My daughter makes a great beard. She really does.
I’m not talking actual facial hair, you understand. I don’t use her as a kind of lively facial toupée. That would be eccentric, to say the least. I mean she’s my beard. My mask. My disguise. My cover.
Like many people I dislike small talk. I have a tendency to panic and blurt out something inappropriate or confused. Something such as: “Oh, I went to Devon once.” (Yes, it SOUNDS normal NOW, but at the time we were discussing the work of MAYA ANGELOU.) Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total pariah – most of the time I pull it off. But, dear God, the effort.
Anyway, nowadays I have my beard, I mean daughter, to conceal my mortification. She soaks up attention with her wild charm so others barely notice if I jabber madly.
Some great sage (possibly Nigella Lawson, actually) once described how motherhood means a woman ceases to be the picture – her children take on that role – and instead becomes the frame. Well, that suits me just perfectly.
I like that my daughter enjoys the spotlight while I can skulk in the wings, toasting her successes with a glass of Prosecco. “Bottoms up, darling. Yes, Mummy’s here.” *slurps*
But it’s not only about the gaze of others. My own clear focus on my daughter since her birth is a damned relief, having looked after only myself for so long. And MUCH more entertaining too.
Friends without children have achieved this state of semi-selflessness in breathtakingly brilliant ways. But I was always a bit crap at it. Ends up all I needed was a big shove from my beard, my disguise, my cover, my girl.