~Grandmother…special love~

My Dear Lily,

There will be many people in your life who love you and will always love you.  You are surrounded by family, the people chosen by God to protect you, love you and care for you, for as long as they live.  Remember that family is not only created by blood, but also by unconditional love and respect.

You may think that it will only be your parents who will love you unconditionally.  Don’t forget your grandparents; you will share a special bond with them forever. This bond may sometime transcend the bond between parent and child. That connection between grandparent and child is special, because grandparents will always act on the benefit of their grandchild, even if it means foregoing the approval of the parent.

Lily, I grew up with my grandmother, until the age of eight. There are many reasons why I spent my formidable childhood years with my grandmother, and not with my parents or siblings, but that’s not something to dwell on. I want to write about the woman who raised me, as her own daughter.

My grandmother became a widow at the age of 18 (or thereabouts), with four young children and another on the way. With no real prospects for a job, she was offered to become a nanny/maid for a wealthy family in the city. The family had one daughter, but both parents worked and needed help with looking after their daughter and with the daily housework. This meant leaving her young children behind with her mother.  My great grandmother was a strict, but fair woman, and she too looked after her grandchildren while their mother worked. See Lily, you come from a long line of strong women who are survivors, and were all ahead of their time. Learn from them and embrace that part of you.

Moving in with the family, my grandmother became the mother figure in the child’s life and she cared for that child like her own; sometimes treating her better than her own children, whom she visited on holidays and some weekends. When all her children had grown up and had children of their own, my mother decided to have me live with my grandmother with the wealthy family. It may seem like an odd arrangement looking back, but my childhood was a happy one because of this.

My grandmother became my mother, and my father, the person who taught me right from wrong, who helped me with my homework, who fed me and clothed me, the person who showed me what love is. My grandmother, despite her busy duties in running a household, always had time for me. Every day, she would wake up at 6.00 am in the morning, get breakfast ready for the family and have their clothes ironed and ready for work. After all that, she would wake me up, organise my morning ritual that consisted of having a bath, then breakfast, (which always consisted of oatmeal and milo), have my lunch ready and clothed, all ready for school by 8.30am. Everyday, without fail (I don’t ever remember my grandmother being sick) she would take me to school, carrying my heavy bag and wait until I was inside my classroom. Once school had finished, like clockwork and always on time, my grandmother would pick me, sometimes stopping for a treat.

I was in awe of my grandmother then, and still to this day.  I am amazed at who she is and what she had accomplished, although she would think they were not worth bragging about. I can write a million and one things about how influential my grandmother has been in my life, how she has shaped my being and how she continues to do so every day. The one thing I would forever remember about my grandmother, is love.

My grandmother was the first person who taught me what it means to love, she did that by showing her love everyday, and not necessary by words. She showed it to her children, her grand children, her extended family, her friends and even to strangers. If she could give you the sun and moon, just so you can be happy, she would. That is what made that special bond between her and her grandchildren. No request was ever too small for her.

Lily, my grandmother knew who I am before I knew who I am. She knew what I was capable of, before I knew and even with my own doubts hovering my head. She loved me even though I wasn’t always the good girl she wanted and deserved. She cared for me when I was sick, even though she was tired from work. She pushed me to be better, but to also enjoy my childhood.

As years went and as I grew older, I didn’t keep in touch with her often. This was made difficult, because I lived in a different country and continent from her. As she got older and became sick, it became much more difficult to communicate with her, but I knew that love will always be there; and that is why sometimes I feel guilty for not being there as much as she was for me. But, never for a minute did I ever doubt her love for me and her wanting the best for me.

Writing and preparing the eulogy for her funeral was one of the most challenging writing tasks I have ever had to do. Because I knew that whatever I prepared I could never give justice to the life of this wonderful, selfless human being.  But my dear Lily, I mustered the courage to read it, with the hopes that it made her smile above.

Lily my love, love those people who matter and spend time with them while you have the chance. Distance should not matter, language should not either. You will then look back at the memories fondly, and not feel guilty that you could have done more.

I hope one day that i will experience that special connection with my grandchild, your child and be a great grandmother, as my grandmother was to me.

With all my love,

Mummy x

~Period…bleh~

 

Dear Lily,

As you get older, and hopefully wiser, your body goes through many changes.  One day in your early teens, or maybe even younger, you will wake up with a sore stomach and possibly a headache. Do not be alarmed, this is normal honey. Sometimes it is so painful, that you just want to crawl and just stay in bed.  Don’t be afraid, this pain doesn’t last long. Heck, if you can handle these monthly disturbances to your daily life, you can handle any other discomforts your body will put you through.

Besides the cramps and headaches (which may at times feel like someone is drilling into your skull), you also have to contend with the blood. Yes, blood. Sometimes it feels as if there is always a constant flow of it, and you worry that it would leak through your clothing. Don’t be embarrassed, every woman has felt this and have had ‘accidents’ as well. So I have some tips for you, to manage this monthly girlies.

It is up to you if you want to wear a pad or a tampon, whatever is comfortable for you. Remember, you must always do what you feel is comfortable for you and your body. I say, try both and you may like using both a tampon and pad for different occasions. Just make sure you always wash your hands before and after changing.

If you ever run out of pad or tampons, because the girlies have suddenly crept up on you while enjoying a holiday, don’t be embarrassed to ask another woman if they have one. Every woman has had to ask another at least once in their life, which then leads me to another tip.

Always, always keep a couple of tampons and pads in ALL your bags. You just never know when your body decides to pick on you and at what occasion.

It doesn’t hurt to wear those big panties as your secondary underwear, while you have your period for extra leakage protection from your clothes.  Or, what I have personally done in the past is to wear boxer shorts as well as my underwear.

