Nothing hurts more than telling you “in a minute”

Photo credit: @bellesboutique

 

I’ve followed Laura and her beautiful family on social media for some time now and one of her instagram posts a few weeks ago really stood out for me. It was written for her son Harrison following the recent birth of his little sister Everly. It’s so heartfelt and honest and read so much like a beautiful letter I wanted to share it.

You can follow Laura and her family on Instagram or check out her YouTube channel.

 

Harrison,

Nothing hurts more than telling you “in a minute” or “later” when you ask if I’ll play with you for what feels like the millionth time.

Nothing makes me feel that lump in my throat more than not being the one to tuck you into bed to read Ben 10 books because the baby’s crying.

You’re often asleep by the time I’m kissing your cheek and telling you I love you and that’s another moment with you missed. You’re already in a sleepy haze when I climb into your bed, hug you and apologise for not giving you the every minute that you deserved today.

Even though I tell you a million times a day to the point like that you say “yes mum, I know!” I want to tell you one more time, I love you I love you I love you.

I want to colour in with you all day. I want to throw you around and tickle you and I want to build the highest towers and make bridges out of furniture, but sometimes, I have my hands full. I’m sorry for telling you to be quiet when you’re simply doing what little boys do and playing with your toys. I’m sorry for shouting when the slight drop of a toy wakes Everly. It’s not your fault and I’m so sorry that you are the one to tell me “it’s ok” from time to time at the moment. I should be the one telling you not to cry for being tired. I feel like a broken record sometimes, going over the same things and I’m sorry.

You’re so grown up that from time to time I forget that you’re still tiny too. You’re so understanding and you’ve dealt with becoming a big brother so well, I’m so proud. I couldn’t be prouder and Everly is so lucky to have you as a big brother. I won’t always be this tired H and I promise that tomorrow I’ll play loads more than today. I’ll build those towers and make the fastest slides for your cars. I’ll let you sneak the best treats from my special tin and keep it our little secret. I’ll try not to get cross, I promise. I’ll try not to blame you for the tiniest noise that makes Everly stir. I’ll hug you harder and read you as many pages of your book as you like.

Today’s been a harder day than normal, but again, you were so understanding and looked after your sister so well putting her socks back on when they fell off.

I love you Harrison.

Artwork: Letters To Loved

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Writing your story

The following series of letters were written by Clinical Psychologist Emma, (a.k.a The Psychology Mum) for her two young children. Follow her on Instagram to see some of her fantastic mental health doodles (see below).

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“I value every story I’ve heard.”

I feel very lucky that my story has you both in it. At this point in my story, I’ve worked as a clinical psychologist for well over a decade. In that time my life has been filled with the stories people have told me about their life and why they need help. I feel privileged to have heard many stories, from diverse cultures and backgrounds and I feel honoured that people have trusted me enough to share their stories. Often they’ve told very few people, if anyone at all, their story. Sometimes I have even been the first person they have shared parts of their story with.

The stories I have heard have filled me in equal measures with fear, hope, sadness and joy, and I have learned something from every story. Each one is unique, but the more I’ve heard the more I’ve realised that common themes run through them, regardless of background, race, wealth or sex. Themes of humanity. Themes that come up again and again and have influenced my story as the chapters have advanced. From the stories I’ve heard,  I’ve learned about what it is to be human: what makes people happy, what makes them sad and what helps when things go wrong. I’ve heard hundred, possibly thousands of stories, and yet, with every story I hear I hear something new, for nobody can really be an expert in human experience and all the depths and breadths this encompasses. We are always learning what it is to be us.

I value every story I’ve heard. I hope, in writing these letters, that some of what I’ve learned from these stories can help you in writing your stories, which are only just beginning.

“We are always learning what it is to be us.”

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Writing your story

You write some of your story, but some is written for you by others and by luck, coincidence, timing, or fate if you choose to see it that way.

For the parts you can write, make sure you write them with conviction and belief. Choose the words that you want on the page, not the words others tell you to write or that you scribe by fatalistically following a narrative. Think of the values and experiences you want in your story and the characters you want to bring into it. Choose to move the narrative towards the story you want, rather than running away from the parts you want to avoid.

Do not follow paths because others tell you you to or merely as you think you should. Choose the storyline that most fits your believes, whether many walk with you along a well worn path, or you walk in solitude through overgrowth creating your own path.

