As I sit on the edge of your bed, my hand gently smoothing away the hair on your forehead, I feel the heavy pressure and angst of being a teenager ebbing away. You're sleeping now, the fever having finally settled. And, there, just as when you were smaller, I sit, watching you. To me, you are still my little girl. Especially as you sleep.
Your face relaxed. Your brow not furrowed. Your mouth not uttering those words so typical. Your shoulders not hunched as they get ready for another huge sigh. The weight of being a teen gone just for a few hours. And, to me, you are you again.
Your need for me, now you're poorly, no different to when you were little. But, if I'm honest, there is a difference. Adulthood is forcing its way to you. I'm struggling to hold it off. Adulthood with its pressures, its worries and even its fake tan. I can feel it lurching at the door of your bedroom as I sit here with you. If I could just hold it back for a while longer I would.
She's the uninvited guest. I have no recollection of having asked her to make an all singing and dancing appearance. I remember wanting children. But there she is all dressed up and ready to party with an insistence of taking you along. There are long legs, there are heels. I see make-up and secrets I don't know.
You talk of her constantly. You show me pictures. Your eyes sparkle with the adventures you want to share, the places you will go. I can feel your excitement. She's everywhere, this new best friend. You want to look like her, be like her, talk like her. You take in all of her being whilst she's taking away your childhood. This was never an exchange I agreed to. But I'm not sure I have a choice.
But, for now, as I sit upon your bed, watching you sleep, you're still my little girl. If I can hold back adulthood for just a little more time, and will you to know that childhood makes for a wonderful carefree friend, I'll sit for a little while longer. Childhood lets you play without a worry, get muddy without a care. Childhood doesn't even know the angst of adolescence, the pressure of social media. Childhood sees the beauty in everything. It sees life for what it really is. Let her be your friend for the longest time.
Adulthood will still be there waiting, sweetheart. She's loyal like that. Well, a little too keen if you ask me. But give childhood a chance. She's here for the shortest time and you'll miss her once she's gone. Damn it, I'm missing her and not seeing her too often. But I see her tonight as you sleep and I'm glad a little part of her is still here fighting to keep her rightful place of friendship for just a few more hours. Adulthood can stay hovering at your door for a little while longer ... just saying.
Helen blogs at www.justsayingmum.com