Sunday, 10 September 2017


Ava & I have an interesting relationship. On the one hand we're close. I can predict her sentences before she says them and I always know how she will react to situations before she's even had time to process them. These days, we're starting to understand each other in a way we never did before. She knows I don't have the patience of her dad (for play or misbehaviour) and now when she sees me about to lose my rag, she will diffuse the situation with a nervous giggle or sneaky tickle.

I love it when she does that. 

On the other hand we can drive each other insane. She can't stand my obsession with castles and rolls her eyes when I drag her around endless Scottish landmarks.While I know she enjoys adventure, I think sometimes she wishes I was more of a homebody. More of a stay at home and make cakes sort of mum. The kind of mum who has a secret arts and crafts box tucked away for a rainy day. 

She wants Anthea Turner. I'm more Kris Jenner.  

But we have an understanding.

And it works.

Having listened to the heralding of other mums on the importance of spending 'mummy/daughter' time together for a while, it's always been something I didn't reckon I would have to worry about unless a sibling for Ava came along. Recently though, I realised that this might not be the case. 

I have a wide group of friends and we are always busy. I'm not regularly alone and when I am it is because I choose to be. We're always meeting pals for lunch, or other parents for play dates or hosting dinner parties with friends. Although I understand there are those who prefer to keep their social circle minimal & tight knit and who opt for quantity over quality, I've read countless research that confirms that the wider your network of friends, the less likely you are to ever feel lonely. And I truly believe that having such a fabulous circle of pals is the reason I rarely do.

Whether its having the girls over for fizz on a Friday night, country park exploring with family friends on a Saturday or child free sushi dates on a Sunday, there is always something to get up to or someone to see. Our home can often resemble Piccadilly Circus come the weekend. On any given Sunday morning you can often find me making the beds, Ava's dad sticking the coffee on (as he arrives for the 11am pick up), Ava running between flats as she plays with the neighbouring little girl, and very often a couple of pyjama clad gals who have stayed over after girls night the evening before. That's just the way I like it. It's how I like my life. Surrounded by people. By noise. By good vibes. 

It occurred to me recently how little time Ava and I spend on our own. Even on school nights we often have someone over for dinner or a softplay date late afternoon. So I recently gave into her demands of a mummy/daughter Saturday. At her insistence it would be just the two of us. No friends, no other children, no boys allowed. I was happy to oblige.

Despite a less than optimistic weather forecast, we decided to head down to Largs for the Viking Festival. Ava and I both have happy memories here and its always been somewhere that we both love to go. Plus who doesn't love the combination of a beach, fish and chips, candy floss, tea cup rides, massive ice cream sundaes, boats, paddling and some of the best sweetie shops in Scotland...

We started the day with pancakes and then some Ava enforced Shopkins playing which I grudgingly took in my stride and then we jumped in the car and headed for Largs, donning our sunglasses and marvelling at what a cracking day it had turned out to be. 

We arrived just before one, parked the car and then headed straight for the seaside. We had what can only be described as one of the nicest days I have had in a long time. We ate fish and chips and ice-cream, we perused the food stalls and listened to the live bands. We checked out the amazing Viking Village then made our way to the fairground. I joined Ava on the rides that were a little out her depth and watched from the sidelines as she jumped on the ones she was brave enough to face alone.

We collected shells on the beach, threw stones into the water, and watched the ferry as it shuttled back and forth between islands. We listened to the locals stories of dolphin spotting near Millport and Ava spent her entire pocket money on the 2p slot machines in the arcade. On the way back to the car, Ava gripped my hand tightly and pulled me down so she was level with my ear.

"I've had the best day ever Mummy. I'm so glad it was just you and me".

I had too. And I was glad it had just been the two of us. 

We made our way back to the car and headed back to Glasgow. We stopped on the way home for Saturday night essentials (marshmallows, popcorn & beer) and then once home we put on our PJ's, snuggled under a blanket, and watched X Factor and Insta Stories until it was time to head to bed.

Ava's a strange one to me. Watching your child grow, learn & navigate through life is strange. It feels foreign to me to see things through a child's eyes. And I think it's often where I struggle. It's pointed out to me sometimes how cool people think it is the way I treat her 'like a little adult'. I'm often surprised at these statements but acknowledge them as if I already knew. I wasn't aware that I talk to or treat her in the manner of an adult. I have no idea if that's the right or wrong thing to do.

The person she is becoming is so beautiful to me that I often question if it's even my doing. Her behaviour, manners and innate sense of right and wrong give me a sense of pride in a way I have neve experienced before. She's not perfect and we've had a few phases. Usually when a situation or a person leaves her feeling uncertain or insecure.

But she's a bloody good kid.

I'm told at least once a week how much she looks like me and at least twice how similar she acts. She's mastered the same withering look it took me years to perfect, her tone is always honest but sometimes too matter of fact, and slowly but surely she is mastering the art of sarcasm in a manner that couldn't make me prouder.

She's my girl all right.

In other ways we are so very different. She has a patience that perplexes me, an acceptance of letting go and a competitive edge to her that I simply can't fathom. She's a girly girl with little interest in the outdoors. She can't stand castles (apparently I've dragged her around too many) and the chances of getting that kid to go for a walk are about as high as getting me to go on a welding apprenticeship.

She knows my weak points and I know hers. She knows how far she can push me and that there's a point I will snap. She hovers dangerously close to that point sometimes because she's a thrill seeker but is always careful not to push me over the edge. She knows she must behave impeccably in a restaurant and in return I will let her run riot at home. She knows I try hard and that in many ways I wish I was better. But she knows I make up for it with road trips and exploring and travels and adventure.

She knows I run a tight ship on a school night but that I am a pushover at the weekend. She knows I'm emotional and impatient. But she knows I'm always fair.  She knows without doubt that I will always be there for her. She knows I like a lie in on a Sunday and (thanks to the iPad) allows this with ease. 

Most importantly she knows that if shit goes down then I know her tickle spot.

And it's the back of her knees ;)

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