I am falling I love with my middle child.
I should clarify for anyone who is concerned – but I already love her very much. I would do anything for her, including go all Tiger Mother on someone’s butt if they tried to hurt her – but as anyone who has ever been in love with someone, and then suddenly not would know, there is a difference between loving someone and being in love with them.
I am falling in love with my middle child.
I find myself staring at her when she is talking, mesmerised by the way she screws her little cupid mouth up when she is thinking. I find myself catching the light in her hair wisps. I stare after her when she walks away, hoping she will do little side kick she does when she is happy. She is completely oblivious to me and my deepening scrutiny.
I bliss out in the mornings when I stick my head into her bedroom and she is just waking up and she puts her arms out to me and I crawl into her bed, and she wraps them around my neck and simply says ‘Mummy,’ before snuggling into me.
I wish I could bottle the joy she gives me when she gallops off, legs gangling in all direction, hips one way, head the other, ungainly as a baby giraffe, but oh so much shorter.
I wish I could capture the stories I overhear her creating, alone with her toys, the complex relationships she creates between a Barbie doll, a Lego house, a small stuffed bird and a book (she likes to play with books – as toys. Yeah, I don’t really get it either, but I love it anyway).
One day she made an Elsa out of a popped blue balloon, carefully taping on arms, legs and hair that she had made out of paper. She spent ages playing with this ‘doll’ – which could easily be classified as rubbish – and I found it today, carefully packed away on her shelf. My heart ached when I saw it next to her pile of expensive toys.
When you fall in love with someone, you suddenly become aware of everything they do – and you love them for it. (When you fall out of love, you are also aware of everything they do, but it makes you want to tear your hair out. Or theirs.)
When you fall in love with someone, their annoying habits become quirks; their oddities become endearing.
I can’t say why all of a sudden I am falling in love with her, because like I say, I have always loved her deeply. But it’s like I am seeing her more clearly. Maybe at five and three quarters, she is becoming the person she is meant to be, rather than the little kid who always getting left behind, or underfoot.
All year I have been saying this is her year, and all year I have been waiting for her to share this sentiment. Finally I have understood that I need to let her become who she is in her own time.
All year I have been admiring her strengths – but admiration is not always the same as love. On more than one occasion I referred to her as a cockroach – because of her innate ability to survive and her utter imperviousness to what is going on around her. My husband called her a cat – because she always lands on her feet (not literally, she’s quite clumsy). These are not bad traits to have – actually they’re bloody awesome, perhaps it’s the labels we gave to them which was unfair.
All year has been building to this point – this rather tardy recognition of mine. I am ashamed it has taken me so long.
And like any woman who is in love, I am in a blissful state where the sun is a little brighter, the sky a little bluer, and I smile in my sleep.