This is from a set of photos I took with camera and tripod for a previous February Photofest but never used. There is something quite strong and powerful in this highly posed image.
I always struggle this week of the year. The week of your birthday. You would think that I’d be over it all, after all you are 29 now. But somehow the trauma of a difficult pregnancy and then the joy of your arrival has become intertwined with the sense of betrayal I experienced from your father. He was there is body on the day you were born, but it later transpired that he was definitely elsewhere in spirit.
You are the same age today as I was when I had you. It is no wonder that you seem like a proper grown up these days, since I did at 29 too. Marriage, a mortgage, responsible job. But I can see that you and your wife have great fun together and don’t overly worry about serious stuff over a good holiday. I don’t speak to you or see you as often as I would like, but I am thankful that if you need me you will reach out. The hug you give me when we see each other, the kiss when we say good bye tells me all I need to know. It’s not apparent to the outsider but we are as close as we were when you were a little boy.
You were described as a mummy’s boy. But what else could you be when your daddy wasn’t exactly a role model presence. Either working or up to no good he was often absent. It was our norm, something I didn’t tell others and smoothed over. I also worked full time, so made our time together as special as I could. Visiting family, going to the park, Toys R Us on a Saturday morning, playing in the snow. So many happy times, but often just us. Later though we included cousins and grandparents and ventured further afield. It was only annual holiday times that we were a family of 3.
Looking back I realise we would have managed alone. But I was too frightened, so clung on to your dad and tried hard to be happy. As you grew up I know that you sensed things were wrong but thankfully didn’t really see how bad they were.
I was wrong to wait till you were at university to make my move. Wrong too that I betrayed your dad in order to find my way out. It made me now better than him in many ways. But there’s no manual for life and us human’s get things wrong. I was grateful you came away on holiday with me and that we spent time working through some of those feelings. Sadly that then made me think you’d be ok about me brining G into my life when I did. I guess that I failed to explain who he was and how important he was becoming. But also that you would need time to adjust. That you directed your anger back at me was upsetting, but something I probably deserved.
Thankfully we have both moved on from those times. We have talked through your feelings of hurt and rejection. Talked endlessly about your dad and the issues you have with him and his behaviour. I am happy you have your wife to love and support you and that you know how much I love you and will always be there for you.
On the day of my mastectomy you took the day off and came to be with me. Breast cancer was a wake up call for me and for us as a family. I’ve now discussed things that I didn’t know possible with you. It’s entirely possible that you are the strong and caring man you are because that’s how I brought you up and because of the experiences we had together. I’m proud you are my son and the man you have become.
So on your 29th birthday, this is a love letter to you, my son.