You will write things you regret, but we are all learning to be authors of our own story and no one is an expert, regardless of what you may think. A story without mistakes is a fairytale. So notice what you regret and why, and plan how you would structure the sentence or develop the plot differently next time. Then start a new chapter, leaving the regret behind the last full stop in the previous chapter.

When the writing seems out of control and the story takes an unwanted twist,  think about which parts you can continue to edit. At these times it may feel pointless writing, as the story rages on seemingly unfettered.  When this happens we can sometimes only write our part in a bigger story,  But there are nearly always some words you can add to your story. Can you choose the next sentence in response? Or can you create another subplot where you feel in control? Or perhaps you need to seek a trusted co-author to guide you back into writing in your own words?

Losing authorship of your own story can challenge what you believe and shake you fundamentally as a person. When this happens, taking charge of the pen can be difficult. You may need to start with only a few words but the more you write the easier the ink flows, enabling the you to feel more in control of the story, even when you feel the main authorship lies elsewhere.

So stay on track of what you want in your story. But when the story verges off track keep writing the words you can, even if it is effortful and even if it is just one word to begin with.

“You will write things you regret.”

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Bad experiences 

Your story won’t be all nice. You will feel bad, sad and anxious at times. These emotions aren’t pleasant to experience, but feeling this is an inevitable part of every human’s story. And although I wish I could protect you, there are likely to be parts to your story that you, and I, don’t want to happen.

I have heard stories that no one should have to experience and sometimes held back the tears as they’ve been told to me. But I have also been surprised and amazed at resilience in the face of these events; that despite their sad stories, the protagonists still find joy, still have hope and still laugh. I have learned that people usually manage through the chapters they want to rewrite, and often manage better than they anticipate they will.

Some people even consider that these unpleasant experiences, or unwanted parts of their stories, make them develop as a person. They have told me that, as a result of experiencing tragedy, they increased their insight and empathy, reevaluated what is of importance to them and changed their future story accordingly.

So bad things will happen, but don’t wait for them to happen or miss out chapters for fear of them: most things we worry about don’t ever occur.  When these unwanted events do occur, most people handle them well. So write your story with the knowledge that you will be able to deal with difficult events and emerge from them to continue your story,  possibly even with a greater depth of writing than you did before.

“Sometimes the least kind person in a story is their own inner voice.”

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Kindness

Be kind. Kindness is powerful. Kindness is compassionate, heals wounds and empowers people. Don’t be fooled into thinking kindness is weak. Kindness is strong. It often takes more strength to be the kind one, when all around you are caught up in a wave of group mentality.

I have heard many stories about cruelness breaking people down. But I have also heard how kindness has broken the patterns in their stories, and built people up to enable them to trust, love and live again. My work, in listening to these stories, has been to show kindness and compassion to enable these stories to be be spoken and, ultimately,  develop further.

From birth, we need kindness and compassion. Kindness and compassion promotes brain development and is thought to be crucial to the ability to empathise, which makes us compassionate humans. Kindness creates bonds, makes people feel safe and secure enough to face a world that can be a be fraught with risks and dangers.  Kindness enables people to trust, open up, and helps you truly understand them. Kindness draws people to you and make them feel safe. Throughout life kindness to your self and others promotes mental wellness. Kindness and compassion brings people together, instead of dividing them.

At difficult times, kindness is crucial. When bad things happen, seek kind people. And yes, people do bad things,  but most people are kind and most people come together to help and most people want peace when bad things happen. Counteract hatred and cruelty with kindness, compassion and love.

Sometimes the least kind person in a story is their own inner voice. Many people have unlimited kindness for others while inside they are cruel and unkind to themselves. Treat yourself with as much kindness as you do others, be gentle when you make mistakes and notice when you are critical. Your brain will thank you for this kindness as it activates soothing brain systems that make you feel safe and relaxed. In other words,  kindness will make you feel good.

So be kind in your stories, and be as kind to yourself as you are to the other characters who pass through your book.

“At difficult times, kindness is crucial.”

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Overlapping stories 

Your story doesn’t exist in isolation, its words, pages and chapters thread through many other people’s stories. People will come into your story, some will stay in it for chapters, some maybe just for a sentence, and some, hopefully the most special ones, for the whole story.

