Letter to Archie and Rissie – 12 yrs & 3 months old
Updated: Mar 1
Archie and Rissie, it has been a little over a year since I wrote you last. I am glad that a good friend of mine, Lee Bowers, reminded me before Christmas, of my annual letter to you. I would hate for you not to cringe at your 18th birthday.
2019 has been a big year. We began it in Italy and ended it in Italy. The drought continued in Australia. In our beloved Tenterfield this year, you learned to become scared of fire. As I write this letter, Australia continues to burn.
Motherhood is truly one of the most unpredictable and unexpected experiences of my life. Firstly, I never wanted to be a mother until something happened to my body’s biological clock in my mid-thirties and then I realised the only thing I wanted was children. Now that I have you, it amazes me what I want for you. My wants are so simple.
I want you to be kind. I want you to be happy. I want you to have a world to live in.
I was a big girlie swat at school so I thought I would want you to be impressive over-achievers. But I am not a fan of school. Luckily, we had the most amazing experience for your final year of primary school, and I am so glad that you are going to a high school where the initial focus for you will be on a second language. Apart from that I just hope and pray that your schooling does not fuck with your education. I know for a fact, that if money was no object, that your education would not involve a school. That surprises me, as it was not something I could ever have predicted.
The other day we were walking along the cobbled lane ways of Arezzo with our friend Imy, and there was a beautiful elderly blind couple, both with white canes. I told you both to move aside and explained that they were blind. Both of you said at almost the same time, “isn’t it nice that they found each other.” And you looked back at them, not with ridicule but with something that resembled awe. That still brings tears to my eyes. My babies, dammit, you are kind.
Don’t ever stop being kind. Please before you do anything, ask yourself is it kind. You live in a crazy world. You don’t know a life before devices and the internet. You are a digital native, whereas your Momma is a digital immigrant. Terms like that never even existed 30 years ago. We have national leaders who run campaigns via social media. We live in a world where anything can be dismissed as ‘fake news’ if you don’t like it. Our country is about to possible introduce ‘religious freedom’ laws that have nothing to do with freedom and more to do with god-awful bigotry and legally enforceable discrimination. Social media, trolls – the ability for cowards to shoot their mouths off and say whatever they want without consequence.
You are going to face so many issues that I can’t even begin to comprehend. You will have more technology; things will be faster, and available at the snap of a finger. You will be able to do things that featured in our science fiction movies when I was growing up. It will be amazing, but also scary as I believe gradually the ‘human’ element will gradually be removed. So, I ask you to remember to be kind. Before you do anything, ask yourself it is kind. Is it kind to you, to those around you, to all creatures great and small, and to our planet? Is it kind? And remember in a world filled with people screaming with capitals and hashtags that sometimes, it is better to be kind than right.
After you are kind, be happy. Life is nothing if it is not happy.
But please remember, that happiness is a choice. And sometimes choosing to be happy can be exhausting and bring you to your knees. It can feel lonely and frustrating and lead you on paths that you never expected. Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life. Choose happiness. Surround yourself with your chosen family, people who make your heart sing with joy. Do things that lift your spirit.
Why do you think your momma starts the day with something beautiful? Especially on the days when she is so weary it hurts? Because it is a matter of choosing happiness. Be the person who sees a glass and feels your spirit soar because it is half full. Don’t be the person who is so busy bitching about how their glass is half-empty that they forget to drink.
My last wish for you is that you have a world to live in.
Rissie you asked me yesterday morning what was going to happen to people after the fires. We were walking in the damp hills of Tuscany and the fires seemed so far away, but we are all painfully aware of what is happening back home. I must admit I went all Anna Bligh on you and pretty much used her 2001 flood speech. You know, we get down, then we get up again. Nothing can knock us down. We will fight. We will recover. But you got a bit exasperated with me as you didn’t need the proud Aussie speech. You then said to me, ‘no momma, what is going to happen to people’s heads. What is going to happen if the fires don’t stop?’
That hurt my heart. Because I don’t know what is going to happen. I quite literally despair for Australia and it breaks my hurt. Also, your fear, anxiety and care for people broke my heart. I could then only be honest with you and say that I hope the fires stop soon. I hope it rains. I hope we can recover. I hope we can rebuild habitats for our native wildlife. Ultimately, I hope that we can change the way we live. I hope we change the way we vote and spend money. I hope it is not too late.
By the time you are 18, we will either be getting close to a tipping point or we won’t. I think the world will have changed a lot by then. For the good and for the bad. I hope you can laugh at me and that the world will have been transformed by people who love this planet as much as they love life itself.
Kindness, happiness and hope. My three wishes for my fellow adventurers who I hold so dear.