Memory lane: I have been sorting old photos. Scanning some, deleting others and musing over the rest. Faded memories became clearer, lost ones revived and warm moments relived.
To 'do' something with these memories I have decided to write about my 3 children and the impact their arrival had on me as a mum.
It was 1972 and I was pregnant. Bit young, but I thought I was experienced enough in life to be capable of motherhood and all that it entailed.
Those months of my pregnancy were a challenge - I lived more than 650 kms away from my parents and other family members in New Zealand. And half a world away from those in Nederland. Happily we had some lovely neighbours and one set of parents of friends. The mum was a dutch lady. She became one of my 'warm bath' people. Someone I could talk to, share worries or thoughts with. Those one would normally want to share with a mum. My dear neighbour Val, whom I remember with fondness also a great support and place to go when the emotions got too tough. No internet in those days, we didn't have a phone either. Having a private conversation with my parents just didn't happen.
Oh joy of joys when my daughter was born. I felt soooooo proud, so complete. In fact what I felt was so BIG I cannot to this day describe the emotions and feelings of that moment. Just WOW. My daughter. WOW!
She had huge inquisitive eyes, a bright spark. Her hair had a gingery glow. She was short... little- not tiny but little. Oh I was so in 'new mum' heaven. As I was used to little children having been a babysitter since my early teens, had a brother 13 years younger and my sister had already had her first child, bathing my daughter for the first time didn't scare me. I couldn't wait to truly 'care' for my daughter. The nursing staff were surprised to find the 'chore' done when they came into my room.
Breast feeding was an issue. I tried and tried - and didn't succeed past the first 6 weeks. Topping up each feed with the bottle. A choice had to be made. I switched to bottle feeding. The great part was that daddy could feed his daughter too. I felt quite sad for him all those extra moments I had and all he could do was look on. This seemed much fairer. It is also, my personal opinion, that he and she were able to bond so beautifully. He loved holding her and caring for this new life. We took turns during the night shift feeds.
As I said earlier, a bright spark. Sleep was a useless activity madam decided. It was a long day- being able to finally settle her around 9pm. The short catnaps during the day topped up her energy levels enough to last the distance.
We had a playpen- and she would lie in it at first with rugs and soft toys. It soon became a place to play. At 5 months she pulled herself up on the bars and started 'walking' round holding onto the bars. Yes, I encouraged this. She loved peanut butter sandwiches. I used to feed her through the bars, piece by piece, while she gingerly set the steps to reach the next mouthful. Many a 'expert child rearer' may be horrified at this practice- but what works for one doesn't necessarily work for others. My daughter slept on her tummy, walked early ( wobbly at 9 months and running before her 1st birthday) and was also early out of nappies.
No, she didn't suffer traumas because of it. She is a well adjusted modern woman and mother of 3 and doing wonderful things in life.
Active, creative, self reliant, independent, private, head strong, confident, daring, challenging, serious, sporty, caring, enthusiastic, vulnerable, tough, resilient.
We don't always see eye to eye. I can say with all honesty, she runs rings around me as far as activities and challenges are concerned. I cannot keep up with her, nor need I do so. Her life is so different yet paralel with mine way back then. Her challenges seem larger, harder, but times have changed. I am glad I had the moments I've had as a young mum when I did, and look with awe to the challenges spread out before young families today.
My greatest gift was to be a young mum with a daughter who kept me on my toes. My reward is seeing what a strong character she has grown in to be and having the privilege of being oma to her 3 children.
Darling daughter... there are no words to express my feelings and love for you. It is ever present and not a day goes by I don't think of you - so far away and yet close in my heart!