I’ll go right back to the beginning

To my B,
This is, I hope, the first of many letters I shall write to you over the coming years. What they shall contain is currently a mystery, but I envisage them being full of memories, thoughts, feelings and maybe even some advice?! There is so much that has happened and will happen that you aren’t and won’t be aware of. What better way to share these things with you than to write them down for you to have when you are ready for them.

This being the first, I feel it should be something epic and meaningful! After all, 18 months have now passed since you entered our world and turned it upside down. That’s a lot of stuff to fit into one letter, so I won’t try to cover all of it in one go! Especially as some of the things that have happened over that time will require their own, special letters. For this first one, I’ll go right back to the beginning. I say the beginning, but this journey started for us long before your ‘beginning’. We decided that we wanted to extend our family but then had 4 very long years of waiting for you to turn up – as we are discovering, you like to take your time over the important things in life (18 months and only just walking, and still no talking!) – and those 4 years were tough. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as awful as it could have been – others have it a lot worse. In comparison to people we know and stories we have heard, ours wasn’t full of the heartache that some have to face on their journey to becoming parents. That doesn’t mean we didn’t struggle – when you want something so desperately and no matter what you do and try nothing seems to work, it’s really difficult. There were days when I felt so guilty for not being able to make your Daddy a Daddy that all I could do was sit and cry. And days when I so desperately wanted to hear the words “You’re going to be a Mum” that I wasn’t able to function or concentrate on anything else. It got to the point where we’d given up – we decided to treat ourselves to lots of expensive holidays and get a dog. Not quite the same, but we felt we’d pressed the pause button on our lives for too long – we had to face the fact we weren’t going to be parents and try and live a different life to the one we had hoped for. And then, after feeling sick for a few weeks and still waiting for Aunt Flo to appear (I’ll explain all about that when you are older!) I had a conversation one night with my two best friends that went something like this:

“Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”
“Well, I haven’t done a test, as I doubt I am and I don’t think I can face another negative result” “But it’s your Wedding Anniversary tomorrow – you can’t go away for the weekend, eat and drink what you like without doing a test to make sure”.
“But….”
“Just do. The. Test.”

So I did. On the morning of our 5th Wedding Anniversary. I won’t tell you what I said when the result was positive – you should most definitely not be using words like that – but needless to say, it was a reaction of shock, disbelief and utter amazement! I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. So I went and bought 3 more tests and did 2 of them. And the result was the same. Definitely pregnant. Then, what I should have done of course was phone your Daddy and tell him. But it’s not really the sort of thing you tell someone over the phone while they are at work: “You know the news you’ve been waiting 4 years to hear? Well, it’s happened. You are going to be a Dad”. I couldn’t do it like that – I wanted to see his face when I told him. But, I needed to tell someone – to have them reassure me it was true. So I phoned one of the friends I was with the night before and said “If I’ve done 3 pregnancy tests, and they are all positive, does that mean I am actually pregnant?” After her reassurances that yes, I was, I then thought about how I would tell your Daddy.

He arrived home at lunch time, I didn’t say anything. He changed and packed the car for our weekend away. I didn’t say anything. We drove the 45 minute journey to where we were staying. I didn’t say anything, despite him asking me if everything was ok as I was a bit quiet. We got to the hotel, checked in and found our room. I didn’t say anything. There was a bottle of champagne waiting for us and he asked if I wanted a glass. I said “I better give you this first” and handed him an envelope. Inside it was a card. The card said on the front: “Happy Christmas, Daddy”

(as you know, our Anniversary is in December). Inside the card there was a printed photo I had taken of the positive pregnancy tests. His face was, at first, confused. And then when he read the card which explained what would be happening in about 8 months time, the reality started dawning on him. The joy I felt in that moment is indescribable. I was, at last, able to give him the one thing I had wanted to for such a long, long time – the gift of being a Daddy.

