I sit in bed. Small girl to my right. She pulls herself in to me until we are connected along the length of our arms. I am jotting notes in my diary. A task I do each night before settling to sleep. She watches me then runs to get her ‘diary’ and some pens before settling in drawing flowers. She chatters away. About what she is drawing, what I am doing and making suggestions for flowers in my diary. I am quiet.
Finishing up I say ‘I’m going to sleep now’
‘No!’ she looks at me indignantly.
‘Why don’t you keep writing Mummy? Why don’t you write about what fun you had at the red tent?’
When I do not reply she looks at me inquisitively ‘Yes mummy?’
Not waiting for a reply she turns back to her diary. She has filled it with sunflowers and a powerful crown. Like twilights.
I am tired, so tired. And the small girl goes on. And she goes on. A little night owl, revelling in these stolen moments. Stolen, i think, from my sleep. She never slept as a baby. Not during the day and not in the night. Daytime naps were dropped before turning a year and nights remain foggy in my memories. A haze of feeding, holding, singing, crying. Me crying. All vital energy drained through depravation of sleep. Leaving a tiredness so heavy it was almost more than I could carry. Basic functions eluded comprehension. A clear memory of a hazy day sees me sat on the edge of my bed. Gazing, agape. Delving deep, trying to grasp within, the connections in my mind. Not understanding how to make my clothes work. And giving up with the stark realisation that today would not be a day we would leave the house.
‘Please can you finish your flower mummy’ an instruction not a question. Her pages of flowers wearing crowns grow. With heavy eyes and sluggish mind I love this moment. Our ‘sleep is for sissies’ phases are now simply that. Short phases. And once asleep my little night owl refuses to rouse early.
So little moments in the dark. Just us. Just two, are to be cherished. Savoured. Saved and remembered. Balm to heal ancestral wounds between us and set us on a journey of lasting amicability. I neither take these moments for granted nor expect it to always be this way. Her delight in our moments together. Drawing close. Colourful flowers and magical crowns. The insecurity in navigation of the mother daughter relationship agitates my nerves.
We are bonded deeply, with long held traditions and values. We carry much from our mothers but they also provide us with the images of what we want to break free from. We assess from their lives what we want to carry forward in our own and what is surplus. That which we choose to reject. And the bonds that nurture us through childhood can become a strangling web. And our mother is the image of what it means to be a woman. How to conduct, be, cope. In a world that is ill equipped to support what is truly feminine. Motherhood, menstruation, creativity, community. Young girls are instructed through a misogynistic media in ‘how to be a girl’ leaving little space for influence in ‘how to be female’. Disunion.
And so I try to prepare the way for when Maia needs to both push away from me yet hang fast to the feminine influence. Mayhap that as I grow my role as her ally she will understand that to reject traits does not mean to reject me. Or that I in any way reject her for growing into her own beautiful womanliness. A magnificent blooming sunflower bedecked in magical crown.
But now we have our quiet times. Night times. The feminine time. Writing, drawing, chatting. Growing our understanding of each other.