Category Archives: Family

A mother’s letter to her children

In 1985 most women stayed at home after having a baby and parenting was considered the mother’s role.

I loved my job working in the early days of computing but I wanted to start a family and was overjoyed when I fell pregnant. I resigned my position and looked forward to being a mum never once regretting it even during difficult times.

There were times when people seemed disinterested when I said I was a stay at home mum of three. I also notice this today when I tell others I’m not working as a woman in her 50s. We live in a society that evaluates us on our career choice. I believe people should be able do what’s right for them without judgment.

I have cherished being a mum since day one and will continue to until my last breath. I have seen you grow from babies to toddlers to children to teenagers to young adults and now as adults.

I love you all dearly and each of you brings me joy in your own way. I adore hearing your news and try hard not to interfere but just be there for you to talk things through without judgment.

Remember how we loved the book “Love you Forever”? Maybe it influenced our lives or maybe it foretold our future. Either way it told my story. The blurb on the back of the book says it all “This is the story of how the child goes through the stages of childhood. It is also about the enduring nature of parents’ love and how it crosses generations”.

I reckon we are two-thirds through the book where the mum climbs through the window of her son’s house to sing her mantra.

I am not just a mum. I am the luckiest person alive because I am a mum. It is the best position in life that I will never retire from.

“I’ll love you forever I’ll like you for always As long as I’m living my babies you’ll be.”

Special moments

gratful-thankfulSome days pass by unnoticed and others are extraordinary. Last Saturday was extra special making me thankful and happy.

At various stages throughout the day all three of our adult children spent unplanned time with us sharing stories of what’s happening in their lives. At the end of the day my husband and I talked about how happy it made us feel to have a close relationship with each of our children. This is the true definition of happiness for us.

Laura our youngest daughter celebrates her 24th birthday tomorrow. She is an amazing young woman who inspires, loves, creates and spreads joy. I saw this quote by Walt Disney and immediately thought of Laura. I’ve always thought of her as my magical Peter Pan.
Happy birthday Lawna.

walt_disney_quotes-1

 

gratitude and happiness

Eternal love

The creaking sound of her rickety rattan chair comforts Nina as she sinks down into the seat. Every afternoon she enjoys sitting and admiring her garden.

Familiar sounds echo as she breathes in the earthy pleasures of rich soil and damp leaves. A cool breeze blows gently on her skin. Sitting and watching she feels alive, in harmony with nature.

Nina’s garden is her haven, a place of renewal where she nourishes her soul. Silently she thanks each plant and ornament for bringing her joy,  they are valued members of her extended family.

Nina lives alone in a modest old timber house. A wooden nameplate bearing the name Akiko,meaning Iris; light and bright, hangs at the cottage entrance.

Her life is quiet and sometimes lonely. Most days she gardens and preens her tiny house. She does this for her own satisfaction and because she is grateful for everything she has.

As she sits looking at the garden her gaze is drawn to her flourishing Suma bush. She involuntarily gasps at its radiance. An affectionate loving smile spreads across her face. This plant tells her story.

As a young woman Nina spent her lunch breaks in the tranquil Jenku Gardens. This peaceful daily experience inspired her to create her own garden. She knew little about gardening but was eager to learn.

Nina planted a Suma bush near her front entrance so she could admire its soft beauty and smell its subtle fragrance each time she came in and out of her house.

Despite meticulous care and constant love her Suma failed to thrive. The foliage thinned and the vibrant green leaves faded to an insipid yellow.

Nina felt a deep sense of failure and loss. It broke her heart to see her Suma in such a bad state. Reluctantly she moved the plant to the back garden.

Weeks later she noticed new green shoots sprouting on the Suma’s spindly stem. Nina’s heart filled with thanks knowing her plant was showing signs of regeneration.

It dawned on her that this species survives better in the shade. She realised her Suma could not flourish where she’d wanted it to grow no matter how much care she lavished on the plant.

This lesson taught her to respect the inherent needs of each species. Over years her garden grew and matured into a place of natural beauty with thriving plant and bird life coexisting within her garden sanctuary.