Needless to say, I didn’t drink any champagne that weekend. And I don’t think your Daddy has ever quite forgiven me for the fact that he wasn’t the first person I told about you! I did the other test I had bought the next morning so there was even more evidence for us, as it still hadn’t really sunk in that it was true. In fact, through my whole pregnancy I found it very strange actually being able to say the words “I’m pregnant”. It felt so surreal! And then to actually allow myself to say the words “I’m having a baby” as the time of your arrival grew nearer – well, my heart swelled a little every time I did that. You, my darling girl, are the most precious gift we could ever have asked for. And we are very, very lucky to have you. You took your time, but you were well worth the wait.

Love Mummy xxx

Photo: Nicky Robinson

This beautiful letter was written by Nicky Robinson for her daughter Bethany. You can read more of Nicky’s work on her blog.

 

 

 

 

Artwork featured on the homepage was created by Wonder & Rah for Mère Soeur’s ‘The Art of Motherhood colouring book, a collection of all-girl illustrations based around the ‘themes of motherhood and symbols of sisterhood’. All profits go to Home Start, a leading UK family support charity helping vulnerable families provide a better life for their children.

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You are powerful because you are YOU

To Lolly and Avery:

There’s been much talk, recently, about women and women’s rights. It made me consider the world in which you’ll come of age, and the culture that will surround you. While I can’t predict the state of the world in the next eighteen years, or heck, even four, there are some basic ideas that I’d like for you to consider and employ, if they feel right to you. And some lessons I’ve learned that I hope you never learn for yourself, but can trust me enough to accept as fact.

First, don’t over-pluck your eyebrows. Your natural shape is perfect for your face. If I see you getting a little crazy with the tweezers, I will absolutely hide them and we’ll have a chat about anxiety. In my experience, obsessively over-plucking goes hand and hand will a soul fighting a fear-filled battle for perfection. Your eyebrows are not the place to fight that fight. Leave them alone.

You are not defined by the way you look; the size of your chest; the symmetry of your face; or your weight. Your value is not in how many boys stare at you, though there may be a time when that seems like the only thing that matters. Beauty is not an achievement, but a gift of genes having NOTHING to do with you. Don’t chase that elusive idea of perfection. It does not exist. You are beautiful because beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and I have beheld you every day of your little lives thus far and I find you both gorgeous, inside and out.

Your value is inherently inside you as a creation of The Creator. It can not be diminished or added to. You are already as priceless and perfect as you will ever be. There is nowhere you can go and nothing you can do to change it. You are worth dying for; worth living for; you are everything. You are the apple of Jesus’ eye, exactly as you are. Your degree (or lack thereof) has no bearing on His love and approval (or mine 😁). Getting married will not increase your value, just is getting divorced will not decrease it. Your ability to bear children makes no difference and a barren womb makes you no less.

Speaking of barren womb, if that is what you face, there is no such thing. As a women, you inherently have the ability to give life. You don’t have to grow a child in your body to fulfill that calling. There are children, causes and countries to whom you can give life with your love and attention. You can birth a company, a book, an idea. You can foster, adopt or sponsor children who may only know death without you. Your value as a woman is not tied to your reproductive system- those are simply features of the masterfully crafted shell in which you house your soul and spirit.

You should exercise. You should eat well. You should also eat donuts on occassion.

You should always stand up for yourself, but more importantly, you should always speak up for others. You are not to be walked on, dismissed or demeaned. Oppressive behavior should always be called what it is and may you never, ever tolerate abuse of any kind.

You don’t have to be loud and obnoxious to be show yourself strong. You don’t have to be vulgar and noisy to be taken seriously. You are powerful because you are YOU, not because you are a women, or a wife, or a student or a doctor. You are powerful because you are a human, capable of any and all good for which you have been graced. Your possibilities are endless.

