way. Because you are, and you will and nothing will hold you back.

Because you’re a girl on a purple motorbike, riding home to her windmill. And in your handbag is your dog, he’s named Pug-Pug. And he’s wearing a helmet and reading aloud his favourite words from the your Kelly green dictionary. A book that’s helped 4 generations before you, find their words, so a part of your story. And you won’t need to remember because you’ll know it forever, we’re together. We’re in each others hearts.

You’re the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.

Love,
Mama xx