Tonight we were meant to go to the panto. I have never been to the panto before, not even as a child. And neither have you, as you’ve never really been old enough before. It’s been a hard few days, mummy’s been ill again, but today I woke up, for your last day at school before the Christmas break and I felt like I could do it. I felt like I could do today.
So I got ready, and just like I promised, I met you at the big old Catholic church for your end of term carol concert. It was packed, so I took a friend with me to help me deal with the crowds. But I did it, and I watched you get up on stage with your classmates and sing your little hearts out, and my own heart burst with pride.
And for a treat afterwards we went to Santa’s grotto, just mummy and you, a girls’ treat. and we saw the wonderful animatronics display and the polar bear scene before you got to go into the grotto and speak to Santa himself. He gave you a lovely present, a white bear, soft as snow, and your little face lit up.
And when we came home I did your hair for you and we helped each other get ready for the panto. We were meant to be meeting friends for dinner beforehand. It felt nice getting ready with you, normal, magical. You adorned yourself in beads of every colour and wore that long beautiful hair down with Christmas-coloured bobbles in it.
But when we got there it was just too much. A busy restaurant, people I’m meant to know talking to me but the words not landing, the words floating in the air limp and lifeless. I had no words to say back. I felt uncomfortable being around these people, on edge.
The music started sounding loud, it was distracting me. People asked me what I was going to eat and I had no answers. The menu felt like a huge obstacle to climb. The flickering Christmas lights began to hurt my head. I felt disoriented and nauseous. Then more people turned up, people I didn’t know. Faces that felt unfamiliar and threatening.
So I began to panic, my hands started shaking so I couldn’t hold the menu, I felt trapped, trapped in this dizzying place with these strange people who I did not feel safe with. But all the while I knew it was your treat, your special night on your last day of school, a lovely dinner out with your pals followed by a panto. What could be more christmasy? What could be more lovely when you’re 6 and the world is an adventure playground.
Except for me darling, the world is not an adventure playground, it is an obstacle course and my inability to fully participate in and embrace it for you breaks my heart. I left the restaurant. Our friends are kindly taking you to the panto anyway and you still get to have your night out with your pals. I’m grateful for that. I’m glad my limitations have not ruined your fun.
Driving home I cried all the way, the frustration of not being able to manage the simplest thing. Something that should be so natural and fun. The disappointment that after all our fun getting ready, doing each other’s hair, choosing outfits, yet again I could just not pull it off. Just could not cope with being in public amidst the noise and haste. The self-loathing I feel at failing you sticks in my throat like bile. The frustration at wanting to be better but yet somehow always falling short, well it feels too much to bear.
When I was younger they told me I’d never have children. They told me that I would never be able to come off medication long enough to sustain a pregnancy, but you were my little miracle. And I named you Aurora because Aurora is the goddess of the dawn, in myth she dances across the sky in a golden chariot every morning lighting the way for her brother, Helios – the sun.
And you have quite literally been the light in my life, you bring the sun out for me, every day, you live up to your name. I am so sorry my darling, I am so sorry that you don’t have a better mummy who can be fun, who can be well, when you most need her to be. I am so sorry that I let you down tonight. I am so sorry that this disease that lives within me blights our lives like a shadow that I can just never seem to outrun.
I hope one day you will understand that even though I fail often, I also try. Because you are worth trying for, even when I don’t succeed. You are my sunshine. You are everything.
I love you