Family Kitty Motherhood {the ordinary moments}

Stepping back just a little bit


We sat outside the tent on a gloriously hot summer morning; the sun shining through the bluest of Black Forest blue skies, warming my skin and doing a very nice job of drying out the night’s condensation from the roof of the tent.  H was writing up his travel notes, I was knitting, scribbling a few notes of my own and chatting to Pip as he pulled up on a tree stump, and the girls were off playing in the little play area a few feet away.  Elma, as always, was on the roundabout, for once not surrounded by a group of older girls who wanted to make her their pet, just sitting, lazily spinning and looking up into the trees.  And Kitty had made friends.

All through France the girls had very much kept to themselves, perhaps put off a little by some of the French kids’ tendency to march up to you and demand “what is your name!” (Kitty, telling me about it in the tent later turned with a conspiratorial glance, “I didn’t tell her Mummy!”), and perhaps happy just to be with each other when everything else felt new and different. But in Switzerland there were smiles and by the time we got to Germany it was lovely to see them falling in with the group games in our car free camping.  A lot of the others were also English which probably helped but I went to find Kitty for supper one evening and found her sat quite happily with two other girls doing some colouring in.  They didn’t have a single word in common but perhaps there is a universal language of sparkly glitter pens and pictures of unicorns.

The next morning she was eager to go and find her friends again, and we kept half an eye open as they played on the swings or piled on the roundabout.  And then it was clearly time for the stream.  The car free camping (truly a genius idea when you have small children) was the other side of a stream from the car park and while there was a bridge, the little brook and its stepping stones were oh so much fun and at most times you’d find at least some of the children jumping back and forth or wading in the cool water.

The leaders set off, and Kitty, walking alongside, suddenly realised where they were headed and looked back and over to us.  And oh how I recognised that look and the silent entreaty that came with it.  It’s the look and the thought that I remember from childhood all the way up into my teens, the “please Mum may I and also please be cool in front of my friends”.

Space for the Butterflies - stepping back

I smiled back, and with the tiniest of hand gestures waved her on, down to the stream with her friends, and out of our immediate line of sight.

And then ever so coincidentally I just happened to need to get my scissors from the car, and on my way back, well it was just so lovely up on the bank above the stream that I thought I’d sit on a tree stump and drink it in for a while while I wrote a few notes.  Far enough away that I wasn’t really there, and near enough that I was there if she needed me, or at least as a depository for wet clothes when the inevitable happened so she could keep on playing.

Space for the Butterflies - stepping back

And saying yes and letting go suddenly made almost five years feel like it had gone past in a flash.   The little voice in the back of my mind whispered “that’s your baby, wasn’t she just a few months old yesterday, isn’t she actually tiny and bumbling and so very young and fearless”.  And so I looked and looked and my heart sang back “yay, look, she’s having so much fun.  She’s strong and tall and surefooted and not bothered when she slips and lands in the stream on her bottom, and this is exactly the sort of experience we wanted her to have while we travelled! yippee!”.

Space for the Butterflies - stepping back

I know that in a few years it won’t be memorable, and in a few years she and I will both have grown enough that I won’t even follow at a distance, I’ll have faith that she is big enough and has enough common sense not to get into too much trouble.  But this was the first time we stretched that safety net a little bit, the first time that she wanted to run off and play and the first time that I’ve had to make good on my mental promise to myself to give her (and her brother and sister) the kind of freedom to explore that I had growing up.

And hearing her sheer joy and enthusiasm when she told us all about it later on, I’m so glad I didn’t bottle it.  Now I just have to do it again, and again, and again.


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  • Potty Mouthed Mummy 30/08/2015 at 8:08 am

    I always find it a challenge saying yes to things like this and letting go but I think often we have to don’t we. Sounds like she had a lovely time xx

    • Carie 30/08/2015 at 9:25 pm

      It’s always going to be hard with Kitty because she’s the first. I can already see where I’m so much more relaxed on some things with Pip than I was when it was just Kitty but hopefully we’ll muddle through!

  • LauraCYMFT 30/08/2015 at 9:11 am

    Such a wonderful feeling to see your children going off and having that little bit of freedom. I don’t think this happens as often in this day and age sadly. Kitty looks like she’s having a wonderful time.

    • Carie 30/08/2015 at 9:25 pm

      I suspect you’re right and yet I remember being allowed to roam the beach quite freely at home as a child and I want to give that feeling to my little ones where I can.

  • Mandycharlie 30/08/2015 at 9:36 am

    I remember the first time with son no.1, he was nearly five, we were at eurodisney and I let him go into the child friendly supermarket for a carton of orange juice. I’ll never forget his jubilent face as he came racing out clutching the carton and change. It’s an emotional roller coaster.

    • Carie 30/08/2015 at 9:26 pm

      I know – clinging on by my fingernails it is then!!

  • Hannah 30/08/2015 at 9:53 am

    I love that she was able to ‘ask’ without speaking, Ive had a few moments like that with my eldest and its amazing that they know when to check, and lovely that you said yes and gave her that little bit of extra freedom. Beautiful Photos x

    • Carie 30/08/2015 at 9:27 pm

      Thank you – it was so sweet, and so funny because most of the time she looks exactly like H, but I could see me in her so strongly in that one look!

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 30/08/2015 at 1:51 pm

    Such a beautiful post Carie and we have written about similar things this week, presumably as we have these important few weeks ahead looming in the back of our minds. It looks like you are having an incredible adventure. x

    • Carie 30/08/2015 at 9:27 pm

      Oh we’re both on the final countdown aren’t wee – pass the tissues!!

  • Chantal Milk&Nappies 30/08/2015 at 9:59 pm

    Such a wonderful post Carie! It sounds like you had a lovely holiday (I’m just a little bit envious!) and I can only imagine how hard it must be to loosen the reins as it were. How wonderful that she has become so independent! xx

    • Carie 30/08/2015 at 10:04 pm

      Thank you, it’s the funny thing about motherhood isn’t it, it’s constantly changing so you have to constantly reassess and discover that Kit’s getting more and more independent.

  • Mary 31/08/2015 at 3:49 pm

    How quickly they grow up! Lovely pics and lovely post. Hope you had a wonderful trip and how funny and demanding are Europeans lol x

    • Carie 02/09/2015 at 11:39 pm

      It’s always a case of ‘not wrong, just different’ but for the kids it was a bit too different I think!!

  • Hena 31/08/2015 at 8:34 pm

    aww that lovely.. it’s always hard to stand back and let things just happen.. take there natural course.. especially with our children.. our little babies as they step out into the world without us.. what a beautiful moment though when we see them succeed.

    • Carie 02/09/2015 at 11:36 pm

      thank you 🙂

  • Helen | Wonderfully Average 02/09/2015 at 9:12 pm

    It must be so hard to get the right balance between protecting them and letting them go. But you’re right, it’s what parenting is all about, making these decisions and giving them that little bit more independence each time. A lovely post for the ordinary moments 🙂

    • Carie 02/09/2015 at 11:20 pm

      thank you – it’s one of those eternal juggling acts isn’t it!

  • sally 17/09/2015 at 11:34 pm

    It’s a funny thing this one, it gets easier and it gets harder as they get older, and the stepping back starts to come in all different shapes and sizes. Actual physical stepping back becomes the easiest kind I think. But happily, as with most elements of parenting, we seem to be able to build up to things gradually and grow with our children so that we hopefully manage to do the right thing at the right time. Sounds like your timing was perfect here.