Thursday, 20 March 2014

I'm in my 40's and my mom's in her 50's


I'm in my 40's and my mom's in her 50's
20 March 2014

Lots can be said for having your kids young.  For growing up with them. 

I am the product of such a home.  My folks being ludicrously young when they started a family.  Albeit that my arrival had not been planned and must have been a shocker, they loved having kids.  My mom always said that my dad said, that his kids were his greatest achievement.  As an artist, the best work of art he ever created.

And being a parent myself, I fully understand.

The downside of having kids so young, is the fact that you never have a real opportunity to kick start your own life.  To accumulate stuff.  I think one always feels like you’re on the back foot.  Caught slightly off guard.  And perhaps ill prepared for the challenges ahead.

For most people, the pattern is like this:  Man and woman in early twenties to early thirties meet.  Both have finished their tertiary education.  Both have established careers.  Both have set up a home of their own.  Both have cars, house goodies, and have done a bit of travel.  Seen the world a bit.  Man and woman fall madly in love.  After a lengthy period of courtship, followed by a minimum one year engagement, in which they get to plan their lavish wedding, man and woman get married.  They buy a house together, both continuing their respective careers, and about two years into their marriage, they decide to have a family.  And they all lived happily ever after.  The end.

Instead my folks had this:  Man and woman in mid-teens meet.  They date.  Neither have finished studying.  Man still has to complete compulsory military training.  Woman, aged eighteen falls pregnant.  Gets kicked out of tertiary education institution.   Three weeks later, man gets emergency pass from the army, with 24 hours leave, to marry woman.  Rushes back to Bloemfontein, hours after the wedding, to continue the rest of military training. 

No chance to finish studying.  No chance to accumulate wealth.  Nor possessions.  One little beat-up Volkswagen Beetle between the two of them.  A family flat-let off the parents main house, with loaned furniture.  Man finishes army and has to go straight to work.  No opportunity for further studying as he has to provide for his family.  Woman enrols into college again, when the baby is just ten days old.  Determined to get her education, to ensure a better future.  Spends the next few years juggling studying, working and a child.

It must have been hell of a hard.  But, listening to the stories, those were very, very happy days for my folks.  The love flowed.  They didn’t need much.  Yes, it was surely tough.  But family helped out.  And they both worked hard.  Were extremely dedicated.

But they never had a chance to accumulate.  They were always on the back foot.  It stands to reason.

But for all of that, they produced three great kids.  At least I’d like to think so.  Well adjusted, nice people.  Kids with solid foundations.  Grounded, with awesome values and deep appreciation for family.  An extremely close knit affectionate family.

And so, growing up, I might not have had much stuff.  Still the stuff we had was nice.  Antiques, lots of art work, music always flowing.  But not stuff like my friends had.  Stuff that I yearned for.  Popular, new, modern, fancy stuff.

However, now as an adult, I understand and grasp the value of what I really had.  I had family and I had love.

Another inestimable asset I had growing up, was the gift of youthful parents.  Parents with enough energy, drive and spunk to do lots.  Parents that were hip, trendy and current.

And as I’ve grown older, I’ve learnt to appreciate this more and more.

The parents of my friends are gone.  Or old.  Sickly.  Aged.

Whereas mine are not.  My dad might be gone.  But he packed a whole lot of life into the time he had here.  Made a huge impression, carved deep grooves.

I am in my 40’s.  And my mom is in her 50’s.  It’s strange.  Because some of my friends are in their fifties too. 

At 41, my mom at age 59, is my best friend.  She’s my person.  My sounding board, my confidant, my emotional support.  She’s still youthful enough to understand where I’m at in my life.  To remember back to when she was that age.  When her kids were that young.  To be fair, my stepsister, who lives in the home with my home and stepdad, is a mere 16 months older than my eldest.  So we have lots of common ground.  Both of us parenting a teen.

At 59, my mom is still hip, trendy and current.  She still has enough energy, drive and spunk to do lots. 

What a blessing indeed.

I’m in my 40’s and my mom’s in her 50’s.  I reckon not many people can say that.  How exceptionally cool!

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My folks didn't have a pram or a carrycot. Instead I got carted about in a wicker basket - child abuse!!!
Home from the hospital. I'm about three days old.

First wedding anniversary. My dad is 20, my mom is 19, and I'm a few months.

Just days old
The kid with a kid



  1. marylou newdigate20 March 2014 at 22:21

    yes I agree - my mom was 20 when she had me, and I was her 2nd child. She is very cool too. Your mom is divine, I can tell from her happy eyes..

  2. Oh Helene, how very charming! Thank you! I am delighted! We are very fortunate to have such a close family! I do think we have many values that cannot be counted in money, and I am proud that my children can see that too. I am sad that your dad did not see all of you blossom into the responsible and exemplary adults you are that can still be silly and have fun!

    Marylou, I do have happy eyes, as I am so very happy to have amazing kids who overlook the many faults I made in my wonderfully misspent youth with few regrets!! Love to still meet you some time!

  3. Aahhhhh, Helene! Ek sien nou eers hoe baie jy en Maggie na mekaar lyk! En ek kan vouch daarvoor dat hulle 'n baie goeie job gedoen het met julle 3. ;)

  4. Both of you are Wonderful ladies! Full of life and fun! Lindsay

  5. Soos altyd laat dit my hart warm wanneer ek jou familiestories lees. Dankie vir die deel daarvan. Jy't 'n wonderlike manier van herinneringe aanmekaar ryg.

  6. I had my only son when I was 35 and my husband 39. Yes, we'd lived a lot, travelled a lot & accumulated a lot, but we are old parents. Too old and tired to play enough with our boy when he was little. Certainly too old and tired now to cope with his difficult teenaged years. We love him dearly and devotedly, but would we in hind-sight have had him earlier? Yes, I almost think so. Ta for your lovely, heart-warming blog :)