Your words and actions will become part of other people’s stories. Think about what kind of character you want to be in that story and act with these values as much as your can. We can’t always fully influence how our character appears in that person’s story or the impact it has: their chapters preceding our introduction often influence this. Bear this in mind and try not to be disappointed when you can’t write someone else’s story in the way you had hoped.

We are always influencing other stories and a small act of kindness, merely a word or two in your story, can become a chapter in someone else’s book. However, it’s acts of unkindness that really perpetrate other’s stories. The lady who still startles when someone speaks to her because of cruel words at school; the man who fears meeting people due to past unkindness. The perpetrators often forget their cruel words or unkind actions as they are edited out of their stories or overwritten with new chapters. But for the recipient these words have shaped their stories, and exert an influence on every future entry, despite their best attempts to forget that chapter.

Remember that, in writing your story, you are also becoming a part of other stories. Act as you’d like to be portrayed and influence these stories as positively as you can, through kindness, compassion and actions you believe in.

“We are always influencing other stories and a small act of kindness, merely a word or two in your story, can become a chapter in someone else’s book.”

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Making Judgments

You don’t always know the whole story. Often I’ve heard stories that people have not even shared with their closest family. Hearing the difference between the book cover and the inside story has given me insight into how much goes underneath the surface picture that we see. Approach each new person in your story with a non judgemental manner and open mind. Do not dismiss people based on what you see. Instead, stop and think about what their background story may be, it is usually more complex than you think.

I frequently hear stories of people being dismissed or judged by people they meet. They often have experienced kindness too, but it is these unkind, or sometimes just unintended, acts that bind deeper to the narrative of their story. By taking the time to listen and consider there might be more beneath the surface, then you will see that this is a person that is trying hard to keep their story going, despite these judgement blows that impact on them all too frequently. Approaching this person non-judgementally, with an open mind, will make you a more compassionate and kind part of their story.

Also remember that people will judge you, based on what they perceive they see. But they also do not know your whole story. Often, what people see is a reflection of their story rather than yours, and where their stories have taken them in the past. Although it is hard, try not to incorporate views that are based on misperceptions and bias into your character or let it influence your story.

Take with you the knowledge that we are all prone to judgment and bias. Acknowledging this and noticing how this effects you will help you keep your mind open to other possibilities and go beyond the immediate picture that is presented to you. It will also help when people judge you. By understanding there are many factors external to you which influence their judgement, you can help ensure these views do not become an internalised part of you and your story, enabling you to deflect these views without them hindering or steering the course of your story.

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To read more from The Psychology Mum and see some of her mental health doodle follow her on Instagram.

Image: @thepsychologymum

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‘Make believe. That’s where we are at right now’

 

Photo: @thisisjules

Photo: @thisisjules

The following letter was written by blogger & content creator Julia from This is Jules for her son Oscar. Julia regularly writes beautiful update letters to Oscar and you can read more of them here.

 

 

 

 

Make believe. That’s where we are at right now. Your imagination is in overdrive and it’s all sorts of sweetness and light.

Playing make believe with you and equally, watching you play in your own little world is just about my most favourite way to pass the time of day.

From you literally being convinced that you are Simba from the Lion King, to flapping your arms (…wings!) as we race around the living room like a Rio bird (as in the film), to you cooking up an invisible storm and dishing out pretend pizzas and ice creams to your daddy and I amid that crazy hour (or two!) just before sleep where you are determined that the land of nod is not an option.

You love to play doctors with your Dr’s kit. “Lie down mummy! Lie down daddy!” you demand, as you check our temperatures with your thermometer and then get out your little stethoscope and listen to our chests. “Am I ok?” I ask.

“Yes, very good,” you say, nodding away as the red and yellow plastic glasses that come with your toy kit, slide further and further down your nose until they are perched on the end.

You turned two-and-a-half on November 16th and every single day you do or say something new. Your speech is coming on leaps and bounds and each time you say something you’ve never said before, it blows our minds.

“Are you okay, Oscar?” I asked a couple of days ago.

“Yes, I’m fine mummy,” you answered. It was the ‘I’m fine’ bit which was new, and when I relayed it to your dad pretty much as soon as he walked through the door, home from work that evening, his reaction, did not disappoint.

