I feel rather worried. My eldest daughter, always compliant, pliable and a model of probity is now acting strangely. She is three and my analyst tells me that my pregnancy disconcerts her. She tells me, as a matter of course that sibling rivalry is natural and that i must accustom myself to tantrums and fireworks. As a way out she suggests a gentle but firm conversation, a steering the conversation to a mature direction which my daughter, it is purported, will respond agreeably to. I have my own misgivings but i pay my fee and leave.
It is not that i don't understand my daughter's ambivalence. I myself, due to the exiguity of circumstance, am constrained from partaking wholly in her care. So a nanny has replaced me. I notice my daughter's, whose name is Colette, striking a close bond with her nanny, both as inevitable outcome and as a way of rousing my jealousy. She is seeking to provoke me, to demand from me an unmitigated allegiance which i, had i not been pregnant, and as an independent feminist, would have balked at providing.
Sometimes her winsome ministrations charm me. Colette is many things but she is unquestioningly cute. I pamper her, hold her close, kiss her importunately and she crows with delight. 'I love you', 'you are mine' are rejoinders my analyst enjoins me to be sceptical about. But i'm exhausted. My varicose veins are swollen, i'm frequently nauseous and feel a tiredness that overrides any joy in life i may experience. Coupled with that Colette's own neurotic anxieties redouble my tiredness.
I have to confess that sometimes i feel an impulse to slap colette, to knock the stuffing out of her. Thankfully my analyst, with her sense of composure, calms me down. My own horrified realization that i want to beat up my three year old suffuses me with unutterable horror. That me, a post feminist ,is capable of such monstrosity gives me a version of myself i recoil from.
I don't think i have maternal ambivalence which always seemed overdone to me. But i am, despite everything, a woman weighed down bodily by a forthcoming tough pregnancy with a young daughter whose complex feelings i try to apprehend but am circumvented from doing by ill health. I have tried to have conversations with colette but they are unavailing.
My husband treats colette as a princess. She is rather coquettish with him. His effort to intercede on my behalf, with the aim of subsequently ameliorating my present turbulence with colette misfire. She is getting ever closer to her nanny and her demands from her father are becoming more cumbersome. I don't accuse colette of guile or calculation . I think she is responding in ways that guarentee her own precarious survival in a world whose complexity is indiscernible to her. All she has are the challenges her complex inner life throws at her. It pains me to register a putative deterioration that seems inevitable. Could i forestall it?
I must do something about it.