Nothing ever really prepares you for motherhood, right from the very first day I have felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants. I failed to attend a single antenatal class, and when Daisy arrived 2 weeks early I had nothing, apart form some gifted babygrows and a carseat given as a maternity leave present from work. I was given no help the 3 days I endured in hospital, no guiding hand from either grandmother, just a partner who fed me chocolate in a bid assuage the impending nightmare of parenthood. For two years she did not stop crying, never satisfied, never happy. I thought that maybe it was just the whole baby thing that was hard, then the whole toddler thing, then the 'tweenager' thing, then full blown adolescence, then the whole flying the nest thing, and that surly I thought must be that. Now I was finally going to reap the rewards, job done, sit back and enjoy the ride.
No, there seems to be a whole set of new ground rules and once again I am caught playing piggy in the middle with my children. It's a no brainer that it will always be the case with Leyla and Kitty, such is the volatile minefield that comes with half siblings, but Daisy and Kitty? Easy or so I thought, Kitty misses Daisy, not a lot, but enough to ask to visit her in York next week, tickets booked Daisy is currently paying us a brief visit, and it is always difficult the weight of expectation that lays upon the rarely seen visitor, we had little time to chat before going to the O2 to see Peter Kaye, (mediocre/amusing) I had an inkling that Daisy's 'attitude' had ramped up a few notches since leaving home, stories of conflict with others including my mother were retold and I was reminded of the youthful Daisy of old who could be breathtakingly arrogant and insensitive beyond her years. I had been told her eczema had cleared as she had finally resorted to steroid cream, but seeing her confirmed this was not the case and in fact it was not good at all. The thorn in her and Kitty's relationship was always Daisy's insistence that her affliction gave her the right to not see it from anyone else's point of view, that is to spread dry skin in her wake with little thought to others squeamishness. Kitty is OCD and can't abide the way Daisy sheds her skin with such abandon, and so when she brushed dead skin over Kitty whilst sat down in the arena Kitty's automatic reaction was to recoil in horror. Daisy over sensitive as always 'lost it' and demanded like some childish princess in a Grimm fairy tale that Kitty be removed from her side. And with this one malicious gesture a shed load of anticipation came crumbling down, I can't take sides, how can I? But my heart went out to Kitty, I know what she's like and to be honest who would want to be showered by dead skin? Now I have train tickets for a daughter who really now would rather not go to York and instead would rather go to revision classes, and once again I have to stick back on my crampon's to climb the endless mountain of motherhood just when I thought I could sit back and watch.
Post Script They finally kissed and made up last night then it was my turn for recriminations, I had summarily failed to hang out the bunting and tie a yellow ribbon, for her arrival my crime was to behave as if she had never left, her expectaions of this state visit were way too high. As it was a work day I came home and carried on as usual instead of spending more time with her, making her feel special again. Yes Daisy, the clue was in arriving two minutes before we left on Sunday and me not getting time off work on the Monday. Special treatment requires arriving on the SATURDAY when time is my own and had you wanted more of me perhaps if you had tidied the kitchen and cooked before I came home it would have freed me up a little to sit and chat. Still, we talked late into the night and I guess we will just have to agree that I will never, ever quite live up to the idealised version she has of me, never have, never will.
She rightly pointed out that I am a closed shop, I did point out back that had she lived with Mother she too would have learnt to place all visible emotion in a box and store it all away, like I say motherhood only seems to get harder the older they are and now Leyla's goodnight kiss seems a remarkably uncomplicated affair.
P.P.S Oh, all this and it was my birthday!!! there is something very dispiriting about working on your birthday.