Something fabulous happened to me a couple of weeks ago, a profound and permanent shift in my self perception.
I BECAME a mother-of-three daughters.
Yes… I am fully aware that Chilli was born 17 months ago. I have loved her and her crooked little smile since the day she was born. But that doesn’t change the fact that until two weeks ago, deep in my heart, at the core of my being, in my marrow, I didn’t really integrate her existence into what I defined as ‘my family’.
After she was born I felt like I was leading a double life. I had a baby to care for. She was mine and I loved her. For the first six months she and I slept together in the nursery. I will treasure forever the memory of that time, her nestled in the crook of my arm all squishy and precious, nursing her in the twilight. She was my tiny, pink treasure, my secret love affair.
In the morning, I would get up and take care of my family, G and my two smart, intuitive, magnificent daughters. If I was lucky, ‘the baby’ would sleep until ‘the big girls’ had left for school so that I didn’t have to try and juggle the two… they were the good days.
Afternoons and evenings, weekends, holidays… those things were a little more difficult to handle. Somehow I was expected to integrate the two elements of my life into a cohesive whole. After a while, things got messy and the affair started to sour. The baby got in the way of my family time, The family got in the way of my time with the baby. There was absolutely no possibility of any ‘me’ time.
I resented everyone.
I yelled too much.
I cried alone.
When the baby was about 8 months old, I travelled, with the girls, to Australia for what I fondly call the shit fucked disaster misery tour. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps flying home for three weeks without G was a bit of a stupid idea, especially when I was already wrestling with the darkness. Add a little family drama and an unexpected illness, the trip was an emotional marathon – long, lonely and relentless.
It wasn’t all bad. Monkey and Pigeon reminded me again and again what extraordinary, resilient, fabulous girls they are. We made a good team. The baby started to crawl. We spent lots of time in Australia’s wonderful public parks. I saw old friends. I made some decisions that would change my life, including meeting a lady who would help me change my perspective (big ups to you Sue Lester).
One of the first things I talked about with Sue was my conflicted feelings about the baby. I love the baby. I never wanted the baby. I resent having a baby. I love the baby… round and round in ever decreasing circles of pointless negativity.
She asked me to do a very simple thing.
“Start using her name, Pip.”
(…and the tears roll down my face, again!)
“Anchali, I love you.”
So Chilli became a person. She became her own person. Chilli REALLY liked that. Chilli the unique, wicked, funny, happy, little person. Chilli started walk and talk, express opinions… loudly! Chilli, the little sister, started terrorising her siblings.
Yet, despite all that, and my love for her, she was not a part of ‘my family’. Crazy, I know, but true. It was like I had two images – cute baby/ happy family -and I just couldn’t photoshop them together.
Locating my children in the playground, or at a party, I counted like this – one, two… tick! one… tick!
When asked, “How many children do you have?”
Well, I have two daughters… and then there is this toddler that lives in our house. She is really adorable and I love her to pieces. I gave birth to her. So I guess that means in total, altogether, if you really get down to it, um… three… “I have three children!”
Did it have to be so hard? Was it going to be like this forever? I worried. What was wrong with me? My youngest child was over a year old. I still had to consciously add her the tally when I counted my kids.
Patience… not my greatest strength… I waited!
…and then, two weeks ago…
Lao and Thailand were celebrating Bpii Mai, the biggest holiday of the year. G had taken some time off. Our family (including my mother, who had just arrived from Australia) packed up the super- sexy, Kia Carnival for a road trip across the Mekong into Thailand.
The Isaan region is home to some of the best Som Tum, Gai Yang and Kaw Niaw (Papaya Salad, Fried Chicken and Sticky Rice) in the world so it would have been remiss not to stop at what was hailed as the best Gai Yang shop in Isaan. We had been driving for almost 4 hours. Everyone was hungry and grumpy and needing to go to the toilet. I parked the car, shut off the engine, started unloading the kids… one… two… three!
I did a mental double take. It must have been a mistake, I was tired after all and mentally drained. I had just spent several hours driving my LHD car in RHD Thailand. No reason to get too exited.
We negotiated our way through the car park and I wrangled the girls safely inside the restaurant… Monkey, one… Chilli, two… where is three? Daddy rushed her to the toilet, no worries. Three! I did it again.
Seated, I looked around the table. Pigeon was discussing the relative merits of ‘busy’ water vs normal water with her dad (busy = fizzy). Monkey was organising her place at the table; plate goes here, cup here, fried chicken here, napkins here. Chilli was sitting on her grandmother’s lap stuffing her face with fistfuls of sticky rice. Everyone was laughing and eating. This was my family. These three magnificent little girls were my daughters. I choked back tears of gratitude.
That afternoon we set up camp… in a nice hotel… with a pool… in the middle of the red light district… in Khon Kaen… and our family hung out for the duration of the 4 day celebrations. Over and over again I kept including Chilli in my mental family stocktake. It was effortless.
My mum’s room was down the hall from ours. My heart could have burst as I watched my three girls, hand-in-hand, Chilli in the middle, toddling down the hall to check on YayYay before breakfast.
My three girls!
Easy as that.
Finally, after all this time, a mother-of-three.
This was a lovely week for goods news. Two different friends are expanding their brood and expecting their second child. Congratulations! Enjoy the ride. It will all fall into place and when it does it will be FABULOUS!
Thanks for reading. I would love to hear from you. Comment, like, share, follow, or do nothing. You were here. You’re fabulous!
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