“Ah, he didn’t?!” he said, beaming. Which translates as – ‘yay, he did!’

It’s the things which might seem to be little, which in fact are the big moments you see.  We are still in the belly of the adventure that is all of your firsts. The first time you do this and the first time you do that, and the way your imagination runs wild makes the journey all the more gorgeous as we go.

Now that you are able to tell us what you want also makes life smoother, for you and for us as it means we can overt unnecessary upset and you can get what you want/need or to where you want to be all the faster. Communication and the development of those skills really are everything I’m fast learning. In the same breath, your new found skills mean you are oh so vocal not just in letting us know what you want, but also what you don’t want, and while your tantrums have paired right back compared to a few months ago where I felt like we were living and breathing your daily rages (which were largely frustration at not being able to communicate what you wanted/needed)  – you do still like to go off on one on a fairly regular basis. And when you lose it, you really, really lose it! You be CRAZY! But when you’re on good form you are practically angelic. Such is this yoyo toddler life.

Since I left my job at the end of July, you and I get so much more time together and it’s magic. I’m so lucky. Instead of you being in nursery four days a week, it’s now down to two.

It’s the run of the mill days that are often the most special. Such as when we go for our long walks exploring the park. It’s in those moments where I catch myself and think how ordinarily I’d have been at my desk, miserable and pining for you. It’s in those moments where I get what I can only describe as a surge of gratefulness where I know I’m so unbelievably fortunate that I’ve been able to create a new working life that affords me these days with you, when we would otherwise be apart. I do not take a single second of it lightly or for granted.

 

Speaking of nursery, I think you love it all the more for being there less. Those two days feel like such a treat for you, being with your friends. And boy do you love your little buddies, Dylan, Jack and Byron being your favourites. I assume they are anyway, as they are the three you talk about. Often if we’re going somewhere special like to visit grandma and I ask you to guess who we are going to see, your answer will be: “Jack!” Or Ella of course, who you adore. Not even three-years-old and you’re practically dating the girl next door. Well, down the street. We can’t drive by Ella’s house without you crying, because you want to see her. “Ellllllllllaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!” you wail, as big fat tears roll down your cheeks. Unbelievably cute! But it hurts my heart to see you sad too. Heaven help me come the day that anyone actually breaks your heart. I don’t think I could bear it.

This is the first year that you’ve really been aware of Christmas and I cannot wait! Having said that, we spoil you rotten regardless of the season. Your dad went through a stage of bringing you little gifts home after work, and now as soon as you hear him coming to the door you shout: “Daddy!!!! Present!!!!!”

And then there’s me, who has a lot to answer for when it comes to chocolate. Because of that one time I bought you a chocolate coin from Starbucks as a treat, you associate going to the coffee shop, ANY coffee shop with said coins. I wish I could say that I’d only bought you one the once… I’ve had to cut my visits to said venue right back to avoid the inevitable melt down in your expectation of your beloved chocolate coin. Indeed, just like you holla for Ella, we cannot even drive by Starbucks without you exclaiming: “CHOCOLATE COIIIIIIIIIIN!” Mother of the year right here…

So what else? We’ve very recently been to Australia and back. You’re in a size seven shoe, soon to be eight. Your curls are actual ringlets and people comment on your lovely locks wherever we go. You have the most beautiful manners. After a six month battle to get you to say sorry, thank you and please – those words now spill out of you often without prompt. When you say ‘thank you very much’, I sometimes think my heart might actually burst.

When we leave our local coffee shop, you wave to everyone and say “bye coffee shop!” When you want us to lift you up, you still say “carry you” when what you mean, is ‘carry me’.

You love to play rocket ship with daddy. Hate to be chased. You give us kisses and cuddles every morning without fail. Tell us you love us. Tell us you miss us. Like to sing Hakuna Matata. Love to dance. And run. And slide down our legs as if they are indeed a slide. When we play hide and seek you jump into view squealing excitedly as soon as we say ‘coming ready or not!’ So lush! You’re brilliant with numbers, and while you struggle with your colours you are getting better with them every day. You have an amazing sense of direction, knowing the routes and turns to nursery and the supermarket, and you have a memory like an elephant – in other words, you forget nothing. We are yet to potty train you, but that day is nigh!

Here’s to the next six sweet months.  Who knows what you’ll be up to by the time you turn three!

