Mother-daughter relations were at an all time low this past week.
The husband was off on a long (semi) work trip. Her Papa's absence left a big hole in Moppet's routine, particularly evenings and bed-time and she did not take it well. I'd countdown the days till his return every evening, but all she knew was that he was not there to brush her teeth and play aeroplane with her, and what does '6 more days till Papa comes back' really mean, anyway?
She responded by clinging even harder to me. Demanding to be carried everywhere, even within the house. Having meltdowns at the drop of a hat - the particular t-shirt she wanted to wear was in the wash, she must have popcorn RIGHT NOW, the cracker Mama gave her broke in two before she bit it, Mama must sit in the back seat of the car with her (and somehow drive the car, too!) - all these situations (and many, many more) provoked terrible kicking, screaming, raging tantrums.
I understood why she was acting out, but the understanding didn't translate into dealing with it as I should have. Physically, I'm not at my best. My back is in such bad shape that I have to wear a special lumbar support belt. Wrestling Moppet into her underpants when she's decided she'll wear orange ones or nothing, restraining her during one of her kicking rages, even just carrying her when she's actually being co-operative are tasks that are getting painfully harder every day.
Emotionally, I wasn't much better. The husband's long absence aggravated the loneliness that never quite leaves me. There was resentment that he was off having a good time in London and Paris, leaving me to deal with his monster child(ren) by myself. My reserves of patience were at an all-time low.
So I yelled back at Moppet when she screamed. I left her to her floor-smacking rages and curled up on my bed and cried. I turned up the music in the car to drown out her howling from the back seat. By bedtime every day, we didn't like each other very much. The hot, sticky, energy sapping weather did not help.
And then the storm came. Thunder, lightning, and driving rain. The wind whipped through the house, so strong it tore the netting off the balcony doors. A flash of light, a loud boom, and we lost power.
Our paths lit by the emergency light, mother and daughter met in the corridor as each came running to find the other. Moppet was a little frightened, and clung to me as I explained that the power had gone but there was nothing to be scared of and it would come back soon. She was only half reassured and sat close to me as we spent some quiet time reading a few books, drawing, colouring and doing puzzles by candlelight.
The storm died down, but the power was still out, so we moved out onto the balcony to enjoy the cool breeze and the refreshing smells of a city washed clean. Relief washed over me, like a fever had broken. It was the first time in many days that I felt truly at peace.
I began to sing softly and Moppet sat quietly on her little chair next to mine and listened. Occasionally, she piped up with a song request - Mama sing Jai Hind, Mama sing Ladki, Mama sing MashaAllah - and after a while, she said to me, "Now Moppet turn."
"Sure, baby, what are you going to sing?" I asked.
In reply she sang to me a song that I often sing for her:
"[...] Sunshine, ma onny sunshine
You make me happy, when skys gwey
You never know dear, how much I laab you
Peas don take ma sunshine away."*
It was such a perfect song for the moment. Tears poured down my cheeks as she sang in her clear baby voice. When she was done I gave her a great big hug, and she saw I was crying.
"No crying, Mama. Iss power gone. Come back soon. No scared, ok?'
*You are my sunshine, my only sunshine; You make me happy, when skies are grey; You'll never know dear, how much I love you; Please don't take my sunshine away"
Edit: Oh and the next day this happened. And then 2 days later the husband got home, so all's well in my world again :-)