To my darling daughter,
As you come of age, on your eighteenth birthday, I can’t help but remember your early months, and how I felt – I feel it is important for you to know this part of your life. I still don’t fully understand why they were so full of sadness and loneliness. Confusion I had never felt before. I feared that you would know how desperate I felt, despite how hard I tried to hide it. I felt so bad, knowing that you didn’t deserve my unhappiness.
I wish I could explain to you what led to me feeling that way, but I’m not sure that I can, even eighteen years later. I know before you were born that I had so many hopes for you and me together, I had dreamed endlessly of falling in love with you, of holding you and growing with you, learning together in those early weeks. I knew there was a lot to learn about having a new baby and it wouldn’t always be easy. But I didn’t foresee feeling outside of myself, weird, unfamiliar. Right from the beginning my secure home felt different and I was scared.
I don’t know what impact my feelings and fears had on you, but I know I missed so many moments, lost in my preoccupations and my fears. I missed your tiny smiles, the love in your eyes, the meaning of your cries for comfort. I missed getting to know you as you started to unfold; it took many months before I really saw you.
I remember I couldn’t laugh with you and I didn’t play. I am so grateful to your father for being this for you when I couldn’t – I cried when I heard you laugh together, your secret language that I never understood. I felt so very bad. I still cry now for the times when I believed the only solution was to leave you both, there seemed no other option. I believed you needed a better mother, one who loved you more and didn’t fear you.
And then you started to cry, one weekend, you cried for nearly two days. Your tears seemed to reach into my shadowed mind and I remember looking into your eyes. I believe I saw you for the first time, really saw you. I can’t explain this moment to you but I now know your love, your searching for me, reached me. For a moment I saw myself in your eyes and realised that I had lost everything that I was and had hoped for. This thing, this presence that shadowed me all the time was robbing us both.