Thursday, 15 February 2018

One Point Five Children

It’s Thursday and for me half term is over. I have one daughter of school age and while she doesn’t go back to school until Tuesday for now our holiday time has passed. This morning I took her over to her Dad’s house and gave her a big cuddle before her little sister and I drove away.

M jumping up and down in excitement with her mouth open

We all have to let our children go eventually. We have to accept that they will live a life separately to us, but when you co-parent that time comes much earlier than expected. M’s dad and I separated when she was nearly 3. That means for over 3 years now I have shared the care of my eldest: half her time is with me, half with her Dad. I say half, but if you think about the time she is at school or asleep we don’t have nearly enough time together.  Her Dad has never been a big one for communicating with me so it’s not surprising I don’t hear anything about what she is doing. At least, not until I see her again and she shares selected highlights which may or may not have a basis in reality.

I understand the messages on social media from exhausted parents who can’t wait for the holidays to be over. The days are exhausting and they are long, but for me holidays never feel long enough. Even in the summer we only get a total of 3 weeks together. With a couple of weeks away that leaves 1 week for playing in the garden, meeting friends and generally chilling at home. It’s not enough. 

M looking at the camera rather moodily

M has always been a challenging child; as a baby she wanted lots of stimulation and attention, but the hardest part has always been her emotions. One minute she is laughing, the next she is crying or bubbling over with anger. Normal for a toddler perhaps, but she’s now 6 years old. As she has got older she has learnt to understand she is feeling angry and what her triggers are. She manages to control herself more, but the outbursts still happen. 

I have a temper as well and as M gets older we understand each other better. She likes to press my buttons at times, but we have more fun hanging out together too. We talk, we play, we create, we cuddle. She has become my friend. The extra time together makes me realise how much I miss when we aren’t together.

Sisters playing peekaboo behind each with a backdrop of snowdrops

She is her sister’s friend too. M and Little keep growing better at playing together. Of course there are regular clashes, shouting and tears. I think that’s just part of having a sibling. My heart warms seeing them play together, seeing them take care of each other and sharing their love. It’s worth all the arguments and tears. Little misses her sister when she isn’t around and M misses her too. I love to see their faces when they are reunited even if they normally end up in a bundle on the floor.

Days are different when M isn’t around. The house is quieter, toys don’t need to be shared, there is less mess and I have less constant demands for food. I have no one to help me though, no one but me to play with Little and the conversation is a little more basic. I appreciate the quiet time, but I miss my big girl.


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