Image author's own.
The summer holidays are fast approaching. School will soon be out.
The weeks have been filled with trying to cram in as much paid work as possible, organising personal assistants, booking holidays and filling The Glory's expectant cardboard box with university essentials.
This holiday is the beginning of huge change in our family. One will leave, one will go back into mainstream from special education, and one will enter her last year at a fabulous primary school.
My two girls, the first who has been stymied by acute anxiety, whose perfect 18 year old body she mistrusts, despises and longs to change.
The smallest, full of self esteem, whose body is unpredictable, whose muscles are not trustworthy. I am in awe of what she makes it do, through practice, persistence and sheer bloody mindedness.
My own menopausal body, which has thrown up surprises, moods and huge chemical imbalances. I am in awe of that too, and its production of three independent minded beings.
Perhaps it's the sense of approaching change, but I am filled with deep unspecified yearning.
My go to strategy at such times is to ramp up activity (half marathon training anyone?) Add a couple of blog challenges, plan career development and start a few projects.
Experience tells me that distraction will work in the short term, but that carrying on at this pace will lead to burn out. The sensible part of me looks around for a cause.
This morning, when I woke up suddenly in the middle of a dream, I realized. It's Pearl. It's always Pearl.
In ten years of life together ,this child has taught me plenty. We are inextricably linked. She needs me in a way that my other children simply don't.
Someone once told me that when babies are first born they don't know where you end and they begin. Having so recently been part of you, they think they still are. They quickly grow out of this stage and make bids for independence.
Pearl is one of the most independent minded people I know, she still seems to believe I am part of her. On tired days she gives me a spoon and uses her hand to guide mine to her mouth. She snuggles deeply into me when life is tough, as if trying to merge straight back through the skin and become part of me again.
I know Pearl's body like I know my own. By 10 my other two were becoming private, dressing themselves and choosing clothes. Telling me if bits hurt.
I see all of Pearl everyday. Changing soiled nappies, noticing differences in muscle tone. Fighting tight calves into splints. Noticing her body preparing for approaching womanhood - I too don't know where I end and where she begins. The smell of her hair, the feeling of her in my arms is always present.
Pearl, is non verbal but anxious to communicate. Gesture, vocalisation, the superb PODD book all used daily, permeate our lives. She though would prefer me to be her communication aid, and retains a simple belief in my psychic abilities, which are frankly non existent.
All of this strength of feeling and entanglement is now becoming muddled by her hormonal changes, which are leading to the normal mum/ daughter aggravation, further intensified by her need for me. She wants me, she wants to do it herself. She needs me so she can do it herself. It's all very emotive.
This may go some way to explain my nightly dreams at present. Every single night Pearl talks.
it is always the first time. It is always realistic, her voice, slightly mangled consonants but clear words. It used to be "Mum". Now it's been replaced by sudden nouns describing where we are in the dream, followed by incredulity, growing vocabulary and a sense of wonder and relief.
And then I wake up.
Days filled by campaigning, explaining and ardently desiring equality and a proper acceptance of all, replaced by nights of yearning and longing, for my girl to turn to me and speak.
I see summers of small girls' past, mine, the Glory's and my decade old darling.
Summers of the future shimmering in the distance.
How will my body change, will it remain healthy enough to carry on caring?
Will the Glory learn to love herself as much as I do?
And Pearl herself? Will my dreams come true, sounds turn to words? Will she live a long healthy life? Will her muscles age well allowing her a measure of independence?
Our bodies, perfect in their imperfections, changing with age and experience and fearfully and wonderfully made.
HuffPost UK Lifestyle has launched EveryBody, a new section calling for better equality and inclusivity for people living with disability and invisible illness. The aim is to empower those whose voices are not always heard and redefine attitudes to identity, lifestyle and ability in 2017. We'll be covering all manner of lifestyle topics - from health and fitness to dating, sex and relationships.
We'd love to hear your stories. To blog for the section, please email email@example.com with the subject line 'EveryBody'. To flag any issues that are close to your heart, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, again with the subject line 'EveryBody'.
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