Sunday, 10 May 2015

Dear Mum...

Dear Mum,

Becoming a Mum myself in the past year has opened my eyes to some of what you went through raising me. Obviously I was the perfect child and a complete angel, although in your sleep deprived state may remember things slightly differently, yet there are still many things that you have done for which you have never been thanked, or not from me at least. I thought it was time that I rectified that so here goes.

Thank you for suffering sleep deprivation for two years as night after night you dragged yourself from bed (if you were lucky enough to get there in the first place) to ensure my needs/wants were met. Thank you for the hours you spent trying to settle me to sleep, only for me to wake as soon as you went to leave the room. Thank you for the patience and determination you exercised to survive dealing with a sick baby for the majority of those two years. Thank you for somehow keeping your sanity despite it all!

Thank you for giving me a brother. As annoying as he could be at times, and I mean really annoying, it was great having someone who I could force into playing barbies, make do all the things I didn't want to do and use as a scapegoat.  Seriously though, I’m sure we drove you insane many times with our constant bickering but I appreciated having a brother and a playmate.
Thank you for sacrificing your career while I was young and choosing to stay at home (for the majority of the time anyway) and look after me, for working alongside other mums at the play centre when I was little to provide us kids with creative and fun activities and for carting me along to various play dates.   

Thank you for modelling the importance of volunteering to me…at Sunday school, at school fairs and numerous other church events. While you may have a little more time on your hands these days after we all flew the coop (and only a little more time as you now work far too hard), I’m not sure how you made the time when we were both at home.

Thank you for ensuring I grew up in an environment that didn't place value on wearing the latest fashions and labels. I absolutely hated not having label clothes when I was young. I hated shopping at factory shops and being told that labels didn't matter. I know I constantly nagged you to buy me label clothes. Yet now, this is one of the lessons I value the most and continue to live out. In saying all of the above, thank you for on the odd occasion finally submitting to my nagging and allowing me to buy a label brand…which in hindsight, didn't turn out to be all that amazing after all. Who would have thought?!

Thank you for all the baking you did, particularly birthday cakes, and for teaching me how to bake. I loved choosing cakes from the birthday cake book each year. I still remember my first attempt at a cake all on my own…I accidentally doubled some of the ingredients and when I came looking for you in a panic, you stepped in and helped me fix the problem. I still have some of those cake tins. Thank you for always letting us lick the bowel and beaters, not using a spatula to scrape it first! Another baking memory I find highly amusing is one in which you were using the electric mixer to beat some cake mixture. Never one to miss out on cake mixture, I stood alongside you attempting to dip my finger in and grab a sneaky lick. You warned me not to do it. You warned me that I would get hurt. I may have listened, for a minute anyway, but soon enough that finger was back in there and sure enough, the beater got me and I howled in pain. You felt terrible. I’m sure I never did it again though!

Thank you for pushing me to learn an instrument and encouraging me towards the piano not the recorder (how you must have been rejoiced when music teachers said my fingers were too small for the recorder anyway!). While I gave it up in the end, I still love the fact that I can read music and play the piano to some degree.

Thank you for teaching me to sew. Sewing is such a valuable skill and I love the fact that I can now exercise my own creativity through it. As a child, I loved watching you lay out patterns with your triangular metal weights. I was, and still am, amazed by your abilities to produce various creative items for school galas. Thank you for all the clothes you made me…although I’m not so sure those matching tracksuits we had were the best creation in hindsight but I suppose at the time, they fitted the era. Thank you for sewing all three of my ball dresses and for helping me fulfill my dream of making my own wedding dress. Thank you for the dress up clothes you sewed for me. I distinctly remember my pink tutu, the white nurse’s outfit and my absolute favourite, the wedding dress. I wore that wedding dress all the time! It got to the point that at any dress up party I went to, and there were a few, people knew I would wear it. I think they were jealous. Most of them dressed up in their ballet outfits and really, that’s not dress up if you wear it normally anyway. So there they were in their pretty, but not that exciting, ballet outfits and I would turn up in my beautiful wedding dress. Stoked!

Thank you for the hours you spent watching sports events, particularly cross country. It must have been so boring!!! Yet week after week you carted me along and stood there, perhaps chatting to other parents or teachers, waiting for me to finish yet another run. I remember one run which involved traversing a vineyard. It was a scorcher of a day and I was desperately struggling on the run. As I approached the start/finish line, I was so relieved to finally have made it, only to be told that there was still another lap to go, and not just another lap, an even longer lap! I wanted to give up but you encouraged me to continue.  

Thank you for letting me do gymnastics even though everyone else was doing ballet. Thank you for the afternoons you spent carting me along to training sessions, pre-prepared snack to see me through as we completed my homework while waiting for practice to begin. Thank you also for letting me quit when I did rather than push me to continue with something I was not enjoying anymore.
Thank you for demonstrating a love of reading and encouraging the same in me.

Thank you for battling through those few years when the lovely, charming child that I had been (I’m sure I was, wasn't I?) was replaced by a hugely difficult and argumentative (slight understatement) preteen who engaged in constant fights with you. To this day, I can’t remember the topic of any of those fights but I do remember yelling at you. I know one time I even said I hated you. I didn't mean it. I felt terrible as soon as I said it, but in my stubbornness (yes that renowned stubbornness) I wasn't about to say sorry. I am sorry though. Thank you for not making a big deal of it.

Thank you for all the tough times you went through, all the sacrifices you and Dad made, in moving us from South Africa to New Zealand. Thank you for having the courage and determination to make the move to ensure we had the best future you could provide. Obviously I didn't appreciate it at the time. I lay at night plotting how I was going to run away so that I didn't have to move. Fortunately my plans came to nothing and instead, here I am in New Zealand, having enjoyed a relatively safe upbringing, a good education and plenty of opportunities. I’m not saying South Africa couldn't have provided all of those as I just don’t know, but I think we did pretty well in New Zealand.

Thank you for all the support you provided when I went to Kenya for a year, for the emails, phone calls and parcels you sent. Although you have moved while I was away (a very good way of getting rid of the kids I have to say), thank you for coming back when I returned from my travels to help me settle into a new flat.

Thank you for the effort you and Dad put into your relationship which allowed me to grow up in a safe, secure and loving environment. Thank you for parenting from a united front. Thank you for being strict and for consistently providing me with clear and strong boundaries. Yes that last one I definitely didn't appreciate at the time.

Thank you for all the support you have shown through my own parenting journey, for ensuring you visited in those early weeks and for the visits you have made since. I hope Miss A will grow up having a great relationship with her Nana.

There are many things that I will have missed, many sacrifices I know you will have made that I didn't notice, many thankless tasks that you performed that will continue to go without thanks. I guess that’s what happens as a Mum…lots for me to looking forward to! I know we haven’t always gotten on and we haven’t always been friends (which is good as you were too busy being a parent and I was too busy growing up) but I’m glad that now that I have grown up, our relationship has developed to where it is now.  One day, Miss A might ask me this question and I’ll reply like this:

Seriously though, thank you for being a wonderful mother. I’m so blessed to have you.

Much love

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