To my children,
When I was younger I had blue hair. Actually at different times I had pink hair, purple hair, and black hair. Your daddy had blue hair too, long before he was your dad. I used to buy all my clothes at op-shops and go to uni in dresses that were from my Grandma’s vintage. I drove an old bomb with no air conditioning, so when it was hot I would pour bottles of water over my head and let it run over my body and soak into the upholstery. I wrote songs and played the guitar, burned candles and incense in my room, and for a short while in my early twenties, developed my own religion.
|Me, before there was you (approx 18 years old)|
We had skirt parties, where the girls were able to dress in their most elaborate outfits and boys came dressed in fishnets and nurses outfits. We paired our Mum’s wedding dresses with graffitied Converse sneakers to celebrate the slightly dodgy wedding of a friend at the tender age of eighteen, then walked through the city, loving the attention. We climbed trees, advertised a night club in a friend’s garage and holidayed in Lancelin in an old hut with no electricity and a bath tub under the stars.
Now I have Mum hair. Cut into a sensible bob, dyed a sensible colour. On the rare occasions I buy clothes for myself, which are not ever-increasing (in size and sensibility) knickers, I shop at Target. I wear flat shoes. My handbag contains spare nappies and wipes. My guitar is under a layer of dust. The closest thing to religion is the relief I feel at the end of the day when I fall into bed and thank the universe for you - my beautiful, healthy daughters.
Sometimes I feel that when I became a Mum, I lost a part of myself. Most of the time I don’t miss her, knowing that along with the slimmer waist and greater freedom, was also the inherent ignorance and selfishness that comes with youth. The ignorance and selfishness that makes youth such fun, I might add. Is being a Mum always fun? Not on your life. Is being a Mum worth all the sacrifices we make? I believe so.
By the time you really get to know me, I will be edging towards my forties. To you I will be the person who makes sure you get the correct lunch at school, that your clothes are washed. I will be the person who helps out at school, who drops you off at ballet, who nags you about their homework. I am sure you will love that person, but will you really know who I am?
I never truly understood or appreciated my Mum until I became a mother myself. As a teenager and young adult it never occurred to me to investigate her beyond what I witnessed in the day-to-day. She was a mother, a teacher, a cook, a cleaner, a sewer. She worked, she read, she made our clothes. She was our Mum, but she wasn’t a person with a history, a dream, a set of beliefs.
I appreciate her now.
|Mum, before there was me (approx 18 years old)|
More than these mere words can ever hope to express, I truly appreciate my Mum. I can look back and see what she sacrificed for us. And this is not to say that my Dad didn’t make sacrifices for us, because I know he did. But I am a Mum and I can see the path ahead for me. I can see myself through your eyes, and I realise it will be some time before you see me as a person with an identity above and beyond your Mum.
And I can wait. But I do wish I could take each of you by the hand, ‘A Christmas Carol’ style, and show you who I was when I was younger, before you began, when I was only myself.