MY DAUGHTER leaves parts of herself all around the place. She especially sheds bits and pieces chez moi. As if she doesn’t want to be apart from me for any length of time. I find cigarette lighters, books, old credit cards, dirty clothes, clean clothes, makeup, food, bottles without lids on them, and children’s toys piling up in the back of the car. It takes hours to clean it out when I need to have it serviced.
Her hair is blonde, her face as fair as a Nordic maiden’s; I’m a true brunette and my hazel brown eyes contrast greatly with her cerulean blue ones. Same for her father, who’s as olive as a man from the shores of Canaan.
Katie is a child of the excessive eighties, while I’m a product of the post-war years. She’s extroverted, whereas I think I’m more introverted. She was born and bred in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. I have never thrown off my rural roots from the far north coast of New South Wales. I love nothing better than to spend time in nature, breathing in its rhythms and its smells; Katie loves shopping, dating and applying perfume and makeup to her lovely features.
I like to read, she loves to watch reality videos. Anything American captures her fancy; for me it’s the ABC, or SBS. She likes those Bachelor and Bachelorette shows on TV.
My motto has always been Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today. Hers is: Leave it till later. And (implied meaning) someone else will do it for you. I swear sometimes that she was a great dame in a past life with servants and valets, the works!
My childhood felt bereft of love. So I brought her up according to the Continuum Concept, which meant having all her needs fulfilled at every moment of the day and night as a baby. This included breast milk and suckling on demand, and total body access. I think the “love” I bestowed on her was really, at base, meant for myself. Was it real love or projection for me? I remember my mother-in-law saying: “You are making a yoke for your neck, my girl.” Did I bestow on her a surfeit of love? Can there be too much love? No, but you can misinterpret the full meaning of love. My love-in-surfeit lacked the balance discipline benefits children in later life. Certainly my sort of love was better than the inverse of neglect.
Kate experienced a Dionysian-like adolescence, socialising excessively, drinking, smoking, and missing out on completing her studies. She never got to travel overseas. I was serious about getting an education and went abroad as soon as I had mapped out a career.
One of Kate’s eccentricities is that she never puts lids back on things after opening them. Bottles full of liquid, packets, it’s all the same. I often wonder if this is connected to the “excessive love” thing. Is it a symptom of her inability to find a happy medium? If so, I think it amounts to the same thing. Nursing Mothers said, at the time, that you couldn’t overfeed a baby: Wrong! In Kate’s case, I did.
I had a major clinical depression when she was seven. And a breakdown that I managed to wash away through my desire to change. I did this by descending into the psychic depths of myself.
Kate has been happy not to change. She is one of these people who don’t feel the need to change. Or is it that life changes them, anyway?
Katie has always known that life will go on in some form after death; I have been a spiritual fence-sitter, the original “Doubting Thomas”, all of my life.
She can think clearly and logically, as well as feel deeply; I intuit and judge and feel, mostly I feel. She was born under Gemini, the sign of the twins, an air sign; I’m a Scorpio, sign of the deeper waters.
When I conceived at 36, I was so overjoyed that I sang to the developing fetus and felt in contact with her from the start. She didn’t want to leave the sanctuary of the womb, and came out looking a little befuddled and bleary. We called her “Katie Bear”, and other more embarrassing names, and I thought I had created the most beautiful creature on the earth. It must have been true, because the doctor on duty said those words, forever remembered: She’s a good looker.
For many years, I supported Kate through her emotional problems, always bigger and more dramatic than mine invisible ones had ever been. Hers had big names, like BP1 and BP2, and even BLPD. Then one day, as she neared her fourth decade, she woke up from a long long sleep, and, like a mythic bird, took flight.
Since that day, she’s learning to become centred, to keep her nest clean and tidy, and even to put lids on bottles and jars after she opens them. The first full-time job that she applied for and won, after this awakening, was all about helping others, refugees and suffering human beings. Reinforcing my belief that a life is a work in progress.
AND MY OTHER steadfast belief: She really is an exceptional human being! Through all the trials and tribulations our love has remained steadfast. As Shakespeare said: “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.”