A Letter to My Children on Mother’s Day.

I am sitting on the front step of our house, in the sun, writing this to you. It’s Sunday morning.

When I brought this house, at 22, I didn’t realise then that it was for you. That one day you’d be what filled it up, what pushed life into its every available space. You did the same with me.

The camellia tree, that was planted at the same time this house was built, some 80 winters, is filled with sparrows. These details; what it is to sit on the front step of the house you own, filled with the life you have made, watching sparrows dance; this is peace to me. That’s how I know I’ve done alright.

“It’ll be alright” was always the great standard of measure in my house growing up. And I use to feel somehow diminished, like things improving to the standard of just being alright was all there was to look forward to. But I see now, what my own Mother was teaching me was to have hope. To hold on to your hope and to let it lead you to where you are supposed to be. And that is the foundation I draw from everyday. It’s what brought me to this house and how you became my home.

I had no idea this was where I was going. And I am confounded with good fortune that it was here.

 

Thank you for bringing me home.

Mama xx

 

 

April.

 

Dear Babies,

You don’t always have to be right. You won’t always be. In every new season of my life I realise how much I don’t know. But those gaps have a way of filling themselves. There’s this Kafka passage Tom Robbins quotes in Still Life with Woodpecker; “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”

Here is a secret that’s not really a secret (people will try to tell you that’s wisdom); you don’t always have to know what you’re doing either. Or what you want to do, or where you’re going. It is perfectly okay to just sit with that not knowing. To wait it out. To think it over. To try a bunch of things. To like them or not like them. To succeed or fail. Where and who you are supposed to be will find you. Your future is waiting, and you are the only one it wants. It’ll come to you. It always does.

We are all here; worrying the same worries and feeling the same feelings and thinking the same thoughts. The best you can do, at all times and anywhere, is to be kind. To yourselves especially. Be patient. When it all feels too slow or too hard or too much, try to remember that everything you have done has brought you to now, and you managed all those other times that felt too slow or too hard or too much, didn’t you? You kept breathing in and out and putting your right foot in front of your left foot until you found yourself somewhere else. Somewhere where maybe it was easier to breathe. Remember to breathe. It may sound too simple to be meaningful, but that’s a another lesson for another letter. Try and appreciate the good things, even in the bad times. Because they are there too, just as much and as ever and the hard things.

Read widely. Listen to all sorts of records, especially if someone you love loves them. These are the secrets people will share with you without even realising. Take a lot of photographs. I began the 365  project I’ve been doing this year, to help and mend a broken heart I was holding. One day at a time is a powerful thing. It’s enough. It is so easy to get caught up trying to figure out the future, when you’re headed there anyway.

Mabel; I think we all forget sometimes how young you are; only 2.  But you have reminded us this month, with your tantrums, your demands, so seemingly out of character, but so suitable for where you are right now. Being only 15 months younger than your brother, you have almost rolled into a twinship. But you are you and our very best you at that. You come up to me sometimes, and take my hand and say ‘best friends’. You like to build towers from all my library books and when I give you a carrot dipped in hummus, you eat the hummus off and hand me back the carrot, “More pwease!” you tell me, rather than ask. You’d live on crackers, if I let you. I woke up the other day, to find you sitting on my bed, crumbling a mysterious piece of polystyrene all over my bed covers. “It’s snowing, Mama!” you told me, as a million uniform snowflakes drifted over us. They stuck in your eyelashes, like some kind of Man Ray, and oh, I just can’t get mad at you. You overwhelm me with happiness. Your face heralds it.

