To my darling, Darwin.
This letter, I guess will start as an apology and end with a promise. You were my third baby. I had already had one difficult pregnancy and a difficult delivery. Then I had you. When you arrived we had not long started going down the route that eventually lead to Zachary’s Autism diagnosis. It was hard, however we all got through it. But in all honesty, I was a mess. I put on a smile everyday, but inside I guess, really, I felt broken.
You are about to turn 4 and you haven’t had it easy. You have had problems with your ears and ultimately your ability to communicate has been compromised. You’ve struggled. It breaks my heart to think how much you have struggled. I think sometimes I do this as I feel the tears wouldn’t stop flowing. You have had to contend with a Mama distracted by your other siblings and then another turbulent pregnancy and delivery. Although I have always tried to make sure you get the support you need, it hasn’t been with the same open heart I have done it for your brothers. I am sorry.
I am sorry for every time I have shouted, for every time I have got frustrated over feeling touched out, For every time you have have repeated the same word over and over and I just haven’t been able to understand what you were trying to say, I am sorry for being so tired, so worn down, I am sorry for every time you have needed me and I haven’t been there and I am sorry I haven’t been the parent I have wanted to be. You don’t know it, but I have been fighting my own battle inside and at times I have wanted to just walk away.
Mama is feeling better now and I can see past my failings to the opportunities presented to me now. This is where my promise starts. I promise everyday to try and do better. To be the Mama you want, need and deserve. I promise to look into your eyes and see your vulnerability. I promise to protect you. I promise not to feel frustrated that you need more help, support and love than I have previously given you. I promise to try my best and I promise to understand and accept that sometimes ‘good enough’ is more than enough from both of us.
I love this photo of you. You were poorly and had stripped off your clothes and fell asleep, half lying, half standing on the sofa. I looked at you and it hit me right in my heart. Just how vulnerable you are. You are so capable and self sufficient, but you need me, in many different ways. You need me and I need you. I will always be here for you. My small, sweet boy. Even when you are no longer small and no longer a boy, but a man. I will always be here for you, I always have been. You hold my heart within yours and I have yours within mine. We are eternally entwined.
I will love you forever
Your Mama x
I place a tremendous value on photographs. Whilst I don’t want to sound too twee and sentimental about it, they’re treasures to me. But in a digital age instead of enjoying them often, I tend to stash them away. I take care to store them safely under a virtual lock and key, backed up in an external hard drive, cloud storage wilderness. Our cherished moments, milestones and memories.
A little while ago I spotted my friend Claire (Ned In The Clouds) using some Inkifi prints for her sons’ scrapbook. I loved the style and after finding out a little bit more about the company and their ethos I instantly liked them.
Inkifi was set up by friends Jim and Paul who met back in the 90s, in a little surf town in North Wales. After returning from their travels together, they wanted to print their images but couldn’t find anyone that provided great quality as well as being environmentally friendly at a reasonable price and so, Inkifi was born.
One of the things I really love is that respect for nature is at the heart of Inkifi’s business ethos. They take pride in creating stylish products which are also kind to nature, by sourcing 100% sustainable materials.
I started with some classic square prints as well as some of the mini squares. I intend on framing some of the square prints and now I’ve seen the mini squares I’m planning on getting some more printed and making little gifts tags with them for Christmas.
In the past I’ve used too many print services that have left me disappointed. They can differ widely in terms of the colour quality and holding your prints can leave you feeling they’re a little rushed in terms of the quality control. When my Inkifi prints arrived I was impressed with the quality of the card stock they’re printed on, with a smooth matte finish which is understated but beautiful. They’d clearly taken care when producing and packing them too. Nothing fancy, just cleverly packaged to prevent any damage and all done with sustainable materials.
Playing around with the prints, I’ve found that the matte finish works really well with the journaling I do.
I’ve used several companies for photobooks before, sometimes as gifts and also for us to have as coffee table books at home. Whilst previous ones have passed as acceptable, the quality has never quite lived up to what’s promised. There’s something about the ‘shininess’ and the paper quality that doesn’t quite do it for me and like with prints, they can be a little hit-and-miss with the colour trueness. I can honestly say*, that this is by far the best quality photobook I’ve ever had printed and will definitely being getting more. I went for the Square Hard Cover Book with a full size slip cover printed print front and back with my photos, which also has a really premium, smooth finish to it. Inside, the hardcover itself is covered with Chobi Colorado cloth and the paper is carbon neutral Mowhawk paper, created using 100% virgin fibre from FSC managed sources.
