Belfast Telegraph

Motherly love letters I hope Katie keeps

I'm not the smushy type. I find it hard to tell my nearest and dearest to their face that I love them. I don't do Public Displays of Affection. Even on our wedding day the photographer had a challenge convincing the bride to give her groom a smooch for the camera. ('You two have met before?' he joked). It was no reflection of our joy, just my hatred of all PDAs, no matter the occasion.

I do worry sometimes that those I love most don't hear it enough and that someday I'll come to regret that. I find it much easier to write the smushy stuff down so no one can see me blushing and looking to the floor awkwardly.

My daughter Katie (who in my defence I regularly shower with love and affection) recently turned three. As part of her birthday celebrations every year I sit down and write her a long letter.

My hope is to do this secretly every year until her 18th birthday when I will finally hand over the batch of letters as a journal of her childhood.

The content of each letter has two purposes. It is firstly a chronicle of the year just past – a celebration of all the landmarks she has reached like first teeth, first steps, first words and first trip to the naughty step.

I tell her what we've been up to, where she's been on holiday, what her favourite toys and books are at that time and endearing little habits like sucking her thumb and rubbing her eyebrow when she's falling asleep. I remind her of all the silly names we have for her, the silly things she says and the moments of pure comedy.

There are lots of other precious times noted down, like the first time she said 'mummy' with real meaning (when she was looking for the remote control to turn on CBeebies). Life passes by in such a blur at times (and I have such a terrible memory) I feel it's important to write down these magic moments before they are lost in the mists of time.

I also give Katie a snapshot of the world around us at that time, like how the economy is doing, who's in charge of running the country and who's in the charts, to give her a sense of history. I write to her as if she's an adult about things and events she couldn't possibly understand now.

I also hope that secondly, and most importantly, my words will act as a kind of love letter – from a mother to her child. I hope they will be a lasting reminder of a short and precious time when her life revolved completely around us and vice versa.

As hard as it is for me to imagine now, she will grow up and have her own life, one that doesn't involve us doing everything for her. I want her to know how happy her early years made us.

I read once that babies born into Katie's generation could reasonably expect to live to the age of 100. I love to think of her reading my letters in her later years, decades from now, when I am long gone and she is maybe a mother herself.

I love to think of her enjoying them as a historic picture of the times she was born into – an account of long lost times – and maybe showing them to her children and grandchildren. But mostly I love to think of her cherishing her mum's unashamedly smushy display of affection.

Life passes by in such a blur I feel it's important to write down magic moments before they are lost

Belfast Telegraph

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