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.