I purchased my order through the Inkifi website but they also have a really handy app available for both both iOS and Android devices, making printing directly from your phone and Instagram easy peasy.
This isn’t a sponsored post nor have I received any free goods in return for a review. But I want to share because I genuinely love mine and I would recommend them to anyone who wants beautiful printing that is also environmentally responsible.
Inkifi have kindly offered Letters To Loved readers 20% off with the code LETTERSTOLOVED20 which will be valid until January 1st 2018.
*Whilst Inkifi have kindly offered 20% discount for Letters To Loved readers, this post was NOT sponsored in any way, all products were paid for in full.
The following letter was written by Frankie Leigh for her little girl Luna. You can follow them both on Instagram.
This beautiful letter was written by Beth for her son Marty and you can follow them and their family on Instagram.
To my darling boy,
You were my long awaited first baby and after a turbulent pregnancy and birth you were placed gently in my arms, together at last, we have been inseparable ever since. You are 8 now but if I close my eyes I can still remember the feeling of your tiny frame against my chest and your wise old eyes staring straight through to my soul.
You were around 6 months old when I noticed things were different. You couldn’t cope with loud cafes or busy shops, you shunned away from bright lights and you were repetitive in your movements. You seemed uncomfortable in your skin, never quite content, but they say a mothers love is blind and I buried those feelings of difference, because to me you were perfect just as you were and I didn’t want anyone to tell me otherwise.
Toddlerhood was filled with laughter and meltdowns both epic in proportion, you started lining up toys and watching the same movie on repeat. You regressed in speech barely putting two words together yet could recite word for word your favourite story book, which I later learned was echolalia, autism speak for repeating words and phrases previously heard.
The weekly trips that I put us through trying to fit into toddler groups, which would inetivably end in both of our tears seem so fruitless now but looking back I so desperately wanted to fit in. If only I’d realised that you were born to stand out it would have saved us both a lot of heartache.
I’d heard of Autism before of course, it was just a word that had no meaning but by the time you were 4 it was my most googled phrase.
I didn’t want to label you or admit to anyone that my baby boy didn’t fit society’s version of normal, whatever that is and so I kept it to myself, not really telling anyone my worries although over time I found out our nearest and
dearest were googling too.
I think the thing that upset me most when I devoured the words on the screen were that your quirks were bullet pointed as traits, as things that were Autism instead of things that were you. I wasn’t okay with that and couldn’t get my head around the fact that you could be both, that you may have Autism but that you are not Autism.
We carried on regardless through pre-school which caused us both much anxiety. You spent your days there rewriting out the alphabet again and again as a coping mechanism, I was told it was good for you, that it may make you interested in others, but you didn’t play or join in and for nearly two years there were endless tummy aches, shutdowns and tears.
I thought I was doing the right thing or possibly the only thing, preparing you for the big wide world but I was wrong and it’s my biggest regret. In those two years I lost you, you withdrew into yourself, a big ball of pressure and worry. Luckily by chance I stumbled across home education and realised that by trying to fit you into this world I was denying you the chance to be yourself and so I set us both free, to be together, to go at your own pace, to just be. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. You now have friends and the freedom just to be you, we live our lives on our own terms and we’ve been learning and adventuring ever since.
You are gentle and you are kind, ferocious and wild, you say my name a thousand times a day and repeat question after question that you know the answer to just because you like the way it sounds. You have specialist interests that consume your every waking day, you are obsessive in your thinking and you could talk for hours about the merits of Amazon verses eBay, FYI it’s Amazon every time.
You have to work harder than the average child just by doing life, clothes are scratchy, food is smelly, people are noisy, they speak a language you can’t keep up with and yet you try every single day, one foot in front of the other, fall, get up, repeat, through tears and shaky hands, both yours and my own.
Thankfully there’s a language that doesn’t use words, or idioms, you don’t need to read between the lines to understand it, that’s the language of love and we’ve got that in spades.
You were 7 when you were diagnosed as autistic but you are so much more than that one word, I could use a thousand words and it still wouldn’t come close to describe everything that you are. You are just you, Marty, a boy who loves sonic the hedgehog and climbing trees, midnight feasts and bare bottoms.
They say that parents are meant to teach their children the ways of the world, but you have taught me more about courage, determination and life than I could ever hope to teach you.
Continue being you, beautiful, glorious you and I will always give you the freedom to soar, together we can fly.
Love you to infinity,