You have taught me more than I could ever hope to teach you.

Photo: @thismindfulmama

 

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,

Mama

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‘Hold on little one,’ I whispered, ‘we’re almost there.’

Photo Credit: Louise Manning

 

Photo Credit: Louise Manning

The following letter was written by Laura for her little boy Leo. In her blog Postcards for Findlay, Laura writes about parenthood and surviving the loss of their first son Findlay. Her postcards to Findlay are her way of including him in everything that they do.

 

 

 

Dear Leo,

One year ago today, we anxiously packed our bags and made our way to the hospital for induction.

We stood for a moment in the hallway, deliberating over whether or not to take the car seat. Did we dare? Was it tempting fate? .

As I sat in the passenger seat, watching Daddy lock up, I looked at the front door and wondered what life would be like when I next saw it. .

I knew I wouldn’t be pregnant by the time I came home; but would you, the baby nestled my belly, be crossing the threshold with us? Or would we leave the labour ward once again with shattered hearts, cradling only a memory box? .

The drive to the hospital, a route we knew only too well after numerous (terrifying) admissions, took an eternity, and I must’ve held my breath the whole way. I could feel you wriggling around, prodding my hand with reassuring kicks, letting me know that you were with us.

We were in touching distance of meeting you, and for the first time I let myself believe that you would see my face too…

‘Hold on little one,’ I whispered, ‘we’re almost there.’

You can read more of Laura’s work on her blog Postcards for Findlay and follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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We are not perfect and nor would I want us to be

 

Artwork: Letters To Loved Photo: Hannah Horne

 

Photo: Hannah Horne

The following letter was written by Hannah Horne for her sons Dexter and Theo. You can follow her on Instagram @midwifehorne

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Dexter and Theo,

My gorgeous, precious boys I have often thought of writing you letters then life happens and it just falls by the wayside. Recently I was asked if I would like to write you a letter for a lovely lady who collates letters written from parents to their children helping them to document a legacy of love. I am so pleased that I was because otherwise I would not be writing this, it would have been something I would continue to think about but never quite get round to. It is such a cliché but time really does fly once you have children and I am not really sure where the last 7 years have gone. I am sure this will seem odd to you now but I am also sure that you will understand this all one day when you are grown and realise the increasing speed of the passage of time. These years have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me and Daddy from brilliantly wonderful to moments full of anxiety or frustration. They have not always been easy because being a parent is not easy; but they have always, always been filled with love.

Dexter you are our kind, thoughtful, cuddly bundle of gorgeousness who is so capable of doing anything you set your mind to achieve. Such a sensitive soul who feels everything so strongly both for yourself and others. This can challenge you as you sometimes struggle to cope with your emotions but it also is your strength in that it makes you the caring soul that you are, always ready with a smile, cuddle or a kind gesture. You never fail to amaze me with your imagination, knowledge of facts and stubborn will, and although that can be a challenge for me and Daddy when we need you to understand certain things, it gives you a tenacity which I am sure will serve you well and help you to achieve all you wish for.

Theo you are our wacky yet wonderful, second born bundle of fun. You are unfazed by life and all that it throws at you, taking everything in your stride it is as if life comes easy to you. Laid back and lovely you see the fun in every moment, and you never fail to make us laugh but our challenge here is to make you understand when the joke needs to stop! Your willing nature and ability to learn things by default when we are teaching your brother always amazes me. Your ‘cool as cucumber’ attitude will help you take what life throws at you and make it great.

