Like “The in-laws are coming” only… Well… Worse.
My daughter stayed with a foster family for a period, whilst we were sorting everything out. It was difficult. Really difficult. They are a lovely family, and I really appreciate all that they did for us, but the way my daughter will form strong attachments with just about anyone meant that before long I felt as though I had been pushed out. She really loved the foster carer.
Of course I know that nobody will ever replace me as her Mum, but when the foster carer visits (usually 2 or 3 times a year) it’s still uncomfortable for me. I see my daughter getting excited for the visit, recounting tales of when she lived there, and I feel a little… Less than. Like maybe the foster carer is better than me. Like maybe I have to prove myself. It’s a really silly notion built entirely upon my own insecurities, but nevertheless it is there.
So when I received a text asking if they could take my daughter out for tea at the end of the week, I panicked just a little. Of course, I had expected them to be in touch before Christmas. Just not at the end of a crazy busy week, and not when my daughter has been in one of her worst behavioural phases ever, and not when I was already feeling a little stressed about other things. It took a day for me to reply, and a further day for me to realise I should probably get them a little Christmas token.
So here I sit, two days before the visit, occasionally dragging my (tired and saggy) butt off the sofa to wipe a skirting board or rearrange ornaments. The same twitchy cleaning habits shown by women the world over, who have just heard that the in laws are coming. A desperate need to impress our elders, and a begrudging feeling aimed at that need. Why do we do it? I like the foster carer. I respect her too. I hope my life looks like hers in twenty years. Yet I need things to be perfect when she comes to visit.
I assume it’s something to do with the fact that she is an adult. Yes, I am an adult, but she is an adultier adult. She is more adept at adulting than I am. I feel inferior. I want her to know that we are doing well, that things are okay, and that my daughter is well looked after. But instead of just saying that, I obsessively clean, I overdress my daughter and I pray the night before that she will behave like an angel. Maybe it’s rooted in fear of judgement.
I’ll get them a gift tomorrow. Something generic, like chocolates. Probably from Tesco.
I should wipe down the mantle now…