This is Ava. She is cheeky, wilful, fiercely independent and frighteningly clever. Just like her Daddy. She is also affectionate, caring and maternal, forever tucking her teddies into bed under a blanket/teatowel/flannel, frequently asking me “what’s the matter mummy?”, and making sure I am fed with a ready supply of imaginary cake. She washes me when we bathe together, and tells me she loves me (almost) every day. We look after each other.
Her cuteness is off the scale: she has the eyes of a Disney princess, and the hair of a wildling. Her language surpasses her understanding, which makes for some hilarious one-liners as she imitates overheard conversations. She is a natural comedian, and makes me laugh every day.
Her favourite game is ‘chase’ – she endears herself to peers and adults alike by informing them she is a lion/monster/dinosaur/’Wild Animal’ (her latest), before emitting the world’s sweetest roar and chasing them round the room. Woe betide you if you don’t join in though – this girl knows what she wants and she won’t stop until she gets it! Her stamina regularly outlasts mine.
Being a solo parent has it challenges. The responsibility is often overwhelming – no matter how much help I have from friends and family, every decision essentially falls on my shoulders. There is no-one to defer to when I feel doubt, and no-one to tell me they’ve got my back when it all goes wrong. As it’s been just the two of us at home for the majority of her life,, she finds it difficult to share me with anyone or any task – the washing up will often pile up for days before I find a moment to sneak off and do it. She wants my undivided attention at all times, and that makes play dates (both toddler and grown up) taxing..
But she is my reason for getting out of bed every day, in spite of my grief and a regular sense of hopelessness. In the early days after Omid’s death I was still breastfeeding her round the clock and rocking her back to sleep every two hours overnight. It was exhausting and relentless, but I had no choice but to put on a brave face and a smile for this beautiful little girl who had no idea of the tragedy she was caught up in. And I intend to keep it that way for as long as I can.