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Last night I told Hux off for ripping a page out of his book. He started crying, as you do when you’re a slightly guilty three year old, and buried his head in his pillow. He then sat up, looked and me and tearfully shouted “I want my daddy to take me home!”.
Oof. I was heart-broken.
My rational mind knows that he doesn’t know what he’s saying and that it was an outburst borne of upset and raw emotion but it still hurts. One of my main focuses of the last two years has been my concerted effort for both children to have a really solid concept of ‘home’ and where they safely belong, and him asking to go home elsewhere with his dad doesn’t mean I’ve failed. I’m not going to go all Doctor Foster in this situation just yet.
When the separation began Hux was around four months and Elfie was two and a half. Neither of them can remember a world where they lived with their dad, something I’ve always been grateful for as I hope this means our situation has been clear to them from the start. As soon as they worked out their parents lived in two different locations they were savvy enough to name them – they would say “mummy’s house” or “daddy’s house”.
But I didn’t like this, I never want them to feel like they are split between two houses at any time in their lives. If ever in conversation they refer to “mummy’s house” I have always corrected them. “It’s not mummy’s house” I say, “it belongs to Elfie AND Huxley AND mummy – it is OUR house”. I want them to feel like our home belongs to us all.
The children spend two nights each fortnight with their dad but will sometimes stay in different places with him. They usually will sleep at their dad’s house in Dorset but sometimes it’s his house in London or occasionally my ex-Mother In Law’s house in Somerset. This is great for them because they spend a lot of time outdoors, get to see their Aunties and do different exciting things with their special weekends but I want them to feel their home with me is solid. Permanent. Reliable. I want them to come home every single day and feel safe and stable here: physically and emotionally.
I’ve lived with them in this house for two years, the longest I’ve spent in any house as an adult. If you told me ten years ago that at 30 I’d be living in a two bedroomed 80s house in Milton Keynes I would have laughed you out of wherever we were (a bar, probably) but this is what my family needs. The stability of a house we all feel cosy and warm in, a garden we can play in and our friends and family nearby. It works.
And until that evening I was 100% confident that both my children felt that safety and stability here with me.
I’m not going to be too hard on myself, Hux is growing up, testing his boundaries, working out his own emotions. Let’s be honest, I’m 27 years older than him and still prone to similar emotional outbursts.
But I will continue to make sure my children know they are home – that they are safe and comforted and stable. We are having a new upstairs carpet at next week and I’m using this as an excuse to create a wonderful re-vamped bedroom space for them, one that they have helped design.
We’ve been looking at bunkbeds for a while (and if you have any suggestions before I go to good old IKEA please shout!) and talking about how we will want the new room to look. They’ll have a more defined sleeping area and a separate play area, with shelving and boxes to store their toys and books. We will decide what pictures they want to go on the walls together and I will ask them to help as much as they can with all the fun parts of DIY. Most importantly I’m hoping this process will make them feel like this is a home they have helped create. It’ll be a home we are all happy to be in.
We’re home. We really are.