I was nineteen years old when I had my first child. My daughter once told me she thought I resented her because I missed out on so much by having her at such a young age. Well she was wrong on both points. I’m not saying it was easy but I didn’t miss out on anything. And I never resented my daughters appearance in my life. A Pastor friend from my childhood held her in his arms in the hospital and as he gazed into her itty bitty face he said to me “Always remember this child is a blessing in disguise.”
I finished high school in a college where we took grade twelve classes along with University classes. It was a boarding school and while I was away my boyfriend and I found ourselves drifting apart. Shortly after our break up I learned he was engaged to another girl. My heart was broken and upon graduation I was off to Europe for my Grandmothers Eightieth birthday. I met a young fellow in the Airport lounge, courtesy of my brother and the month backpacking in Europe with him along helped to soothe my pain. Amsterdam in 1979 was a treat. The red light district, the gay bar, pubs and legal hash. Getting separated from the group at 2 a.m. walking back to the hotel. I met a lovely fellow from New York who was a little cautious about opening his door when I knocked. His light was on and I was lost. After some drinks and chatting he called the police who escorted me to my hotel. I was the talk of the hotel breakfast room. Then as we continued our journey, there was anxiety as we crossed the German border on a Train. The Border guards were reminiscent of Gestapo type soldiers from black and white movies and they certainly had us nervous. Turns out extra funds were needed to pass into their hands since our tickets only allowed us access onto the train. Not to sit. And so , do you argue? Nope. Mainly because our small cargo wasn’t legal outside of Holland. But soon we arrived in Denmark to the birthday where everyone wanted to talk to us. The ones from Canada. What a blast. Danes know how to celebrate. Days of sight seeing had us off to the brand new lego land where years later I returned with my kids. Not quite the same experience as was our visit to Freetown Kristiana in Copenhagen. The infamous commune. Twenty-five years later it was changed considerably but the drugs and signs prohibiting pictures were the same. In Copenhagen there were Night clubs where no one arrived until after midnight. We arrived at 11 and sat in confusion all alone in this huge place. We got looks I’ll tell you. As dawn approached we were off to a bakery for fresh buns and coffee before sleeping the morning away while our new friends went to work. Oh how the young managed back then. We took a hovercraft ride to Malmo Sweden just for the ride. As we waited to return back to Denmark we met some kids from Edmonton, Alberta who we hugged like long lost friends as they were from Canada. In reality, back home our two cities are big rivals and it would never occur to me to hug a stranger from Edmonton.
The plan was to visit Paris but a train was bombed and quite a number of American tourists were killed so the vote was to miss that stop. Being eighteen my logic was that chances are there wouldn’t be a second bombing but I was outvoted. So we were off to London on an overnight Ferry complete with ballroom, pubs, a discoteque and a buffet like nothing I had ever seen before. We danced and partied the night away. Finally we arrived hungover in magical London with its theatres and pubs. My first go around with a dark stout. Something I am fond of now though it wasn’t pleasant that first time. I had some trouble understanding a waitress in a coffee shop. I resorted to pointing to pictures of food in the menu. As she walked away I asked the man on the stool next to me what language the waitress was speaking. “English!” was his reply. Could’ve fooled me. But the sights and sounds when you first hit the streets of London are so exciting. The double decker busses. Cabs. Shopping on Carnaby street. Not buying just shopping. Pickadilly circus. Big Ben. All the things you see on television. The riverboat rides on the Thames were so cool. Going through the locks as we made our way up and down the river. The typical touristy stuff and then the seedier sites. The fight in the underground which we unwittingly got involved in. Do gooder Canadians. The attempted pick pocket my brother thwarted. The interesting altercations brought about by our cousin from Denmark whose only english was “f— off. It took some convincing to keep said cousin from being pounded by one very large punk rocker gal. It was an amazing culture shock as we saw the early punk rock influence up front and personal. We witnessed the aftermath of emotions when some football club beat some other football club. The fans hit the streets with what can only be described as crazed lunacy. The Victors were dizzy with joy. It brought a whole new meaning to the term fanatic.
Alas all things come to an end and in time we were on our way over the big pond to our homes back in Canada. Due to a strike somewhere, our non stop flight stopped in Greenland to refuel where we spent time drinking Polar Beer in a pub. Or was it Iceland. Hmmm. I’m sure my brother would remember. Either way the name was clever. Coming home after an adventure is both anti climatic as well as refreshing. All of the eating and drinking made my too tight clothes even tighter. I was a little poorer not just from the trip but also the gambling debts from our thousands of backgammon games on every train ride and airport wait. I set about starting my summer job. Getting back into the normal routine of the summer. That boy who I met in the Airport, well he called me a few weeks later and asked me on a date. It was a fun summer of concerts and parties, side trips and camping and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. My oldest daughter was a result of that airport meeting. Without that trip I would not have had her. Without her I would never have married my husband, I would not have my other children and of course the eight little lovelies who call me Mormor. (Mothers mother). That trip set things in motion. That meeting was the start of my life as a mother.
This is my fourty second mothers day. Last night was a magical evening as I dined with two of my children. Just the three of us. Talking and visiting and sharing I took pride in what I created, with a little input I guess. Like most other things in my life I fell into mother hood. I wasn’t all that good at it and I made a lot of mistakes. I know that becoming a Mom helped me to grow up. Just a little though. I still rocked out on the loud music. Wore outrageous clothes. Said and did stupid things. I kept having fun and I still walked to my own beat. I didn’t miss out on anything. In fact I just brought them along my babies. I wasn’t all that conventional and I had no idea what to do so there were some missteps. I did a lot of things right though as well. One child doesn’t care much for me and that’s okay too. My hubby once said he wasn’t responsible for my happiness and that goes for our children as well. We give them the tools, we teach them the lessons. Then we send them off hoping they learned something from us. Our children are such a great addition to our lives but they aren’t ours to keep or to control. They are individuals who need to go out in the world to live large. As for their Mom, well I’m still having adventures. My backpacking is more woodsy than urban and there is a lot less alcohol involved. The years are stretched out in front of me and there is a lot left to do and explore. My hubby is gone now and so the kids worry about me. I guess that’s payback for my sleepless nights spent worrying about my offspring. So no, I haven’t missed out. In fact I am richer because I am a Mom. They are my legacy. They are my sacrifice. They are my greatest accomplishment.