Give me the child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.
So, looks like we’ve done our job then. Ah well, you’re on your own. Time to get a job…
Jules. My kind, funny, odd, smart baby Jules. My easygoing, sweet, Angry Birds-obsessed son. I apologise for using a clichéd phrase as the theme for this birthday letter, but hey, you are seven. And because we are in a place where I need to focus on the bigger picture, I often think about the man you will become. Grandma used to say that phrase a lot too, so, as I sit down to write, it is the most prominent thought.
Part of me hopes that it isn’t true, because I get you full time next year and I like to think that I can somehow undo some of the damage. Despite there being very good reasons for me being absent, I know how it affects you. I know it has hurt you. It has hurt me too. But I hope that one day, when you are a man, because we have done a good job, you have the capacity to understand and forgive.
I am so excited that you are coming to live with me. And I have to be honest, I am also terrified, because I know that there is a chance that your Dad is right, and you will want to go back to him after 3 months. I have learned to deal with my decision not to fight. I have learned to accept the emotional fallout of how my decisions are represented to you. I have learned to accept that someone else is raising my children. And I am thrilled that you have so many grownups that love you and want what is best for you, even if I end up on the periphery.
I chose this. It is difficult. It is painful. I frequently question my decision. But I have realised that even if I lived around the corner – I am forever the bad guy as long as I make my own choices. It occurred to me, earlier in the year, as I was being chastised for my apartment in West Perth… that no matter what I do, I am wrong. It occurred to me, when I was making the decision to move to Sydney, that even if I did suck it up for 10 years, living in a city I hate, with no career progression or other things that make me happy – I would still be wrong and that bar would just keep moving.
It’s why we are not together anymore. By opting out of the relationship, I opted out of the abuse. I let him have his way, avoid conflict, and try to make it work. And I just keep writing these letters… so that one day… when you are a man… you will understand.
But I am excited, because you are coming to live with me! And even though that also causes me intense fear… I still have hope that your Dad is wrong. Because I am a good mother. And I love you and can give you all of the support that you need. And if you do decide that you want to go back, I will not take it personally – because you should never have to choose. You have 3 parents that love you, and because of that, I am happy.
So in less than 6 weeks, you will be here with your brother and sister for Christmas. Then, it’s you and I. And Angus some of the time. So even though I am unable to make it today… I am hanging onto 6 weeks time, as the time I get my beautiful boy with me, full time. And despite some of the damage done in your first seven years, and even though despite this I know and love the man you will no doubt be, I will do my absolute best to make it right.