I Apologise, My Sweet, Sweet Daughter

She will probably never read it, but today, I apologise to my eldest daughter.

My darling, I am truly, deeply sorry that I expect so much of you. I am sorry that your outstanding qualities are so often overlooked.

I Expected Trouble…I Apologise

I have 2 daughters (Jenny, 5, and Charis, 1). When Charis was born, I expected jealousy from Jenny. I expected anger and sadness. I expected frustrated tantrums. That’s what the books foretold.

But it never came.

We have had Charis almost 2 years now and it still hasn’t come.

Jenny is a doting big sister who finds joy in helping Charis negotiate the world. When Charis has nicked Jenny’s book for the fourth time, she gently rebukes, “No darling. That’s Jenny’s. Can I have it back please?”

In many ways, Jenny astounds me – today a girl knocked her into the corner of the wall, giving her a massive egg on her head and even drawing blood. If it had been me, I would have totally lost my rag! Not Jenny. Sure, she howled with pain, but she paid no attention to the perpetrator.

She is fiesty enough, but in her heart, she’s gentle spirit. She has a deep sensitivity and a natural gift for empathy. She is wise. She is obedient. She is dependably good. When we go out, I never need to worry how she will behave. When we are walking along the street and she is running ahead, I never need to remind her to stay where I can see her or to watch out for the road.

I Expect Perfection…I Apologise

But here is the crux of the problem – this is what I have come to EXPECT of her. I get frustrated when she isn’t the model child because 9 times out of 10, she is. I say things like, “Come on, Jenny. You know how to behave” when, for one rare moment, boredom is getting the better of her or she’s wittering about having a snack.

I’m not as patient with Jenny.apologise sisters cuddle

But that’s not really fair, is it? She is still a child, after all. It should be expected that children will act up when they’re bored. It is normal for children to nag when they want something – they haven’t learnt the art of patience yet.

I Expect Independence…I Apologise

When you have multiple children, you rely on the older ones to do what they’re supposed to do so that you can focus on getting the younger ones sorted. Charis still needs me to dress her in the morning, but Jenny has to be responsible for herself. Charis will scream if she isn’t allowed the toy she wants, so Jenny has to pass it to her to keep the peace.

But, at the end of the day, they’re still children. Just because they are well-behaved, doesn’t mean they should get less attention. By all rights, they should have more because they have earned it!

I am ashamed to admit all of this. I feel regret with every key I press. I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish I had more time. I wish I could treat you both equally. It is not a reflection of my love for you; it is just that Charis is more dependent on me at the moment, and I know that I can trust you to get on by yourself.

I Love You xxx

So to my wonderful, caring, insightful, precious Jenny, I have this to say: you are incredible! You are infinitely more patient than me. You are immeasurably kind. You are fiercely loved. Your unique characteristics and soft, loving ways do not go unnoticed. I see you every single day and I am immensely proud of you. You bring light and happiness to those around you. I love you.
Thank you xxx

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  1. 1
    Nadia - Scandimummy

    Beautiful post, Lucy! It brought a tear to my eye. I was like Jenny, though I was an only child. Because of this so much was expected of me. My parents split when I was four and I carried on ‘being good’ as I longed for pearce and happiness. Be proud that you see all her wonderful characteristics and encourage her to stay kind – especially in a world full of so much evil – but if you can don’t be too hard on her (or yourself) if she from time to time can’t live up to perfection. As perfection doesn’t exist. She’s is clearly very, very loved! #bigpinklink

    Nadia – Scandimumy x

    • 2
      Lucy At Home

      Yes she is dearly loved. I hope that she can carry on being so kind because, as you say, the world can be a really horrible place. And I hope that I can be the mummy that she deserves. Thank you for your encouragement. L

  2. 4

    I feel a bit like this with my daughter. She’s lovely and well behaved but if I can’t get her to follow simple instructions, I get so frustrated! I think it’s because I expect so much because she’s normally an angel.


