Here is another letter from my ‘Series of letters’. It’s a beautifully written, heartfelt letter from a mother who is separated to her young daughter.
When I met your Dad I was trying to coach myself out of a world of disappointment and sadness. I was trying to pull myself out of a grief by pulling myself up by my bootstraps and making the best of things. I was getting on with things.
He was tall. I liked tall.
The other one was tall but he was quiet. Your Dad was not. Chatty they say. He was generous in information. He put sugar in his pasta sauce and he used the same sauce for his pizzas. He liked to grow tomatoes. He made tea for him mum and was late for school. His sister was unreasonable, so too was the other. His mother was unreasonable. His father didn’t know how to be kind but his mother was someone who it was hard to be kind to at times. She deserved his unkindness sometimes, he said. These are the things he told me and showed me over the years.
He had many flags, many red flags which I banished to my peripheral vision. It was OK. I was clear about whom I was, what I wanted. I didn’t like red shoes. He wore red shoes. I liked blue shoes and he was OK with that. He planned on changing the red shoes for blue ones. I knew he wouldn’t, but I believed he would.
But, of course, he liked his red shoes. 6 months passed and he would sweep his legs from under the duvet to the floor and slide his feet into them. A year; two years. I bought him many pairs of blue shoes and he would thank me for them and gently put them back in their box and store them in the cupboard for “good wear”.
The first morning I realized that he was probably never going to wear those shoes I was already 6 months pregnant with you, my little star …..
I sat on the bottom stair and I cried. I looked to the front door, head in my hands just as I did that day when I was making my way out of the other disappointment, afraid of what would face me if I opened the door. Would the loneliness be right there on the doorstep with one of those expressions that nurses have when they have to bring you through hell to get to hell and you both know it?
But on I went. The flags got redder and I just fought harder not to see them. I would cry myself to sleep, cradling you in my stomach terrified to stay and terrified to leave.
So I just didn’t move. I tried to convince myself that I liked the red shoes.
Why did you do it that way? Laugh. I wouldn’t do that. Laugh. You should go this way; walk this way and in this fashion. I like to give you this time with them. You don’t appreciate me. Drink. You don’t listen to me. Drink. You only think about yourself. Drink. What you do is not important. I can do it too. But I will never do it. Where are you? You are so selfish. She is not a good friend. You are obsessed with money. Can I have yours? All of yours. You are crazy. I am here for you. Sort yourself out. You are a bad mother. You are a good mother. You are a bad mother. Be a mother this way. See how I do it? This is the way.
Those red shoes stomped on me and ground me into the ground until I felt like I might just stay there.
It was warm and earthy and I had started to stop expecting things of myself. I had begun to forget who I was and where my place on this planet was.
And then it ended. I slowly pushed myself up. You needed to see me up. I needed to see me up. It felt good to have made a decision, even one that is tangled up in pain and uncertainty. The fresh air…
But I was not prepared for the sadness.
A sadness that comes in waves bringing a feeling of hopelessness, desperation, guilt and grief. Grief for the good choices that were avoided because I didn’t think I deserved them. Guilt for the difficult choices I prepared for you that I never wanted you to have to make.
And I can read now. I have many opportunities to get my hair trimmed or catch up with friends. And this…. This makes me so sad, because I don’t want this. It’s too early for this. The yearning is overwhelming. Nothing I ever experienced before. Those days when I thought my heart was broken? I’d swap that for this hole.
A glass of red wine, steak and chanterelle from the seasonal menu. The waiter is attractive. I think he might be, if I was interested. If I weren’t so consumed about the fact I wasn’t with you.
I will not kiss you goodnight this evening.
Sometimes I can steady myself. I can tell myself it will be better. A smile creeps back in. I enjoy the sun on my face, the freedom to gloss a door. Then I see a mother irritated as she repeats herself for the umpteenth time and I miss your soft dark blonde locks that promised such vigorous curl but gradually relaxed to look like my own and the searches for missing pairs as I prepared for work.
And when you are there I balance wanting to devour the joy of every minute spent with you with not wanting to foist a consuming relationship with your mother on you. Why should you have to pay for other people’s decisions? Do you feel overwhelmed by the need I have to be with you?
It is hard to stop myself from already thinking about your departure before you have even arrived.
I still feel unsure how to be now as a husbandless mother of children with a father.
Even though it was always a mask beneath which I was struggling to breathe, I do sometimes think that it was easier to keep that mask on than to brave out the truth. I anticipate the unease they will feel at being confronted with the ugliness of the situation and it makes me uneasy and insecure. Will they treat you differently?
He left on your first day of school. Fishing rod and bike packed into his car. I was relieved when he left and terrified he would come back.
I think you were OK. Daddy was going to work. This is what other daddies do.
Today was another milestone in your journey away from me. I was proud of you in your uniform. Look what I made…
I was even prouder of you as you waved me off, wanting to enjoy the excitement of your first day with your friends with your new teacher.
I hugged you a little bit too hard and walked out the school grounds barely able to see through the tears.
Today was a day for new beginnings, grief and fear.
What do you talk about to your little friends? How do you feel about this? Are you grieving for a unit lost? Do you worry about whether you are loved as much? Does it change the way you play with your stickle bricks?
You are six. How does a six year old process all of this?
You will draw me your beautiful pictures. They all have sunshine. At times there will be unicorns or rainbows, the odd beached mermaid. Sometimes they include your father and that makes me feel trapped like I cannot bear being on the same piece of paper as him, that he still has a hold of me. I have this urge to scribble him out or to lift those cartoon versions of ourselves and spirit them away from him.
And then you will draw one with “just the girls”.
Can you feel the fear in me? Or have you just noticed that my praise for those sounds more genuine? You are six, you are not a fool.
Why do you not like daddy anymore?
Did you ever like him?
If you just do what daddy says then he might stop getting so cross all the time.
Why does daddy shout so much?
We will be safe here. Daddy can’t shout at you here.
Then you won’t cry so much.
I had a bad dream. No one wanted to take care of me. There was no one there.
I had a bad dream. I couldn’t find you. You were lost.
I love my daddy.
I want you to know that I loved you. I love you.
I loved you before you were here. You had a name in side of me and we chatted every night before I went to sleep. I told you that I could not wait to meet you.
You came quickly. Your fresh skin on mine I cradled you to my breast. I fed you and I sat there and watched you sleep and squirm. I watched and watched. The midwife laughed and told me to get sleep while I could.
I was amazed. I was fulfilled. I was scared. I was excited.
You would be amazing. You were amazing. You are amazing. Every day…..
Have you ever wished you had said something to someone but missed your opportunity? Have you been hurt or wronged and told no one? Perhaps you owe someone a thank you but never got the chance to tell them? Maybe you have a secret you never shared but would like to let it out? If you would like to write such a letter and feature it in this series, anonymously if you so wish, contact me here.
If you would like to read other letters in this series you will find them here.
photo credit: donovanbeeson via photopin cc