Before Your First Day Of School : A Snapshot

Everyone is asleep and I am making your lunch. Buttering wholemeal sandwiches and filling them with ham and cheese and lettuce. Wrapping them in baking paper.

You stumble in, pyjama’d. You’re still warm with sleep. You eat 3 Weetbix for breakfast and drink a glass of water and we sit together in the morning sun that has swallowed the kitchen.

You get dressed in the lounge, in clothes laid out for you the night before; last night’s tomato sauce sponged off your blue jeans. You’re ready to go. I’m only pretending I’m ready.

I hold you in my arms on the front step and we take a photo. I want to commemorate the moment some other way than this; some way that other people do; covering all my bases, preparing for whoever you may become. Trying, always, to plan for all futures. You look so big in my arms we both look like children.

You call back through the gate, ‘Mama! I need a kiss!’, though you’ve had an even hundred already this morning. I have tried not to tell you to have a great day. Tried to keep my adjectives from expecting too much. Wanting you to be able to identify your own experience without it growing from some sense of my expectation. ‘I hope you learn something cool, Bubba’, I say. My cheek to yours.

Your sister insists on waving you goodbye on the street. She calls it ‘waving out’, which, like so many things she does, has a certain sense of propriety, though she’s half in pyjamas. You’re both endlessly charming. The sky is so blue.

She stands by your door and waves a big wave. You roll down your window and she clambers across the gutter in ever-bare feet to high-five you. ‘See you later, Alligator!’ you yell at each other down the street, until you are out of sight.

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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

A love letter to my daughter, when she tripped and fell, and to my son, who cried wolf because of it.

You were running around your room, which we had spent all day tidying. We’d picked up and packed away. We’d reorganised your furniture. You told me what should go where and we moved it together; ‘1, 2, 3 heave!’ your contribution.

You tripped and fell, after spinning in circles on the floor now free for spinning circles. Your pyjama pants half way up your legs, got under foot and down you went with them. Your upper lip, much more made for kisses, took the impact on the frame of your bed.

I knew instantly how badly you had hurt yourself, because of your cry. A blush of purple bruise will tell us tomorrow. Your held your little hand to your face. That feeling of disbelief that something could be so painful; that you were still intact.

I sat cross-legged, where moments before you had been turning, your arms in the air. And I scooped you up and held you to me, your body still fitting in my lap, though these days you spill over the sides. And I said what I say. Sshhhhh. Sshhhhh. You’re okay. I’m here.

I told you I could hear in your voice how much you were hurting.

Your brother, after you had fallen asleep; once you’d calmed down, and I’d turned off the light and sung all our songs; bumped his head on the rail of your bunk beds, and got upset. And I said what I say. Sshhhhh. Sshhhhh. You’re okay. I’m here with you.

And I told him I could hear in his voice that he wasn’t too hurt.

So this is to say, to both of you; as all these letters are, even if they’re are addressed to the other; I have heard all your cries. I have been here. I am here. I am right here with you. And I am listening.

I am always here to listen. No matter what you are feeling; how big or how small. When you can only say one thing, because you mean something else, but the something else won’t come out how, or though, you mean it. Or you haven’t found the words quite yet. Or when, really, all you are looking to hear is that you matter, too, and just as much, and as much as ever. Or because sometimes you can’t believe how painful it is; or that you are still intact.

I will be there. I will be right there with you. I will hear in your voice how much you are hurting, and I will drop everything.

Except you.

I love you,
Mama.