I have been feeling a little estranged from my older daughter lately. I’ve been working more, and spare time is spent driving to markets or hanging out with friends. Usually, we read books together at night – our special time, nestled in together on the marshmallow couch. But lately Baby has been waking up for a feed at exactly that time.
You would think I would cherish every moment of down time with my older daughter, desperate for a piece of her. But the truth is, when we have down time, I get frustrated more than normal by her three-year-old demands and ways. The whingeing grates more than normal, and the screeches are intolerable. I am short, sharp and heavy with her, my patience like a short wick.
So quickly, we snowball into a mess. Like this afternoon, sleep-deprived Baby hangs asleep in a sling on my front, while I cut out shapes with older daughter. I am trying to be crafty, but I am failing miserably. Why do I bother?
“They are diamonds.”
“I don’t want diamonds. I want diamonds after.“
“Do you want hearts?”
“I want diamonds AFTER!”
“Do you want circles?”
“I want diamonds AFTER!”
And so forth.
I didn’t understand what she meant. Instead, she screeched and baby woke up after twenty minutes. I yelled. I told her I was so mad at her, and she said: “You can’t be mad at me. I am crying. You can’t be mad at me for being sad.”
How true that is. How my little heart broke. Damn me for being so wretched.
After the adrenaline of screaming, I felt down. I was about to come crashing down on my self, criticise me, blame me etc. but then my daughter was so incredibly forgiving, I didn’t have the opportunity.
We ate spaghetti Bolognese, sitting on the grass in the backyard.
We showered together with baby.
We read together. Book after book after book.
We ended by reading How To Catch A Star.
“I want to catch a star,” she said. “But I can’t reach. I need a ladder.”
“You know, the book is imaginary,” I said. “You can’t really catch a star.”
“But I want to.”
It occurred to me that my daughter, with all her wisdom, intelligence, knowledge and imagination has never known stars. She has known songs about stars, and can recite books about stars, but she has never known stars.
I carried her into the night. She looked up.
“Stars!” she breathed. “They are so cute! They are so amazing! I love stars.”
I wish I could remember discovering stars for the first time. But I will remember this for my daughter instead. The night you discovered stars, your face lit up like one of them, and you wrapped your arms around my neck. You refused to go to bed, how amazed and overwhelmed you were.