Just a few hours old. I still look wiped out, but was high on adrenalin and natural endorphins - and love!
My baby girl turns 13 today.Just as I did as I wrote her big brother's birthday post a few weeks ago, today I'm reflecting on my earliest memories of the girl who is rapidly growing into the most beautiful young woman in the world. (I know. I'm biaised.)
I don't have the luxury of having Harmonie with me on her birthday. This year, again, she's with her other parents and it breaks my heart to be apart from her on her special day.
Living away from my kids is always difficult, but special occasions and the times when they need me are the days when being separated from my children are the hardest. (Let's not even talk about the times when I need them! Sob!)
But I'm lucky in knowing that although we're not together today, Harmonie will still be having a happy day at home and at school.
When she was here over the recent holidays, we celebrated her birthday early, and while it wasn't the same, it was almost as good.
Celebrating with her brother and friends at iPlay Australia, Albert Street, Brisbane. Like a boss!
But they say babies choose their parents and decide when they are ready to come into the world, and Harmonie must have been one angel who was pretty determined to fall to earth.
And she arrived early too, with my waters breaking conveniently in the morning, allowing us to drop Chase at child care on the way to hospital. I'll skip the the birth details (just mentioning the part where the power went out just as it got dramatic), and get to the part where our little angel arrived at a respectable time in the afternoon. Which meant Chase could visit his little sister before dinner. It was all very civilised. (Harmonie always has been a considerate child ...)
With the years flying by so fast, I decided to share my memories and advice for Harmonie, just as I did for her brother on his recent birthday. Bits and pieces of her life, and things I may have already told her, but want her to know anyway. (That's called 'Doing a Mumma at our house).
A Message To My Girl (Ramblings of a Mumma, Part 2)
- We always joke that you spent the first few years of your life crying. Actually that isn't quite true. While you did cry a lot - you were a reflux baby - looking at all the photos of you over the years, all I can see are images of you smiling, laughing and/or looking mischievous. Occasionally you are putting a sad face on, but it was usually in jest.
- You did love to be picked up though. In fact, I couldn't put you down, or you would cry. I had to wear you in a baby sling to get anything done, and your Dad and I invested in a second hand baby swing to help you sleep during the day. I quickly learned the skill of typing one-handed. We had a few aupairs in the early years because I was working full time, and our Japanese aupair Ayako nicknamed you 'The Koala' because you loved to be cuddled. And she loved cuddling you! (So did I).
- You loved your Mumma from day one. Unlike Chase, you rarely liked going to other people. There was one wonderful girl, who we'd used since Chase was a toddler, who couldn't manage to get you to sleep without you first crying so much you made yourself sick! So we just stopped going out. Except for that time we asked your Dad's parents to look after you for a special occasion. But we got a call after about 90 minutes, begging us to come home. They loved you to bits, but just couldn't get you to settle. Then my parents came to visit and I thought they had the magic touch. But we came home early from a concert one night to find my Dad lying on the floor beneath your cot, holding your hand, and Mum in a chair beside you, patting your tummy. That was the only way they got you to go to sleep!
- Similarly, child-care, prep and school (in the early days) were always a challenge. There were times when you had to be practically peeled off me. You would cry as if your heart would break. Staff always assured me you settled quickly. A few times, I snuck back to check and you were playing quite happily. It was just the Mumma factor at play!
- You were a popular member at all of the above from day one, no matter which school you have attended. Over the years, I've watched you blossom into a confident student. You have always been called on by teachers to help show new kids around, help those who might be having a hard time, or who need help making friends. At times I know that's been a drain on you, but you always accept it with good grace.
My fearless girl! Taken at Centenary Rocks Park, Seventeen Mile Rocks, Qld
Harmonie - lying on the glass floor of the Sky Tower in Auckland, NZ, and freaking me the hell out! I could barely walk on it without feeling feeble!
- Do you remember your 'nanees'? Sometimes you had two, three, four or more on the go at once. And you always had a lot of soft toys, all with their own names and stories.
Princess Harmonie - Front page of an clothing catalogue for the Asian market
Another of your modelling shots
One of your famous cakes, made from scratch, for a family event. Before you added the home-made chocolate bark.
- You were an arts and crafty child, and even had me making my own coloured and scented play dough. Even though I'm not crafty! Later we did painting, and beading and all kinds of things. We often had to set up outside because of the mess. Thanks for helping me discover that side of myself. (I could have done without the glue gun burns when I helped out at school though ...)
- You've always been such a supporter of my career, asking me to speak at school, coming along to my events, and even taking photos on occasion. You'd make a great PA, or perhaps a writer or photographer yourself. (But then there are so many other options open to you like language teaching, interpreter work or many more. Choose your own passion my love. And don't be surprised if that changes as you get older.)
- You're a good judge of character, just like your brother. Don't ever lose that sense of trusting your instincts. They are nearly always right. (I followed your advice by the way ...)
Never lose that ability to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature and of a moment in time ... (Taken at sunset at Mooloolaba Beach, Qld)
- Thank you for always reminding me that I'm actually a good parent. Not just in words but in the way you act, where I see my own actions coming back at me. I remember being ill with pneumonia, and you appearing at my bedside in the middle of the night, with a fresh sick bowl, a damp wash cloth, honey and a spoon. "Sip it, Mumma, it will ease your cough," you said. No child should have to take care of her mother. But I knew exactly who you learnt that from and God, I loved you for it.
- In the same way, you've organised home spa days for me on days like Mother's Day, or - now you are getting older - for us. Or decorated my bedroom in the style of a resort room. Or getting up on the last night we were at home these holidays, and tidying up the kitchen and lounge as a surprise for me the next morning. Bless you.
With Chase on a ferry in Samoa
One of your home-made cubbies at our former family home at Riverhills, Brisbane
Having a picnic with Lucy
These are just a few of the things I love about you. I have loads of advice for you but I don't think it needs to be shared in a public space.
But you know that I'm here whenever you need to ask something or talk about anything. Anything at all.
I know I'm not perfect but we know I am forever working on improving myself and being the best mother I can be for you and your brother.
Happy birthday Harmonie.
I hope you have the best day and that we get to have a sauna and a spa together again soon. Maybe even a massage? You deserve some spoiling too!
The most beautiful young woman in the world. Taken at Pottique Lavendar Farm, Kingaroy.