The day looks like any other.
I get up before the sun, pull on shorts and a tee, grab the dog’s lead, tie my laces and we’re away. Half an hour later, I check plants in the front garden. Check for new shoots on the baby gum we planted around Christmas time. Come inside, flick on the kettle and the radio.
After the school dash, I return home. Work a day. Pay some bills, hang some washing. Clean mouse shit out of the pantry from an unexpected visit – for when are rodents expected? Really? – and restack the shelf. Admire my handiwork with those Ikea shelving units I bought a few months back. Collect the LGBB from school again, take her to her after school sport. Come home, give her tea. Say goodnight to Dad via the phone, tuck her into bed and marvel at the skin on her forehead, all rosy-smelling from her bath.
I helped bring that skin to being. This flesh and blood. My own. My only. Her brow furrows. I forgot to read her the story of Little Ella, she reminds me. Ulp. Forgot or conveniently overlooked in the hopes you wouldn’t remember I had promised, I wanted to ask her. [It was the latter, by the way]. So I trudged up and got the story out, brought it back to her bedside and began reading.
Half way through, changing words and skipping some of the harder bits (for her) here and there, she sits up. “Where am I?” she asks. “I want to see my name in there.” I grapple with my maternal instinct that wants to tell her to give her sister a turn…. It’s impossible. I have to try and explain to this kid that sometimes, it’s right for us – her, me and her dad – to give Ellanor some of our conscious attention. Some brain time. A loving thought. A gesture like reading the story about her is one way we do this.
I’m not prepared for nights like these. There have been plenty in Lolly’s young life – but probably not as often as you’d imagine or expect – and they still grip me by the heart. Twist my insides. Keep me close to my fears over Lolly’s own mortality. It reminds me how close underneath the thin surface they lie. Lurking.
Today, I found out about a technique – kinesiology-linked, I believe? – that gets a body in touch with where it is holding its trauma. And helps the inhabitant of that body to actually release it. I’m thinking my current health issues are related to the ongoing post-traumatic stress I have. Most days, months, years, I can walk with it and I’ve learned to walk with it and chip away at it. Sometimes, I even pretend it doesn’t bother me that others in similar shoes to mine seem to be able to “move on” far more quickly and not bring these things to the surface.
Then I slap myself around a bit and remind myself this can’t possibly be true. They just choose to surface it in different (and likely more private than a blog) ways.
“I just want a sister.” My beautiful blonde-haired girl is sobbing deeply into her Scrapsy. His ear gets gently rubbed across her cheek, a comfort move she has done with her little soft dog since she was twelve months old. Thank God for that bit of fur and stuffing. Where would we all be without Scraps, I muse. And how the hell do I reply? So I tell her honestly.
“We tried, darlin’. And you were the only one who stayed. Out of all Mummy and Daddy’s babies, you are the only special one who stayed with us.” And now I’m dripping silent tears I hope she can’t see in the dark.
“I’m sorry, Mummy,” she reaches her hand out and cups my cheek, rubbing it slightly.
“You’re crying,” she says, crying herself. Damn. I assure her my tears are not for her to worry herself over. She goes to sleep knowing she is loved. Holding Scrapsy tight, a smile on her lips.
Each time I think I might turn away from this blog, that it is too morose, that I am not putting enough “fluff and light and funny stuff” here, I am pulled up sharply. By my reality, by my responsibility to actually help to balance out the rest of the privileged world’s crud and fluff and light (and gossip and obsession on material things and image and looks and gains and wins and competitions with each other). There are plenty of places for those things to be found and tapped into.
I’ve got to be real. This is my reality. I can’t say yes all the time, be all the things to all the people. The more peripheral, the more likely they’re the first not to be said yes to, their gaze not going to be met by my eyes. I can’t engage all the time. I’m in constant preparation for the energy it takes to sit by the side of my daughter who hurts in bursts.
I don’t begrudge any of this, regret anything. This is my daily grind. And it is – truly – beautiful.