What do you remember of your childhood? How did you behave then, and what have you bought with you into your adulthood?
Were you the giggly child? The cheeky one? The wild child? The sullen, moody one? The studious one? The people pleaser? The class clown? The bossy one who tried to organise everyone else?
Me – well I am told I was the bossy one! I was older than my sister and brother by quite a few years and I just think that I took my role as older sister quite seriously.
What do you still hang on to from your childhood? What is it that still serves a purpose today? Is there something that you no longer need or isn’t working anymore?
I can remember that I was very studious at school. I had very high expectations of myself, even from early school. I used to screw up my work and start again if it wasn’t perfect (remember that this was before the days where you could delete and spellcheck!). This perfectionism was something that I have had to address as an adult and especially as a mum to three ‘perfectionistic’ girls! It was almost like Karma gave these girls to me to mirror my own tendencies and shine a light on what needed to change. Seeing my girls struggle with not being “good enough” was really difficult. I knew that I always had felt the same. The only way I knew I could teach the girls that they were perfect in their imperfection, was to demonstrate and model this myself. So I set about addressing my own inner critic and (mostly) embraced being perfectly imperfect. Not as easy as it looks in writing – this was something that has taken me many decades of self-reflection and rewriting my values. I am finally able to put myself, my opinions, my work and my Spirit out into the world, and not worry (too much) about being the best, or being whole, complete or perfect. I am a work-in-progress and I am still learning who I am and embracing this learning as part of my growing up!
So back to childhood memories… What is it that you remember about being little? Before you had responsibilities and had to “adult”? What games did you love playing? Who were the people who were close to you and guided you in growing up? Is there something from this time that you still need? What is it from your childhood that the adult-you could use now?
I was so lucky that I grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s and experienced so much more freedom than kids today have. I had no screens and no phones except for the one with the long cord, attached to the kitchen wall. I was a child of a federal policeman, so our family moved every couple of years to another state, another town or even overseas. My favourite place to live was Norfolk Island (a tiny dot in the ocean, about 1500km off the east coast of Australia). This was FREEDOM!!! We had no tv and only two local radio stations, but there was convict ruins, graveyards, beaches, trees and wilderness. The only rule was to be home before dark. I actually remember one day having a fight with my mum and running away from home – I climbed up a huge hill and sat up at a lookout, watching my home. I can remember thinking that mum must be so worried as I hadn’t come back for hours! When I came back at dinner time, she hadn’t even realised, just thought I had been out with friends as usual.
One thing I do remember about my childhood is enjoying time when I could hide myself and sit quietly in nature somewhere. On Norfolk Island there were two places – on a large brick wall, behind bamboo and under a huge hibiscus bush. I can remember sitting in these cubby holes, being able to watch the world go past but being totally hidden away. It was comforting being on my own, sometimes with a book and sometimes just enjoying the sounds of the wind through the leaves around me. This is something that has come with me into adulthood. I know now that I need quiet time, time to lose myself in a book or to listen to the ocean’s waves; Time to rejuvenate and refresh. This alone and quiet time is often the time when I can think, write, dream or just to be; time when I connect to my higher self, my Soul.
This (unfinished and perfectly imperfect) fabric collage represents my childhood. The main image is of a Norfolk Island pine tree, which still needs many more pine needles added to it. This tree came through, for as well as loving time alone in nature, I always craved for somewhere to put down roots. I hated moving home and state, losing friends and having to make new ones. I especially hated being the new girl in school! Through all my childhood, we did have some constants – one was the love of our family (represented here by the 5 cats). We always had each other.
Another constant which I didn’t realise until she had passed was that my Grandma was always there for me, not physically as she lived in England, but in the letters we would exchange. When Grandma passed, I sat down with a huge pile of aerograms and letters all written in neat rounded script on thin blue paper and re-read all them all. These letters started off very simple, written to a 5 year old girl, starting school. They covered every significant event in my life – finishing high school, living away from home, marriage, birth of my children, the loss of a pregnancy and the adoption of a daughter. They showed my life through her eyes, and were soaked in her love. Some told stories of my mum and her brothers when they were growing up. It turns out that I wasn’t the only bossy big sister! Others told stories of her early work life and how she met my grandad. These had kept me feeling grounded and connected to my family in a tangible way. Towards the later years, they once again became childlike in language, but this time it was because of her parkinson’s disease and dementia. Even then, I could still feel the love in that shaky handwriting. In my patchwork square, above, these letters are sewn by hand through the branches of the pine tree.
So, is it time to let that inner child loose again? To sing, to dance, to spin and run, to look at nature through wondrous eyes? What can that beautiful little boy or girl teach the adult that you’ve become today?