It was an odd feeling waking up in a house without Kara.
The three days this week our youngest child spent at her grandparents’ gave us an insight into how different our family dynamic would have been had we not had her.
She had a wonderful time, though. Who wouldn’t? She was spoilt rotten by her grandparents and uncle, visiting London Zoo, eating out constantly – everywhere from McDonald’s to her favourite restaurant into Chinatown – poring over her Where’s Wally?-alike book and generally being the centre of attention without having to compete with her brothers for the limelight.
By the time I picked her up on Wednesday evening she was shattered but happy. Her first question to me in the car as we left was, “When can I go again?” and she was in such a good mood that she was completely diva strop-free for at least, well, a few hours. She’ll never admit it but, as much as she didn’t want to leave her grandparents, she missed her mum and brothers too.
So when I woke up on Thursday to find Kara nestled in her usual place in our bed between us, my first thought wasn’t “Where’s Kara?”, more “she’s back where she belongs”.
Maybe I’m imagining it or projecting my own emotions on to her but she has seemed closer to me too these past few days. A little more willing to cuddle me spontaneously (she’s always been cuddly, but especially so since coming home, I think). More likely to greet me in the morning with a cheery, “I love you, Daddy.”
Three days apart isn’t enough to break the parental bond – but it can be enough to strengthen it, it seems. I guess it’s true: absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
Where’s Kara? Even when she’s not here in person, she’s always in my heart. And, I think, I’m always in hers too.