Drawing her attention back to today a Pipi bird swoops under the Suma plant searching for food in the rich soil. Nina smiles and thanks every element of nature for keeping her company her whole life.

She feels tired and closes her eyes letting her head nod forward. She feels like she is floating.

“Nina?”

Nina hears her mother’s voice. She must be dreaming. Such a lovely sweet sound.

“Mum?”

Their arms instinctively embrace in a warm hug. Neither wanting to let go.

Nina’s tears flow freely as she recalls all the times she’d felt lonely and longed to talk things over with her mother.

“Take my hand Nina, it’s your time to rest with me.”

Months after her death Nina’s family sold Akiko cottage for a high price to a land developer. It took less than a day to bulldoze the house and garden leaving an empty block prime for multi story town houses.

Nina’s granddaughter Mai stands motionless looking at the barren land where her grandmother’s cottage and garden once were. She feels like she has been punched hard in the stomach sucking her breath away.

Mai closes her eyes and imagines all the times she sat chatting with her grandmother while looking at her precious garden.

Mai releases a primal scream and falls to her knees.

“They can destroy everything you created Grandmother but they can never destroy how loved and valued you made me feel.”

 

Hold your smile

There were times during my mother’s life when things were not going well. Like most of us she had her fair share of dramas in her life but she always seemed happy and had a smile for everyone.  I could never understand why Smile was her favourite song.

Now I understand

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile

That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile

Nat King Cole – Smile Lyric

Love is all you need

Yesterday I felt so much love for my old Dad who is 87 and I wanted to share the story with you.

I’ve blogged about the power of writing letters before and this email exchange between father and daughter created feelings of pure joy mixed with poignant sadness that only the written word can evoke. I know I will treasure this memory forever.

It is beautiful moments like this that enrich my life.divider-horizon-lineFrom:       JennaDee
To:              Dad
Sent:         Thursday, October 31, 2013 9:54 AM
Subject:   Love over money

Hi Dad
Thanks for organising the meeting with your accountant yesterday, it was most helpful.

I do however feel uncomfortable talking about my inheritance before the time when I will receive it. I want you to know I love you for being my Dad and the money side is inconsequential.

I would much rather have a family who love me as a sister and know me for who I am  than have a whole lot of money.

Love always
Jennie
divider-horizon-lineFrom:             Dad
Subject:        Re: Love over money
Date:              31 October 2013 11:22:38 AM AEDT
To:                  JennaDee

Dear Jennie,
It’s strange you say the money doesn’t matter because I feel the same way. Maybe it’s because we have enough.

I love each of my kids for the persons they are and I would hate to think money made any difference, because it just would not be worth it.

Give your sister and brother a chance to show they love you for who you are, as I’m sure they do.

It needs someone with courage to make the first move. I would love you to test this out. Invite them over separately and quietly put all your cards on the table. I’m sure they remember and value the earlier days when they stood by you. I need not be in the picture, only if you want me to.

I’m sure it would make your mum very happy also.

You will be pleasantly surprised at the result about a situation that has arisen out of nothing. You will find the effort to fix it is worth it just as I have been happy in finding my sister again after a gap just as you are experiencing.

Please give this some thought and increase my special love that will always be between us.

Whatever happens, lots and lots of love from
Your Dad
divider-horizon-lineFrom:       JennaDee
To:             Dad
Sent:        Thursday, October 31, 2013 2:05 PM
Subject:  Thanks for your lovely reply to my email

Hi Dad
I will take your suggestions and try again to reconnect. I don’t want to live in their pockets, I just want to know that I belong to a family who care about me.

Please promise me that you won’t mention what I have said to them. It is up to me to keep trying to improve the situation.

I am so lucky that I have you to talk to about these sorts of problems. I feel very sad to think that one day you will not be here and then I will feel alone.

Your loving daughter
Jennie

divider-horizon-lineFrom:            Dad
Subject:      Re: Thanks for your lovely reply to my email
Date:
           31 October 2013 2:49:48 PM AEDT
To:                 JennaDee

I promise.

You’ll never be alone while me or my spirit is about.

You’ll always be part of me.