If you feel the need to, shower twice a day while you have your girlies. Actually, for me a hot shower always helps with the headache and stomach cramps. It also, doesn’t hurt to shower twice a day even when you are not on your menstruation.  This is the time to be really hygienic and change your pad and tampon as often as you can. You will learn this over time.

If you are in school, don’t be afraid to tell the teacher you need to go to the toilet, no need for you to give a reason, they will know.  You also don’t need to hide this from your girlfriends, it is good to let them know that the reason you are not feeling well, is you have cramps due to your period. There is no shame in going to the toilet as often as you want to, just tell them you have bowel issues.

It is a myth that women are moody or hormonal during their period, I think this was a myth perpetuated by men who couldn’t deal with our colourful personalities. Not all women are moody.

Drink tea, chamomile tea or green tea or oolong tea has always helped me with my cramps and headaches. However, if the headaches do become a migraine, don’t be afraid to use prescribed painkillers. Just do not rely on them too much. You shouldn’t have to take them for more than a day.

Lastly, don’t hate this part of your life, learn to embrace it. Once you start your menstruation process, it means that you are growing up to be a woman. That in itself is beautiful; it is a beautiful process, although painful. Menstruation is part of being a woman; it’s your body telling you that one day you are ready to carry a miracle inside of you, another human being.

 

Embrace it my love,

Mum xxx

PS. It also gets you out of doing gymnastics or swimming at school, unless you love gymnastics, well that’s great too. Men are very understanding with this, just mention you have your period and they leave you alone, because they don’t want to hear anything about it. That’s always a good thing.

Do you have other tips about how to live with the girlies? Feel free to share them below.

 

 

~The road…to travel~

Dear Lily,

There will be a time in your life where you will get the bug – the travel bug. This bug may last a year, two years or just several months. However long it will be, grab onto it and grab onto it with both hands. The earlier in your life you experience this travel bug, the better. My hope is that when you finish university, or maybe while you are fresh from finishing high school, you will get the chance to travel.

Just do it, pack your bags (just the necessities, no need to pack that tablet or extra phone), get your passport organized, and book that ticket, BOOK that ticket (or tickets).

You’re probably asking why mum is pushing the travel agenda.

It’s simple really; you find yourself when you travel. You spend many years of your life possibly looking at yourself through the eyes of others, and not see what they see; your magnificence. When you travel, especially on your own, you are not bound by your family’s idea of who you are. You don’t have to act a certain way with friends, or pretend to be someone else.

When you travel, you see yourself without limits. You find out what you love about yourself and what you need to improve on. You get to know the real you, because you are finally spending time with YOU. Embrace this person that you are getting to know, and love everything about her, even the craziness.

There will be moments when you travel where it is just you and your thoughts, listen to it, this is where you might find your passion, if you haven’t already found it. Your eyes will open to the endless possibilities of this world, hold on to this.

Explore the places you visit, talk with the locals, eat their food and dance to their tune. You will see how the other side lives, you will learn empathy. From this exploration you will be grateful with what you have at home, as you see a different part of the world that may be full of sorrow, sadness and poverty. An appreciation of the world will open the possibilities of you trying to change it and make it better, not just for your and for the people you care about, but for people you may never meet.

My hope is that when you travel, you will come home with a deeper appreciation of yourself, a deeper understanding of the world and how to put these two discoveries together and contribute something beautiful to the world.

Enjoy these moments of travel and take many photos, be in the present when you travel. Don’t look back into the past, which may be full of regret. Don’t plan too far into the future yet, you will have this chance when you get home, which will be the time to unravel what you have observed and what you have discovered from your travels.

I believe in you and I hope when you travel and see the world; that YOU start to believe in YOU  too. I hope you will take those moments and realise how wonderful your life and your world is, despite the poverty and hopelessness you may encounter.

Life is truly beautiful my darling, and I want you to experience as much of it as you can.

What are you waiting for, let’s go to Hawaii!

All my love,
Mum

My dearest daughter,

I’ve been asked to write you a letter to tell you things that I wish for you to know about this life. Before reading on, you must first know that not even my most vivid and heartfelt imagination will conjure up the image that can capture how stellar you will be. This letter can only ever be a wild estimation of what you would need to learn from me, because I already know you will hold the whole world in your eyes.

Baby steps. Although time is experienced as linear, my dear, it is important for you to remember that life’s experience can be very dynamic. Things that you learn from early in life can, and will, stay with you. For this very reason, the first lesson for you to know is that I am your mother. This means many things. Inherently, it means that I am your caregiver, I am your protector and I am your parent. I want for you to learn to be the child, in order for you to learn that you deserve the very best care. Not because of anything you do or don’t do, but simply because you are my daughter and because you are loved.

Becoming you. Sooner than I can ever prepare for, you will want to become your own person. Despite your possible interpretation of my actions and opinions, I want the very same thing for you, too. By this time, our relationship will grow and evolve. You will need to learn to be patient with those around you, because although you will know what is best for you, others will only want even better.

When love finds you. It will strike you. It will take you. It will be the best thing that words will never be able to describe. It will challenge everything you know, and for that you will grow stronger both as the person you are and as the person you can be. It will remind you why life is so beautiful and will highlight to you the things that you can’t live without. You will know when love finds you, not with your words, not with your actions, but with your whole being.

If hurt hurts you. It will hurt. Come find me and I’ll be there with a box of chocolates and a stash of tissues. We will talk until it no longer makes sense, and I will hold you until you remember that the world is safe again. It will hurt. But you will be okay.

Perhaps by the time you read this, you will have your own daughter. And you’ll know that I was only ever one step ahead, but always walking side-by-side with you.

With all my love,

Your mum.