Long before I even had big teeth or school shoes, I knew and felt deep down in my heart that all I wanted was to one day be a real mommy, and a nurse (because my mommy had been a nurse before she got me, and I was so in love with the beautiful freckled nurse on the photo). My little scraggly passed-down rag-doll was a pathetic looking dirty lifeless little child who could do just as well without me. Who could love something that couldn’t even talk or play or cry or fall asleep at my lullabies or bleed or ask why or swallow my mud-pies?
I knew I wouldn’t be a daddy, because daddies were big and strong and had enormous warm laps and huge powerful hands and feet and voices. I was much too skinny to be able to grow that much and my voice was squeaky and soft. Anyway, my brothers’ wouldn’t even allow me to play with their dinky toys, so why would I be allowed to drive a big car or a truck. And daddies had short hair, and I could sit on mine.
When Robert from the co-op gave me my first kiss in our tree-house during my 6thbirthday party, I thought he would of course be the daddy when I became mommy. I remember swallowing a sixpence at that same party, but it was coughingly wrenched out of me. I still can’t keep money for long. Then we moved away to a faraway farm and Robert must have become some other mommy’s daddy. I suppose my wannabemother cravings were satisfied to some extent on the farm, with lots of little “hanslammertjies” needing to be bottle-fed, and a younger sister and brother to take care of.
I was always willing and able to clean grazes on knees and dress bloody wounds (and wipe snotty noses). When my little brother landed under the wheels of Dad’s car while he was reversing, I actually stood my ground and didn’t run away. Thankfully, the injury was not too serious, but I realized that my nursing instincts were still strong.
At the age of 12 and a quarter, with an A-class pass into “high” school, off to boarding school I went. But not before being told the facts of life by Mom. Lo and behold, what a shock to my system that was. Please keep in mind that this was almost half a century ago, and it was called the dark ages because children (in our family anyway) were kept completely in the dark about anything and everything to do with anatomy.
For the first time I found out that I had reproductive organs, along with allot of other outrageous information. My brother hadn’t come out of a toffee? This newly acquired knowledge scared the motherly instincts right out of me for quite a number of years.
Five years later, when matriculating at the age of 17, I handed my already completed application forms for nursing college to Dad to sign. (I was too young to be accepted without his consent). No, said Dad, I will not sign this. You are far too sensitive and get too involved emotionally. You will not become a nurse. Finished and klaar, that was that. My dream had been shattered. I did not speak to him for months, and refused to look for another career.
Eventually Dad persuaded me to go for an interview to see if I had the ability to become a “tracer”. Needless to say, Dad knew me well and was absolutely right about the nurse thing, and I have loved my job.
Tracer became Draughtswoman, became Cad Operator, become Technical Assistant, and now I am a highly skilled much sought-after one of a kind semi-retired Cad Technician, and the only person in my company proficient in both ‘Caddie’ and ‘Micro-Station’.
Let’s go back a few years again, to my first year working. My nursing dream had been shattered and I was plodding along with nothing exciting happening in my life. The YWCA was now my home as my family had moved to another town. After living an extremely protected life, I was on my own. Then everything changed.
On a Thursday lunch blind date, I met this wonderful bare-footed handsome gentleman and we have been together ever since. 46 years and counting. Love at first sight it was, for both of us. Friday night we went to the movies (all dressed up in those days). Saturday morning he took me to meet his parents. Off to the theatre in the evening (even more dressed up – pink lurex mini dress for me, suit for him). I stood in a puddle of mud with my silver shoes, and he took his snow-white handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped the mud off. Sunday – a marriage proposal and a resounding yes. It was love at its best (and it’s worst).
My motherly feelings returned with an uncontrollable bang (hehehaha). Morning sickness, sore boobs, tears, happiness, fear, anxiety, whispering, shame and disgrace on the family (this was the dark ages remember), excitement, kitchen tea, wedding, honeymoon in Durbs, stork tea, prenatal classes, thinking that all the glasses we got as wedding gifts would last us for the rest of our lives, buying second-hand furniture, moving into our own place, etc etc. It was such a rollercoaster ride. And I was only a very young 18 years old. (My man was a more grown-up 24 year old). Thank you my Love of my life, for EVERYTHING!
But boy oh boy, was I ready to be a mommy. Isn’t this what I knew I was born to be? My love for my unborn child grew with my belly……
To all 3 my beautiful children:
Before I knew you, I already loved you. As I felt your life in me growing, I was filled with absolute knowing. During your birth and through the pain, my joy and elation I couldn’t contain. And as your life continued to unfold, precious memories in my heart I still tightly hold. The feeling of your warm little fingers entwined in mine, still somehow miraculously lingers. You were and are part of me, and will remain so for eternity.
I was there for all your feeds, and to fulfill all your needs. I happily changed and rinsed all your crappy nappies. (No disposables in those days). I stayed up nights wiping feverish brows, and cleaning up vomit. I sewed and mended your clothes, and I fetched and carried and taxied. I dropped you off at school and fetched you again in the afternoon. You only knew that I had a job because I told you so. I was at every event – sport, boys brigade, brownies, ballet, PTA meetings, birthday parties, hospital visits etc etc. I was always there for you. I always made time for you; my life revolved around yours. And I loved every single minute of being your mother (still do actually). This was what I had wanted since before I had teeth, remember! I was in the process of fulfilling my role in life. No pathetic looking dirty lifeless little rag-doll, but a real child to play and be with. And this child returned and responded to my love. Oh what immeasurable joy!
I must say that it was during your growing up years that I realized that I was not a nurse at heart. I wanted to cry and run away every time one of my beloved children got hurt or bled or had an operation. (Tried hard to hide this though)
I always tried to be fair. I always tried to understand. I always brought you before God every single day, as I still do to this day. I also know that I made plenty of mistakes. I have luckily forgotten most of them, and hope you have too. I am truly sorry if I did or said anything that left a lasting negative effect on you.
I know that in the last years I have not always been all that pleasant to be around. It is not easy to carry on with everything regardless of constant pain and exhaustion. I want you to know that I love your father beyond measure and because I feel so secure in his love for me, I have unfortunately taken out all my frustrations on him. I am in the process of making it up to him.
Just want you to know that all 3 of you make me so proud (make US so proud). You have grown up to be really special human-beings. I am crying now – tears of joy and sadness all mixed up together. I have felt all your highs and lows with you – how can I not, as I am part of you! And here we are and we are all fine and honky-dory.
Perhaps after reading this, you will understand why it sometimes feels so natural and normal to be giving advice to you as adults, or even telling you what to do or not to do. Please forgive me for this. I have been doing it my whole life, and sometimes I just slip into that role, even though I know you are quite capable of making your own decisions.
You know when you should shave or brush your hair or sleep enough or eat well or not drink and drive or swear etc etc. I always have your interests at heart, and remember that I probably know you better than anyone else. (Our personalities basically remain the same, even when we are all grown up). I will do my best to only give advice when it is undoubtedly called for or asked for by you. I am always here!
It is a privilege to have you in my life……THANK YOU for fulfilling my dream in such a perfect wonderful, warm, living way.
Tjaart, THANK YOU from the very depths of my soul, without you none of this would have been possible!