On the 5th of Feb 1986 I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl ….4lb 13oz …a homebirth in a terrace in Balmain Sydney . Now babies are miracles …but this one was for me . I was told I possibly could never have children , I had friends threatening to have me taken away in an ambulance because they thought I was endangering my health and that of my unborn child by having a homebirth . She was five weeks premature …I never got to finish the anti natal classes that show you how to breathe thru the pain etc …but in reflection the biggest challenge I faced was that it had only been five years since I had my Traumatic Brain Injury and I was still very much in the throws of coming to terms with the new me and how I functioned as opposed to the old me that was no longer showing up in my day to day functioning in the world .
As the years went by …well I did my best …all mothers do their best …get racked with guilt and concerns that they may leave their children lacking in something because of their shortfalls . At some point when Fleur was young I watched a movie called “I am Sam” about a guy raising a bright child when he as the father had a disability . It rocked me . I knew there was so much I could not give my daughter anymore …so many things that were almost impossible for me to navigate.
My family of origin were genetically very intelligent …both parents tertiary educated . My mum was one of the first women to graduate Sydney University as a Physiotherapist . My dad learnt Latin to understand the roots of the English language . My brother designed a non conventional gearbox that the military and petrol companies wanted . I was offered a science scholarship to New England Uni when I finished high school . But the after ..the ABI Julianne struggled with remembering what day it was , what I did yesterday , I knew my Teaching Qualifications had become a pretty useless piece of paper .Tuck shop was out of the question , parent teacher interviews harrowing…let alone finding the money for rentand school fees, dance classes and getting my always old cars thru rego .
And especially in the early years I was hyper vigilant that I didn’t leave Fleur in the supermarket or forget to pick her up from school or rehearsal …the only time I really relaxed was when her dad or Nerida or another trusted friend had her and I knew she was safe and I could float away in my moments and do my art .
Last week my baby girl who is now a mother herself sent me a copy of a letter she received from the University where she recently completed a degree with the School of Architecture and Built Environment.
They advised her that she had been selected to receive the Dean’s Medal.
Understandably any mother would want to BRAG about this . But for me I realized it goes very , very deep in healing something for ME . My daughter never met me without my brain injury …a fact which has made me deeply sad at times .
Somehow …and I don’t fully comprehend it yet ..but somehow Fleur getting this amazing result …it kinda lets me know . That I did OK …that I was enough …that my shortfalls never held her back from being the best she could be .