I was a well groomed young lady because my mother always made it so.
She stressed ironed clothes, well brushed hair, and the best selection of hand-me-downs and St Vincent Wear, with the occasional new bargain thrown in.
Early photo albums always show her well dressed, but not conventionally so.
Sometimes she’s in saris, other times she’s in mini dresses with bee-hive hair.
Sometimes she’s in a grass skirt with a bikini top (because it’s Australia) ready for national dress events.
Make-up carefully applied, long lashes, now she looks like a Supreme.
Later there are leopard print clothes and bright vibrant purples and blues.
She’s usually slim, sometimes a little well- rounded, but only for a short time, then she’s slim again.
She moves (on a budget) with the times.
She moves with new geographies, Australia, not Papua New Guinea now.
She was generous with everything, including my time.
I was often the unpaid baby sitter for her friends and an old lady who once lived next door.
She was adopting the old ones to remind her of her mother.
She was making sure I knew how to clean, wash and cook and care for the old and the young.
She was taking me charity collecting for Red Cross, and we were running from big dogs guarding houses that don’t want charity collectors or anyone else at their door!
I was making mistakes, putting sugar with rice, wearing clothes that were out of fashion plus drawing on my sneakers.
I was trying to learn.
Patience has never been her strong point. Generosity has.
I didn’t know how to absorb what she was trying to teach me so, often I learnt something other than what she intended.
I learnt some people take too much from generous souls;
you can make a young boy leave his wheel chair with sheer will and lots of physical and emotional therapy and
you can change your future no matter how life begins.
She never gave up on the underdogs.
She was and still is critical, caring, and ferocious, all in one day.
She is my mother and she made me so.
My latest contribution to ABC Open. A new project beginsWho Shaped Me
Ever had random angels in the wings? They say or do just what you might have needed at that moment. Afterwards you find yourself thinking, did that just happen?
These angels seem all the more random because they are in public spaces and make you feel happy, helped and safe, when perhaps you could be suspicious, struggling and scared.
I share with you three angels who must’ ve specialised in young mums. I have never forgotten their actions, although to be honest I don’t remember their faces at all.
The first angel
I’m in a university library, looking for some books I need for research.
We can handle this, we have before, my first born and I are intrepid explorers. However today he starts to get teary. I give him something to play with from what I wished was a bottomless magic mum bag!
This book search is long though and we are running out of options. The librarian is watching, is this good or bad?
She lets me know although there is not a children’s section as such there is a curriculum section which has all sorts of goodies I can borrow even if temporarily to keep him happy whilst I wander the library. There’s even puppets there.
We go straight to curriculum and I find something which really entertains him. I am able to find the rest of the books for my essay.
The second angel
I’ m stuck at the bottom of some stairs at a railway station. I don’t know where the lift is. There is a massive surge of people going up the stairs. I fold up the pram and ready myself to hold it in one arm and my toddler in another.
Someone just appears and chirps, ‘need a hand with that.’
He walks beside me, takes my pram to the top of the stairs, unfolds it for me, smiles and leaves me to go my way. The day has begun well.
The third angel
I’m stunned, someone just said to me ‘You are a great mother,’ these words came from a complete stranger, watching me in the library, negotiating the shelves with my children.
This was something which I hoped I was and strived to be. I am a bit anxious about it sometimes, and don’t have much of a support network of other young mums or family around me, but I keep trying my best.
I live for the dreams of my children but I do have my own as well. I have been reading so many books on parenting but sometimes books just don’t hold all the answers on a day- to-day basis.
What did I do? Just kept my cool even when the kids were getting a little snarky. Just gently disciplined them with reason until they just behaved.
It wasn’t creepy to have a stranger say this, this angel seemed to genuinely to want to put a kindness post it note on me and say well done .
It feels like someone somewhere is clapping me and giving me a big cheer to sustain me through any other times when mothering will seem tough.
Then I see the news this week, a young woman on a bus, assaulted, in broad daylight, no-one does anything. How can this happen? Where were her random angels waiting in the wings?
What must her mother be feeling right now?
I hope there are many more angels waiting in the wings of the lives of the mothers and their children who need them. Even when you practice self reliance they do have the power to make the world seem a better place.
Then I open up the newsfiles and find out about all the people wanting the girls in Nigeria released. Are they Random Angels, deliberately joining forces ? Bring back the girls!
There’s a place for global and local random acts of kindness, and deliberate and random acts of kindness. Just maybe there is hope?