Last weekend we packed up the car and went to stay with my husband's family for the weekend. My daughter is turning five this week and they wanted to throw her a party because living on the opposite side of the country, they won't get to see her on the actual day.
So when we arrived my little girl got the shock of her life. She walked into a kitchen that was filled with balloons, music, presents and a cake that was all for her. At first she was almost afraid and clung to my legs but she soon overcame her shyness and in the space of half an hour she was dressed up like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, waving a magic wand around whilst dancing and trying to eat as many jellies as she could manage.
It was quite something to look at her, overwhelming even. She was so happy and as she danced around the kitchen I could see that she was having the time of her life. As I sat there drinking my tea and watching her dance, at times I could feel a lump forming in my throat. This little girl is growing up.
When Sunday came and it was time for us to leave I could see that she was getting upset. Of course my mother-in-law was clinging on to both girls for dear life, probably in the hope that if she held on to them tightly enough then we wouldn’t put them in the car and bring them home with us. But of course we did lift our two little ducklings and strapped them in tightly before taking off.
Everything was fine for the first half of the journey until we stopped for a break to stretch our legs and grab some coffee. As we were getting back into the car my soon to be five-year-old daughter turned to me and said “Mum, I have a great idea. We should get a new house and put it beside Nanny’s, that way we never have to leave ever again." I won’t lie, I was slightly taken aback. I knew she had had a great time and we have stayed with her Nanny many times before but this time it seemed to have affected her more deeply.
As I looked closely at her I could see that her eyes were starting to well up with tears. I gave her a hug and assured her that we would be going back to Nanny’s house soon. I then tried to point out to her that if we moved then she wouldn’t be able to go back to her school and see all of her friends, but this didn’t seem to bother her. “That’s okay, I don’t mind. I can still see them on holidays” she replied blankly.
At this point I was lost for words. I glanced at my husband who didn’t seem to know what to say either. He shrugged his shoulders and reassured her again that we would be going back to stay with Nanny soon and then started the car. As I sat there, the logical side of my brain kept telling me that she was just euphoric after her surprise birthday party but the emotional side of me was a bit hurt and wounded. All I could think was, “Why don’t you want to come home with us? To your own house, your own bedroom and all your own things”.
I thought about this the whole way home. I couldn’t believe how easy it had been to rock my foundation, to unnerve me. I have always told myself that I never wanted to be that mum, the clingy possessive mum who refuses to let her children go. But the first sign she showed that she didn’t want me or our home and family and I was crumbling inside. All of a sudden I missed her clinging to my side, constantly talking to me, asking me incessant questions and running to me sobbing when she banged her toe. It was that feeling that I might not be the centre of her universe, that she might not want us or need us that filled me to the brim with insecurities.
I was so rattled that I talked to my husband about it that night. “But she didn’t want to come home with us,” I pleaded with him, my voice filled with panic and concern. Of course he being Mr. Reasonable managed to talk sense and assure me that she does love us and that we are the most important people in the world to her. He also made sure to point out that the novelty of living beside Nanny would soon wear off and within a few days she would miss her home, her friends and her life here and would definitely want to return to it. I knew that he was right of course but that niggling feeling inside was slow to go away.
Maybe it’s the fact that she has been going through a lot of changes recently. In the past few weeks she has insisted on dressing herself in the mornings and often wants to brush her hair without my help. She has also informed me that she no longer wants to eat or drink from novelty plates or cups anymore, so no more My Little Pony or Paw Patrol plates, she only wants to use the grown up ones just like us. I think that's what it is, I am watching her mature right in front of my eyes. And it is that feeling that she might not need us all the time that is hitting me the hardest. It made me realise how insecure I actually am and that I need to toughen up and believe in myself more as her mum because there will be a lot more of this to come in the future.
It turns out that kids are not the only ones who need to feel loved and secure all the time. Sometimes Mums and Dads need it too….