And there she was. She had arrived. I had mixed emotions that day, excited to meet her but overcome with the work ahead. I was already feeling that unrelenting fatigue that comes with being a mother of several toddlers. I now had another.
And then we saw them. Those brown eyes, deep pools of mesmerizing chocolate coloured eyes. She had us wrapped around her little finger from that moment.
Our family was complete, except for the two dogs that came later.
As I flipped through photos from the next five years so much seems a blur. Three children under four years of age can do that to a person. The routine of life had its ebbs and flows, its happy moments, its dark times. But we made it through.
Our brown eyed baby had to survive two bigger sisters. I used to put her in a jolly jumper in the living area so she was part of the action until I came across her two sisters swinging, quite high while she laughed and giggled. I packed the jumper away after that.
One other day I met her sisters carrying her down the hallway, having dragged her from her cot – “She was awake mum”, though I’m still not convinced she was. Her sisters persuaded her that the bigger the coins the more they were worth so she swapped all her 2 dollars coins with her sisters 50 cents. They played with her mind by covering all the photos of her in the house and convincing her she didn’t exist.
I went to work when she was just a toddler, my husband stayed home to be a house husband and look after the three girls. This worked well most of the time. I did come home one summers day to find her being hosed in the back yard as she had soiled her nappy and this seemed the quickest and easiest way for my husband to clean her up
Her father only has one working arm, a victim of polio. So I should not have been surprised to arrive home to see the girls tying their shoes with one hand and their teeth, as dad had done. She formed a wonderful relationship with her dad, especially after her older sisters went off to school. She learnt to fish (one handed) and developed a lifelong love of fishing, especially after catching ‘the big one’ when she was ten.
Like all my girls their grandparents farm created so many happy times, especially times with cousins. She formed a unique bond with my mother through cooking , first starting with licking the bowl and then helping with the stirring to being able to completely cook a cake for herself. Like her grandmother she now uses cooking as a stress relief. Through her teens years I would arrive home to a kitchen that looked like a bomb site – flour and sugar strewn over the floor and bench, measuring cups laying haphazardly across the bench, sink full of every mixing bowl we own.
“Bad day at school today?” I would ask
“Yes, how did you know?”
“Oh, just guessed”, the mess in the kitchen didn’t provide me any clues!
She is a confident unique individual. I am not sure whether growing up in the shadows of two older sisters bought this out in her, or whether it is just in her genes. She dressed herself from an early age – some of the photos showed just how individual her dress sense was. She decided another day she no longer wanted a fringe in her hair, so cut it off resulting in a lovely little row of fluff across the top of her forehead. She tried makeup. She rocked the easter bunny outfit at school, really played the character of a clown when she dressed up for a school social. She went through a onesie stage, her collection growing to over 7 different outfits and she confidently wore them to parties, school events and other public places.
This youngest girl of mine showed her wonderful caring nature very early. As a toddler she would regularly have a cup of tea with her grandparents and get all the gossip of the latest operations, complaints and deaths, which she would relay to me when she arrived home. This included telling me that “Uncle Fred died last night mum, he went to sleep and just didn’t wake up”. The thought of this captivated her for some time.
When I used to ask how was preschool I would get a report of everyone’s ailments, by the time she went to school I would get an update on who was away each day, like a mother hen doing the daily report of her brood.
She has also had a fascination with death and body functions. She is always willing to dig out a burr or a splinter, squeeze a pimple, examine a wound – the things that make many people queezy at the thought.
Year 10 students are required to do two weeks work experience to help them plan for their future career. I was surprised to learn this baby of mine has selected two weeks working in an aged care facility. Any doubts I had were quickly washed away. She had found her calling.
She cared for these wonderful older members of the community with such tenderness and gentleness, and still does to this day. She can remain calm in a stressful, highly tense situation keeping her head and showing a maturity well beyond her years. At times it is hard to believe that she is my daughter. I feel so much pride for her and the woman she has become.
I see a great leader in this girl. She earnt the award of school captain for her primary school and set the example for the school – showing a willingness to assist teachers and be a voice for children that could not be heard. She participated in many sports, setting the example to other students and showed a mature leadership on the sporting field as well.
This carried over to home, especially willing to help her grandparents, more so today than ever. Being school captain of her high school allowed her leadership qualities to mature even more and I see her taking these experiences to her workplaces and her university life.
My crystal ball for this bright, delightful, compassionate young lady shows me sunshine and many successes. I know she will make her mark in nursing and attention to others – her leadership and caring nature show me this already.
My advice to her is to listen to your heart, advocate for yourself, be confident on the outside even if you aren’t on the inside. You can do it, you just need to believe in yourself.
My wish for Bonnie, my brown eyed baby who came into this world 21 years ago today is for every happiness. You have bought joy to our lives, your smile brightens every day, your honesty (i.e. bluntness!) is refreshing.
Live long, live well, live happy my Bonnie. Happy 21st birthday.
UPDATE 05/05/2020: Today this brown eyed girl turns 25. What a ride the past 4 years have been for her!
I know there moments of doubt – and “I cant do this!” as she worked her way through University. Turning up to a hospital ready to do your prac, not knowing anyone is daunting. I get that. She worked through those moments.
I know she has been scared as all get-out as she started her first day as a qualified nurse – how terrifying it must have been to be thrown into the Criminal Justice system and be asked to nurse men who have performed unspeakable acts.
She did it.
She did it with the same care and tenderness that she would show any other person who needs help, support and comfort. And continues to show.
She is a sponge for knowledge – the more she knows the better care and decisions she can make. This drives her to learn more. It is remarkable to observe.
She has found her voice and it grows stronger every day. She has learnt to advocate for the patient and finally, for herself. I know this voice will continue to become louder and resolute as her confidence grows. Keep going, we are listening!
She has had a wealth of experiences and a maturity beyond her years – I have to remind myself she is only 25. She is on a path to greatness in nursing…and whatever other life path the next quarter century takes her.
Happy birthday our brown eye girl. x