‘Are you still my Mummy?’ Possibly the most heart-breaking words I have heard. Coming only second to hearing you call another woman ‘Mum’ and third to hearing you refer to me by my first name, ‘Emma’. Who would have thought that the words of a 5 year old little girl could cause more pain than a thousand knives to the heart?

It’s not your fault my darling. You are just an innocent child caught between parents that were just not meant to be.  You see Mummy got poorly when you were just 4 years old and it turned both of our world upside down.

You lived with me for 4 ½ years. We did everything together. My whole existence was for you and you alone. Every day you filled me with joy and pride. But raising you with no support was proving too difficult and I was struggling balance work, money, time and being a single parent. Years and years of different issues all got too much. I became poorly and eventually had to make the decision to call your father and have him look after you for a while.

You didn’t know your Dad. He kicked us out of the house when you were just a year old because he wanted your now step mum to move in. He built a new life and didn’t bother much to visit but despite making no effort to be a part of your life, I knew he loved you so would take care of you. Leaving with this strange man must have been so traumatic for you and every day I am filled with guilt of that moment. The day I had to let you go.

To begin with I had to concentrate on getting better. I had had a mental breakdown so went to see doctors and councillors to help get me well again. Grandad would bring me to see you every few weeks, it was very difficult for me and you both. Every time I did the 200-mile drive to visit we had to again say good bye. It was painful, and I could see how much It hurt you too.

About a month after you went to live with your father, you started to call another lady Mummy. This broke my heart. I asked your dad to not let this happen, but it was too late. In your little 4 year old mind you had a new mummy and with no one that would correct you, you started to slip away from me.

Your 5th Birthday came and went. You started school and was doing well. You seemed happy and settled with your new life. Our time together was so precious but every time we had to say good bye we both gained another scar on our hearts.

I wanted you to come back home to me. I had got much better. I was working, had a new home and I met a new partner. I was in a much better place mentally and was ready for you to come home. You too wanted to be with me. I tried to talk to your dad about it but he refused to let you come home. It was then that I realised I may have lost you forever. I decided in that moment that if you were happy, looked after and were doing well at school I would not take you away from what you now know as home.

Your dad decided to accuse me of wanting to kidnap you. He took me to court and after a bit of a battle between us, It was agreed that you would continue to live with him and your step mum but you would come to stay with me in the school holidays. I was also allowed to call you every week.

Every visit and phone call ripped out my heart. Taking you home was traumatic for us both. You begged me to let you live with me but it was out of my hands. Phone calls were hard. When you were asked who was on the phone to you would say ‘Emma’ and that knife in my heart would twist in a little more. But we kept in contact. I needed to know you were ok.

Your little brother was born. From then on things at home didn’t seem so good. Suddenly religion was being pushed on you. You were starting to struggle at school and I was becoming concerned about your emotional state. I keep a close eye on your education and am in regular contact with school, who also have their concerns. Raising these issues with your father gets me nowhere.

What you didn’t realise when at 4 years old you asked that heart breaking question, was that I am your mummy, I always was and always will be. A Mummy does the best she can for her child. A Mummy fights for her child. And a Mummy never stops loving her child.

For the past three years you have cried your little heart out every time I have had to take you home after a visit. For three years you have been telling me you want to live with me. I am listening to you little one. I am battling to get you home. I am trying my hardest just as I always have done, to do what’s best for you. Now it’s time to come home and my journey will be here for you to see when you are a grown up. You will know that I want you, I love you, I fight for you and I will always be your mummy.