This week has seen me branch out into bloghops and link ups. ‘What?’ – I said, bloghops and link ups. You heard me right. Simply put, a well-established blogger sets a theme for their blogger-chums to write on, usually on a given day of the week. Over at http://realhousewifeofsuffolk.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/the-completed-family-flashback-friday.html Suffolk Housewife sets the task of Flashback Friday. So here I go…
The photo (hey, I sussed out how to post one) is of me and my little girl in March this year. It wouldn’t take a genius to work out that she is performing the duties of a bridesmaid for the day, as it happens for her Aunt and Uncle, of whom she is extremely fond. The wedding was in Eire, and involved a not insignificant journey by land and sea for us all, including her only-four-months-old-at-the-time baby brother.
I choose this moment for Flashback Friday because I have been thinking so much lately about whether my parenting of this gorgeous little girl is up to scratch. The five days prior to the wedding day had felt nothing short of hellish. We clashed over and over, I despaired of how her behaviour would be during the service, I couldn’t find the way in to her world, to draw her back to me. My family attempted to give me time out, and I have a memory of grabbing a coffee at the bar in the hotel the day before, just for five minutes clear-thinking assessment (read ‘five minutes holding back the tears and trying to think up a new approach’). Another woman attending the wedding, and not someone I knew prior to the event, stood chatting at the bar with me while I waited for my latte. My exasperation was, I don’t doubt, very visible. She was kind enough to empathise, and able to offer me the comfort that comes from someone else saying ‘oh yes, I fantasized about throwing my little angel out the window too, for a good few months, but we’re through that now…’ Becoming a parent has opened my eyes to the, frankly unhelpful, amount of pride I drag around with me; the kind of pride that makes it so hard to admit to oneself that a task you thought you were so ready for is actually, utterly perplexing.
I dreaded her messing up her Aunt and Uncle’s wedding. They were very generous-spirited about it all, saying the knew the score when they invited a 3-year-old to be in the wedding party. But… That little girl absolutely nailed it. She followed all instruction, kept quiet when it was appropriate, held hands with her older (also a bridesmaid) cousin, and posed for photos with style and aplomb. Her father and I fielded about 40,000 compliments, and, when we found ourselves together, simply looked at each with a look of ‘WTF?’, albeit with gratitude in our hearts.
The next day she was back to her old self, and I struggled through it with a hangover and tired feet. For once it had been good to be up till 2 am because I was dancing rather than pacing with a screaming baby, and I had been prepared to pay the price. But I loved her all the more that Sunday for recognising the importance of the occasion the day before, and for, well, just being so contrary as to fox us all.
Nine months on and she and I remain feisty. One day I am the bees knees; ‘You’re the best mummy in the whole world that I ever wanted’ (I have to work really hard on resisting asking her how many other mummies she has). The next day – unfathomably spiky, and all I hear is ‘NO’. I reflect on the time around this photo, thinking on how she was dealing with 1) the arrival of her baby brother, 2) her first prescription for glasses just a month before and 3) an impending house move. We’re now used to the glasses, the brother is an annoyance but also a playmate, and the house move is done. Being four is different to being three. I can see progress, but linear wouldn’t be the word to describe it. But, I suspect that the time around this image will always be one I think of as a learning moment, the lesson being, ‘when she seems at her most predictable, don’t predict’.