Mina, it’s your birthday and you are…OMFG… Eleven years old. I have posted this early for many reasons – partly because I am travelling on your actual birthday and time gets away from me when I get back, but also being the night before I fly to see you for your birthday, it just seems the right time (and mindset) to write your birthday post. With wine. Having missed you for a month.
It’s amazing, actually, the kind of pressure I feel now as I write this, not only because of my absence in your day-to-day life and trying to say something meaningful and reassuring that will somehow, magically, make up for that (I know it won’t), but also because this year, I heard the words that will make any mother recoil in horror:
“I read your blog, Mum”.
It’s enough to stop me dead in my tracks, really. Despite you not having a problem with it and reassuring me that you liked reading my posts, I have to be honest – I contemplated not writing a birthday post at all, because I know you are growing up and don’t necessarily need your mother gushing about you online for all and sundry to read. I want you to know that I nearly didn’t. But… bear with me. I promise I won’t embarrass you (too much).
It’s strange how something as simple as a blog post can come to mean so much, and have so much impact on someone’s life, as it has mine. This blog, that I have been writing for all of the time you have existed on this planet, well… it is quite an extraordinary thing to read back on. Much like going through old photo albums, going through and reading the letters I have written to you in the past provides just… so much reflection and insight into my thoughts and state of mind at the time. And I feel that pang of regret when I read it, because, there were times when life was a lot easier for you. And life will get harder, and more complex, and… well…
Much like photographs, my blog entries, for better or worse are a snapshot in time, that one day, will hopefully provide you with comfort.
I speak from experience.
As you probably know, I have a photograph that is 1″ wide and 1.5″ tall, in an oval frame, sitting on my bookshelf. It is innocuous, barely even noticeable, but it is the only photograph that I have of Grandma Chris, because she avoided photos. Well, that and our fractured family meant that, basically, I have one photo.
But, Grandma’s reluctance and fear of embarrassment means that now… there’s no photos. No record. I know it’s morbid, but…
I don’t want that for you. I want you to understand, and know that I love you. Have it written here, stored by the Internet in forever-land, that I battled daily with my decision to move away. But, I love you, and I fought, and continue to try to make it work. I made choices that I think will be better, and provide you with opportunities that can’t be provided in Perth, in the long term. And hopefully make you see that there is a world bigger than sitting around, staring at the TV, waiting to die.
It’s strange though, having written this blog for this long, that in part was started so that you would read about the cute and funny things you said and have a laugh at the “letters in a shoebox” when you were older… has, through the life of the blog, somehow morphed into this big, complicated need to tell my “side of the story”. My actual side of the story will come when you are an adult. In private. That is a private discussion that will no doubt occur, but just know that, in those moments where you doubt that I love you, or that I don’t miss you, or that I am not doing my very best with a situation where my hands are tied… I want you to know that… I’ve done my very best.
And that, right there, is why I decided to write the post. So you don’t have a 1″ photograph when you need me, and know that… in my words… that it’s going to be OK.