Birthing day

53 years ago, my 31 year old mum would have gone into labour with her sixth child- me.

I wonder if she was nervous. I wonder if she really did hope for a boy, or was her hope more of a good health? Her fourth child was born with club feet, and her youngest 3 year old toddler, was developing severe asthma, so perhaps her concern was more of health than gender.
Nevertheless, a sixth child born was going to cause extra pressure to the young couple who were doing their best to provide for their family.

But, this was the sixties, in Glasgow. Steel workers were beginning to feel the pressure of a world needing less cargo ships. Factories were being closed down or moved down South and many workers were looking further afield to get jobs. A lot of people were in similar situations.

Big families were commonplace. Contraception wasn’t as reliable as a pint of Guinness and the Church was still something to be feared. One panel, skinny windows – pre-double glazing and central heating were at the time only for the rich folk and probably contributed to more ‘snuggling ‘ than any weekly ‘quota’ of sex. Glasgow can be really cold at night, who am I kidding- It can be cold during the day!

Being the sixth born, must have given mum some birthing confidence. I never heard if she struggled with complications, she seemed very calm about it all as I remember my little sister being born (6 years later on the opposite side of the world). Mum walked herself, during labour, to the hospital and birthed a few short hours afterwards. Never having been pregnant myself, this is one instance I can’t imagine. The impending child, gender unknown, scan-free, health unknown. I think I might have been petrified.

53 years ago, mum’s parents were still alive. Her brother was in Rhodesia, South Africa was not on the horizon. How I wish I could pick her brain and ask her these ‘grown up’ questions. Ask if she remembers the specifics. Ask her how she felt about another baby girl. Ask her if she was worried or was her faith in her God, that great that, she could just live in trust that it was all going to be okay. Because it was.

In fact, it was great. I only had her for 25 years but I am still discovering the secrets of her life and her quiet way of doing things and how she influenced me into who I am.

Thank you Mum.

A morning in June

It’s a crisp June morning, too early for the baboons, too late for the birdcall. The campsite smells of stale booze and future hangovers. The continued roar of the nearby water over a sluice is both annoying and comforting.

The hot air balloon helium injection called me out of my tent to wave good morning as it stretched it’s way across the dawn.

Returning to my old army style, single bed I am armed with a mug of tea to snuggle in the comfort of electric blanket as I wait for the campers to start rousing. I imagine the fellow morning people blinking in the dark tents wondering if they should stir the sleepers. With the thick canvas covering the windows of cold air and light, it is hard to determine the time naturally.

I like watching the sun claim the day, chasing away the traces of night. I love knowing that for the next 10 hours, light will triumph over dark.

There is only a brief section of the day, which feels exclusively mine. The part that I feel invincible, observing the quick shift in nature, asleep and awake. But the new noises of staff clearing up last night’s event remind me that they made claim to the day before it was mine.

The sunrise spills over the horizon and floods the land with light. Voices raise as people greet each other, deciding on how to start the first Sunday in June. A short visit to the countryside is a tonic for the soul.