My daughter Alani is four. Today we were walking over to the cottage (we have two little dwellings on our 1 acre property) because she wanted to play by herself for a little while. “Mum”, she said conversationally, “Dad and I were having a little talk yesterday, and he told me that sometimes it’s good to hang out with Mum and Dad, and sometimes it’s good to hang out by yourself.” My eyebrows raised up high on my forehead. Is this my daughter who cries when I leave her, who spends half of every night in my bed and who is generally stuck to me like glue?
I wandered back over to the main house and told my partner Alex the conversation. “Don’t you see?”, he said “she’s talking you through it. It’s ok if she’s alone sometimes. It’s you, not her!”
Hmmm. Is it really true? What do I want? I know I give contradictory messages sometimes: her clinginess and neediness drive me around the twist, but when she wants to be by herself I try to talk her out of it (unless she is doing some mummy approved activity of course). She can’t seem to play by herself when she can see me, because she can’t think of anything else except “Muuuum! I wanna cuddle-muddle!” or “MUM! look at me!” or “Mum, read me a story, play a game with me, can I help you do that?”
It is challenging being the mother of a daughter who requires so much emotional sustenance, especially as I am not the kind of person who requires much myself. I guess there’s the lesson right there.