Your Loving Dad

divider-horizon-line

Love you forever

Some days I see my older eyes staring back at me in the mirror, imploring me to stay calm and trust in the universe.

My mantra is to cherish to every beautiful moment before they slip away and to know that troubled thoughts will fade in time.

I acknowledge but find it incredibly challenging to accept that nothing is permanent and  genuine happiness can only be achieved by accepting life as it evolves.

Love Your Forever CollageMotherhood brings me joy, contentment and peace. It is the one perfect part of my life that I have never doubted nor wanted to be any different.

Each of my children is precious and unique, my love for them is unconditional and eternal. They are all adults now following their own pathway in life.

This stage of motherhood is so hard, harder than I ever imagined.

It’s not easy letting their hands slip from mine.

A mother’s day wish

Today I am especially grateful for the privilege of nurturing three precious children who have enriched my life since their birth and hopefully will continue to share their love and lives with me for many more years to come.

Just like the Queen gives a message to her people each Christmas, I would like to give a message to my special three offspring today on mother’s day 2013.

Enjoy and celebrate the simple pleasures that life can bring.

It seems like everyone these days is preoccupied with keeping up and getting ahead while spending less time enjoying the simple pleasures in life.

Children used to be happy with small birthday gifts and having a few friends over to their house for a party to share fairy bread, balloons and play pass the parcel.

The school dance used to be held in the gym hall with girls and boys wearing clothes they already owned.

Weddings were quaint ceremonies shared with family and close friends enjoying a meal and a dance to wish the bride and groom a happy life together. Gifts used to include mixing bowls not pledges of money.

Pregnancies and births were private times shared between the new parents and close friends and family.

Giving mum a homemade card, a gift from the school mother’s day stall (that she probably donated) and a lovingly prepared breakfast in bed surprise constituted the joyous celebrations on mother’s day.

At the risk of being old fashioned I urge everyone to strip their lives back from modern ways by taking a break from checking Facebook notifications, sending/receiving multiple text messages or spending money on unnecessary items just to impress others.

I would like everyone to gain more meaning out of what they do and enjoy the pleasures of the simple things in life.

My fondest memories of motherhood include seeing my children play with a mismatched group of toys and creating personalities, voices and adventures for them.

It was a lot like Toy Story………..maybe I should have written that down 20 years ago.

Maybe that was why the movie was such a success, we all love the thought of living in a time when life was more fun and less cluttered.

I will love you till the end of time

Jenna sits down in her favourite chair and smiles at the thought of celebrating 25 years married to Peter. Where have the years gone? She finds it hard to believe how quickly time had passed.

drawing boy and girlCasting her mind back she recalls the thousands of memories she and Peter have created and shared. Wistfully she wishes they could relive these moments, be young again and have more time together.

Jenna knows she has found her soul mate. She and Peter have stood side by side through the highs and lows of their life together. They have matured together from young adults to middle age and she has no doubt that they will grow old together.

Their relationship was not always as settled as it is now. When Peter came back into her life it was a terrible time for Jenna. She was lost in despondency after the failure of her broken marriage and was caring for her baby alone. The memory of her vulnerability comes flooding back and hits Jenna like a physical blow.

Jenna was naively being pushed and pulled by the legal system surrounding her divorce and the custody of her son, she remembers feeling helpless and intimidated by the lawyers who rushed her to make decisions.

Jenna views decisions she made in her teens and early twenties as absurd, particularly getting married at 18 years old. She knows this decision robbed her of the chance to experience her early adult life on her own terms.

Starting life as a couple took an accelerated path for Jenna and Peter because Jenna had her baby, they both had mortgages and Peter was advancing his career. They missed out on carefree days of traveling and finding a house together. Jenna daydreams what might have been if they had started their relationship without responsibilities.

Their wedding day was wonderful, a sunny February Sunday afternoon celebrating with friends and family. The gardens were lovely and the reception was perfect, elegant but understated. Jenna likes to look back at their wedding photographs to see two young people in love, glowing with the optimism of finding someone special to share their life with.

Peter enthusiastically took on the role of step-father to Jenna’s son. Jenna remembers her adorable little boy who was much loved by everyone.

