Last night, my daughter wrote me a letter.
I found it on my bed. Well, that’s not entirely true. I found a notebook with a handmade post-it note stuck to the cover saying “PLEASE CHECK” complete with three exclamation marks. Did I mention my daughter is eight?
When I sat on my bed and flipped the book open, I saw my darling girl’s beautiful, scrawly, pencilled handwriting and the word ‘Mum’ at the top. And then I could see all these sentences tumbling out of her head and onto that page. The things which I had no idea were – that night – knotting her up inside.
Despite the fact I’d bought my daughter this mother-daughter journal a year ago for the exact purpose of her being able to write to me about her concerns, I still thought, “I can’t believe she’s using the journal! “ Followed by, “I’m six-metres away. Why didn’t she just come and tell me?”
And then I remembered.
I remembered when I was 13 and my closest friends were shaving their legs and I really, really wanted to start shaving my legs too. So I waited until my mum was in the shower and then quickly knocked on the bathroom door and blurted out, “MUMIWANTTOSHAVEMYLEGS!”
Robin and Bec discuss their relationship with their dads. (Post continues after audio.)
It was all very Judy Blume.
I remembered the need to speak to my mum about boys or periods or razors without, you know, looking at her. Without having to meet her gaze. Without having her look at me and see how awkward and embarrassed and clumsy I felt.
And timing is everything.
That’s the other thing I remember.
As a tween and teen I felt too exhausted to unpack what went down at school the moment I walked in the door home at 4pm.
“How was school?” mum would ask.
“Fine,” I’d mumble.
No mention of my worries about my upcoming science test. Or that Brendan Windsor has no idea I was even alive. Or that I think I’m possibly the only person not invited to Megan B’s birthday party.
How was school? Fine.
It wasn’t until much later into the evening I’d start to uncoil and feel ready to revisit the soap opera that had unfolded in Modern History or French or P.E.