You’re nothing like I thought you would be. You never have been, really. I don’t think I would have chosen you, not back then. As a man I know exactly what guys get up to and the thought of them trying that with you scared me senseless. It kept me awake at night as I envisaged scenes in my mind over and over and over. You grew up, each birthday another click along the deckchair rungs leading to you discovering ‘boys’ and them discovering you. That’s why I wouldn’t let you out late and said no so much. Because I worry about you.
Remember that holiday in Cornwall when you were eight? We stayed in that tiny hotel with six rooms and ours was in the attic. Remember the spider in the eaves, the one that looked like it was descended from a tarantula? I found excuses not to touch it and you’ve screamed at spiders ever since then because you didn’t know you were supposed to be scared until then. And there was that wiry terrier with a crooked leg followed you round all day and you wanted to take him home. I have the best memories of that week.
You spent years asking for a brother or sister and though we tried we just couldn’t give you one. You had so many games to share and one morning gave me a list of the names you had ready for your sister. By then you thought boys were yucky and when I asked you what if you ended up with a brother, you said you’d just have to ignore him. Sometimes you looked so sad playing on your own, pretending someone else was with you, that it broke my heart. I do regret we never made another one like you.
And then there were boys, just like I feared. They were better and they were worse than I had imagined. I managed to be taller and they managed to be younger and fitter. I had the edge in being serious and they had the edge in being funny. I made you safe and they made you want to flout that. I watched every hour you were out of the house tock by on the antique Welsh clock from Grandma. Now I can just about forget long enough to watch some TV or read a while. Even though you don’t live here anymore, I still notice when the clock hits 10.30.
Then there was a boy, this one special boy. The one I’d always worried about the most. The one who has replaced me in your affections and the one who has to take care of you now. I even like him, although it took a while. Did he tell you I had a talk with him? Probably he did. And now I’m doing this thing and saying this in front of everyone here. Be happy together. Be happy my baby girl. I love you.
And So Does Your Mum