Once upon a time I had a little shadow and her name was Kitty. In some respects it seems like a lifetime ago that it was just Kitty, H and me, though in reality it was less than a couple of years ago.
She and I were inseparable; wherever Mummy was, that was where Kitty wanted to be, to have a bumped knee kissed better, to snuggle up for a story, or to be gently lulled to sleep in my arms. She enjoyed playing with H don’t get me wrong, but if there was a choice it was all about Mummy.
And I loved it. I loved being able to pour all of my focus and energy into her happiness; playing silly games for hours, dancing around the room with her in my arms, or sitting watching her sleep marvelling at the miracle that made her my little girl.
She’s still and always will be my best biggest girl but I think the intense closeness of early babyhood will always dissipate a little as our babies grow. For one thing, as they develop and grow they begin to be able to do more and more for themselves and become less dependant on us, and at the same time the ability to question and test and challenge kicks in.
And then in our case Elma arrived and our relationship had to stretch and grow to encompass another little girl, and now a little brother too.
It means that in our daily life we’re balancing the needs of three little people; that there are times when everyone has to wait; that sometimes I can’t give Kitty or Elma or Pip my full undivided attention, or do something that appeals to them and them alone. Sometimes it’s easy to accept that that’s just how it is, and remember the benefits that we gave them in having siblings, and not just that I have to share myself out, and sometimes, as I launch another futile effort at dividing myself into three, I wonder whether our choice to have more children pushed her affection from me to H, and took more away from our relationship than can simply be attributed to Kitty’s growing independence.
And then every now and then I catch a glimmer that reminds me of those early days; a little moment shared just between us that tells me that however big or tall my biggest girl has got that relationship is still there and still just as strong and close as ever, just stretched to encompass all our love for her siblings.
I saw it in her eyes this week, and the peals of laughter that followed.
We were learning a few new wintery action songs, and settled on I’m a Little Snowman (to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot)
I’m a Little Snowman, short and fat
Here’s my broomstick, here’s my hat
When the sun comes up I’ll melt away
Down, down, down, down
Whoops, I’m a puddle!
Pip was snoozing; Elma thought it funny when we all wibbled and wobbled down to the floor but isn’t old enough to either memorise or truly understand the words; and that left Kitty and me.
We sang and ‘melted’ and sang again, and giggled and laughed until it got to the point that we were both lying on the lounge floor next to each other, trying not to smile until the other would just say “whoops, I’m a puddle” or even just “whoops!” and the giggles would start up again; laughing until our sides ached.
It’s hardly ground breaking is it; ‘mother of three makes daughter laugh’, and even for Kitty I suspect it was just one moment of a bit of fun in amongst a whole heap of happy memories for that day but I treasure it; a memory of shared laughter and happiness, of finding a way to make that connection and keep that closeness alive in the middle of our busy family day.