Soon after the marriage Jenna and Peter were delighted to discover that they were having a baby but sadly the pregnancy didn’t continue past 16 weeks. Jenna vividly remembers sitting with Peter on their old couch holding each other mourning the loss of their baby.

Only a few months later they were pregnant again and this time they welcomed a healthy baby girl to their family, and less than two years later they were blessed with a second baby girl to cherish. Jenna smiles as she recalls how happy she was to bring her two precious little girls into this world to join her boy. Peter and Jenna felt so lucky to have created their perfect family.

Jenna recalls this time as hectic and tiring but endlessly satisfying. She was only 30 years old, had been married twice and had three children under 5 years old. She takes a moment to reflect on her haste in having her children. As a child Jenna remembers wishing for siblings closer to her own age and this probably influenced her desires for her family structure.

As a wiser and older woman Jenna realises there was no need to hurry and thinks she may have enjoyed having more years between the births of her children.

Jenna loves being a mum, her children are precious gifts and bring her endless joy. She has enjoyed sharing every stage of their lives from babies through to adults. Peter is a fantastic father. He and Jenna are a team who share the triumphs and the challenges of parenthood together. They always encourage the different interests of their children and support them in everything they do.

Jenna and Peter know that giving life to their children is the most precious and amazing thing they have done or will ever do in their lives.

Over the years the family has enjoyed interstate family holidays and happy times at Jenna’s parents’ beach holiday house. Treasured memories of these holidays are stored in the corners of Jenna’s mind like precious relics in a museum.

As a young man Peter set out to establish a successful business career to provide for his family.  In the early years of their marriage he climbed the corporate ladder to a senior role. Jenna remembers Peter working long hours but is thankful that he always helped with the busy household when he came home.

After the children were settled into primary school Jenna starting thinking about doing something more for herself. She had been out of the workforce for years and feared becoming a bored housewife. She remembers going to functions as Peter’s wife and being disregarded as unimportant by others because she didn’t have a paid job.

Although she dearly loved her children and husband Jenna knew it was time to explore ways to enrich her mind and boost her self-esteem.

At 38 Jenna enrolled in university as a mature age student. It was daunting to learn with 18 year olds but she loved the challenge of proving to herself that she was a more capable student than she had been the first time round. She thrived on being challenged and being out of her comfort zone.

Over time Jenna emerged from her shell and gained confidence in her abilities. She finished her Arts degree and landed a job that advanced her career in public relations. She chose to work part-time while her children were in primary school so she could be with them after school. Jenna recalls how happy she was to be able to have the best of both worlds.

As time relentlessly progressed Jenna worked full time and established a satisfying career for many years while her children studied at high school and university.

After becoming fed up with bureaucracy Peter started his own business at age 42 and this suited him better.  Jenna believes that this was the right decision but sometimes thinks Peter invests too much of himself in his work. She daydreams what may have been if they had started a business together as in a different field.

Their children are now grown and lead their own lives, so most of the time it is just Jenna and Peter and that is just fine, but they are always there for their children if they need them.

As their children became independent Jenna and Peter embraced the chance to travel overseas together. Jenna looks around her living room and smiles at her treasures that bring back memories of their adventures in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Fiji and China. They have also enjoyed many romantic weekends away together in Warnambool, Echuca, Daylesford, Marysville, Narbethong, Noosa, Cairns, and Torquay.

As she sits quietly Jenna is glad she has taken the time to reflect on her life today. She acknowledges her mistakes and knows she hasn’t always chosen the right course of action. But clarity comes to  Jenna and she accepts that she has often  judged herself harshly. She realises that the sum of her life experiences have made her the person she is today. Jenna knows her life is blessed and she wouldn’t trade places with anyone else.

Jenna and Peter have shared soaring highs and tumultuous times throughout the decades they have lived their lives together.

Jenna sighs contentedly knowing that Peter is the only person she wants to share her life with. They are perfect companions, like a pair of favourite old comfy chairs.

She thinks about how much her husband has enriched her life and whispers “Happy anniversary my darling husband.”

Jenna hopes the next 25 years of their marriage pass more slowly so they can enjoy more time together, she can’t imagine her life without Peter by her side.