• Stephanie Hammond

Getting on with life ...

I often wonder what life is like now for a young woman in a similar situation. What emotional support is out there now? At that time there were no self help books and I don’t even remember having a library card, avid reader that I was. Dr Spock was the only author on childhood I read and I threw that philosophy out the window when my second child arrived. He was useless in helping me understand a baby with her own schedule and unique set of health issues.

My younger daughter seemed to take life in her stride. She was a quiet little girl, content to play with her toys and big sister. I didn’t make linkages with the way I was as a child then. Perhaps she was dealing with her own fears in a similar way. My older one was more vocal. She was clingy and cried a lot. I desperately wanted to do the right thing for her. I was sent to a child psychologist. I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but I’ll never till the day I die recommend that path to anyone.

It was recommended that I take her to a day care facility. The intent was to give her a safe environment to get used to not having me by her side all the time. She screamed every day until I gave up on that one. Now, of course, I see she was afraid. Her father had already gone from her life. She was afraid she’d lose her mother too. Why didn’t the psychologist suggest that that was the problem? Thankfully she grew to be a gregarious young thing, loving her friends and social interactions.

That loneliness that plagued me during my early married years plagued me still as I settled into our new life. Staying with my mum and sister I was fine. Now I was alone with my two little girls and the loneliness returned. Fear of being alone I think. I struggled to keep a happy front for the sake of my girls. It wasn’t all doom and gloom, but this is an emotional state I’m aware of still. Now I have strategies for dealing with it. Then I was learning. Now I love my solitude - perhaps because it’s temporary, only for hours or days at a time. I don’t have the sense of an empty void facing me as I felt then.

So I got a house mate. (The photo is of our home as it is now (with new owners), not as it was back then.) A lovely young woman of a similar age to me who was waiting for her man to come back from Vietnam. She was easy to have in the house and I like to think she enjoyed being with us as we enjoyed her. When she left to get married, my darling aunt and cousin came to stay. They had recently arrived in town and I was thrilled to have them share house with us. We all got along well and I settled into my new life.

I started night classes - picking up on my creative writing interest. I had two girlfriends to go out with and my mum and sister close by. And my two little girls. Life was feeling good at last. I could see a future for us and, although finances were tight at the time, I was sure I was learning skills that would help in that area in time.

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