  3. 7
    Agent Spitback

    What a gorgeous post. It is so true that we tend to forget that our older children are still children. I am guilty of this as I expect my eldest to always know how to behave and to keep the younger ones in order. It’s lovely that one day she’ll read this letter and smile. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  4. 9
    Alison (MadHouseMum)

    This is a very touching post. I do think that you are being too harsh on yourself! My eldest daughter, like yours, was always independent and expected to do things because she could and she had younger siblings who couldn’t. Like you, over the years I have worried about giving her responsibility and even the way we often refer to her as: ‘mummy Mollie’. However, over the past year, I have come to realise that this role that she carved out for herself naturally is a really good one. It has made her an amazing, resourceful 17 year old, who wants to cook for the family, who enjoys helping her sisters with difficult homework (that is way beyond me!) who values her family and who is kind, gentle and caring. I wouldn’t have it any other way and nor would she. I accept that where a child is in the family partly shapes their character and this is normal and to be embraced. I love your words to your daughter…please don’t feel guilty yourself. Alison x #DreamTeam

    • 10
      Lucy At Home

      Alison, thank you so much for your kind, encouraging words! I love hearing from mums with older children who can pass on what they’ve seen and learnt, and i think you might be right about Jenny’s gifts naturally lending themselves to this big sister, caring role. Thank you again. Lucy

  5. 12
    Bridie By The Sea

    Wonderful post – this one speaks to me so much as I am guilty of doing this too with my stepson. He is 12 years old and sometimes I just forget that he’s still a kid, and expect him to help me with my daughter at times. I feel disappointment that he runs off and leaves me to handle her on my own sometimes, when actually he just wants to have fun too! Such an honest and powerful post, I’m so glad I found your blog through our linky. Thanks for linking up to #dreamteam xx

    • 13
      Lucy At Home

      Yes it can be really frustrating when they’re not in the mood to help out. But then, as you say, they want to have fun too. It’s such a tricky balance to find.

      P.S. I love being part of the #dreamteam linky 🙂

  6. 14

    This is beautiful Lucy! Jenny obviously knows how much she’s loved, you sound like a wonderful mummy. I’m the oldest and I was well behaved so my mum relied on me the same way and expected more. But on the flip side, all my big life events came first – I had a big surprise party for my 18th that couldn’t have been repeated for my brother. And I had 3 years of uninterrupted 1:1 time with my mum before my brother was born. Jenny sounds wonderful & she won’t feel how you’re worried she does I promise! #pocolo

  7. 16
    Sharon Saunders

    What a beautiful post that I hope one day your daughter gets to read. I have an 8 year old daughter and a 6 month old son – it’s fair to say that i totally expect too much of my eldest too. It’s a tough balance. #PoCoLo

    • 17
      Lucy At Home

      Yes it’s so tricky trying to find the right balance. You want the older ones to help, but you don’t want to expect too much from them. Plus I think the older ones like being able to help out too, but it’s not fair to rely on them. Thank you for commenting. L

  8. 22

    Oh this is beautiful and I really hope Jenny does read this when she is older. I did exactly the same with my eldest daughter – I expected so much of her when her little sister was 2 and my son was born – she was only 4 and just starting school and I expected her to be so grown up – she was 4! Started school as the youngest in the year and I wanted her to be grown up when really she needed so much more nurturing and support but I had a two year old and a baby – i’ll always regret that I didn’t give her enough when she was little as a result. We are making up for it now though!! The fact that you are aware of the expectation you are probably doing everything perfectly so don’t stress too much and I promise that when they are older you can change things – it gets easier – having littlies is tough! #ablogginggoodtime

    • 23
      Lucy At Home

      Thank you for the encouragement! I get myself so tied up in knots – am I doing enough? What should I be doing differently? what if I’m doing the wrong thing? It’s so good to have the reminder that I still have time. Thank you. L

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