A bad habit

Last Saturday we went to visit our daughter at University, and at the close of a lovely afternoon – during which it stopped raining for long enough to allow a lovely bright blue sky to emerge, with warm sunshine, a fitting end to British Summer Time – we had the ritual trawl around the supermarket and then back to her digs with several shopping bags.

As husband stood from the car and daughter went to fetch her provisions, I automatically assumed – bad habit – that I would be staying with the car, even although I have no real problem with stairs and do indeed enjoy the challenge of them. While my present self knows that I enjoy a challenge, because of the extra walk, and the stairs to climb to my daughter’s room in a top flat, my more historically timid self bid her a fond farewell, and then sat and waited, for husband to lift and carry his share of the bags and return.

It was only as we were driving away that it occurred to me: I didn’t need to wait by myself with the car. I could have accompanied my husband and daughter up to her flat. They would not have minded, and indeed, it would have been good fun, even if, as I feared, it would have taken an extra ten minutes to do everything. So what? My daughter is not one to resent the minutes I spend at her side, nor would she tut impatiently as she waited for me to catch up.

That I think she might, is a residue of an ancient habit that I have yet to entirely shrug off: This idea of being a nuisance, somehow in the way. The next time we visit, I do hope that I have the courage to simply join in, and not worry about the extra time it takes, to make time for me. I reflect how often I have excused myself rather than face this dilemma, and only now realise that my husband and daughter see me in a very different light from that of my childhood. No longer a nuisance, but a part of their lives, accepted, and expected to participate.

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