Last week my father emailed me some old family photos.
A determined belief in the unicorn and rainbows childhood he likes to eulogize on my behalf prove the gesture was meant kindly. It was, for me, another little piece of the puzzle that’s confounded me my entire adult life.
There’s a street party outside our house, with trestle tables, bunting, and merriment. My maternal Grandmother stands at the back, slender and youthful, watching my mother make her proud. Her eyes shine at the beautiful spread, the beautiful family, the beauty of the domestic idyl before her.
In turn, my mother gazes proudly at her own child, my sibling, in a perfect replica of her own outfit. If these photographs could speak, their words would be self-congratulatory and smug.
‘Just look!’ they say, ‘look at the perfect family we’ve made.’
‘Look at my beautiful daughter.’
Everything here is beautiful.
Other images depict a small, blonde girl with a round face, sorrowful eyes, and an ever-present security blanket. I have just turned 3, and the family doctor says I’m overweight – a personal affront to my mother.
I sit on my father’s knee because he senses the disconnect between his wife and their youngest, but understands it is not something that should ever be acknowledged. How can my mother’s indifference to me be wrong, when she has proven herself to be exemplary in this regard?
No, the one at fault here is me. At 3 years old I am already wrong, simply for not being my sister.