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.
We’re wrapping up Olive’s second week of Grade 1, and so far, it’s been a bit nuts. I mean, exciting and milestone-y and deeply gratifying, but nuts nonetheless.
The whole thing began earlier than I’d intended – at 5 AM last Tuesday morning, her first day of school.
We just came back from our annual family summer vacation (AKA The Rumpus) and while there’s a lot that could be said, I will begin by presenting to you the portraits Olive did of everyone in attendance.
As you’ll soon see, a picture truly is worth a thousand words (or in this case, a dollar, which is what Olive charged each of us. A bargain if you ask me.)