"Would you have been happier at home, all along?" Our Managing Editor Gemma Writes A Letter To Her Daughter - The Grace Tales

“Would you have been happier at home, all along?” Our Managing Editor Gemma Writes A Letter To Her Daughter

In the lead up to Mother's Day, we're inviting women to share letters to their children, telling them about this unique time in history...

Our Managing Editor wrote to her daughter India about the lessons she’s learned in isolation with a toddler…

Dear India, You’re only two, but you’ve taught me so much already. The importance of – literally – stopping to smell the roses. The unbridled joy that comes with making a splash. That your favourite colour is red, but also pink, blue, green, purple, and orange. That you want to do it “all myself”, no matter what it is. That the very best sensation in the entire world is my face buried in your neck. Most of all, you’ve taught me that rules are made for breaking. For a reformed people-pleasing perfectionist, this is a Big Deal. The universally acknowledged children’s bedtime is apparently 7pm, but no matter how hard I try, yours seems to always be somewhere in the vicinity of 8.22 – 9.49pm. And while I hear from experts everywhere that children thrive on routine, your little world couldn’t have been much more chaotic this year. A global pandemic saw us dismantle every last piece of your ‘routine’ in the space of about 48 hours. You stopped attending daycare. Your Amah – my mum – no longer collected you on Wednesdays. Your Poppo – Daddy’s dad – couldn’t come to have dinner with you on Fridays. Playdates with your friends were cancelled, outings and baby cinos and playgrounds were off, and your world shrunk to the size of our little house, and the park next door (suddenly the best thing about our home). In the scheme of things, we are very, very, very lucky. I know that. But in this strange new world I felt overwhelmed, scared, frustrated. I cried a lot at first. I felt worried and guilty for you. How could I keep you entertained while I tried to keep my inbox below disaster-level? How could I make sure you were still learning and developing when I was locking you inside the same four walls all day? How could I keep your world feeling safe and secure when I knew it was so far from that? Were you really developing an English accent from watching too much Peppa Pig? There were times my fears seemed justified. Like when I tried to ask you a question, only to have you respond seriously “hold on Mama. I’m just doing some work and then I’ll play with you in a minute”. Should I laugh, or be horrified? But then there were times when you reminded me that learning happens outside the classroom, too. You watched me exercise and counted my reps – 13 – out loud without missing a beat. I walked by you watching Play School and listened to you pointing out the names of the shapes on screen. At bed time, you shushed me so you could read your Spot book to me in an adorably jumbled game of memory. I scoop you up in a cuddle and you tell me “that makes me happy”. I melt into a puddle. About a month into lockdown, I suddenly realise you haven’t mentioned daycare once. “Do you miss your friends?” I ask. “Um, yep”, you say entirely unconvincingly, and then urgently attend to your dolly who needs to be put to bed for the 73rd time that day. You don’t seem bored. You don’t seem lonely. You don’t seem unhappy. And, you don’t cry in the mornings as I swallow the lump in my throat during daycare dropoff. I don’t have to smile through gritted teeth as I wave a cheerful goodbye at you, your little fingers reaching for me through tears as you are gently clawed off me. I start to wonder if all my guilt has been misplaced. Would you have been happier at home, all along? Through all of this, I am acutely aware that your life is about to change again, and this time, forever. You pat my swelling belly and tell me “I want to listen to my baby”. Months reduce down to weeks and I know our time together, just the two of us, is coming to an end. I’m not ready to let go of you. I’m not ready to spread myself even thinner. I know everyone feels like this, but I still find myself mourning the loss of you being my one and only everything. “You’re my favourite person in the whole wide world” I hear myself tell you. I won’t be able to soon. So I try to cherish this time, strange, sad, scary as it can be, because it’s precious time with you I would never have had. And then life comes crashing past. I’m on a deadline, you’ve spilled coffee on the good lounge, you’ve drawn on the walls again. The door to my office bursts open and you want another snack, another game, another pair of shoes. I can’t get anything done and I just need five minutes and I’ll never get it back again. I snap at you and you look hurt and I feel guilty and then I remember. Rules are made to be broken. You were born to roll with the punches. We will weather this storm, and the next one, and the next one, and you’ll surprise me with how easily you ride it out. And you’ll always be my favourite person in the whole wide world. You just might have to share the title. Does Peppa Pig have an episode about sharing? I love you. Mummy