Theodore; this time next year we will be preparing you for school. Just as I am beginning to feel as though I am getting this thing right. As our rhythm is finding us and carrying us over. That’s how these things happen, my love. The music swells, and our lives along with it. You say the most tremendous things, all day, without pause. “Where are my formal pants” you asked the other day. I had to tell you I didn’t know, because, formal pants? Where are you off to? The theatre? I ask you a lot of questions back, wanting you to look for your own answers, wanting to show you the possibility not knowing offers. And then there are some things, like when you say ’emergent seat!’ instead of emergency, which make me smile too hard to correct. Try and remember humility, Bubba. Never let yourself be shamed into it. But know that there is a connectivity that comes with it. Something relateable. Because when you are singing ‘heyyyyyy, sassy neighbour!’ as the lyrics to Gangnam Style, there is always going to be someone who thought those were the words too. And then you can laugh about it. Together.

I think I write you these letters as a way to hold on to you. Or to hold on to myself. To try to preserve something that is both fleeting and forever. I am sure, when you’re old, and I am trying to explain to you all that we find and feel over the course of all things, you’ll throw back to me, over your shoulder and out the door, “Yeah. I know, Mama. You covered that in Newsletter 57”. “Consider yourself lucky”, I’ll call after you, never to old to kick your ass, “that I was so consumed with love for you, I had to tell the whole world our story”.

Our tiny landscapes.

 

I love you all the love,

Mama xx

 

JanuaryFebruary / March.

March.

Dear Babies,

When we are dancing, to records I used to play, on Saturday nights; and your little bodies are spinning, spinning and your little faces are laughing, laughing, I am filled with the knowing, that there is no where so sweet as now.

I have never just loved where I am. Not known how to be still, have rushed and pushed and run toward a future; always desperate for ‘something to happen’.

And then there was you; and you slowed me down. Made me look up and out, instead of down and in. Connected me.

And the more I listen to that, to you, to all the lessons you have brought with you, the happier I am.

Mabel; you are infinitely sweet. When you were a baby, and you lived in my lap, I could literally kiss you to sleep. 1000 kisses a day seems to be your requisite – we’re the same in that way. I am doing my best to get you to stand up to your brother, when he does something you don’t like; making sure you have a voice, and the confidence to use it. You told him the other day, ‘Don’t treat me like a toy! I’m a robot!’, which was so cool and empowered I would have given you a high-five, but I like to let you just be in your own radness sometimes, to find solidity there, in who you are; to trust your own reactions without need for affirmation. You boss us all around, constantly. You don’t like to wear dresses, but on the occasions you do, you tell me they are for dancing, so we try out a few moves. You say ‘ya’ instead of ‘you’ and the other day when you couldn’t remember the name of your tounge, you told me you didn’t need your face washed because you’d ‘Use your licker’. You make me cry with laughter.  You’d rather be a pirate than a princess.

Theo; your comprehension is incredible. You process best when given all the information, which I can see you sorting in your mind, adding up, finding validity within your understanding, working out how things are. You are perceptive and persistent. You have great big feelings – we’re the same in that way. I do my best to support you through them, to provide you a place of stillness, to be the constant you can always come back to when you’ve gone to far. Remember, little love, no matter how far you go, you can always turn around. You ask me amazing questions all day. ‘Why are the crackers being quiet?’, when we haven’t sealed their container properly, and the air has made them lose their crunch. ‘What is that light dancing in the water?’, the windows reflected in the bath, I say. ‘That’s interesting’, you tell me. ‘What’s that hook for?’, it’s for a chain to connect the plug with the bathtub so you don’t lose it, I tell you. ‘That’s clever’, you say. You’re three, I tell myself.

We are constantly learning from one another. All the time finding out how to best be ourselves. You have brought out the best in me. Your very existence has made me finally appreciate my own.

Thank you for being you. And thank you for being mine.

Love, Mama xx

January.

Feburary.

That’s Admiral Doctor President to you.

Alice: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up, Bubba?’

Theo: ‘…I’m tall already.’

Alice: ‘I mean, what would you like to do for a job one day, when you’re older?’

Theo: ‘I’m going to fix a teapot and a CD player and a video player and a DVD player and robot tractors and space rockets and robot children and batteries and horses and robot books. And computers. And toy computers.’