Today is my Mum’s birthday where she is.
I am 16 hours and 19 years behind her.
When I turned 19, I was convinced that I would fall pregnant and have a baby like she did, and now, almost ten years later, single and still as selfish and carefree as ever, I wonder how the hell she did it.
19 years is not very many to have lived as a non-mother, and in many ways, Wendy and I grew up together.
Being the oldest is a privileged position. You know your parents in a way that your younger siblings don’t, and even though there were only two years when it was just me, Mum and Dad, I always felt that I had a special connection with them. I was often brought into conversations and trusted with information that the younger ones weren’t (like about Santa, the tooth fairy and the easter bunny…you know…the big stuff).
You grow up to a point thinking your parents have all the answers, and then suddenly you realize that they are just people who had you – and they are figuring it out along the way.
As some of my friends become parents, and I see the way they overcome challenges with their offspring, I find myself with a new found respect for the people that raised me.
When I was thirteen years old, I got braces. Now, knowing how much dental and orthodontic stuff costs, I am grateful that we were in a financial position to afford such things. But at the time I was pretty convinced that my parents were doing it to ruin my life. Unlike the youths of today who seem to know how to contour and dress, I was an awkward pre-teen and teenager. I developed early (genetics) and I was awkward but outgoing.
Adding braces to the mix was social suicide (or so I thought). Having a young Mum meant having a parent who was part mother, older sister, and friend. I was bullied a bit at school and I cared A LOT about what people thought (especially the cool boys, all of whom I was in love with and who ignored me loudly). As she had been through middle and high school not long ago herself, the day I got my braces, Mum offered to sit down with me and write down come-backs if anyone tried to say anything. My favorite one will always be:
“In two years my braces will come off, but your face will still be your face.”
There were weirder, and funnier ones that I can’t remember (I wish I still had the list) but looking back on it now, that was a parenting win. I never felt like I had to face things alone because I had my parents.
My parents gave us the travel bug. Our current locations are Los Angles California, Kelowna British Columbia, Hua Hin Thailand, Perth Australia and sometime Bergerac France. We are far apart geographically, but I like to think that we are close in our hearts.
Everybody thinks that they have the best parents, and maybe your Mum is the best one for you. But through all the challenges, adventures, lows and highs, I’m glad that the universe conspired in such a way that I got the Mother I did.
I hope in 19 years, on my birthday, I am as cool, happy and full of life as my Mum.
Happy Birthday Wendy – we love you.