• Lara Flanagan

Letter to Archie & Rissie – 9 years old

Updated: Feb 28


Dear Archie and Rissie


You have just turned 9 and I couldn’t love you more if I tried.  Sometimes I look at you and I cannot believe that I made you from scratch.   I am overwhelmed at times with the emotions that you make me feel.  Everything from extreme love and devotion to inexplicable rage.  You will understand the rage thing when you have children of your own.  It does not mean I don’t love you, it just means that you know how to push my buttons.


The last letter I wrote to you was three months ago, on the eve of our departure from Australia.  Since then you have fallen in love with Strach and Robert and had a glimpse as to why I have a love affair with New England.  You have been reduced to tears in New York and were almost swallowed whole by that teeming sea of people in that amazing city.  You have sat at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, stood in the reflection of Thomas Jefferson and played a piano under the watchful eyes of Martin Luther King.  We have caught trains and planes and you almost left your momma behind in an effort to catch yet another bus in a country where the language was not ours.


You have fallen in love with what seems like a hundred dogs and wept saying goodbye to all of them.  You have been woken by howler monkeys and seen your mother have a few monumental melt downs when everything got too much.  You have been sun kissed and salt drenched.  You have been overwhelmed and at times you have missed home and Kevin and Rosie until you cried.   The last three months has been the hardest thing I have ever done but also something that I am very proud about for the moments that the journey thus far, has been filled with joy.  There have been occasions when I have asked myself what am I doing and I wonder in the wee hours if this is something that you will remember well.


This week we experienced an event that apparently only happens roughly about once ever fifty years in the little town of Esterillos Oeste.  A combination of torrential monsoon rain and a king tide caused the beach to quite literally fall into the ocean.  We watched as palm trees and the mountain almond trees that the macaws call home were swept into the ocean.  We saw the wreckage once the tide had receded of exposed tree stumps, collapsed roads, sandbags strewn over the beach and houses threatening to fall into the ocean.  I have since heard that it is something that happens once every 50 years or so.  


Locals say that the ocean takes the sand somewhere else but that it will be returned.  For every almond tree that fell into the ocean another one will grow.  Hearing that sort of talk (translated by another gringo) made me feel as if I was in the world of ‘Once Upon a Time.’ But it made me think that everything moves in a cycle, what is taken away will be returned and that no matter how bad things look, more times than not, things will work out ok.

More life lessons from your Momma, just in case I forget to tell you on the way.


What goes around comes around.  I am still not sure if this works on every occasion as I have dealt with some truly evil devil spawn shits, but I would like to think that what goes around comes around.  Treat people as you would like to be treated even if someone is treating you like fucking shit.  And if you can’t be civil then walk away because if someone has made you feel truly bad about yourself then they aren’t worth your spit.  I am sure I have said this to you before, but if someone is treating you terribly chances are it is more about them than it is about you and if that is the case then it is not your problem.  I am the world’s worst person for getting stewed up about things and taking things on board to the extent that I become a psychotic nutcase.  Don’t be like me.  Be like I am telling you.  I am your mother, so do as your are told.


Slow down.  Slow down as much as you can.  If anything this last month has taught me, it is that we all need moments of doing nothing and moments when you can appreciate how sweet life is. Life goes by so quickly and we don’t need to increase the pace of life to keep up.  Slow down on occasion and savour the amazing world we live in.  There is going to be a stage, sometime soon, when you won’t want to walk with me anymore.  You will regret it of course, especially when I am old and decrepit and bordering on being an imbecile.   Don’t beat yourself up about being such selfish little teenage gits that you could not spare your mother an hour in the morning.  When you are older and you look back on your early years I hope you remember two things about our mornings.  Firstly that every day you got an hour of exercise and secondly every day started with the search to start the day with something beautiful.  If life is moving so quickly that you can’t do simple things like that anymore, than you are missing the point and you are moving too fast.  Slow down.


Keep life simple.  Need less things.  At the risk of sounding like a hairy arm-pitted hippy learn to live a life where you need less.  I am not remotely a hippy, though I can’t remember the last time I shaved my pits. That should alert me to the fact that my legs are  in the same basket and I am starting to resemble a howler monkey again.  Note to myself,  shave.  I digress.  Need less things.  It is almost ingrained in us to want a life filled with things.  The new smart phone, a shinier car, a new outfit, the 8 burner BBQ, the new carpets, the smart TV, the iPads,  Work out what you really need and go from there.  Over the last 6 weeks I have basically worn two dresses, my togs and t shirt to bed.  I did not need 3/4 of the things I brought with me to Costa Rica.  We have lived in a one room cabin and a one bedroom apartment and we have never wanted for anything.  When I think of the fact that I sold so many of our possessions to make this trip possible and yet we still have enough furniture to fill a home the mind boggles.  Learn to live with less, and you will appreciate more what you have got.  Also, it will make you lighter and make more things possible.  Once again, I am your mother, so you have to listen to me.


Learn to say Fuck off. I do not mean this literally.  I am giving you these letters when you are 18.  I will give them to you when you are 21 if you turn into ungrateful little 18 year olds as you will not have the maturity for my wit or wisdom if that is the case.  So I am assuming foul language will not make you blush.  Regardless, I do not want you to talk like pirates or cuss like your mother does.  I am talking about the philosophy of saying fuck off.  Say it in your head when someone asks you to do something unreasonable and tell them politely no thank you.  If someone mistreats you then you tell them to fuck off.  If something is not right and it makes you feel bad say it in your head and disappear.  Learn to look after yourself and others and the world you live in and learn to say fuck off.  Don’t let anyone take advantage of you and remember what I whisper to you at night.  You are strong, you are kind, you are brave and you are important.  Anyone who makes you feel less than that can fuck off out of your lives.


Rissie, you asked me the other night if it was wrong to believe in magic.  It filled my heart with dread and I thought we were going to have to have that god awful talk about Santa Claus.  But I refuse to and I diverted you because I am having one more year of you being my wide eyed children who believe in a time of the year when magic fills the air.  It is not only right to believe in magic.  It is vital that you do.   It is so important to believe in things that you can’t see.  Just because you can’t see something does not mean you can’t feel it, hear it, see it in your mind’s eye or soar on the wings of your imagination with it.  I am 44 years old and I still believe in magic.  I believe in almost everything.  I still believe in unicorns, in a world where good will prevail.  In a world where Donald Trump can’t be President. In a world where everything can start with something beautiful, in a world where there is more good than evil.  In a world where dreams come true.  All of this is possible if you believe in a little magic.  So my children, save room for magic and never stop believing.


To sum up my life lessons for you on your 9th birthday.

What goes around comes around.

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

Keep life simple and need less things.

Learn to say fuck off.

Believe in magic.

It is the eve of another departure as we are packing up and moving to the mountains tomorrow.  Time for another adventure.  I love you my darling kids.  Happy Birthday and I hope you have the sweetest of dreams.

Love your mummy.


#Hope #Journey #Motherhood #Travelingwithkids

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