“A boy is wisdom with bubble-gum in his hair…the hope of the future with a frog in his pocket.” ~ Anon
I am up at midnight again. I can hear you both breathing—two steady, deep rhythms, each different.
Today, and every day, I think a thousand thoughts, and more than anything, I think about you both.
But this letter is just for you, my first-born. In a little while, I will write one for your brother too. He is just 4 months old. You are already 4 and almost-a-half years: my big boy.
Every day, your arms and legs reach further out of sleeves and trousers. You are all elbows and knees, when just yesterday it seems, you were as chubby and new as your brother is now. In the years we’ve had together we’ve grown together, and I’ve grown to know you.
These are the things I know so far:
I know that you are kind and smart and funny. You amaze me every day with your mad energy, your bottomless curiosity and zen-like wisdom. Underneath your wild impulse and enthusiasm for mischief, you have the gentlest heart. You cried when you found a ladybird that had died in the garden. You wanted to bury it in my pot-plant and mark its grave so you could visit it.
You have a mighty love for your family and when we are all together in a room, you often say, ‘Let’s have a family hug!’ We didn’t teach you that. That is all you.
Your compassion and care extends to other people all around you: neighbours, friends, cashiers at the shop, a little boy you met while waiting at the bus stop. You say ‘Hi!’ and smile and immediately take them into your heart, telling them stories and asking them questions, inviting them to your house to play. Your soul is as bright and clear as a sunny day.
But, of course, some days there are clouds. Some days you poke your brother or pull the cat’s tail or scream in frustration because you can’t get what you want. This is also you: a rambunctious trouble-maker. Although I hope the poking and the screaming and the pulling will stop in good time, I also hope you never lose this naughtiness, this desire to push the boundaries and question authority.
I have many hopes for you. I have hopes with deep roots for the boy you are and the man you will become.
I hope I can guide you even though I don’t know all the answers. I hope I can teach you even though I haven’t learnt it all myself.
I also hope that you find something good to do with those busy hands of yours: play the guitar, fix things, build things, care for people—whatever it is, use them to benefit and heal, not to break down or to hurt. I hope that you will love words as much as I do, in your own way. I think you already do. Story-time is your favourite time of day and you’re always asking for ‘just one more story mamma.’ I hope you will find a place for your heart to rest and your mind to be flung wide open in books and films and art and music, or whatever inspires you.
I hope that you will always know your worth as a boy, as a man. And know that this will not change according to who you choose to love.
I hope you will find your role in the world: your mission and purpose as a good man. Because I want you to know that good, strong, brave, mindful men are just as needed in this world as empowered women. There is not one without the other.
I hope you will know deep down that you have what it takes: to win the battle, to set off on the adventure, to conquer the monsters, rescue those in danger and protect what is right. Just as you love to do when you play ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ in the back garden, I hope you will always identify with the ‘goodies’ and believe that you and they can win the day.
I hope that you will always approach strangers with friendship and make them feel welcome the way I’m told you do with the new kids at your nursery.
I hope that you will tell the truth when asked, even when it might get you into trouble. I hope you will stand up for truth, even when it is the scariest thing to do.
Those are just some of the things I hope for you. The things I know and the things I hope for will grow and change just as fast as you are.
You are my moving centre: already moving too fast for me to catch my breath. My love for you springs from the wide, deep river of life itself. A flow that cannot be stopped. When I look into your blue eyes, I plunge deep into it and touch my toes down in its mighty depths.
I am sharply aware that soon, in just a breath or two: you will be grown-up, taller than me, hairier, stronger and wiser. Sometimes all I want to do is hold back the river just for a moment.
Just long enough to soak ‘now’ in: a time when I can gather your whole body into my arms and hold you on my lap, when my kisses can cure your ‘Ows’, my songs make you smile and my silly jokes make you laugh.
Although my heart will always belong to you, you will soon take yours out into the wide world and my hugs, kisses and songs won’t have quite the same effect. You’ll also realise that my jokes are pretty lame.
I know I will have other things to offer then. I hope I will. And my love will be just as fierce and as tender as it is now.
May you always feel that love. May it echo beyond my physical presence, through all your days. May you always know that your mother loves you, that you are worthy of great love, that you are made of love.
And that no matter how tall or hairy or strong or wise you grow, you will always be my baby.
A Letter to my Daughter from an Unconventional Mother.
Author: Khara-Jade Warren
Apprentice Editor: Amanda Reed/ Alli Sarazen
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