Here is my second response to what’s most important in my life and why?
I still remember my husband’s reaction as he carried our firstborn out of the maternity hospital on a sizzling Sydney summer day. He gently placed our precious cargo in his bassinet in the back of our blue 2 door T-18. His face was beaming with pride, joy and delight. He could barely contain himself, constantly gazing at our precious son and saying in wonder, “He’s ours. He’s ours and no one can take him away.’
My husband grew up in a children’s foster home and his words rang of the understanding from his childhood that some families for various difficult or traumatic reasons, had to give up their children to government social workers, who would deem them safer in the care of others. Phil’s parents had become foster carers and gradually added to their homegrown brood of six children, (of which my husband was the eldest and only boy), until eventually their household expanded to an average of sixteen children. Most of them became permanents, while others came for temporary stays, before returning to their families or other carers.
My family of origin on the other hand, was a more traditional housing commission, mill worker variety of mum, dad and the pigeon pair, with me being the eldest.
Our childhoods were so vastly different and created an interesting melting pot for us to become a family and raise our three boys.
Our sons grew in the nourishing soil of being loved deeply by a devoted gentle, playful father who has always delighted in spending quality time with them at every opportunity, paying attention to their interests, sports and hobbies. And now with the uniquely characterful trio in their mid-thirties, we have the pleasure and privilege of calling them sons and dear friends.
I learned to be a mother over time, mostly through the lense of hindsight as I dared to vulnerably own and learn from my mistakes. Unlike my husband who had been surrounded by babies, toddlers and troubled teens, I had never handled a baby, let alone a new born prior to having my own. I was more the sporty, outdoors type. Always on the move, blissfully self-absorbed is a fair description. I wasn’t and am still not one of those nurturing maternally inclined women who make comforting or celebratory cups of tea to go with their home baked goods, while gushing and gooing over tiny babies.
I brought my own brand of parenting imprinted from my family of origin with its strengths and weaknesses. But, over time, and not altogether without inner resistance and struggle, I melded more and more with my husband and my offspring who have taught me to be less intense, live lighter, love and laugh more and accept imperfection in myself and those around me.
This love has expanded in us and through us over time. I’ve learned there is always more love to go around. We have always chosen to love whomever our boys loved and with that in our hearts, our family has grown, blended, strengthened and been changed for the better with each inclusion in our lives. Some have come to stay and some have gone, but our love, affection and life lessons learned from them, has remained. A wonderful part of that embracing and engaging has resulted in the birth of three delightful granddaughters. And yes, I have rather enjoyed the gushing and the gooing.
For me, our family has been a safe place to grow up. I’m still growing up. It has been a messy, non-linear, jarring, jolting, joyous journey, of small tentative steps with stumbles, falls and stalls. With equal measure of tenderness and terror entwined in my psyche. ‘No-one comes out unscathed,’ a friend said recently.
It has been and continues to be a place of unlearning in so many ways. Of re-shaping, re-forming, recovering and restoring. A place of amazing depth and delight in the deceptively ordinary, surprising moments of giving and receiving love.
And I’d do it all again. It’s been that crazy good.