You Get What You Need

You can’t always get what you want.  It would appear.

The kids have turned on me.  Like bite-size Judases.

Maybe ‘turned’ is an exaggeration as, when I start to think about it, I don’t know they were ever really facing me in the first place.  Yes, we stand together pretty much every minute of every day, shoulder to shoulder, in the trenches that is growing up, but I don’t think they’ve actually, ever seen me.  Or noticed me.  I’m just the person who’s always there.  The real star of the show is ‘Daddy’.

‘Daddy’ is their centre.  Their sun, moon and stars.  Like the frightened, free-falling little meteorites that they are they gravitate towards him, orbit him like flies round a slice of apple tart when he’s home, and only ever want to be in a direct collision course with him.  His star is in constant ascent.

Before you say it, I know. It’s a phase.  It’ll pass.  And most of the time I’m genuinely fine about it – I’m an adult after all.  But sometimes – just sometimes – it feels really crap.

I get that Daddy is alot of wonderful things.  But if they met me as a person in my own right, they’d see I’m really quite nice!  I can, on occasion, even be fun!  I try to be kind and definitely do my utmost to be patient.  I feed them, wash them, deal with their 1,214 ridiculous requests every day;  ‘Can I drive?  Please?’ (the threenager);  I listen, interestedly, to their non-stop stories;  ‘Gurgle, gurgle, blim, blame’ (the baby);  I even answer their never-ending string of questions;  ‘If you were Spiderman, would you be a red Spiderman or a blue Spiderman?’ (the boy) (and my answer is always the wrong one).  Mammy needs a bit of positive PR here.


The happy shrieks are audible when Daddy’s home (card image by Judith Kerr from our ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ card game)

A few weeks ago, when we were on holiday together, it got even worse.  Rather than the novelty of him wearing off, the attachment to their father grew deeper, with the 4-year old often telling me I wasn’t ‘in their group’ and any input from me feeling distinctly unwanted and unwelcome.  In fact, if memory serves me, I think there were a couple of times when I had to walk at a distance from this group of mutual affection (this had it’s pluses at the time also, I must admit) but I’d rather not dwell on that.  After all, holiday memories always require a certain amount of bleaching to ensure they are recalled as solely fabulous occasions and a time of (literally) ‘happy families’.

There’s a novelty factor, I know – what’s rare is beautiful and all of that.  But it’s deeper than that – and it all became a little clearer to me about a week after we arrived home from holiday when myself and the kids met my husband on the road, mid-transit.

We were going and he was coming and we chatted briefly through open car windows en-route.  The kids waved and yelled their ‘hellos’ from the back seat, I exchanged a couple of quick words about dinner.  We said goodbye as he headed on to a work meeting and us to the market.  The windows went up, his car disappeared into the rear-view-mirror-distance and I instantly sensed a feeling nothing short of bereavement.  We all felt it, and it was simply because we all missed our other person – that other part of our small family.  The car was silent and I got it.  We are one, he is separate.


A few fashion-tweaks aside, this is actually us.  Weird. (card image by Judith Kerr from our ‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ card game)



It’s that mother attachment thing.  They are still so little and we are all so entangled, not yet really knowing where one of us ends and the other begins.  We are mid-detachment, so how could they ever miss me or notice me or want me?  They are me and I am them.  The time will come – I’m hoping – when they will begin to see me in my own right, as my own person.  Basically, maybe I’ll be welcome into their group when they’re 12.  Maybe… but then I’m not their mother to make a friend or be accepted.  I am their mother to raise them.

It would be nice if we could get on – high-five after a particularly fun playground outing, get some kudos for a successfully-received dinner.  But right now, maybe they need to not really see me and take me for granted.  It’s the stage we’re all at – the ongoing-birthing stage.

And when Daddy comes home, I can’t say I’m not delighted to hand over the children to their most-adored parent.  Who am I to shun a break?

As Mick Jagger croons, ‘You can’t always get what you want.  You get what you need’.


4 thoughts on “You Get What You Need

  1. I have to admit – in this house, he probably is more fun. But it doesn’t help that I’m invisible to them!! I definitely feel that they see us as one ball of people, while Daddy is the ‘other’ to be lavished with love and missed when he’s gone. Thanks Helena! 🙂 x


  2. O Laurie this so true…. I can relate to how you feel .. While Rachel is mad about daddy my two boys would crawl in to his pocket If they could it be with him and there 6 and 8 now… it hasn’t passed yet😘 I think daddy’s are more fun ! Lovely read as always x


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