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An open to letter to my son – ability is not defined by a number.

Dear Joseph,

I have been your mum for the last ten and three quarter years and I have to say these have been some of the most challenging and defining of my life.  Nothing prepares you for becoming a mum, no book, or website or course, because we all approach it from a different perspective, from our own experiences.

All I know is that having you, and then your brother at the ages of 27 and 30 was the best decision I have ever made.

Not only do you make me proud every day with your kindness, compassion and sensitivity, you also show me how I need to look at myself, who I am and how I respond to others, and respect their opinions, views and beliefs without resisting them or making them my own.

Your transition in the last 10 years has involved many ups and downs, we have all learnt from them and looking back, I would not have had them any other way.

I love you, completely and unconditionally – especially unconditionally.

I do not want to map your life out for you, decide what I think is best for you and then push you into a box which may not be the right box for you.

I have struggled with this, my commitment to you because I still want to support you to have the best opportunities in your life.

But – having the best opportunities does not mean what I thought it meant.

It does not mean trying to squeeze you into that box which doesn’t quite fit, that box that every other child is trying to be squeezed into going through the education system.  This box is there while you are at school but if I had tried to push you still further into that box, it would have become tighter, more restrictive, and more uncomfortable.

No, what I have learnt as a mum is how to encourage support and guide you in the best way I know how.  Reminding you that you are not better than others, just as they are not better than you. Understanding that kindness and compassion are more important than academia and exam results. And that those that shout the loudest are often those who are hurting the most.

And it is why, my gorgeous boy, I will not have your ability defined by a number, a number which, in the grander scheme of life means absolutely nothing.  It is not a reflection on your ability, your intelligence or how good you are compared to others.  That success or failure is not to be defined by that number, just as my success or failure as a mum is not defined by that same number.

That is because there is no comparison, there should be no judgement, and those who find it hardest are the ones that always feel they have to come out on top.

There is no top, there is no bottom, there is just a collection of beautiful children with loving parents who, through their own experiences sometimes don’t get that being at the top of the tree can lead to more issues than it solves.

Because being up there is a lonely place, and results on a piece of paper mean nothing if you don’t have anyone to share them with.

And this is why I am so proud of the boy you are, and the boy you are becoming, because I can see the compassion and care you show others and the sensitivity and awareness which no educator could teach you, no number could reflect. Being happy in your own skin and comfortable with who you are is something you can’t tutor, you can’t teach and that is why I am so proud to be your mum.

Love Mum x