"Mum, I was looking at photos in my book last night and I decided.... I like you now."
The first words out of the LGBB's mouth on Friday morning as I stood in our ensuite, straightener in hand, attempting to hide my gaping mouthed surprise. I heard Steve stifle I gasp in the next room.
"Why, thank you, Miss Lolly," I said as warmly as I could. "I think."
"That's okay," she said charitably, turned on her heel and walked off to start her day.
I can only deduce that she saw the smiling photos of me looking back at her that I had subliminally placed into her album about 4 years ago. They are photos of her as a less-than-2-year-old and various members of her family, including the dogs she already loved so much.
And before I analysed too much and asked, "Where did I go wrong?! Does that mean she has not liked me for the past 5 and a half years?", I took stock of all the things I have done with and for her. Within my means and with, at times, my limited patience and energy to give her as much as I wanted (which was always more than what she needed but felt so minimal compared to what I felt she deserved).
To be completely honest here, I only felt the veil of my depression lift last year. About 5 months after the LGBB was born, it descended on me like a stifling blanket and it didn't budge. For over four years. It was a long hard trawl. And I was often almost consumed by the weight of the guilt of not "feeling satisfied" or "happy" now that we had a child.
Add to that her kinder year (last year) was only 11 hours a week with no other child care arrangement, save for sporadic day-long visits to her grandparents, and it made for very limited opportunities for me to get work done when she was not here. So I had to break my own rule sometimes and work while she was home.
Herein lies the issue that has just come to my awareness: Despite doing EVERYTHING for her still, her perception is that I worked all the time "but you don't now so I like you" (as she said in her own words, elaborating after I casually asked why she liked me "now"). It didn't matter that the previous years were all about creating nurturing and learning activities for her to ensure the best start to her life and finding out about the world around her. All she remembers is that she had a mother who worked.
Now, while I know that what has been ingrained in her has been well worth all the effort and has helped to shape who she is, she doesn't know that. I have to fight hard here to keep my own feelings of insecurity at bay and not offload them on a five year-old. I want to rave at her "After all I've done for y...." But I won't. I can't! It's what was done to me. And it conditioned me to stop expressing myself.
Heck, haven't you ever wondered why I am SO wordy now? So expressive? You can thank my mother :)
The fact is, we live in a society where you are guaranteed to not be doing the right thing at any given time. Who can keep up with all those things we are judged on? Ludicrous! Exhausting. Nobody can keep up with every single piece of advice and instruction, and nobody is that "perfect". I decided a long time ago that I was not going to bow to the pressure of what "they" say is best for her. I was going to list here in this post the sorts of things we do and also point out all the other things we don't do, but you know what? It's not necessary. This is our life. This is our groove. I busted my gut trying to do things I thought would enrich her life, not what I thought would win me any accolades.
So why am I slightly gutted (can one even be "slightly" gutted?) that this is her perception of me? That in her mind I have only ever worked and, therefore, not been someone she could like until she has started school? She thinks I don't work now. But the reality is, I just have more time to get the work done during the day so I don't have to do it when she's home from school. I can see how she has worked it out in her head. I'm so relieved that she is satisfied, for now I can be more deeply satisfied too in my work and my hours alone. I love that she is at school. For this reason alone, I have not shed one tear that my daughter is no longer home with me.
The bigger, gnawing pain for me centres around the fact that her Dad - who goes outside the home to work and has always done, it's just a given to her because it's how she has always known him - gets off pretty lightly. He is "so funny. I like Dad. And it's okay, Mum, because I like you now too. Because you don't work." I'm still the one who gets interrupted to attend to every request, demand, plea for help. I'm the Go-To parent. Not a problem, I have no issue with this.....
Until the day I discover I'm the least "liked" parent too.
Anyone got any worms I can eat?
- And then just like that, I remembered...
- If it wasn't for the nights
- The honest Mother of a post
- The Irony
- Click that arrow
- Spare me
- Shake it off with shuffling
- Music and laughter through searing pain: My famili...
- "Can I go now?" Helping my old girl stand down
- 8 years on and finally: I'm OK today
- Make it genuine
- A dying art. As opposed to dying for your art.
- School's in: If there ever comes a day....
- Look who's going to school
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