Saturday, October 29, 2011

walking in another's shoes

Such a happy day we had, she and I.

Her brother off on his jazz adventure today, his dad in tow.

leaving us to four days of Us, together.

Day One saw

she and I,

planning and designing the template for some wolf toys we'll be making out of felt tomorrow!

Which included looking up wolf images on the internet

which led to us

watching silly kitten videos on Youtube (as you do)

and making a little movie of our own, of our cat trying to crawl through a too small box. (Don't know if we'll end up putting it on Youtube, but it sure was funny)

Day One saw
she and I

eating lunch together in companionable silence because for a while there she went into a deep and thoughtful daydream about a book series she read and loved (The Wednesday Tales, if you'd like to know)

And then out we went walking the dog.

She and I
talking and laughing,
laughing and talking, and

then she made me laugh so hard I bent over

and she said so simply,

"I love hearing you laugh, Mum."

Then out we went in the afternoon

to buy felt for our toys and a new backpack and a fruit smoothie treat.

She and I shared a single smoothie—she passed it over to me time and time again without me asking,

which made my insides slip and my heart tilt.

Somewhere in the day, I think it was while walking across a field, there in that brisk wind, waiting for the old dog to catch up,

she said

so simply:

"I had a dream about them last night." (About our no-longer friends, you see)

I said, "How'd it go?"
and she said,

"It was my birthday and they were there. I was so happy we were friends again. They gave me a card and a toy paper dragon. Then… I woke up."

Ah, my beautiful girl.

And then it was dinner time,
and afterwards we snuggled up together on the couch, just

She and I.

Watching How to Train Your Dragon together, our knees touching and her spoon clinking against the bowl as she took tiny bite after tiny bite of mango sorbet. And the cat was on my lap and my girl kept leaning over to pat him, saying, "Oh!" and "Oh!" because he was so peaceful lying there and she loves him so much.

And then
it was bed-time. We two girls in our Just Us house, pottering about amiably upstairs.

Lights out, and I had my arm wrapped around her. We lay dreamily talking of the toys we would make tomorrow, and

then she said

so simply:

"Now I've got no-one to show my toys to."


My beautiful girl.

we began to talk.

Of the friends she still had, the ones she could still show things to. Of the good she still had. But we talked more of loss.

Because that's what she was feeling biggest, there in the rising dark. Hurt and confusion and sorrow. Out it spilled into that dim-lit room, as the cat licked himself on the spare bed, his leg lifted into the air like a furry dancer.

We talked for over an hour. As she spoke it hit me how old my girl was becoming. How here in this moment she was growing. Her voice was clear and calm; she asked if we could write them a letter. So we did—I went down and got the computer and she dictated. A whole page of feeling. A page saying, "Please, could you explain? Because I don't understand."

Afterwards she said, "Put a smiley face in there, Mum. So it doesn't seem mean."

We didn't send it straight away. We talked more.

We found ourselves talking about what could be the issues, trying to figure it out for ourselves. We talked about what part we might have played.

And as we talked, we walked into a sense of understanding.

We put ourselves completely in the shoes of our once-friends. We imagined ourselves walking where these friends might have walked; we imagined their path and how they might have felt. We imagined what might have made them come here, to this place that no longer had us in it. We imagined why they might have needed room and time away from us.

We saw it as though—for a moment—we were them.

And suddenly my girl said,

"Oh, Mum, I think I know what it is. I understand now! I don't want to send the letter any more. I want to give them space, Mum. We should give them space."

"And love," said I.

"Yes, let's send them love. Space and love. That's what we'll do."

And then she said

so simply,

"It's time to go to sleep."

So I kissed her and left her

with the cat looped like a spiral on the spare bed

with the night-light glowing green

with the fan on

and with her

at peace.


My beautiful, beautiful girl.


(Tomorrow, I'll take photos of us making our wolves. I can't wait to share them here with you. And thank you so much for your comments and kind wishes. Thank you so much for the love.)


  1. Oh, Helena. I'm so sorry. To see your girl in pain.... being a parent is the hardest thing and the best thing all at once.

    Sounds like a lovely weekend. You know, you can also felt knitting - then you can make bags and purses and cat sleeping bags and all sorts of things. Oooh! Plus! PLUS - you could learn amigurumi! It's easy crochet and you can make the most amazing animals and robots and assorted creatures. Crocheting is not hard, I taught myself and your girl could too!

    Okay, I'll stop before I get all proselytizing-ish. But still! Amugurumi! Check it out!

  2. Deb, thanks so much. I agree, it is the best and the hardest. Concentrating as much as I can, as big as I can, on the BEST :)

    What an awesome word Amugurumi is—I've just practiced it three times in my head and now I'm chanting it. Got to get us some crochet hooks, I think!

  3. It is really powerful how the two of you talked this through and saw the other side of this story. Sending love is a wonderful thing to do, and space, space is good for some friendships. Have a lovely weekend.

  4. How much learning and growing is happening in your home right now. It is not the fun kind, it is the hard kind, but the lessons she is learning will become part of who she is. It has been over a year for us and there are times our experience comes up. Just yesterday in fact. I felt like my girls were competing for the attention of one friend (which was a key factor in what happened in our previous friendship) and they agreed. We talked and talked. They understand that they cannot do it. A friend is not something to own and share. Even the reminders are painful but very necessary. It makes me realize that they are only 9 and 11 and still have so much learning to do.

  5. This is so beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful. I can't wait to hear about the whole adventure of you and your girl. I will have to look up amigurumi. It is a new word to me. Thanks Deb ::waves up::

    I love your girl's heart. But what else would you expect from a Mom like you? Enjoy your girl. Love you friend.

  6. You have an insightful daughter, but then she obviously takes after you!
    Time heals.

  7. Wow, what a powerful moment for your daughter...reflective and deep, definitely just like you :). She's moving through this stormy part of learning with so much awareness and care... Because she has you as her sounding board and her safe harbor, she is able to make connections that so many adults cannot even fathom. So happy for both of you :).


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.