Yesterday, in preparation for my hospital admission later today, I sat down to conclude the hardest task I’ve ever had to do in my life. I finished writing letters to my three year old son, letters that will be given to him hopefully by me when the right occasion presents itself, but that are there in the case of any eventuality.
The maternal instinct has been alive and kicking in me for as long as I can remember. As a young teen, I took on several babysitting gigs because I truly enjoyed caring for younger human beings. These kids are now adults themselves, many of whom have illustrious careers of their own, from owning their own highly successful local restaurants, to being a doctor, a forensic investigator, loving mummies themselves. And even though they’re not my kids, I still am somehow very proud of them and think of them all fondly.
So becoming a mother was a natural progression for me, one that came later in life I might add, after I had had a few adventures of my own, explored the world a bit, and forged myself into the person I am today. But I still was not prepared for the incredible life-changing experience motherhood has turned out to be.
I had a hint of it back in December 2007 when my brother and his partner had their first son, my first nephew. I remember holding baby T in my arms for the first time and feeling this incredible sense of belonging as I gazed into this newborn’s eyes. I remember thinking I would do anything to protect this tiny creature. It was a powerful feeling like nothing I had ever experienced before.
But fast-forward a few years and the experience changed somewhat as my husband and I prepared to adopt our son (more on that story at a later stage). The naturalness here was ‘missing’, if one can put it that way. Suddenly, from one day to another, we went from being a two-person household to a three-person one, with the third being a screaming, crying baby as he too tried to readjust to his new reality. The first few days were hard, especially since both my husband and I were struck down by the flu, high fever and all! But push through it we did, not without the help of two incredibly supportive people – my mother-in-law and my best friend, who even taught us how to bathe our son!
I remember that another friend who had herself adopted previously had told me that one day, it would all just click, we’d forget what life was like before our son, he would become an automatic part of me.
How right she was.
It just happened – one day, and don’t ask me which day that was because I have no idea! But one moment we were ‘adjusting’, and one moment that was it. It’s like he became an extension of me, I am no longer me without him. And the weirdest thing is that the more the days pass, the stronger this becomes. I am rediscovering myself through my son, I am learning through him, I am trying to become a better person for him. He looks up to me all the time, asking things like “Does this make you happy, Mama?” but little does he know that I am trying to live up to him now.
So writing those letters was hard – because I want to be here for my son so badly, whatever life throws at him, I want to support him, unconditionally, to enable him to become the best person he can become, to do good in this world, to be happy. Pouring all this into these letters was a journey of self-reflection for me – what is it that is important to me? What do I consider to be the foundations on which to build? Do we have to be happy all the time? (I don’t think so). It was also an exercise in future thought as I reflected on his potential career/academic life, his choice of a loved one, his potential search for his birth parents. I hope I’ve managed to express it eloquently, with feeling, and honestly. Above all, I hope I will be the one giving my son these letters.
And to answer your question, little one, yes, you being you always makes me happy.