Over the past seven years, I’ve come to understand my strengths as a mother. My weaknesses, too.
I’m great at talking, first of all. Especially the hard conversations. I think my time as a youth worker prepared me for this. When you spend five years having daily chats about awkward subject matter with even more awkward teenagers about everything from personal hygiene to sex to drug use to abusive relationships, you get used to diving into the tough stuff, erasing the judgment, letting your matter-of-factness draw out theirs.
I’ve always felt comfortable talking to Olive about the tough stuff, too. About the divorce, moving, consent, swearing, body image, my dating, her fear and anxiety, and the budding dramas in her friendship groups. Talking about things feels like it comes easily to me; the words show up and I speak them. We talk a lot, and she tells me everything. I’m good at that stuff.
This, right here, is what happens when love for your daughter overwhelms your common sense.
Last month, Olive turned six years old.
I woke up in the soft grey of early morning and made waffles in our quiet kitchen, my feet cold against the stone tiles.
As I did, I thought about each of the past six years, right back to the beginning. Those months where I carried her inside of me; when I became so used to her tumbling, kicking, curious presence that my belly felt oddly still and empty after.
My little sister Hilary (now almost twenty-nine, so I suppose not so little anymore) has always been swimming in creativity. From how she dresses, to the direction she steers her life, Hilly exudes warmth and light and charisma in spades.
Within the past year, she’s channelled this energy into spoken word poetry. First independently, then joining the Victoria Slam Poets team, and THEN qualifying for a national slam-poetry competition, like she’s some badass, spoken-word version of Glee.