From the day she was born my daughter and I was an inseparable pair. After infertility and losses she was all I could ever have asked for- every day was a blessing and in many ways I needed her more then she needed me. I rarely left her and my life fully evolved around what she needed, what she wanted and what we wanted for her. Our days were filled with Forrest walks, cycles along the sea and cloud spotting. Cloud spotting took over from cow observing which was a two year obsession that almost broke me.
There’s only so many hours you can spend watching cows as they curiously watch you.
Nursery soon followed and as she strutted off in her slightly big wellyboots, never looking back- I knew this child was fiercely independent.
I’ve always loved her witty ways and strong will. Her cheeky smile and the way she rocked that dry sarcasm well before she should. In fact I somewhat encouraged it. I didn’t want her to grow up to be compliant- I wanted to give her all she needed to become a game changer- someone who loudly expressed her opinion and who fought hard to achieve all she wanted….. and then she became a preteen.
I’m not sure how it happened but suddenly the cheekiness became somewhat rude. Her unwillingness to clean became somewhat annoying and her larger than life rightfulness felt frightening at times.
I love my daughter and all she is, but I haven’t found a way yet to communicate with this young girl she’s growing in too. I had to sit down and really dig deep in my own childhood memories to reach the feeling I had when I was her age, and I do remember, I remember the hormones raging and the sudden onset of sadness or rage I would feel out of nowhere. I know how I struggled, how I didn’t want to be mad- I just was…
I recognise this rage in my daughters eyes when her brother pushes every button he can find. When he feels she doesn’t want to play with him and therefor seeks her attention by really, really annoying her. I know that feeling, I see it and I feel it with her.
Over the last few weeks I have felt how we have drifted apart. How our communication has suffered and how our relationship has suffered as a result. I felt as though she stopped speaking to me and just found me the most annoying creature that ever walked on this earth. Anything I said and say was and still is huffed and puffed at- if I had a house of hay it would have been blown away.
I’ve said to myself for weeks now that this isn’t ok- this is my daughter, my world.
I’ve felt sad and as though I miss her even though she’s here, just as she was a year ago. I started to feel angry, she was feeling angry and we continued this vicious circle of disconnection and loss of trust.
Then there was hope!
Today was a good day. In fact I would call if perfect. This morning I put my work aside and I spent it chatting to my little girl. I sent her to school with a smile on her lips. When the kids came home we watched a movie and then I popped her bother to bed a little earlier. When he had been cuddled of to dream land I spent 2 hours just with my girl. No phones, no tv just her and I- we folded washing, we read a book and we chatted. The most basic things but things we hadn’t done together for a long time as life has kept getting in the way.
When I was speaking to my husband about connection and how to rebuild it I was talking about a yes day- maybe going to the cinema and lunch but do you know what- that would have never beaten the perfect day we had today matching socks and making up silly rhymes.
Our 2 hours have filled my heart and spirit with belief that it will be ok again. That I can help her through this and that we can bond over the smallest things. It made me realise how I built up this time for reconnection that had to be perfect and such a special day, when all we really needed was to find what is special in every day.
I’m sure this isn’t the answer to everything pre-teen related and maybe I’ll annoy her by looking at her tomorrow again, but for tonight, as I quietly sit on the side of the bed, next to my precious girl and stroking her hair as she falls asleep, I feel close to her again- I feel connected to her and the world just feel right again.
I might ask her to come cloud spotting tomorrow. She’s getting bigger but I need to remind myself that she is still just that little girl and I need to adapt my expectations accordingly. I need to meet her where she is and remind myself that behaviour is just the sign of a need, find the need, meet it and resolve the unwanted behaviour- she’s after all still learning, and apparently as am I!