Early this morning I waved my son and his wife goodbye as they set off to catch a plane. They are the last to leave following a week of festivities to celebrate the reunion of my three offspring and their partners. It is the first time in two years that we have been together and the first time that my two new daughters-in-law have met. The grandchildren were not invited and showed no interest in being with us so it was a great opportunity for reflection with me being the butt of many jokes. At what stage do we become the child and our children the parents?
As I watched them all in animated conversation around the table, I reflected on their lives. It couldn’t possibly be so long ago that I rocked them to sleep or wiped the tears from their eyes! Now they are strong independent people who have had their own share of trials and triumphs.
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I looked at the beautiful, serene face of my daughter who has been through the angst of a divorce and bankruptcy and risen triumphant with no hint of bitterness.
My first son has a label of ADHD but is the most settled I have seen him. He stayed loyal in a troubled marriage with a brilliant academic who did not want children. Several years ago, with her appointment to Oxford University and he with tenure at the Australian National University in Canberra, they decided the marriage was no longer viable. He had been doing a research project with some people in Sweden and when he told one of the women that his marriage was over she replied that she was glad as she had been in love with him for a few years. He had no idea but now he has found true love and is living in Sweden, struggling to learn the language and living in a household with three readymade daughters whom he loves. The change in him is remarkable and our relationship is the best it has been for so many years. It is difficult to maintain a relationship with a son when his wife does not want anything to do with you. I’m sure many mothers have suffered the same fate. Now I have a new Swedish daughter who embraces me with warmth and there is a bond even though we do not see each other a great deal.
Then there is my youngest child, my son whom I almost lost in a terrible accident. He lost half of his skull when he was only seven and I was given no hope of him surviving. I was told that if he did survive he would be a vegetable. But miracles happen and a brilliant surgeon in Melbourne saved his life. My son loves my book as I devote a whole chapter to him and his amazing story. To cut a long story short, following a year of learning to walk, talk and deal with his epilepsy, the surgeon grafted two ribs into the side of his head which have grown with him. I had no idea that our ribs can grow again! It took years for him to rehabilitate, learning to read, move and so much more, but he worked hard at it. He married his beautiful wife whom he met while working in the Philippines and I have never seen him so happy. It took a long time, but even though he will always have the imprint of a car handle in his brain, he has miraculously become fully functional, brilliant in fact and is at the moment IT director for a Shell project in Gabon. He hopes one day to relocate to Queensland.
So now I am alone again, but at peace and so thrilled that my job is done. There were times that I felt I had failed them but at last they have all found there place in the world – maybe also late bloomers like their mother!
What do you love about your family? What about your children makes you proud?