It seems that when you become a parent, you don’t just birth a baby, you also birth a profound understanding of everything your own parents went through raising you. And then a second later you also realise that it took you (in my case) thirty-five years to realise that.
So firstly, sorry mum, for it taking until my third decade to fully appreciate everything you do.
Now that I’ve had six years to let the gratitude sink in, I thought I’d list all the things I remember from my life that you have given me (that no one else could).
The best tuck-ins ever
While I don’t remember the exact details of every bedtime routine, I do remember your presence by my bed. Your soft voice singing in the darkness. When it came to getting my own daughter to sleep, I called upon those memories. The familiar tunes that gave me comfort then, helped me in my frazzled state trying to sooth a crying baby. But when I was a child, they filled me with a sense of safety and love.
Your tissues sprayed with perfume
In 1984 people didn’t know much about anxiety. Certainly, they didn’t know that children could experience anxiety. Now, looking back, I’m fairly certain that’s what I had when I started school in Australia.
At the age of seven you had to drag me to school, crying. The world had turned on its head and I felt terrified and alone. I can’t imagine how difficult that was for you. I know you tried to involve the school counsellor, but I think I had her stumped too. Ultimately though, without all the reams of information we have at hand today, you managed to sort me out.
You sent me to school every day with a tissue sprayed with your perfume (Estee Lauder’s Beautiful) that would be reduced to tiny straggles of paper balls by the end of the day. I would hold that tissue as tightly as if it were your hand, your scent making me feel like you were close by.
And finally you connected me to my future bestie - Melissa Anthony – who managed to help ground me and make me feel safe in a new and frightening world.
Giving me a beautiful and safe home
I still can’t believe we grew up in a three-story house. With a rumpus room, an inground pool, and two toilets. Crazy! (note to readers outside of Sydney - this kind of family home is now out-of-reach for most families in this city).
You and Dad put your blood, sweat and tears into that house. Not only in building it, but also making sure it was clean, tidy and beautiful. You spent hours in the garden, you washed my sheets, my clothes and the cupboard was always full of food.
The smell of something delicious baking in the oven still fills your home today, and I imagine it brings my children as much comfort and joy as it did for me when I was a kid.
Giving me the freedom to do crazy things
When I was in Year 10 I told you I wanted to go on a student exchange overseas.
You thought I was too young, but when I hadn’t given up on the idea by the end of school, you decided to let me go.
Not only did you let me go overseas, you let me go to a country few of us knew about back then. Ecuador, South America. To a home without a landline, where you could only speak to me once a month.
I was terrified about going, but I was determined to go. You helped me to be brave. I missed you more than anyone that year. I discovered how lonely you can feel when your mum isn’t close by, and all the feelings and words that can be wrapped up in one warm hug.
Loving my children as much as I do
You may feel you don’t have a choice in this matter, my children, after all, are ridiculously cute and loveable.
But these days, you put as much love and care into them, as you did into me growing up.
I know from the light in their eyes how much they enjoy being around you. When they are older, and have children of their own, they will remember similar things.
They will remember the lullaby Morning Town Train, and think of you. They will remember the smell of fruit slice being baked in the oven, or how you let them lick the bowl. They will remember the smell of your perfume and the warm hugs you gave them.
But in addition to that, they will remember the extra things they get because they are grandchildren.
The ice creams on the way home. The games cupboard. The endless supply of beautiful knitted jumpers.
At least for these things I can thank you now, because I’m aware of them now, and don’t need to become a grandparent to appreciate everything you give my kids today.
Thank you for everything Mum.
I love you.
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