” I Kayleigh take you Robert.....”
It’s your wedding day, and watching you embark upon the next stage in life’s journey I think back. To our very first day, when a tiny bundle was handed to a nervous 19 year old.
Where did the years go my Kayleigh? One minute you’re greedily
guzzling your breast milk, next it’s your first day of school, then graduation, first job and next thing we’re meeting Robert your future husband. When the minister mentioned impediments I wanted to
insist that “Yes, this is madness. I can’t allow this. She’s still my little girl,”
Except you’re a grown woman, and I restrain myself as in a clear confident tone you promise to love, support and get alongside, No honouring (too stuffed shirt you reckoned) or obedience for my oh so thoroughly modern millenial girl. The baby who was put into my arms is about to become a wife, and in the not too distant future I’ll welcome her again. This time to a club that most women have belonged to at least once.
‘One day you‘ll join the Mother’s Club too my Kayleigh, and you’ll know the joy of welcoming your own child into the world.’
Right now she’s signing up to another club, for better, for worse, and I hope they last the course. That like her dad and me Kayleigh and Robert last until death us do part. The Wives’ Club (and no I’m not talking about the book or its movie adaptation) is hard work. You feel like ripping your hair out at times, and yes he.....the proverbial male of the species can drive you batty, but you don’t throw in the towel. Previous generations including my own were taught that you work at it. In short that means learnIng to accept one another’s flaws and as you’ve just said in the presence of these witnesses ‘get alongside.’ Cheating and abuse are the two exceptions to that rule. Your father and I were raised on certain principles including these. ‘ The first time he raises a hand to you call it quits’ and ’Once a cheater....’ You know the rest, but I’m hearing another voice now.
It’s my own younger voice. It echoes across time and the wedding
We’re back there at the beginning, and it’s Chapter One and a half of our story. Dad and I agreed on your name at the gender reveal, which was a scan appointment not a party. Our generation didn’t do Baby Showers or Gender Reveal parties. I‘m supposing you and Robert will do both. I imagine he’ll also be a dab hand with nappies, and you expressing so he can take a turn with night feeds.
Chapter One for me began when you were first confirmed, a planned and much wanted baby, Both of us were thrilled, but as you’ll discover the process for me was surreal. You see pregnancy has us the female compliment at a disadvantage. While the man can choose his level of involvement no such luxury is possible for women. Your dad was very supportive, doing things like rubbing my lower back and going out at odd hours to fulfil my cravings, but the overall responsibility was mine. I was incubating and therefore a hostage to fortune, My fortune aka my choices; from the pace of my life to what I ate and drank.
’Does this mean giving up Maccas and coca cola?’
In short yes, along with the ciggies, wine and late nights.
I never did take up smoking again, but you had a big influence on my sleep patterns. Dad picked up a rocking chair at Avondale market, and we spent many late nights in it as I rocked you back to sleep after night feeds. I’ve kept it for you, picturing you doing the same. ‘Lucky baby, with your upbeat personality, and kind nature you’ll be a wonderful mother.’
Then you were here, and what a drama. I swear on your life
(to show just how serious I am) that pushing is not (and I cannot stress this enough) the be all and end all experience it’s made out to be. You’ll concur when your turn comes that it’s bludy torture cruel and unusual punishment as defined by the United Nations.
There’s no one, because childbirth is a natural process.
Besides there was you, a wide eyed, wondering miniature human. I cannot stand the mini me label, another contrived Americanism like yummy mummy, BFL, BFF et al.
My newborn girl you are your own person, not an accessory or mini me clone.
That’s all I could say when they handed you to me post bump and grind. “Welcome to the world,”
What a moment. We’re so new to this mum/daughter thing, yet in a singular moment those wondering eyes gazed into my own and a bond was forged.....stronger than steel, brighter than a sunburst.
It took.........that bond.
Until here we are Kayleigh my heart. You and I at another defining moment. In a sense my heart is saying a reluctant goodbye, ’Because you’ll never live under our roof in quite the same way again, and it won’t be just us who have your back.’
As if he’s read my mind Robert’s voice cuts across my reminiscing. ”I Robert promise to love, support and get alongside, I will have your back.....”
Today our Kayleigh’s formed another kind of bond, bought membership of the Wives Club. I look forward to coffee meet ups, and relating on that other level. Both of us are married women now. So it’ll be a rather different experience from taking a younger daughter out. Then one day she’ll make that announcement drawing on our bond. This time not just as mother and daughter but as women. One expectant, anticipating but also nervous. The other having previously walked in these shoes.....an old hand. She’ll look to me the childbirth veteran for advice, and I’ll be there. A witness too I hope at that moment when my Kayleigh gazes into the eyes of a tiny bundle and whispers ”Hello, welcome to the world.”
sealing the same unbreakable bond.