If you ever find yourself in crisis… if a report from pathology comes back with the worst of the worst; if you find yourself on a hijacked plane hurling towards a skyscraper; if your child is dying in your arms; if your cells are multiplying faster than the chemo can kill them; if you are in a relationship with no future; may you always be BRAVE even when it hurts. May you face your storm with determination and resolve to always suffer and end well. May you know exactly who to call in your last moments. May you take your final breathe with satisfaction and joy. May you hear “well done” on the other side.

Never take your privilege and the rights that you enjoy in a country more respectful of women than most for granted. There are countries where women are seen as less than cattle and stoned to death for stepping out of line. You are blessed. You are fortunate.

Read Jim Crow laws and be shocked and appalled at the atrocities perpetuated by others who share your skin tone. You should visit a holocust memorial and tour a concentration camp. You need to know the name “Rodney King” and how four acquittals further divided a divided nation.

Emmett Till. James Chaney. Andrew Goodman. Michael Schwerner. Viola Liuzzo.

You need to know them.

You need to know about female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and all other commonly practiced violations of human rights. May you always be moved to speak against injustice. Remember that seemingly normal humans are capable of enormous hate and prejudice. Choose to stand on the right side of history when the time comes and never be afraid to take a stand.

May you seek to always build your treasure where moth and rust cannot destroy and remember that we are only dust. Our days will end and the world will move on, but the legacy of your life can live on. Live well. Live kindly. Live for others. Live for Jesus.

Work hard. Work smart. Value your family above every other relationship. Take vacations when you can afford them. Remember that your money looks better in your bank account than on your feet. Never settle for any man who loves you less than your Daddy (which is going to make picking a mate a little tricky, since your dad is pretty much enthralled with you both).

You were born to change the world and you will do so, even on the days when you’re changing diapers or wiping snotty noses and you feel as though no one notices or cares.

You are both a dream come true. I will support you no matter what you choose in the days to come and I will love you endlessly, the way only a woman can.

xoxo

Mom

Image: Meg Apperson

This powerful letter was written by mum Meg Apperson for her daughters Lolly and Avery. You can read more about their lives through her blog Four Fine Lives  and on Instagram.

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I’m frightened of letting you down and missing precious days.

Artwork: Cheryl Rawlings

Dear L,

I remember the first night you lay beside me, cocooned within your hospital cot. The surge of love I felt overwhelmed my every emotion, alongside an incredible realisation that you were mine. As time has gone on, you’ve grown into a strong, creative, beautiful 7 year-old and I can’t wait to share your journey even further.

When I was 14, a crippling agony which accompanied my periods entered life and altered things for the next 18 years. I was even told there may not be a you in my life. This baffling dark cloud turned out to be a hideous illness called endometriosis; something that has as you know, left me in several precarious situations and brought with it complications. This seemed hard before I had you and T, but with you, the lack of control and rapid downward spiral into needing hospital treatment feels even more cruel.

I can’t bear the vicious and unrelenting amounts of time I have to be away from you. When I feel unwell, I don’t want you to struggle or lose out on anything. I’m frightened of letting you down and missing precious days.

My need to keep calm and present a positive viewpoint acts as an anchor, yet inside I’m screaming. Regardless, you are a bright ray, bringing joy to every day. Clearly, our relationship comprises so much more than illness, but I hate the fact my pain interferes at all.

Those difficult episodes are gradually becoming less now, as I’m hopefully on the road to a place called recovery. Together we’re walking towards the sunshine, skipping and holding hands.

I want to thank you for understanding, for shaping my life immeasurably and for making me who I am. Your heart is huge, and you inspire me every day. Above all else, I’m so happy you chose me to be your mama.

