Posts Tagged ‘learning’

This post was originally posted as a guest blog post on @newbreedmama’s (her twitter name) blog. The post means quite a lot to me so I decided to repost it here.

We recently went on a family road trip to California and visited The Haight Ashbury district in San Francisco. This took me back to memories of me when I was around 11 which is smack bang in between the ages my two girls are now (12 and 10) – I grew up in England by the way.

At that age I had an Easy Rider poster on our playroom wall and used to borrow my teenage neighbours record player and records for a weekly disco that I ran for my school friends. I used to charge a small entry fee and with that I bought biscuits (cookies) and lemonade to for all my friends. Early signs of entrepreneurship?

I also remember that The Isle of Wight Festival was on and my teen neighbours went. I couldn’t understand why my mum and dad wouldn’t let me go with them! And I remember that my mum would try and recreate all the 60’s fashions for me as she made most of our clothes and she even bought me a pair of boots like the ones in the picture.
These memories made me look at my girls and how hard it is to let them grow up and be themselves. It’s so hard to let go and I had far more freedom at that age than my kids do now. My eldest got really upset the other day over some little thing and sobbed that she wished that she were 18 and that we didn’t tell her what to do all the time (I seem to remember that we had told her off for not doing some small chore). I remember feeling way more grown up than I was allowed to be.

I do also remember those hormonal ups and downs but it’s so difficult to know exactly how to deal with them as a parent of two girls. I do my best and communicate and hug way more than my mum and dad ever did but I still feel I’m not quite getting it right. Add to that equation two very different personalities in my girls and I’m learning that each one is going to need very different things from me as a mum.

We have started to allow them some freedom. My 12 year old went for a sleepover with a 13 year old friend the other day and was exploring our small town and riding around on the free bus in the town and she loved it. I was, of course, worried sick. We also drop them at the movies on their own and leave them at home alone for short amounts of time while we go to yard sales or on a date night.

I’m learning that this time is way more difficult than when they were younger even though we have the freedom to go out without them at times. I’m also learning to understand where my mum and dad were coming from all those years ago.

How do you cope with either the actual or the thought of the process of letting go with your kids? What are you learning from seeing your kids grow up? Does watching them grow up bring back memories of you at that age?

Having spent my early twenties wasting time waiting for a go nowhere boyfriend to marry me we broke up (well actually he went off with someone else and got married) and I was heartbroken.

So, I decided to break out of the mundane and have an adventure to ‘find myself’. I’d always done a lot of babysitting so I decided this was a good way to see some of the world and work. I bought The Lady magazine and applied for an AuPair/Nanny job in the most remote place and unpopulated place I could find, Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan, Canada

I had a fantastic time! I looked after 3 kids, Alice, 9; Thomas, 6 and Douglas, 5 and had great host parents Sue and Dick (Richard).

Fort Qu’Appelle is a small town of around 2,000 people called. However, strictly speaking I lived in B-Say-Tah which was outside Fort Qu’Appelle on Echo Lake and had a population of around 200. Fort Qu’Apelle is in a valley in the Prairies and even has a ski area which is where Tom, who was one of the boys I dated there gave me a ski lesson of sorts before my disastrous trip to Banff .

I think I was probably a bit of a nightmare in many ways as I was a bit of a party girl spending most off my ‘off’ time in Trappers Saloon. But the family seemed to love me anyway as I worked as hard as I played and I loved those kids as if they were my own. We’ve kept in touch ever since and I plan on taking my family to visit them at some point now we live in Utah. One of my ‘kids’ has even recently had a baby so I now feel like I’m a Grandma!

I learnt such a lot in that year. I learnt that I love to travel, I love children, I love living in the open spaces of the mid west and I love the independence of striking out and going somewhere I’d never been before. Being an Au Pair was one of the most fun times in my life (and I’ve had a lot of fun) and I did it for 5 years so there’s a lot more to talk about on the subject and it’s the reason I became a childcare coordinator for an AuPair program when I later moved back to the US with my own family.

I wonder sometimes where I’d be if that boyfriend hadn’t gone off and married someone else. I may never have left Derbyshire and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. From that I’ve learnt that life is what happens when you’re making other plans, as John Lennon once said, and that even when your life seems bleak good usually comes out of it.

Have there been any pivotal moments in your life where you have gone in a completely different direction to that which you planned?

I can honestly say I never thought skiing would happen to me. When Chaz announced that he wanted to take a job in Salt Lake City, Utah I was horrified at the thought. My skiing experience previously involved a very short lesson on a bunny hill in Saskatchewan and then being taken to Sunshine Village in Banff, Canada by two friends and having the most godawful time. Let’s just say I didn’t ski but just fell down – a lot. Every time I got off a chair lift I fell over and the lift had to be stopped which was sooooo embarrassing.

That was 1986 and I vowed never to put two planks of wood on my feet ever again. I hated winter, hated snow and abhorred all winter sports – at least that’s what I thought. The only bit of that trip I enjoyed was the apres ski.

After being dragged kicking and screaming away from my idyllic life amongst the gum trees of the Adelaide Hills in Australia with their beautiful smells and grey green colors, I looked at this barren place with its’ high desert scrub and thought to myself ‘what have we done?’ We (well me – then convinced hubby) decided we had to live up in the mountains to escape the smog, the poor schooling in Salt Lake and the stifling LDS influence I thought to myself ‘Louise, if we are going to live amongst it then you have to try again and learn something from this’. I had my first lesson the week of my 49th birthday. I was terrified. The bunny slope seemed so steep at first, the skis felt like alien attachments on my feet and ‘what the bloody hell do you think you’re doing at your age woman’ was the foremost thought in my mind – but I had a glimmer of fun. I also overcame my extreme chair lift fear with the aid of my lovely instructor Frenchie who showed me how to get off without falling over. I had another lesson a few days later and then decided to practice, practice, practice.

I managed to ski another 10 times that first winter and I was happy pootling around on the green slopes, even occasionally getting a small amount of speed up. I finished the season feeling pretty pleased with myself for facing up to some of my fears and, to a degree, starting to overcome them.

Have you ever done something you thought you would never do and how did it make you feel?