The cursor keeps blinking at me. I have been staring at it, on and off for about ten minutes. I’ve checked my Facebook twice, my Twitter, refreshed my email… then… back to that damn cursor. It’s even worse than last year.
I know you’re able to read these now, and the pressure that I feel, to write something meaningful to you, but also entertaining for the others who have read these posts since you were a baby… it’s a tough, tough line to walk.
Because now, I just want you to think that I am cool. And… well… you and I both know that that is a tough ask.. because… you are a 10 year old girl and I am your mother.
But, I am cool, I swear. Sometimes. Ahem.
So, the blinking cursor becomes so overwhelming that I put my earphones on, and listen to music to try and find the flow. And, I put on the song “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds. The song that was released the year you were born, and to this day makes me think of you.
You know, except for the pick-up truck.
And then I listen to that song, and it all comes flooding back. The 36 hours of the brow presentation pain from hell, the non-working c-section anaesthetic, the almost dying (for the first time), you in the humidicrib. The planes crashing into the towers. The painkillers. Watching my world begin, while fearing the world was ending all at the same time.
And you entered my life and changed it forever.
And I sit, stunned, that that was a decade ago. A DECADE. Then it hits me… I have a 10 year old child. It has been 10 years since the terrorist attacks in New York. It has been 10 years and it feels like… 2. The day that you were born, I was worried about the future of the world. And the grim threat of World War 3 that unfolded in the weeks after made me worry that there would even be a world in 10 years. That worry soon turned into worrying about whether I was doing the right thing as a parent. Wanting to create a world for you that was different to mine. Where you knew from the outset that you were loved, supported and could count on me.
And 10 years later, the world still continues to turn (despite being epically fucked up). And it is now not just my world, but yours now too. And despite having had some pretty huge reminders about how short and fragile life can be… the realisation of how fast a decade feels becomes a thought that is… overwhelming.
Because you now exist in a world that is separate from the one we created for you. You have your own experiences, your own thoughts, your own views on the world… and honestly? I am so pleased with what I see.
I remember being 10. And I remember the lifelong damage that can be done to a kid at this age, because… well… that’s where I was. The responsibility of that is crushing… knowing that you have mature thoughts, and conclusions about the world around you, and future aspirations… and…
Yeah… this is where you get the overthinking from.
Man, you are smart. And I don’t just mean book-smart. You are funny in a very clever way. And you are not afraid to be different… and the fairy princess of 5 years ago is a mere memory on YouTube. And as I reflect back on all the previous birthday letters that I write, I can look back and say… I think we are doing OK.
You are SO serious. And meticulous. In a way that I am not. And you drive me crazy with it. I do worry about you carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders too much sometimes. And if there is one thing I wish for you, it is for you to relax and enjoy just being a kid.
But, I can hardly talk… I am the classic overthinker and ruiner of everything by being too intense… and too smart for my own good. So I know… “relax” is a word you are going to hear an awful lot in years to come. Yeah, right? EASIER SAID THAN DONE.
In a way, I think it’s the result of the last few years of death, divorce, and your world changing so much. Last year, your Dad and I had separated a few weeks before and it has been a long, hard road. But we are getting there. And I think we are slowly finding a way to make it work. You’ve been witness to more fights than I would have liked. And certainly I haven’t been as involved in your life as I would have liked. But… you know… we do the best we can. My relationship with my own mother… my fears of having you feel the rejection I did, that follows me through ever relationship I have… it’s quite overwhelming at times. But… despite me having to fight a lot of my demons through this, I know that I am committed to doing the absolute best I can.
And in another 10 years, when I will no doubt lament at how 20 years has now gone by like it was 2 years, and I inevitably start to think about the big things, like I am now… I will want to look back and know that I did OK. Because today, I see the woman you are going to be. And I feel some relief, that because despite me thinking for many years that I was not a very good mother – despite me worrying every single day about the damage I am doing to you by leaving you with you Dad… or not being that cake-baking, assembly-attending kind of Mum playing on my mind… I look at the result and I know that we are doing OK.
I know you’re going to start hating me for the next few years, but… you’ll be back. last year, I was worried sick that I would lose my children to someone else. Hell, I am still worried sick about that every day. But… I am secretly confident that I have done OK and that even when we hate each other, we love each other too. And you’ll come back.
Happy birthday. And, if there is one piece of advice I can offer you… relax. The world won’t explode if you let go and have fun. Just not too much fun. You still have to do your homework.