Today, my beautiful son Thomas turns four years old. I know he’s not going to read this. I know even if I read it to him now, that he wouldn’t understand half of it. But the content of this letter isn’t for now. It’s for when he is old enough to understand, that his Mummy, regardless of all of her own issues, has always put him first, and no matter what that she will continue to do so.

Dear Thomas,

When you were born, you created a love in my heart that hadn’t been there before. When you said your first word, you took your first steps, no-one was as proud as I was, your biggest supporter. With every milestone you have achieved and those that you continue to reach, I have celebrated and will continue to do so alongside you every step of the way. Thomas, you taught me the meaning of true, unconditional love.

At the young age of just four years old, you have experienced situations that even some grown adults have not had to endure. When you were only 19 months old, your father and I ended our relationship. Our family didn’t break up, it fell apart. And you, my beautiful little boy, you were there right in the middle, caught in the crossfire of what was to become an emotional war zone.

I wonder if you know the amount of guilt I feel, for putting you through that, knowing that your confusion and lack of understanding, the upset it caused you, was partially my fault.

I know the separation was a very difficult time in our family. Trust me, I know. I know that everything felt different. You didn’t know what was going on, but you knew that there were a lot of changes and there was a lot of upheaval happening in your life. And I know that now you are getting older and becoming more aware, you are probably feeling everything from angry and upset, to wounded and betrayed by the two people you thought would never hurt you, that society is teaching you will never hurt you, your parents, but you know that yours did. Can I say to you that I’m sorry? I’m sorry for failing in the relationship that was supposed to be your model for your future. I am sorry that my weaknesses are what caused you this pain that you still don’t fully understand. I hope you’ll see one day that in my choices and decisions always, I’ve always had your best interest in mind. I truly did what I thought was right. And I will forever stand by my decision. But I know it hurts. A lot. When your friend asked you ‘Why doesn’t your daddy live with your mummy?’ it broke my heart to hear you say ‘My mummy loves me and my daddy loves me, but they don’t love each other.’ A four year old should not have to deal with those sort of explanations.

I want to say how sorry I am that you don’t get to see your Dad very often. I am not writing this to tear your dad down, I am writing this so you are aware of the truth. Your dad is welcome to see you as and when he pleases. You are currently going to your Grandma’s house on a Friday evening, sleeping at her house and then spending Saturday with your Dad, before coming home in the evening. I have previously offered for your Dad to have you for tea once a week, which he agreed to, but unfortunately this didn’t last long. You’re a clever little monkey and initially, you realised that Wednesday nights you’d have tea with him. But seeing that adorable little face fall, when yet again I had to explain to you that Daddy wasn’t going to be taking you, although you’d been ready and waiting for half an hour, it was something I was not willing to put you through on a regular basis. So I cancelled that. You may think, well why? It was for your emotional well being, I needed you to have stability and a regular routine to help you understand that you had done nothing wrong. He couldn’t commit to that, so for your benefit, I told him not to worry about collecting you for tea in the week.

There have been several occasions where the voluntary organisation that he is a part of has caused him to rearrange his time with you. You spent New Years Day with Mummy and Elliott this year, although you also spent Christmas with us too. Daddy had to volunteer at an event. No, that’s a lie, he didn’t have to. He chose to volunteer on New Years Day, when he was due to have you. I can’t make your Dad have you. I can’t make you go. All I can do is offer and try. And I’m sorry that I can’t do more than that, other than console you and support you when you are feeling let down and low.

I am not speaking on behalf of anyone else at this time. My priorities have always been and always bloody will be you and your sister. Being a parent is a full time responsibility and regardless of how anxious, upset, mentally unstable that I become, my heart and soul will go into ensuring that both of you, my children, are happy, healthy and secure.

I hope that through my relationship with Elliott, you can see that it is possible to be happy after a break up. That you will understand that things do get better, people move on. Within this household, you have two incredible parents. Whether people like this or not, Elliott is your parent. There’s no step about it. He provides for us, he supports us, he is not only confidant to me, but to you as well. There are times when you’d rather Elliott put you to bed, read you a story, play cars with you. I won’t let anyone begrudge him for that. Being in a relationship with me, it’s definitely not easy. At four years old you can see that mummy is difficult sometimes and that situations arise that cause mummy to become upset, for mummy to have panic attacks, to spontaneously burst into tears for reasons you don’t know about. I know I am meant to be the strong one, the adult, the parent. But you know, that those mental scars still remain. And even now at this early age, you know, you realise that Mummy sometimes doesn’t have enough strength to deal with herself, let alone you, and now your sister. Elliott knew he;d have to accept all of this when he and I first entered our relationship. Obviously he knew about you too, and he chose to embark on this crazy parenting journey with me. Did he have to? No. Did he choose to? Yes. That’s the incredible thing about step-parents. They choose to parent you. If Elliott didn’t want to, he’d have been gone. He’s more than aware of this. Thomas, you and I are a package deal bud, and Elliott understood that. He’s never tried to replace your Dad. He understands that he isn’t your Dad, no matter how much he wishes he was, but he is the most influential male role model you have in your life. If you grow up to be half the man that Elliott is, then even then I will be immensely proud, although I know that with such an incredible father figure like Elliott, you will grow up to be one of the good guys.

As you continue to grow and become an adult, you will live your own life. You will have times of happiness and times of disappointment. Live your own dreams. Figure out what makes you happy, take hold of it and pursue it. Follow a path of your own choosing – not mine, not your dad’s or anyone else’s. Your fulfilment is what I want, and it’ll come from following your dreams and living a life that has meaning and purpose for you. You’ll fall in love, and you’ll have your heart broken (although, a wise boy/girl definitely won’t break your heart after they’ve met me…). You will meet someone one day with whom you fall head over heels in love and want to spend the rest of your life. Their gender, race, religion, and culture, trust me when I say that none of that matters to me. As long as you are loved, respected, and treated well, I will always be happy with your choice. Life has its ups and downs and is not always fair, but I know your strength and resilience will see you through.

And, last but certainly not least, I need you to know that I will always love you and Elliott and I will always be there for you. No matter what, we’ve got you. You are my son and always will be. I adore you, Elliott loves you, your sister idolises you and there is nothing you could possibly do to change that. There may be times when we don’t always see eye to eye, but we still love you and always will. There may be times when I am still an anxious mess, but this anxious mess is your mama, and she’ll be damned if she’s selfish enough to not take you and your feelings into consideration regarding her life’s decisions.