This afternoon the man of the house flew to America on business for eight nights. My oldest daughter, who turns ten this year, was beside herself. She clung to his leg with all her strength, so hard that he couldn’t prise her off – and how could he – his heart was hurting too. How could he explain that his love for her was far, far stronger than his work – but that his work was necessary and he had to go. She pleaded with him and asked him, ‘Why? Why?’. She was desperate. I couldn’t watch. I needed to stem the tide of emotion from taking my other two daughters with it. There was no time for me to say goodbye.
Eventually he tore himself from her grasp. I steered her inside, as she screamed with pain that sounded physical, raw and unstoppable. In her mind she felt powerless, angry, dejected and confused.
He is her rock, her anchor, her calm in the storm. He drives her to school every morning and they ramp up the stereo to party on into the day. He flips her pancakes at breakfast and makes her smile. She goes to him for hugs and support when she’s feeling low.
Tomorrow is her first day back at school after the long summer holidays. She’s been looking forward to it all week. She knew her Daddy would be away – but the magnitude of his absence hit her in the last few moments before he left.
I fear I’ll be a poor substitute in the morning.
She shows her love for me in other ways. She writes letters to me, paints pictures and shares a different side of her life. I am her target when she needs to vent. I take the words of hurt and anger and try to let them wash off me without dampening my heart. I trust it is because she knows how strong my love for her is, that she feels able to express her pain so. There is no chance to reason and explain when she’s in a rage. Any words I try to say are fuel to her fire. She enters a world where the torment inside is such that any words are pain. She pushes me away, though I desperately would love to hold her in my arms and give her comfort. I tell her I love her and I’m there for her when she’s ready. She slams the door and shouts me away. I retreat. I wait. I let a few tears roll silently down my cheek – trying not to let the tornado of negative emotions take over the whole house.
And then – she comes back to me with a smile returned. My heart is still sore, but now is not the time to talk. I smile openly, hopefully. She talks. Her words are not of the pain and rage that was before, but often are moving on to something entirely different – as though what came before, never happened at all.
I so want to kiss her head, to stroke her hair, to give her a hug. I am there for her – that is all I can be. From the day she was a baby, she’s been so highly sensitive and hard to comfort with touch when upset. It pained me desperately that my touch would only inflame her, not sooth. I didn’t understand it, no one explained. Only now – when I read of others with highly sensitive children, and sensory processing disorders (SPD), do I understand a little.
She was a child that hated socks with seams, labels and certain textures on her skin. She hated to have her hair washed or brushed. She was determined to dress herself well before she had developed the fine motor skills – but she tried. She would cover her ears to certain sounds and run from a library or play-group screaming when certain songs were sung. Curtains had to be drawn on windy days as the trees movement made her feel out of balance. She’d bang her head on the wall and wake in the early hours screaming, as though in pain.
Her birth was long, drawn out and complicated. Then she suffered a short-tongue and difficulty feeding for the first six weeks of her life. She ate few solids till she was at least ten months old – and only when she could feed herself, she never accepted being spoon fed.
She’s bright, intelligent and an absolute delight most of the time, but has such a highly sensitive nature that sometimes life is a challenge indeed. I know, I understand – I was very much like her as a child.
This morning we had the most wonderful start, jogging down to the beach and being care-free together. I take those moments and treat them like gold. Those moments are what I live off. I love her more than she’ll ever know. Every time she lets me into her world and heart I am grateful. No matter what she throws at me in anger and pain, I will always love her and be there for her. A mothers love.
A HAPPY UPDATE
She woke happy and got off to school in the sunshine with a smile. Her sisters wanted to tag along for the drop off and even came in to the classroom to meet their big sister’s new teacher. I texted hubbie and he was so, so happy to hear the news. I’m sure the week will race by, now that we’re over the first hurdle.