A Letter To My Daughter

My darling Everly,

Becoming your mother has changed me in ways I never imagined possible; in ways that I never knew I wanted to change.

For most of my life I was quite sure that I didn’t want to have children – my own upbringing had turned me against the idea. It was challenging in ways, traumatic in others. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes. I didn’t want to perpetuate a cycle. I worked hard to be happy in my life and feel fulfilled with the choices I made- and I succeeded in that.

After meeting (and then marrying) your dad, for the first time in my entire life the idea of “you” began to take shape. You became something that didn’t seem scary – in fact, you seemed beautiful and exciting. He helped me realise that I was strong enough not to repeat past mistakes. He reassured me that I was good enough; that I had enough love to give you and that I would be a good parent. So when we started trying for you I was wholeheartedly, unequivocally ready, and so excited to meet you in the future. (While our relationship may not have lasted in the traditional sense, we are very much still partners in this journey of being your parents.)

From the day you popped into my existence you have been a ray of sunshine. As you grow, I see more clearly the person you are becoming. Your personality quite literally gets bigger every day!

You’re decisive and strong.

Curious and witty.

You’re extremely bright (possibly cunning) and you have one of the most caring natures I’ve ever witnessed in a two year old.

You’re an experimenter.

You’re a pacifist.

You’re sensitive.

You’re empathetic.

You’re a comedian.

You’re an animal lover.  “Please don’t lick the cats” comes out of my mouth more times than I care to admit each week. Along with, “I’m not sure the cats like having blocks stacked on them”, “Please don’t chase the cats”, and “No you can’t eat off the floor like the cats”. (You really, REALLY love our cats!)

You are the light of my life.

But like all aspects of life, for all the light there will be shadows. And motherhood is no different.

Raising a child in this world is daunting. It’s a long, long way from perfect and I hope that you and your peers will be the ones to change things for the better. But for that to happen, I first have to teach you. And becoming  your teacher meant that I needed to make choices myself. I needed to be prepared to make choices that scared me. Choices that I’d previously glossed over and pushed aside, thinking that they “didn’t matter that much”.

I needed to be comfortable with being judged- and I needed to be confident enough in my own decisions, that I could withstand that judgement.

I stayed home with you for almost three years, because it worked for us. Despite feeling lonely at times, ridiculed for some of my choices around raising you and being a stay at home mum, losing friends, and being tired (so, so, so tired), I carried on with our time together because I felt strongly that it was the best thing for you and for me.

When you were one year old I made the choice for both of us to become vegetarian. I wanted to be able to show you first hand that my convictions around animal cruelty and our impact on the environment were things that could be translated in to real life actions that would make a difference.

I stopped celebrating Australia Day so that in the future I could educate you on our country’s indigenous heritage and why it was important to show respect, empathy and take a stand against racism.

I try hard not to use the word “pretty”, because I want you to know that you’re so much more than your exterior. That you’re loving, kind, smart and strong and that your brain, your passions and your sense of humour are the most important thing about you – not your blonde hair and blue eyes.

I’m trying to stay educated on what is happening in the world. As hard as it is for me to read about the brutalities occurring all around us, I want to be strong enough and have enough knowledge to answer any questions you might – and will – have.

I write, I photograph, I read, I study. I fit these things in around caring for you but I make sure that you see me doing them. So that you see how happy they make me and know that hobbies and passions are something to keep sight of when/if you become a parent yourself.

I’ve always thought the hardest- and best- thing about being a parent is that, to be a good one, you have to try to be a better person yourself.

I can’t raise you to be kind unless I am loving, warm and kind myself.
I can’t raise you to be helpful if I’m not thoughtful, caring and helpful myself.
I can’t raise you to be brave if I’m not strong, calm and brave myself.

So my darling heart, as I’m teaching you- you’re also teaching me.

Be kind, be helpful, be brave.

I love you very much,
Mama

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