I am a very proud Mummy of two precious boys, for this I am eternally grateful. I am also incredibly grateful for your Daddy. He is a wonderful Daddy to you and since the moment you were born he has been there to look after us all. As I said before being a parent is not easy; this is not because we don’t love you enough, it is because we love you so much. The weight of the responsibility to get everything right and be the very best parents we can be to you is no easy task. To be your Mummy is really the most wonderful thing but it is also relentless and tiring, and there is no time off. When you were babies and Mummy was tired Daddy stepped in. He tended to everything I needed to feed you, then changed nappies, rocked you and ‘shush-ed’ you. As you have grown he has played with you, taught you anything you have wished to know and helped me in the very important task of not only keeping you alive but shaping you in to the wonderful beings that you are. You are very lucky boys that your Daddy is equally capable of looking after you as I am, and often I think he is a better Dad than I am a Mum. He doesn’t worry about the house or the mess, he just plays with you with a wonderful imagination, he watches films and pauses them every few minutes to make sure you understand what is happening when I can barely stay awake, and he teaches you with a patience I will never have. Then when he is done he will tidy up and do the cleaning knowing that this will make me happy. When I am tired and have answered to ‘Muuummmmmmeeeee’ for what feels like the millionth time that day and I can take no more he takes over and gives me the break that I need, so that I can come back refreshed and better able to be the Mummy you need me to be. When I am not there I need not worry about you because he sees to your every need and always has done. There has never been a moment where you or I have needed him and he has not been there. He really is the best Daddy you could ever wish for.

To me our family is perfectly imperfect. We are not perfect and nor would I want us to be, that title has too much responsibility to bear and is too much to live up to. We are human, we get tired, we get emotional, and we sometimes shout but to me our family is as perfect as I would want it to be, because above all we love each other with all our hearts. Every day in our home I see little acts of love; when Daddy makes my coffee in the morning and gets your breakfast; when you both kiss and hug me just before running through the school gate; when Dexter helps Theo open packets; when Theo, more often than not, will compromise to continue playing Dexter’s game; when we get excited that Daddy is finally home from work; when we snuggle down for story time together; when I cook Daddy’s tea and ask him about his day. This is what love and family is all about; the small things. Just being together, caring for each other and being on the same team. It’s our joke for me to call out “Team work makes…..” and you chant “the dreamwork!” whilst Daddy rolls his eyes and we laugh, it might be tongue in cheek but for me it rings true. I am proud of you, of your Daddy and of our little team. Together you have made all my dreams come true.

All my love, forever and always,

Mummy.

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Stay in your books baby, and the world is yours

Photo Credit: @jadablanco

 

Photo: @jadablanco

The following letter was written by Jada for her is year-old son Jaden. You can follow both of them on Instagram for more of her stunning photography (and check out Jaden’s account too! He’s got skills!)

 

 

 

 

Watching you write and listening to you read are two of my all time favourite things. When you were tiny and we first learned of your hearing loss, there was a brief period of time I thought maybe you wouldn’t be able to enunciate words as beautifully as you do, that maybe you would be behind in class and struggle to keep up with the other children. I would have still loved you all the same, maybe even a tiny bit harder, because maybe I would have felt you needed it that bit more.

I’ve been reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and there’s a page which encouraged me to hand you this dictionary and notepad {excerpt below}. Sitting opposite you now, aged 6, watching you copy pages of your dictionary onto paper gives me a feeling I can barely put into words myself. The look of pride across your face makes every struggle we ever encountered worthwhile. Seeing you focused and calm, lost in those words and concentrating on that continuous cursive lettering fuels me with the patience needed to ride the waves of your intense, energetic and persistent moments.

Stay in your books baby, and the world is yours 💙

Photo credit: @jadablanco

Extract from The Autobiography of Malcolm X

I saw that the best thing I could do was get hold of a dictionary—to study, to learn some words. I was lucky enough to reason also that I should try to improve my penmanship. It was sad. I couldn’t even write in a straight line. It was both ideas together that moved me to request a dictionary along with some tablets and pencils from the Norfolk Prison Colony school.

            I spent two days just riffling uncertainly through the dictionary’s pages. I’d never realized so many words existed! I didn’t know which words I needed to learn. Finally, just to start some kind of action, I began copying.

            In my slow, painstaking, ragged handwriting, I copied into my tablet everything printed on that first page, down to the punctuation marks.

