I don’t always know exactly where my daughter is sometimes and I don’t like it one bit! She has been glued to my side (or her daddy’s) or in the care of someone we’ve handed her over to ever since birth. How am I supposed to let her go her own way without worrying myself into a nervous breakdown?
To put this into perspective (I’m just clinging onto some) she is 10 years old and has started to call on friends and meet them in the local park. I know I can’t stop her going and although I can warn her about stranger danger I can’t terrify her with stories of kidnappings and worse. She came home half an hour late today – it wasn’t really her fault, she ended up going to pick up her friend’s brother with their mum. And I can’t go ballistic at the mother who is much more laid back than me as she’s been through it once already. I limited myself to two text messages and five bitten nails – I’m saving the other hand for tomorrow when she’ll no doubt want to exercise her new right to freedom again.
But this isn’t a blog about how to let your children go out on their own without worrying yourself sick (I have an inkling that will only happen when senility kicks in). It’s more of a realisation that this time is so precious and so much of it has already slipped by so quickly.
I didn’t find motherhood easy and I think I have only recently become completely comfortable in my role as mummy. I had postnatal depression and spent the first five months on a rollercoaster of emotion – “yay I’m a mother and my daughter is absolutely gorgeous”! Then five minutes later “oh my god what the hell have done, what was I thinking of?! I’m rubbish at this, everyone else is coping so well, they have lots of other mummy friends, I’m the only one on my own all the time”. It all happened again when I had my son 2 years later and redundancy and stress related problems didn’t help me settle into motherhood either.
I think the fact that I never knew my own mum (she died when I was a few weeks old) also had an impact. Lacking a role model must have had an impact on how I would adapt. I think I’ve done an OK job in the end, I’m never sure if I’m being fair, over-indulgent, too strict, too much in love with every hair, mole, smell, expression – but I don’t think that makes me any different to any other mum. I have a feeling I seek approval more than I should and can’t believe that she loves me and looks up to me as much as she does. It amazes me that she wants to copy how I apply my make up, do my hair – I’m not a girlie girl and did not do this with anyone when I was young. Through her I think I have come very late into girliness and am so enjoying going through this stage with her. I’m making the most of it as it will be shortlived – she already tells me when I look naff and, when I let her, she applies make up much more adeptly than I ever did.
And did I mention that she is hilarious and a great mimic? When she’s in her comfort zone she has attitude in spades and will hold us all rapt with her performances. I can’t understand why her teacher describes her as “quiet” – are you sure you have the right child?
I feel as if we are in a magical time at the moment – her inbetween girlhood and adulthood and me finally completely content with being (1) mum and (2) photographer. I want to freeze this time and not let it slip through my fingers.
When I went to watch Mamma Mia for the first time I had never heard the song “Slipping through my fingers” before and I absolutely sobbed during the whole scene. I still think it was more than just a chick flick weep – more of a cathartic moment when a lot of stuff hit home. I love the lyrics and feel as if they were written for me and Abbie. She, however, thinks they’re really dumb and has taken out an injunction against me playing the song at her wedding along with a slide show!
By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!