I am sure a lot of people were surprised when at 41 I announced I was pregnant with twins but I always had a funny feeling that this was supposed to be how it was for me. I was never sure if I wanted children. When I discovered at 38 that I may not be able to due to my chromosomal disorder it was a shock, but not a complete surprise. There was a reason I figured that I had waited until 38 to find this out. It was because if I had tried when I was 20 (technology then not available) then Master and Miss would not be here. And that could never be. Vintage motherhood was about to embrace me whether I liked it or not.
Being older didn’t stop me thinking about being part of the ”new mummy set”. Sitting on a park bench chatting to other mothers about breastfeeding, solids, and sleep or lack of. Not for me. I totally underestimated how young the other mothers were even if they didn’t look it due to sleep deprivation or late nights out drinking (something that younger people are better at). I felt there were two reasons that never let me sit on that park bench. The conversation was often about clothes that would never fit me or were too young for me, television that was outside of the ABC, and parenting techniques or toys that I had never heard of. The other reason was I was usually plucking a twin out of a bush while trying to save the other from falling off play equipment. Half a conversation heard is better than none at all when you are craving adult company though.
As children my brother and I never had lots of toys. I can remember the major ones, like the 1974 Malibu Barbie that I got for Christmas. And the plastic doll that I fed bottled water and it wet its nappy (it finally met its demise after its insides rusted up). My brother had meccano and a brilliant train set that filled our whole playroom. He was 7 years older than me and started boarding school when I was born. So I got to play with his toys when he was away at school. I am sure we had more but maybe my memory isn’t as good as it used to be! I always wanted a play cash register just like the real one at the local store. So recently when I spied a pretty pink one complete with play money, scanner and credit card zip zap machine, I snapped it up for Little Miss. My husband thought I was crazy but I was fulfilling my dream as well as hers, be it just a few years late.
I remember things too that many other mothers at the park don’t. For instance Darwin’s Cyclone Tracey in 1974. My father had a radio in the cow shed and I remember him coming up for breakfast with news of the devastation. And being allowed to stay up to watch Princess Diana marry Prince Charles live on TV. I also remember the days when students used to demonstrate against almost anything, but in particular in New Zealand were the anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear demonstrations. What happened to students – perhaps they are too busy partying or working part-time jobs or maybe they are studying harder these days.
What happened to celebrating birthdays on the actual day rather than on the closest Saturday or Sunday. I remember parties being held during the week after school and we played pass the parcel, apple bob or musical chairs. Then our Mums dutifully picked us up and we were whizzed home for dinner, no wine drinking around the kitchen island was to be had. In fact kitchen islands were not to be had in the 1970’s either. As we got older this turned to pool or beach parties but I definitely don’t remember going rock climbing or to indoor play centres.
We also used to bike around to our friends houses rather than being dropped off. My bestie lived 4km away but I did have to phone Mum once I got there. I didn’t start swimming lessons until I was 5 and still made the high school swim team one year. I learnt my ABC at school (not pre-school). I remember the letters stretching across the top of the blackboard on my first day at school. We used to do Scottish dancing before school and marching. Something to do with cold NZ winters I guess. My mum made most of my clothes up until the last year of high school. These days with imports, fabric has become too expensive she says, and she doesn’t make any clothes for her grandchildren. I, do not own a sewing machine.
Technology has changed dramatically; at least that’s what my father says; he who has never had a VCR let alone a smartphone. I am worried about technology issues, as I just know I am going to be considered dumb by my children. But then that is not just for us vintagers. I think all parents are going to struggle with that one. Television used to be black and white and recently I did a survey of my Mothers Group to see what programmes we were all watching as kids. Not one of mine was on their lists! Some mentioned basic computers at school. At my high school we had one, which three boys (considered geeks) used in their lunch hour.
I remember thinking that I was going to parent differently than my parents did. I know of somebody who cuts the crusts off sandwiches for her children because her mother did not. I cut the crusts off because my mother did. How differently was I going to parent I can’t quite remember but it is funny how you find yourself doing little things just as your mother did. We influence our children in many different ways, good and bad, hopefully more of the good. It would be nice to go back to the days where everything was less stressful. But I think it is time to end my reminiscing as I certainly do not want to part with my dishwasher, microwave, or flat screen TV just yet.