What we do in the shadows


We’ve had a hard week.

So yes, I’m aware that I’ve missed my “post at least once a week” thing already. Shit!

But short of having a time machine, I can’t change that, so I’m choosing to move on.

So yes, Hard week. Hard, hard week.

Our things are still in boxes dotted around the new house, I’m not well, baby’s not well, Krzys is working like he’s possessed, overtime as I’m basically out of the picture. And even if I was well enough to help, someone has to take care of and mind the baby who has decided she now wants to be velcroed to me twenty-four seven. She was very good a week ago but I think she’s just about had enough of being patient with us. And so has Roz.

Big girl has been so good. It’s an enormous strain, moving house. And she’s been as good and as patient as it’s possible for a six-year-old to be. But it’s been hard. Tempers are running high, patience is low and misunderstanding abound on all sides. Gone is my ability to look and see that she is still a very small child. Especially when she’s laughing at the top of her lungs, screaming two centimetres from the baby’s ear for her to look at something, refusing to listen or even acknowledge my words when I say “don’t make another slice of toast, it’s nearly dinner” and “no, don’t pick the baby up, you’ll fall with her in your arms” and “no,no,no! Leave the room and I’m not going to listen to anything you say because I’m trying to get the baby to sleep”. This last, hissed in frustration.

And I sit late at night wondering how all of this is f***ing her up and is our relationship retrievable, will we be at loggerheads forever, How do I find the pure intense love we used to have only a few months that now seem like years, ago. And her words echo through my head,

“you will love her more than me”

And I promise myself that I’ll try harder the next day. I’ll be more patient, more kind. I’ll greet her with smiles all day long. I will not use the words “don’t, no, try not to…” And all the various other hidden ways of correcting, correcting correcting that say, subtly, that she cannot do anything right. I do not want this to become her internal voice.

And I sit there and berate myself. What’s wrong with her having a slice of toast an hour after she’s half eaten her dinner? She’s still hungry. is my goal to teach her a lesson, or for her to go to bed full? What’s wrong with her wanting to lift her sister? how will they learn to be sisters if I don’t let them interact? I’m right there. If she stumbles, I will catch both of them. What’s wrong with her wanting to sit in the room while I put her baby sister to sleep? I should be emphasizing how quiet we should be, and various other ways I could have done better. Should have done better. Forgetting all those skills I fought hard to attain, abandoning me.

And we’re in Ikea today walking towards the tills. A woman stops me. She has two little girls both younger than Roz and she’s beaming.

“Your little girl”, She says, beaming,”is just lovely! She was in the play area in the restaurant with my younger girl and was so incredibly kind to her. She’s a lovely girl.”

And turning towards Roz, says,

“You’re a lovely girl”

She went on to describe how Roz had been really patient and had played with her and showed her how to play with some screen they have there.

And turning towards Roz, says,

“You’re a lovely girl”

And Roz stood listening to this like, you know, ain’t no thing.

And I, I was taken by surprise.

I hope that these things she does, in the shadows of my presence will stay with her too. That when I’m not there to acknowledge, to praise, to criticise, that her nature shines through despite me, or perhaps, one hopes, because a little in part, of me.  I looked at this little girl who I’m afraid every day of breaking and was given renewed purpose. And I said to myself, all this evening,

“You’ve just got to give the kid, and you, a break. Apologise each day, try harder each day, and remember that this is a relationship built on love, everyday”

And gosh, I love that kid so damn much.


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2 Responses

  1. Christine says:

    Oh, what a lovely honest piece, and what a lovely moment. It means so much when someone takes the time to tell you something like that, and it’s so amazing to see your child through someone else’s eyes and think “Maybe I’m doing something right after all.” You’re doing a great job. Hope you all feel better soon.
    Christine recently posted…DiversionsMy Profile

    • Muuka says:

      Thank you so much. And it was really nice to have a stranger say that to both her and me. I’m still only beginning to accept that she has a life beyond her parents and it’s nice to hear it’s a kind one.

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