|Second Birthday ~ July 1977|
Over the last few months I have had a chance to really think about the things that make me “me”. Quite a few of these things are what I have learned (or inherited) from my parents.
I have realised that I am so like my mum and so like my dad and because my parents are quite different to each other (in so many ways); in certain situations I often find myself split.
I am so like my mum. From time to time I need my space and need quiet time to process things. Basically, there are times when I just want to be left alone to think. It is not a personal reflection on anyone around me i.e. family, friends etc. it is just that I need space. There are days when I wish I could be stronger and more tenacious like my mum. I love deeply like my mum. I adore animals. Oh and I proof-read like my mum used to proof-read all my work; much to Mark’s horror!
Mark, mum and I were having coffee one day and mum said “I brought Vanessa up to a be a strong, independent young woman because I did not know if she would ever meet her birth family and I wanted her to be strong in case anything happened to us”. Mark’s response was “did you have to make her so independent?” It was then that I realised that I can be independent to the point of wilfulness in some situations.
It was through my mum’s tenacity and strength that we met my birth family.
I am so like my father. I love being the centre of attention. I love to talk and have lots of people around me. I love to tell my stories over and over again. This is probably why I have an online blog. I love huge celebrations with family and friends and I adore good food and wine. Actually, it is all about me! I do appreciate music and often get emotional listening to particular songs. I am compassionate like my dad.
Once I asked my dad if he regretted never having (biological) children of his own and his words will stay with me until I die. He said “you are my daughter”. I was enough for him and I filled his heart with joy.
So you can see why I am sometimes conflicted...mum sometimes wants space vs. dad loving people around etc.
Like both of my parents I pretty much trust with all my heart and have an amazing amount of admiration for them both.
Then I also share traits with my birth mum and biological sisters. A few months’ ago my sister Bec said “oh my goodness that expression is so mum!” So it really speaks volumes about nature vs. nurture.
I was adopted out at birth and from an early age my parents told me that I was adopted and when I was a bit older I knew the circumstances of my adoption. I grew up as an only child within a loving family; I was cherished. Did I feel like there was a piece missing; yes. There were times when I would wonder about people walking down the street and whether they were my biological family. There was a time when I meet a woman at the local beach who constructed a huge lie about knowing my birth mother etc. and I believed her. My mum was absolutely heart-broken for me.
I can clearly remember really wanting a sibling to play with and I did ask if we could adopt another child or even provide a home for one of the children from the permanent placement articles. Mum just told me the other day that I would be gutted when my friends (or cousin) went home after staying the night or the weekend. I also got used to playing on my own and also let my imagination run wild within the realm of books.
I guess what I am really trying to say is that I honestly do not think that you can understand growing up as an only child if you grew up with siblings in your physical space.
When I was about 13 my cousin came to live with us. We shared a room. We shared physical space. We laughed, we fought, we cried. Finally, I had a friend and confidant…a sibling. We have so many shared memories. What I cannot remember, she can fill in the blanks. Seriously, we could write a book with our teenage experiences. I was trying to sum up my life between the age of about 6 through to 18 and I realised that a 20 minute car ride is no way near sufficient time.
I met my birth family at 14 years of age and found that I had 3 biological sisters. Suddenly, I had sisters in addition to my cousin. My teenage years were pretty tumultuous (you will have to read the book) and it took time to develop and nurture relationships with my sisters and birth family. 23 years later we have a pretty incredible bond.
I still keep things to myself and do not share a lot of my very deepest feelings with anyone, not even Mark. I believe that this comes from being an only child for the first part of my life and I guess in essence I learned to self-soothe and be strong. As an adult, it is probably unlikely to change.