Motherhood hasn’t come naturally to Daisy Leverington. Four years in and she remains wide-eyed, terrified and in awe of the little person she’s responsible for. This week she reflects on the true experience of being a mum, against the expected one.
The initial letdown of having no bump for seven months was the first paving slab on a path to four years of ‘oh, OK then’ moments which have buffered my sharp edges into a smooth ball of ‘fine, whatever’.
Some battles are worth letting go for the sake of a decent night’s sleep, even if they threaten things like parental satisfaction, the state of the wallpaper and workplace health and safety laws.
My kid is not a hugger. I am a hugger. This puts us directly at odds in the hugging stakes.
If she sees me about to make contact in any sort of affectionate manner, our house takes on a Hunger Games-esque panic in which she darts up furniture quicker than I can get both arms around her back.
I’ll sometimes sneak a kiss to the top of her head as I’m brushing her hair, to which several tissues must be applied to remove any drool which she assumes I’ve left there. She makes puking noises when I kiss her good night. She once punched me in the neck trying to escape a handshake.
I imagine you’re getting my drift. She’s not an affectionate kid. There are other ways to bond though, right?
Art. You can’t go wrong with kids and crayons and glitter and Sellotape can you? OH YES YOU CAN. You can get it so wrong that a child will cry for a solid 45 minutes because you coloured in the flower red when she specifically said she wanted it red, but then changed her mind in her head and didn’t tell you. Forty-five minutes.
When she was a baby I’d imagined lazy afternoons painting in the garden with her while the cats played at our feet, the wind tangling our hair together as our heads touched in a moment of glittery concentration. The reality is my kid thinks I’m so bad at colouring that she makes me use my own notepad in case I spoil hers.
Reading. I have a degree in literature. I’m fairly good at reading; I have a piece of paper which cost me £12k that says so. I even showed it to her once, but was rebuffed with a zealous “Daddy is better” which stung me to my core.
On the occasions I’m alone with her at bedtime, I make a huge effort with the bedtime story. I used to sit for hours in her nursery while I was pregnant, stroking my belly and thinking of all the stories I’d read to her, or that we’d make up together as she grew. NOPE. “Daddy does the voices,” she says, even when I do the exact same voices, silly accents and sound effects. The exact same.
“She makes puking noises when I kiss her good night. She once punched me in the neck trying to escape a handshake.”
She once corrected how I pronounced the word ‘desire’ as a haughty queen in a story. “It’s desaaarrr,” she said. So I complied, but it was still wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. And please never read that story again, thank you. Last week she made me promise to never be the bedtime storyteller again. I cried when I got downstairs.
Hair and clothing. Once I knew we were having a girl we made a decision to avoid ‘pinking’ her, so we deliberately avoided princess dresses and always bought gender-neutral stuff so she could have the choice of how she looked. She chose pink. At least we tried!
She’s a huge girly girl at heart, whereas I’m not at all. She won’t wear jeans or dungarees unless threatened or bribed, and has specific hair styling requirements which I invariably fail to accurately provide.
Her gregarious nature and Boris Johnson hair as a toddler meant that her change into a full-on little lady was a shock to the system. I see how happy wearing a dress covered in cats makes her so I don’t fight too hard. Just sometimes though, I’d kill to see her up to her chin in muddy puddles again, wearing one of my husband’s old T-shirts.
All of this might sound like she’s an absolute nightmare, but she’s quite the opposite. She’s bright, independent and utterly hilarious. If she’s happy with a fist-bump instead of a snuggle, then that makes me happy too. She likes to keep her notepads perfect, and to be honest, so do I. Paperchase isn’t cheap.
She’ll take a book off me and perform the entire thing until I’m in a heap of laughter at her amateur dramatics. I reckon that, just maybe, reality is a whole lot better than any expectations I ever had.
But I AM really good at reading, just to clear that up, OK?2308 Views
Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.