As it is Mothers Day here today here is a picture of, and an interview with, my mother. Hope you enjoy reading.
What were your thoughts and feelings when you had your first child (which was me)?
Joy and fear. Joy because I was a 'little miracle' and then fear because she and my father had no idea what to do. She said they used to hold a mirror up to my face to make sure I was still breathing. At that time there were no books etc on how to be a parent and they relied on observation and experience. They were both very responsible and did their best but there wasn't much support. My father's parents were in Hobart, they were in Launceston and my mother's parents were in Elliott (country Tasmania in the North West). They hadn't been in Launceston long and didn't have many friends there. My mother relied a lot on the child health clinics.
How was this similar or different to the births of your other three children?
In Melbourne (where my brother was born) they had a lot of friends aqnd neighbours through babysitting, my father's work and tennis. Also a reference book on childrearing 'Dr Spock' had come out which was helpful.
With my two much younger sisters from mum's second marriage things were a lot easier as she had already reared two children and had more confidence and less worry. She found their milestones interesting but not frightening.
What values or ethics have you tried to instill in your children?
These were predominantly Christian values such as honesty, integrity, loyalty, not stealing, keeping promises, work for things, save up to buy things and set goals. My mother was also keen on keeping family traditions at times such as Easter, Christmas and Birthdays. She also valued routines. One familiar one for me was 'Toilet, teeth and bed.' She also sang when it was bath time.
What challenges have you faced as a parent?
My mother said her greatest challenge was her hatred of both of her former husbands. In my father's case she said she tried not to poison us against our father but often found this difficult.
In my stepfather's case she told the children exactly what had happened and stated that they couldn't see their father for their own protection. She said some people disagreed with this approach but his early death meant that a full confrontation was avoided.
To what do you attribute the academic successes of your children?
Mum stated that this was a result of both her 'genetic brilliance', fostering an environment of learning at home and working with teachers rather than against them. She read to all her children from when they were babies, played the piano and sang, had many 'dress up' costumes available and encouraged 'discovery tours' of the garden and nearby parks etc. She stated that she did not expect 100% from teachers and, if there were gaps in our learning, rather than blaming the teacher she would work with them and support them so the gaps would close.
What have been your proudest moments as a mother?
She said that I, at four, would not go further than I was allowed despite peer pressure to do so. I returned, sobbing, stating that I had stood my ground. She felt that showed I was strong minded and ethical.
She also remembers the academic prowess - my brother's state Maths prize, my bursary and my two sisters getting dux of the school.
She said that Kathy Cameron, a teacher at my old school Hellyer College, told her I was the most brilliant English student she had ever taught.
Mum is also pleased with the integrity of all her children who she thinks of as 'good people' and the recent generosity of my brother who paid for my sister and I to go to Melbourne.
What do you think you have done well as a parent?
She said she had tried to listen to her children. She had provided a good learning environment although she found we were a little more difficult in our adolescence. She also felt she had managed well on a limited budget and we were able to participate in sport, travel and music and ate healthy meals. She said that she always put the children's needs first and, often, her wardrobe suffered as a result.
What would be your advice to first time mothers?
Stop working and spend more time with the children. Follow your instincts. Be encouraging. Don't spoil them with too much money.
Hope you have all enjoyed the interview. Please continue to pray for my housing situation.