Saturday, 7 May 2011
My mother had me, age 19. She was barely out of high school, living in a different city, with a newborn baby that she didn't know what to do with. Both my parents have told me that I was the first baby they had ever held.
My parents had all three of their children by the time they were 23. My mother recently rang into Adam Spencer's radio show and proudly boasted that she thought my father was the youngest person to ever receive a vasectomy, age 23.
I cannot even imagine being in my mother's shoes....although she does have some lovely shoes.
She went to university when my youngest sibling went to school. She was on the honour roll. She went on to teach in both Australia and Europe. She is now an executive teacher at one of the most prestigious schools in the area. She is also an empty nester, but at the peak of her career, with at least 15 years to go. How many people could say that?
My mother taught me, among many other things:
How to read before I went to school.
How to clean a toilet.
The importance of petticoats.
How to effectively remove food from my teeth without the aid of a mirror.
The value of tea.
How to be cheeky.
How to laugh at myself.
Despite the significance of all these things, perhaps most importantly, she taught me what sort of mother I would like to be. A mother who never shies away from telling their children they are loved. A mother who pre-empts teenage conflict by saying, "I am not going to do this for the next five years." A mother who happily checks essays, sews dresses overnight, writes letters and tucks them into lunchboxes and only occasionally throws the odd plate with rage.
No matter how lovely the shoes are, they are just too big to fill.