With all my love forever,

Mummy xxx

 

Image: Helen Wilson-Beevers

Written by freelance writer & blogger Helena Wilson-Beevers for her daughter. You can read more of Helena’s work on her blog Beauty Stylus and follow her on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Artwork featured with this letter:

  Artwork by Bonnie Doman

    Artwork by Cheryl Rawlings

 

 

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A messy handbag = a chaotic mind

Artwork: Charlotte Peach

5 (Small) Pieces of Advice for my Daughter

Dear Rae,

A lot of advice that’s written these days tends to focus on the BIG stuff. Like how to have a healthy body image, be happy, have a good, stable relationship and shape your own vision of success but I often find it’s the smaller stuff that it’s taken me longer to get my head around (and this is often the stuff that no one offers advice on). I know you’re only 3 but I think you might benefit hearing some of this stuff now whilst I still remember,

 

Here’s the kind of thing I’d have found useful (in my twenties)…

1.There IS a correct way to pull on your tights

When you pull on tights, make sure that you work your hands right into the foot ends first before attempting to pull them up over your legs. Hold them up to the light and make sure that they’re the right way round. There’s nothing more frustrating than going through all the faff of getting them on and then noticing they’re back to front. Putting tights on wet skin is a bummer so try and dry yourself properly first.

2. A messy handbag = a chaotic mind

Try and clear out the crap in your handbag at regular intervals. There is nothing more depressing than reaching into your bag and bringing out a Strepsils cough sweet stuck to a tissue stuck to a lolly stick. Sure okay….during the day treat your bag like a rubbish tip and chuck stuff in there willy nilly but try and make a habit of sorting it out. At the end of each day (if you can) chuck all the crap out. Make sure you have a tissue in there too (so you don’t have to wipe anything on your sleeve or worse still walk about with a runny nose).

3. If you’ve no money in the bank don’t go in a nice shop

This is a simple piece of advice but if you’re anything like me then just steer clear of nice shops as much as possible. In the future you’ll be wearing a virtual reality shop helmet and this advice will be totally redundant. In fact it’ll probably be impossible to avoid shopping as it’ll be projected onto your eyeballs whilst you sleep- a gallery of all your fantasy purchases available at the touch of one sleepy finger. Just in case this doesn’t happen, try and steer clear of nice shops when you’re super skint (it’s torture if you spend and torture if you don’t).

4. A nice smelly thing (gel/body oil/spray) can really work wonders

There are many times when I’ve felt like my life was cascading around my ears/relationship flunking/career in the toilet and actually all I needed was a nice hot bath with a scented oil in it (or a candle with a posh scent). These things don’t make you a frivolous, flipperty-gibbet.

These things make life slightly better when it all gets a bit shit. One thing though…don’t buy them ALL the time or you’ll take them for granted. Do you think the Kardashians look happy with all their scented nik naks? No because they have TOO MUCH of a good thing and can’t smell them  anymore (or maybe they are happy- what do I know?)

5. If in doubt, wash your hair

If you get up in the morning and stare at your hair, wondering whether you can get away with not washing it for another day well…you can’t. If you’re anything like me, your fringe will lie flat against your head and you’ll think people are staring at you and questioning your personal hygiene (they’re not- that’s another big learning – no one actually notices you unless you fall flat on your face).

Nevertheless, just like a tidy handbag and a nice smell, clean hair can make you feel like you’re in control…like everything’s right in your world. I have never regretted washing my hair (though hopefully you haven’t got your Dad’s hair as it’s very bushy and benefits from not washing at all).

One last small thing. If you eat a massive plate of food, you’re going to feel full up. You’ll feel uncomfortable and have to undo your trousers (or lie on the sofa rubbing your tummy and groaning).  I STILL COMPLAIN about how full up I am even today after forty-odd years of eating too much.

There’s a lesson in there; if you do something it’ll have some sort of consequence.  As long as you’re aware of the consequence when you’re doing the thing, you’ll be on the right path. I am old and still regularly forget this. What goes up must come down as they say.

Be happy my love.

Mum xx

Photo: Anniki Sommerville

Written by Anniki Sommerville for her daughter Rae. Anniki is Super Editor at Selfish Mother (where you can also read more of her brilliant work) or follow her on Instagram.

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