Apron Strings


The thing about attachment is that it hurts if its broken.

Being a mum to someone who had experienced an almost unrepairable break before I even met her wasn’t easy from the off.

Trust is the biggest issue and engendering that is a long and committed process.

In my chosen vocation as a mum I have found myself having to take on, as if by osmosis, hyper vigilance, sensitivity to sound, heightened awareness to the violence in culture, a love of routined familiarity and an irrational fear of drunk people. On a good day I have hidden this transference but used it to plan ahead, protect and empathise. On a bad one it has made me feel too much too deeply and I’m no help to anyone.

I have now spent going on fourteen years being tuned in to another person who very often wasn’t tuned into themselves let alone me. Walking by her side so closely and vigilantly has taken me down some incredible and at times scary roads. After an epic journey the paths have become familiar and very well trodden. Sometimes the sun has been shining through the trees onto those paths and other times they have been dark and scary with the possibility of getting lost or separated.

The most wonderful gift of all is knowing the paths so well that on a clear day we can walk straight to the spot where we sit down together and admire the view.

But then one strange and unexpected day, when the wind changed direction, we got to a crossroads and we found that we were pulling the invisible cord in different directions. Straining to the point that its going to snap.

Some arguing and tussling between us ensues and I state the case for taking things in my direction. But I’m heading home for a rest, and she wants to explore with all the curious energy of Darwin.

Like all mothers I knew I had to cut the cord. In that moment I also knew I would feel the intense fear that loving someone so much can easily arouse.

Getting the scissors from my well worn bag of tricks I hold my breath and……cut.

My heart was beating faster with each  tentative snip.

I had been the editor extraordinaire. Snip.

The translator. Snip.

A medium between her and the secure majority. Snip.

I’m the one that knows the password when she feels unsafe. Snip.

I’m the one that knows her eyes so well she doesn’t even need to speak. Snip.

It’s my heartbeat that regulates hers. Snip.

If I breathe she breathes. Snip.

(Where’s the damn ivory tower when you need it. Her hair is short now so she wouldn’t escape…)

As I watch her walk away… no hang on, she’s actually skipping  away… my heart is bursting with pride at her bravery and faith in the future. I can forgive myself for the times I perhaps didn’t map read properly on our journey. I can focus on listening to the song she’s singing as she begins to disappear out of immediate view.

If in a short while she doesn’t look back, or return for something I’ve forgotten to give her, I will take a deep and sorrowful breath and then…. I shall go home, take of my apron and dust down my dancing shoes!


photo (8)

In the woods…

5 thoughts on “Apron Strings

  1. Hope this goes on this time , I can so identify with the snipping of those strings . When both the girls moved out , I found it so painful as I like you had almost always been their everything .I do believe it is much healthier letting your kids find their own way in life but still be there .love the picture of a jazz she looked like a real Eco Warrior.

  2. Wonderful post, I think it must be incredibly difficult to let go. My boy has just come to us, and I can’t leave the room he is in. I am like his minder sometimes, shooing away gawping spectators.

  3. Really wonderful post Amanda. I can’t imagine how it feels to let them go, but I felt really positive by the time I got to the end of your post, and it sounds like Jazz is having an incredible time.

    Thanks for sharing with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

  4. I’m trying to let go a tiny bit and allow my son to grow and be ever so minutely independent, but it’s really tough. I’m so nervous that he wont make it, and all he’s getting to do is make a decision on turning his own light out and getting himself up in the morning. But when even these tiny steps don’t work as you envisaged there is shame and guilt all around and you seem to go massively backwards.

    I think how you and Jazz are coping is brilliant, and her ability to let go is down to the seed of confidence that you have planted and been growing and nurturing within her, be proud.

    Thanks for sharing on the weekly Adoption Shout Out. xx

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