My daughter returned from her big adventure yesterday; I have missed her so much. From the day she left us, exactly a month ago today, to the morning before her return, we heard nothing from her. It turns out that she could have made contact on a couple of occasions, but chose not to. She was having the time of her life and wanted to maintain the break from home for the duration.
When she did text it was to say that we didn’t need to pick her up from the return coach drop off point; she had arranged a lift with a friend. This came as no big surprise and was not an issue; my daughter has been eager to extend the time she spends with certain friends from she was at primary school. It proved that she was happy and enjoying herself.
I have spent the weekend anticipating her return. Much as I try not to wish my life away, there are some occasions that I look forward to with such eagerness that I just want the days in between to pass. Her journey home started early on Sunday and I was avidly watching the on line departure and arrivals boards at the various airports she was to pass through, following her progress. I was unsure how smooth her journey would be after last week’s events at a key changeover point (Nairobi airport closes as fire crews tackle blaze) but all seemed to proceed smoothly.
And then she was home, bringing with her the joyful tales of adventure and fun; the stories of new experiences, friendships and mishaps that seemed amusing in hindsight. We poured over the photographs and mementoes, sharing the memories and misadventures. Even the tough times were recalled with fondness; it was the trip of a lifetime.
In her absence the dynamic of our family changed. I thought that it would go back to how it was when she returned but now I am not so sure it will. I cooked a big welcome home dinner; my youngest son baked a cake and a batch of cookies; from the moment I sat down my presence at the table upset my boys so I left them to enjoy my daughter’s return and ate later, alone.
I listened in to their conversation as I sorted the mountains of laundry, washed dishes and tidied away. I did not miss out on the tales but on the camaraderie. My family are a unit of which I no longer feel a part.
This will be a tricky one to negotiate. How horrid it would be for my daughter to find, after a month away, that we had fallen apart without her. I must somehow try to mend the chasm that has opened up. It was not this obvious until she returned because my gradual banishment was accepted, perhaps even desired by the boys. She will not take it so calmly.
And I am grateful for that. I knew that she was my ally, but she is valued by my boys as much as by me. I must work out a way to get by that will be accepted for all our sakes.
I love all of my family very much and want nothing more than their happiness. It is hard to observe that what makes them happy is me becoming silent and invisible. It is hard that my presence puts a dampener on their craic.
This is not about me or my daughter or even my boys; it is how we all interact when together. I need to try to work out why I have become such an irritation. We are all so happy to have our favourite girl home. I do not wish to spoil this for anyone.