            I believe it took me a day. Then, aloud, I read back, to myself, everything I’d written on the tablet. Over and over, aloud, to myself, I read my own handwriting.

            I woke up the next morning, thinking about those words—immensely proud to realize that not only had I written so much at one time, but I’d written words that I never knew were in the world. Moreover, with a little effort, I also could remember what many of these words meant. I reviewed the words whose meanings I didn’t remember. Funny thing, from the dictionary first page right now, that “aardvark” springs to my mind. The dictionary had a picture of it, a long-tailed, long-eared, burrowing African mammal, which lives off termites caught by sticking out its tongue as an anteater does for ants.

            I was so fascinated that I went on—I copied the dictionary’s next page. And the same experience came when I studied that. With every succeeding page, I also learned of people and places and events from history. Actually the dictionary is like a miniature encyclopedia. Finally the dictionary’s A section had filled a whole tablet—and I went on into the B’s. That was the way I started copying what eventually became the entire dictionary. It went a lot faster after so much practice helped me to pick up handwriting speed. Between what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would guess I wrote a million words.

            I suppose it was inevitable that as my word-base broadened, I could for the first time pick up a book and read and now begin to understand what the book was saying. Anyone who has read a great deal can imagine the new world that opened. Let me tell you something: from then until I left that prison, in every free moment I had, if I was not reading in the library, I was reading on my bunk. You couldn’t have gotten me out of books with a wedge. Between Mr. Muhammad’s teachings, my correspondence, my visitors—usually Ella and Reginald—and my reading of books, months passed without my even thinking about being imprisoned. In fact, up to then, I never had been so truly free in my life.

Photo Credit: @jadablanco

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Keep being you, keep being kind.

Photo: The Legacy of Leo Artwork: Letters to Loved

 

The following letter was written by Jessica of  The Legacy of Leo for her son Eli. She writes to him as a teenager about the importance of being comfortable and willing to share his emotions.

 

 

 

 

Dear Eli,
As you begin to enter the world of adulthood I want to take a moment to make sure you know you can always talk to us about how you are feeling. How do you feel today? Are you able to tell someone if something upsets or bothers you? I hope there is someone you feel able to confide in about how you feel. You always have us though, always.
Some people might tell you things like, “boys don’t cry”, or “man up, pull yourself together” if boys and men get upset. I disagree, though. Boys do cry. And they don’t need to man up either. If you are upset, it’s okay to be upset. It you are happy, excited, or just content, that’s okay too. If you are anxious, worried, fearful, that’s okay.
I just want you to be able to talk about these emotions. Right now, they probably feel quite fast moving and vibrant. Often, emotions can change very quickly. Other times, some emotions hang around for a long time and you can’t shift them, even if you want too. Some may feel more uncomfortable than others. That’s okay, it happens to all of us – even adults. It’s just important to spend time learning your emotions, and finding out what helps you feel as calm as possible.
If you ever don’t feel able to talk to us, please find someone who you do feel comfortable talking to. It’s important to have these people in your life. They are special people, to be cherished. They should just listen to you, without judgement or critique. They might offer advice or another point of view, but you shouldn’t feel upset by their support. If you do, I’d suggest finding someone else – friend or family.
If you don’t feel able to talk to anyone sometimes, then maybe have a go at writing your thoughts down. Sometimes it can really help to make sense of them, and often you feel a lot calmer as a result. You could always write a letter if you want to share those feelings with someone, or just keep it to yourself.
Most importantly, just know you can share the thoughts and feelings that you have. I promise you’ll never be the first person to feel that way. If you are scared or find it difficult to understand your emotions, or they feel too overwhelming – remember you can always ask us for help. That’s okay too.
And return the favour to those who listen to you. Being able to give someone, anyone, time and space to share their thoughts with you is a gift, and everyone needs someone like that in their life.
Keep being you, keep being kind.
Love,
Your mummies

 

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