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Letter To My First-Born

Photo: Cat Sims

Dear Billie,
It’s been a little rough for you recently. You think I haven’t noticed but I have. You don’t yet have the words to full explain why you feel immensely pissed off a lot of the time, but don’t worry babe. I understand and I’m sorry.In a few years time you’ll be so grateful that me and your Daddy decided to add another mewling, spewing, vomming member to Team Sims. I promise you that when she is old enough for you to share secrets with, to play hide and seek with, to cuddle up on the sofa and share a bowl of popcorn with while you watch whatever the next Pitch Perfect is you’ll be so pleased that we made that choice. When you have your first kiss, get your first boyfriend, fall out with your best friend…it’ll be your younger sister that you talk to about it and I promise you’ll be pleased that she’s there. But for now, she’s a pain in the ass. I get it.I’m pretty sure you miss hanging out with me like we used to. I’m sure it feels a bit like anger and frustration but trust me, it’s just a little bit of sadness. Maybe it’s a lot of sadness. I know you can’t understand that so instead you do a lot of shouting and banging and throwing shit around but know this: I’m still here for you. I still love you more than oaty bars and you will always be my beautiful, brave and oh so smart first born baby.The fact that my attention is probably 75% focused on your little sister is something I’m just as unhappy about as you are. Unfortunately though, it’s just the way it has to be right now. Your little sister relies (more or less exclusively) on my boobs for life which means that I can never really be that far away from her. She’s also a needy little bugger so when I’m around she pretty much wants to be held which means that even when I’m with you, I’m paralysed. Baking, cutting, sticking, gluing, painting…it’s all oh so hard to do with you but boy do I wish I could.I want you to know it really sucks for me too. Even though I know what the cause of your anger is and even though I know why you shout at me a lot and why you refuse to nap or play nicely or eat your dinner most nights, it makes me sad that we did this to you. It’s only temporary (everything is temporary in this parenting lark) but I wish we could just skip to that part where we’ve all settled down and you can’t remember a time before your little sister arrived.I hate that we’re going through that stage where any attention for you is worth it which means that you may stare directly in my eyes while you tip your milk on the table. You will tell me you’re really hungry and then when we put dinner in front of you, you look at it and scream that you don’t want to eat dinner. You know this kind of thing makes me mad and you do it so that, even if it’s only for the duration of a time out, you have my undivided attention. While your theory is admirable, it’s also misguided. Plus, we’ve figured out how to deal with it which is to totally ignore it which, while effective, is hard.I don’t want to ever have to ignore you.I guess what I want to say is, I’m sorry. I’m sorry to turn your world upside down without first consulting you or fully preparing you (it’s not really possible to do either of those things, but we can wish). I’m sorry that I give you a lot of one-armed cuddles. I’m sorry that I say, ‘Stop!’ and ‘Don’t’ when you give Bo a cuddle or a stroke because it’s actually a strangle hold and a poke in the eye. I’m sorry that I make you shouty and I’m sorry that I shout. I’m sorry that I’m tired and short of patience sometimes. I’m sorry that I have to put you to bed with only one story instead of three because Bo is crying and it’s her bedtime too and Daddy went away with work.But you know what I’m not sorry for? I’m not sorry that we decided to have a second child. I’m not sorry that we gave you a best friend for life, a playmate in your younger years, a drinking buddy in your later years, a soul sister forever. I know it’s rough now, but trust me, every girl needs a sister and soon you’ll see that her arrival is actually the best thing that could have happened to you instead of the worst.Above all Billie, Bear Cub, Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, Baggins, Bags, Bagsquins, Munch…I love you.
Soon, one day not long from now, I’ll have both my hands (and boobs) back and I promise I’ll be back, full-time, all the time, soon.
Soon my dear…Mama x
 

Photo: Cat Sims

Photo: Richard Bailey

 

Written by Cat Sims, a freelance writer, co-founder and director of small business consultancy agency Hustle + Fox. She’s mum to Billie and Bo and you can read her fantastic ‘no bullshit baby tales’ on the blog Not So Smug Now.

 

 

 

 

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We are eternally entwined

Photo: @mymamamusings

Photo: @mymamamusings

The following letter was written by mum of four boys Cherie, who’s blogs at My Mama Musings. You can also find more of her beautiful pictures on her Instagram feed.

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

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