I never knew how much motherhood and becoming a mother would develop, change and grow who I am as a person.
My little daughter Lory recently turned four years old. Those past four years seemed to have flown past in a flash between all the every-dayness that we all encounter. I do however try to embrace, encourage and include special moments of bonding, care, togetherness and closeness between her and I each day.
Yesterday we embarked on a picnic together with some picnic food, great company and conversation. She and I sat together watching the water as she made up new names for all the birds flying overhead and scrounging off picnic tables deserted by previous visitors. We laughed together at the silliness of the shapes of their bodies and sounds they made.
While walking there and back, she took the opportunity to pick flowers of different types and colours, carefully placing them in our bag until we returned home.
She is a sneaky little one sometimes and upon returning home, she busied herself collecting things in the kitchen while insisting I sit down and do my own thing. Although curious, I complied.
After some time had passed, she came to me with two large melamine bowls in hand and asked if I could fill them up for her with water for our foot spa as she couldn't reach the basin tap. I had a smile on my face while agreeing to her request. We added some cream and nice smelling stuff to the water and then she surprised me, going and collecting all the flowers she picked earlier during the day to place carefully on the water surface, declaring with beaming exuberance "TA- DA - Mommy this is our foot spa because it's pampering day"
We spent the next while telling each other silly jokes while soaking our feet and putting on hand cream. It was a special little time together where we had no rushing around to do, we were just being "mommy & me" - bonding over our shared femininity and (mostly) her appreciation for self care.
A few months ago Lory started coming to me each day and asking if she could put on my make up for me to "make me look beautiful". It was kind of hurtful at the time, but I also recognize now that she could feel that I was hurting a lot internally for various reasons and going through a vast, dark emotional time and she was trying to help by being nurturing to me. She would come sit behind me and brush my hair, choose out summer dresses from my cupboard (in the middle of winter) pleading with me that she wanted me to look pretty. It arose very mixed feelings in me at the time. I get it a bit better now though.
After having a rather long standing & rocky, emotional detachment towards myself and negating my needs for the things that are necessary for the survival and needs of others - and day to day functioning of a house-hold, my little girl was trying to nurture me, love me, bond with me, make me feel better, make me feel whole, make me feel beautiful. She was trying to get me to reconnect with myself and in the process - re-connect with my self nurturing side, my self compassion and my self respect and build the bond between us too.
In late July, my own mother passed away and lead me on a journey of recollection from my childhood and beyond and the relationship that I tried to nurture with her.
I have some fond memories of her, but not many of her being nurturing to me in the kind of way I feel I am with my own daughter. I suppose for some people it comes naturally and others it is very difficult when you are disconnected. My mom had a lot of challenges in terms of anxiety. She ran the household according to a very strict long to-do list and she worked really hard to keep everything at a standard that she thought was acceptable. I'm not sure who's standard it was though.
Some of the closest memories I have of her from when I was really small was when my father wasn't there and we danced to songs on vinyl in the lounge, sang, laughed, she looked happy and had taken that moment to spend with me.
So often I tried to get to know her on a deeper emotional level, but I was met with a cold indifference and sometimes an irritation for my neediness.
In retrospect I think I can see this differently now, but when I was a kid this was extremely painful for me and I believe that it contributed to my inability to feel "worthy" a lot of the time.
I have never wanted my daughter to feel that and while there have been instances along the way where I was incapable of tending to her emotional needs immediately the way she needed me to, I try daily to keep an open emotional bond growing with her, an honest understanding and and open dialogue. Whether this is simply listening to her imaginative stories about chasing the super quick invisible mini flamingoes around the house or making sand and leaf tea, picking and blowing dandelions to make wishes - I do it as often as I can, because these things are important in her world and are therefore important in mine too. She brings my imagination to life with magical fairy lands, interesting creatures, epic battles that need to be fought against villains and thieves, cloud formations of dragons and so much more.
Lory picks flowers for me every day and brings them to me as gifts. I dry them and keep them in a little box. They are all different types, shapes, colours and sizes and I appreciate every single one as they are given with love.
We have the bond I never had with my mother and I am truly grateful that I can be there for her to help her when she needs me - the way that she's recently done for me too.
I recently finished knitting her a unicorn coloured blanket, she chose the different types of wool. I poured many emotions (positive and other) into this blanket and my wish is that in any time of her need, whatever her emotion is - that she will find comfort, love, hope, forgiveness, acceptance, nurturing and warmth in it, hopefully long after I am gone and perhaps even down to the next generation. In the meantime, she has me here, my hugs, my cuddles, my silly jokes and playful antics and I'll protect and nurture our bond 'til the end of time. I feel exceptionally fortunate to call her my daughter, she's a pretty freaking awesome person!