Well, the title is a statement of fact made by my son who is the sitting up child in this image. The other occupants of the cot are my first born, sixteen months older than him and me at the age of around 22. I haven’t done much on my blog recently.
The conversation with my son took place while I was driving home from a rare but necessary shopping trip to buy a gift for my daughter who will enter her 50th year tomorrow. “Shit Mum, is she 50” was my son’s shocked response. “No, tomorrow is the start of her 50th year.” On August 1st I will enter my 70th year.
What I have been doing in this completely unrecognisable time since March is working my way towards my current state of nearly permanent reflection! When I am not reflecting, I am often asleep! I have become housebound. I have cooked which has resulted in near physical territorial disputes over the use of the kitchen. Often when I am awake it is the middle of the night or early morning. In recent weeks I took part in a Zoom meeting that started at 4.00am. I watched and listened in awe to a woman, a member of a religious congregation, aged 83 being interviewed by a passionate young Afro-American woman. I realised that the understanding I think I have about the Black Lives Matter movement in America comes nowhere near what the reality is for the citizens of that country, nor can it ever express the reality of the chasm of historical injustice and agony suffered by First Nation People in the country we call Australia. Australia seems to have become a “jumping on the bandwagon” country! We don’t lead the way in the things that really matter but we can come through an economic crises and maintain our triple A credit rating!
Back to my birthday girl. I was married in a rush! I think my lovely Dad was terrified that I would give birth before I was married and that the magnificent creature who enters her 50th year tomorrow would be tarred with the title of illegitimate. In 1971 there were more out of wedlock births than there had ever been in the history of the country! “Too Young to be Married” hit number one on the charts the week my then boyfriend and I broke the happy news to my Mum and Dad that they would be grandparents in two months time! I had two younger siblings aged 13 and 17. I think their adolescence took a bit of a belting! Two of my three older siblings belonged to Religious communities, the other was a Priest. My news was a bit of a shock! My Mother, filled with shock, disappointment and rage was insistent that the child be given up for adoption. It was my Father who put his foot down and said no to that. They signed the permission for me to marry.
As I type these words, it strikes me that I was certain that I should marry. I was certain that I should have the child. I was certain that I would finish my training as a teacher. I was certain that I loved the Father of my child. Youthful optimism? Blind faith? Totally immature ignorance? In retrospect, probably all of these! Did I consider for one minute that we would welcome our second child into the world just 16 months later, in my last year of teacher training, two weeks before I began my final practise teaching? Don’t be silly! Absolutely not!
In retrospect, I believe I was born to be a trail blazer! I have spent my life hacking away at obstacles, wallowing in the easy, joy filled safe paths, stepping with trepidation into new territory, travelling with confidence and courage at times and coming in on a wing and a prayer at others. I believe she who enters her 50th year tomorrow has done the same for the next generation!
I have also crash landed, caused casualties, told it like it is when I could have shut my mouth, taken no prisoners and done harm!
On my daughter’s 21st birthday, my Mother expressed her deep regret for the way she had reacted all those years ago and told me that she could not imagine how different her life would have been had Patricia (named after her) been adopted.
That little tot, wrapped in my arms in that cot, with her then very trendy girl “mullet style” haircut is now an intelligent, brave, compassionate, loving woman. She wears her heart on her sleeve at all times. She is an inspiring woman, a beautiful mother, a loving wife and a passionate teacher.
My mother used to say “my children have educated me”. She started saying this well into her later years, after she had matured into Grandmotherhood and her first Grand Child had become an adult. By the end of her life, Mum was a Great Grandmother nearly 5 times over. Her great Great grandchildren now number 10.
What a gift to live to be part of the most vulnerable age group in this time of COVID 19!
Thank you Ken!