I am lucky that I feel so secure in my relationship with my daughter, because it would be easy not to. If I was the jealous and possessive kind of mother that my grandmother was then I would struggle to cope with a child like Miss Rose.
She’s a people collector.
As soon as The Boy leaves for work, she starts. She wants her daddy, she misses her daddy, she doesn’t want her daddy to leave, she needs another cuddle from her daddy. The moment he gets home from work she starts on her nanny. I want my nanny, I love my nanny, I miss my nanny.
She is never satisfied with just me.
Some people are passionate about art or music, others about football or films. Miss Rose loves lots of things, she loves My Little Pony, she loves Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, and she loves art. But her biggest passion is her people, and what she wants more than anything is all her people all together. But her nanny and her daddy are on a pedestal above all others.
Her adoration of her nanny goes beyond that of a “normal” grandmother/grand daughter relationship. I hesitate saying “normal” because I’m not convinced there’s such a thing, but it suits purpose.
My mum, Rose’s nanny, was with me throughout the pregnancy and there when Rose was born. She was one of the first people to see her and to hold her. For the first year of her life we lived next door to my mum and, as my husband was out A LOT, my mum stepped in and filled in the gaps as it were. She often looked after Rose whilst I showered, helped with her bath times, and was there for story times. She filmed Rose’s learning to walk, was there for Rose’s injections, and was a source of comfort and stability from the start.
After my husband left I relied on my mum even more. When I was mentally struggling with my health and needed help all the time, my mum would come and sit with us, hold me, play with Rose so I could get my head together. She’d sing to her, cuddle her and read to her.
My mum was, essentially, Miss Rose’s father figure. Her real feather wasn’t around, she had me as a very present mother who spent all day, every day with her, and my mum did the rest. My mum gave her what her daddy would have given her. She was the apple of my mum’s eye, the light of my mum’s life. She was the main focus for both of us, someone we both loved with an immeasurable intensity. Someone who loved us both fiercely.
When I moved out and went to live alone, she saw her biological father occasionally but it was my mum she still depended on. She obviously craved the additional parent in her life. The alternative to mummy.
And then I met The Boy. A man who was already a father so knew the role and played it well, with thought and with heart. He stepped into her life and, over time, became the father she had been missing out on. The father she had longed to turn my mother into. He was there how my mum couldn’t be. He was there every day, there at bedtime and there in the morning. He was there for cuddles and kisses on the sofa for films on a Saturday, and there for fun and frolics in the garden on Sunday. He was there in the way her biological father never was, and he rapidly moved from being “Jon” to “Daddy Jon” to “Daddy”.
He was also there in a way my mum never truly was. He did the bad stuff. The stuff parents hate and that grandparents, no matter how present they are in the way my mum was, don’t do. He did the midnight tantrums, he did the discipline over throwing toys. He did the setting rules and the worrying about the biting phase. He changed nappies, cleaned up vomit, and got smacked by tiny toddler hands as she flailed around mid strop. He became the father figure she had wanted.
But now she’s left with this situation. She has a father figure, a daddy, who she adores in the form of The Boy. Then she has another father figure who does all the good stuff, all the fun stuff, and none of the bad stuff, in the form of her nanny.
She is completely devoted to both. Longs for both. Loves both. Misses both intensely. When she has one she cries for the other.
When The Boy went for a jog one evening and she’d refused to have a goodnight cuddle she completely fell apart, crying and screaming because she wanted her daddy. When we had been to a theme park for the day with my mum and she was all worn out, and she saw my mum get into her own car to go home rather than into ours, she screamed herself senseless that she wanted her nanny.
I have watched that little girl break her heart over their absence from her life in an intense and awful way. I watched her falling apart and totally breaking down over the absence of her biological father too. Because Miss Rose needs her people.
I’m told by both that she feels the same way about me when I’m not there, and constantly complains of missing me and needing me. I believe it too. I know nobody replaces me in her affection, I know she loves me. But I also know I’m not enough for her and her need for her other two parental figures is just as real as her need for her mother is.
Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes I worry, but mostly I don’t.
Today, when she was whinging that she misses nanny, I asked her; “Would you rather live with nanny than mummy?”
And she looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “I want to live with nanny, but then I want to come home to mummy and daddy and live here too.”
She went on to explain that when she wakes up in the middle of the night at nanny’s house she gets hot buttered toast. When she wakes up in the middle of the night here she gets told to go back to sleep. So sometimes it’s better to live at nanny’s.
I love my little girl intensely. More than she realises. More than she’ll probably realise until she has children of her own. But she has other adults in her life who love her too, and that will never be something I begrudge her. I don’t need to be the only one she loves and depends on. I just need to be one of the ones she loves and depends on.
And I’m not going to start making her hot buttered toast at 1am no matter how much she asks to go and live at nanny’s!
If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear, so get in touch! You can check out my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk where you’ll also find links to my podcasts and my novels in The Lilly Prospero series. Check it all out and get in touch!