There have been many occasions in my daughter’s twelve-and-a-half years that, as we’re about to walk out the front door, we’ve looked at each other and stopped. ‘Well, one of us is going to have to change…’ one of us, usually I, say. There we are, standing there in almost identical outfits.

But despite her affinity for stripes and jeans, and oversized grey cashmere knits, and constant comments about how much we look alike, she is not me. We are different people; we like a lot of different things; she loves ice-cream and I really don’t; we have different things that bother us.

I seemed to forget that in the last couple of days and a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach – a problem that is mine – overtook my rational side, and I thrust it upon my girl.

This story isn’t about my kid – I am not here to tell her story. This tale is about how I dealt with my fear of her developing type 1 diabetes.

To set the scene: she has been a little under the weather. Before the end of last term, she had a head cold. Her lips were dry and cracked from having to breathe through her mouth, and she was revoltingly sniffily.

She had two very relaxing weeks at home to mark the break between semesters one and two, and returned to school last week very rested and perfectly well. And came home on day two of term complaining of a sore throat, sore head and dizziness. The next morning, she woke up with a full-blown head cold again, and she said her stomach was also a little sore and upset.

This persisted for the rest of the week and over the weekend, so I decided it was time for her to visit the GP. I made an appointment for the middle of the week and as we waited, she continued to complain of a sore stomach and some nausea. She was tired and generally poorly.

And that was where the gnawing monster started to rear its most ugly head, whispering viciously to me. ‘She’s drinking more. Isn’t she?’ came the first comments. ‘Did you notice how many times she has refilled her glass with water?’ it hissed as I stood in the kitchen throwing together dinner, and she popped in to mention something to me. ‘Didn’t your mum say something about her drinking a lot when they took her to the opera a couple of weeks ago?’ I was reminded. ‘She went straight to the bathroom the second she got home. She’s been doing that lots…’

Suddenly I found myself noting empty glasses in the house and listening out for the loo being flushed. I surreptitiously glanced at her when she walked into a room, assessing if she looked as though she’d lost any weight recently. (She didn’t.)

Eventually, as casually as I could, I asked her if she’d noticed any changes in how she was feeling. ‘Darling,’ I said, as we sat on the couch during a commercial break in Masterchef. ‘Have you noticed that you’re thirstier than usual?’ I scrolled through my phone as I asked her, not really looking at anything blur by and pretending that it was just a passing comment and I hadn’t really stopped breathing as I waited for her response. ‘Nup,’ she answered.

When she came back from the bathroom a little later in the evening, I asked her, in the same (false) off-the-cuff way if she thought she was needing to pee more frequently than usual. ‘No,’ she replied, without hesitation.

As nonchalantly as possible, I said, ‘Sweetie…I feel like…I’ve noticed that you seem to be drinking more…and maybe going to the bathroom a little more than you usually do,’ I hated myself for saying it to her and drawing her into my concern.

No. I haven’t.’ And she told me how many times she remembered going to the bathroom that day. She reminded me that she keeps forgetting to take a drink bottle to school and sometimes doesn’t drink anything until she gets home. (I ignored that bit of information, even though I probably should remind her to do something about that and hydrate regularly…#BadMotherMoment2198756)

I should have let it go. But I didn’t. ‘I’d really like to check your blood sugar. Would you let me do that?’

(I’m going to stop there, because even as I write this I know how I sound. And in an effort to defend my behaviour (mostly to myself rather than anyone reading) I want to point out that I have checked her blood sugar no more than about half a dozen times in her whole life. I don’t whip out a meter and jab her at the first sign of anything out of the ordinary. I just don’t do that and never have. But regardless of that fact, it doesn’t make it right that on this occasion I allowed my anxiety to spill over and start to become hers.)

In what I can only call one of my less excellent parenting moments, I asked her several times, even though she refused, until she eventually stormed from the room telling me that there was no reason for me to be feeling worried about this because she was not drinking more or peeing more.

I’ve not been able to stop thinking about the whole situation. I am horrified at how I allowed my irrational, unfounded fears to flood out of me. I am angry that the worry that is always in the back of my mind was allowed to grow and grow and unleash its full force onto my darling girl.

In the past, I have sought help from a psychologist about these fears and concerns. I know that I am irrational. I also know – of course I know – what the stats are, and the percentage chance that she will get diabetes. I also know that if she does, we are equipped to ensure that she gets the best possible care and the best possible support. I know it will not be the end of the world.

But mostly, I know that my fears are not her fears and never should be.

We went to the GP. My kid outlined her symptoms, and mentioned that I thought that she was going to the loo and drinking more than usual, but denied that was the case. Pleasingly, the GP did a urine test. All was fine.)

One of us had to change. (NYC 2014)

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