There is a pig in our toybox, with SAM written on it in biro.
I was contemplating it yesterday, following a conversation with my Pie. At eight, she has a boyfriend. He dumped her for her friend and then started calling her a pig, shouting ”bacon’ at her across the playground. She is considering taking him back because he’s promised not to call her names anymore.
I am so sad about this. I am trying to get through to her, even at this tender and innocent age, that this is not what she should be settling for at all. To set her sights higher.
The pig in the toybox was graffitied by my ex husband. I was playing with my babies and the farm and it was his idea of a joke (what’s the matter, can’t you take a joke? Mummy’s got no sense of humour, has she? Silly pig Mummy, oink oink’).
I have no idea why we still have the bloody thing, I have never got round to throwing it out, the farm still gets played with and I don’t often remember it’s there.
I am married now to a man who has never called me a pig, or lazy, or fat, or a cunt. Who compliments me several times a day, who puts my needs ahead of his, who is respectful. And that’s how it should be, for everybody. We work hard to make the other happy, instead of doing things that are upsetting or hurtful or selfish or spiteful.
I thought I was doing enough to model good relationships for my children, but I’m starting to realise the damage may have been done. I don’t want her to make the mistakes I did, to seek out the ‘bad boys’, to not value herself, to tolerate abuse.
I tell her every day that she is so beautiful, and clever, and funny and special and loved. I don’t know now if it’s enough. It took me until I was twenty six to claw my way out of the fog of insecurity, to realise that it was possible to be happy on my own, to know that drama does not equal passion.
I want her to have the kind of real, solid, safe love that I have now, without having to go through the teenage heartbreak and then the abusive cycle of relationships that so many of us experience. I want to protect her from being called names, from the shifting sands of living with a liar, from the physical and emotional hurt. Every relationship I ever had until I met Rob was damaging in its own way, and each one left its own scars.
I am terrified for her. How can I protect her from the world and all its dangers when the biggest threat is her own self esteem?