I am alone but I have been so touched, and that is making all the difference.
This is what I talked about it my last blog. Six days of being wrapped around my girls, having fun in the sun. After the first day I put away my laptop and just focussed on them. I am so used to working in and around them, every moment a push and a pull towards them from my work, from them towards my work, that it took me a moment to remember that this was a holiday. That perhaps I can work when they are with their dad, that perhaps this time was all about them and me, and making touching times.
This was our first ‘separated’ holiday. They cried. I cried. And it’s really important to cry. Really important to acknowledge that the family we had is gone. Ruby keeps saying’ but I want to be a family again’. We can’t. But we can create a new family. So as Sheryl Landberg has said about the death of her husband, we can’t have Option A anymore. But we’re going to kick the shit out of Option B.
So I shut down the laptop and opened up my arms. I slept with them every night, I held hands with them during the day. We got into a routine of having ‘massagy’ in the evenings, rubbing after-sun cream on our after sunned bodies. We sat around in the shade and said everything. We lay around in the sun and said nothing.
And I have left them now. It is time for their dad to have them. I am staying on for a couple of days to work. Might as well work on my tan as well as my book. I am not sure I will ever get used to the separation of our family. Of walking away from them. I’m not sure they ever will. So I am a little bereft today, shadowing the ice cream stores and the restaurants I have just been with them, except now I am alone.
But I’m not going to focus on that. I cannot focus on that. Option A is hanging out with my girls. But I can’t have that. So I’m going to kick the shit out of Option B.
I am sitting in the Spanish sun with a glass of Rose in a cafe they were not, and I am going to embrace my alone time. This is my time and I will learn to love it (so everyone tells me!). But I can love it more because of what went before. I’ve been super loved. And super touched.
So much of what I write about in this blog is the push and pull of living the sandwich years and the struggle of caring for my mum while being a mum, and having no mum to guide me.
But something strange has been happening lately.
Sometimes as I scream outwardly for them to pick up their clothes, I scream inwardly for them to grow up. The sheer physical and mental effort of caring for three small people can be overwhelming. I don’t really mean it of course. I want them to stay exactly the way they are now.
But Daisy is starting to fill her shoes as the eldest daughter. Sometimes this makes me sad, and sometimes it makes me proud. At home I have started saying something with worrying regularity:
“Daisy, there is only room for one mother in this house,” as she gives out orders left, right and centre. She admonishes Ruby for her (complete lack of) table manners, and tells Poppy to hurry up in the mornings. She tells me what time to go to bed!
She makes me laugh, taking charge of the world, in order to make sense of her own. She likes to know when I am going to bed at night, what I am doing, where I am going. Not only is she taking on the sub-mother role in the house but on holiday she moved up a gear. It was like going on holiday with my actual mother.
Around the pool, I like to ensure a more rounded tan. On the way to the beach Daisy suddenly stopped in her tracks. “Now you’re going to be keeping your top on on the beach aren’t you?”
I laughed. “Daisy, we’re in Europe. Most women go topless on the beach” To which a stoic white face responded with “Well let’s be really clear about this… you are not.”
What followed then was a negotiation of epic proportions where we finally agreed that if more women were topless around us then I could (but not stand up), but if more women around us were covered up then I wasn’t.
We found our spot and I unpacked the unbelievable amount of things that is seemingly required for three small people to survive two hours on a beach. Daisy was already counting. She counted three times but I could see by her shoulders she was admitting defeat. I decided though that I would sit on the fence and be as discreet as I could while not getting strap lines.
Over the course of the next hour she fussed about me saying things like “cover yourself up” and “Mummy, please, someone’s coming” and “have you got enough cream on?” It made me smile as my mother’s words flitted around my ears.
Yes, I am touched in so many ways….. and that is making all the difference.
And we do still have a family of sorts. Tonight I am meeting them all for dinner. Option A occasionally can be done. In the meantime, I’m off to work on those tan lines.