Let Me Go To Live My Dream
My Letter to a Very Special Daughter
Before I could embark on my Australian Working Holiday I needed the support and understanding of my youngest daughter who was only 17 years old. I was about to sever the ties that had bound us for the past 17years. Natalie and I were very emotionally attached and it was a family joke that we were attached at the hip. She no longer lived at home. She was attending the University of Queensland in Brisbane studying Social Work. She shared a unit in Brisbane with her friends and was involved with her first boyfriend. Physically, she had departed my life and was busy doing all the things that teenagers and uni students do.
But she still did not want me to go. The emotional blackmail went something like I was abandoning her and that she still wanted to be able to see me. No amount of talking, reasoning or reassurance convinced her to let me go.
After another emotional outburst, one of many, when I was losing ground I wrote her this letter:
To My Very Special Daughter - 30 Jul 2002
I need you to know how dear to my heart you are and what a joy you have always been to me.
I need you to understand why I must go and experience more of life. I would like your blessing, but if you can't give me that I will accept that because I know, in time, when you are feeling safe and strong again it will come.
You are in my thoughts constantly and you have been my motivation every day since I learnt that I was pregnant with you. These are not just words but the truth behind the reason I am here today.
My life had no direction until you came into it. I was lost and didn't appreciate that the child I already had in your sister should have been enough. Before you it felt as though it was your sister and I against the world. Life truly was a struggle and there had been very hard and sad times in the past. I shudder now at the thought of it and wonder if because of my youth and lack of guidance if your sister suffered at all. She certainly wasn't neglected and I loved her with all my heart. She was my pride and joy, but at times I felt I was failing her in some undefinable way. I honestly tried the best I knew how, but even back then I was looking forward to the day when I could travel and see Australia and be truly independent and carefree for the first time in my life.
At 19 years of age I was an emotionally, physically and mentally abused wife when your sister was born. She didn't deserve the environment she was born into so when she was not quite 2 years old we left my husband and her father behind. This was a big step back then and I think I was one of the few single mothers that openly flaunted sole parenthood to society. A very confusing time indeed. We had advocates saying don't put up with domestic violence and on the other hand narrow minded people frowning upon sole mothers!
It was very exhausting coping with the huge responsibilities of raising a child, working full time and running a home under such huge financial, emotional and physical pressure. Sometimes I made silly mistakes induced by rash decisions so as to be able to have some respite and fun from the seriousness of life.
At 16 years of age my daydreams were about having a loving family of 6 kids, a kind husband and a life in the country. Preferrably a working farm. My reality at 28 was a far cry from my dream at 16.
My dream had slipped away forever, because I was foolish, headstrong and fiercely proud, but most of all too compassionate towards undeserving people. In the meantime life kept marching on.
Then I met your father. He was a ball of energy and full of life. Funny how romance has a way of breathing fresh air into your life resulting in renewed zest and vigour. I fell in love with him regardless of his boyish recklessness. Against the odds I fell pregnant with you. You were a gift. I was ecstatic and knew no fear. Society and its opinions could all go jump as far as I was concerned. At least a fragment of my dream was returned to me. I had a second child to mother and love. I knew your father and I were not destined to have a future together as he was a high flying socialite and I was more content and peaceful with the simple things on nature's smorgasboard. I think the decision not to marry your father was one of the smartest decisions I ever made. To this day we are still friends and he is a part of your life.
I made a silent promise to myself, unborn you and your father that I would be totally committed and devoted to you, your sister and motherhood. I had finally found purpose, perspective and focus. I had been too young and destroyed at 19 to appreciate the beautiful simplicity of motherhood.
With two daughters to love and care for I no longer felt like a piece of drift wood. Everyone needs clarity, dreams and goals to live a fulfilling, rich and happy life. And I have loved and enjoyed every moment of motherhood. Even in the most financially and emotionally challenged times we have pulled together as a team and family. Once a week, usually a Friday night, we managed to scrape up enough coins to buy flavoured water ice blocks from the neighborhood corner store. Then we would eat them while sitting on the back steps looking at the stars or if it was a thunderstorm watching the lightning show. We were always hoping to see a shooting star or a satellite.
The three of us were happy and enjoyed and appreciated our love and bond. The three muskateers! Remember how on Sunday nights we would sit on the front verandah and listen to the song requests on the radio? We would talk, laugh and make fun of the people who rang in with their special or odd requests. I will always cherish the memories of our laughter.
Every day I thank God that when you were born I woke up and was given another chance to not only make my life worth something, but to be more committed to your sister too. You were a saviour to both of us. I don't know if she realises that fact - probably not, as she was just a child herself and no doubt thought I was perfect. I think that is the only time a parent is perfect - through the unconditional loving and innocent eyes of a young child. After that we are mean and don't know or understand anything. And the reason for that is that the child has grown up and taken off the rose coloured glasses.
When a child grows up the child reassesses everything - values, life, friends and goals. It is a very hard, scary, confusing and overwhelming time. Not just for the child, but the parent/s too.
I no longer have any child raising rights as you are now raised with a mind of your own. I no longer control your bedtime, the food you eat, who you play with, what you can wear, when to shower and brush your teeth. I don't have to get you to school on time, or drive you to friends houses or host fun sleepovers with treats, videos, games etc. I certainly don't get to tuck you in bed anymore wishing you sweet dreams and whispering "don't let the bed bugs bite".
The time has come when I no longer can control any of your behaviour which is how it should be. You are meant to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them so that you can work out what your own dream is and with a lot of discipline make that dream your reality.
But where does that leave me? My lovely dream has been dreamt. I need another goal or dream to achieve. Without these we have no purpose, we have no happiness in life. We aren't truly alive and living the life that is the gift our parents bestowed on us. I love you so much and I'm as scared and lost as you. Being an adult doesn't make me stronger, just cloaked in more experiences, both good and bad.
You currently are focused on goals for your future. You have a dream to strive for and exams to study for. A life that can be productive and fulfilled if you choose. You have so many choices and the freedom and unencumbrances with which to make good and stable choices. Don't waste your youth and freedom on anxieties that aren't reality. Don't worry so much because it will be a barrier to doing things with joyous abandon.
I will be but a phone call away. As a mother I will always be there for you when you need a chat, advice or some comfort. But as a human being with a soul I need to follow through with my dream so that I can be fulfilled and alive again with another purpose for my daily existence.
Love me as I love you - happily let me go with faith and trust in the love we share with each other.
Our love will only be enriched not lost.
Your loving Mum always,
The End Result?
As we know I ended up going with both my daughters' blessing. They made me promise to be careful and have a good experience. I was definately instructed not to pick up hitch hikers!
However, to this day I don't know if I was the better one at the emotional blackmail bit or if my daughter was so unselfish and wise that she truly did understand my needs.
It is such a difficult thing to turn your back on the life you have always been familiar with for another way of life that is uncertain. It has only been recently that I've come to realise how difficult it was for my loved ones to not have had me in their lives in the ways that they were used to.
I can not possibly imagine how it must be for families where a family member has left their lives without any warning or farewell or promises of staying in touch.
A Fellow Hubber's Point of View
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How Do You Know What is The Right Decision?