Growing up in ’50s West Australia, I recall most days were happy, full of fun with two brothers not much younger than me. There’s no doubt our parents, recent immigrants found those early years pretty tough.
No promise of prosperity.
Dad moved quite a bit with work which meant we moved house often, never settling. Even as a kid I realised this time was particularly tough for mum, though she never talked about it.
Bringing up three children in a new country, without family connections, there wasn’t a lot of time for her. No way to put roots down, grow. Eventually, other families from the UK arrived, they too found it tough establishing themselves, so we didn’t get to see much of them.
‘It happens.’ I hear you say.
It was an unsettled time but it was a busy, exciting time for us young, naive kids. I remember the family took the day-night train to the East coast for the second time following dad. This is when my parent’s marriage began to deteriorate. Uneasy, tough, unpredictable times.
I found myself at my second prep school with my brothers ‘settling’ into a third primary … and a sister due in the world any time soon!
In reflection, we all worked to keep the family together, I remember mum taking jobs to support us. We never considered ourselves poor. The family always had enough. Mum even found me my first Saturday work, my first ‘real’ job.
At about fourteen years old I began to wonder how friends managed to have all the right stuff, the latest sports equipment, the best bicycle etc.
I was becoming influenced by peers and came to learn how better stuff, extra things might be attainable.
‘Get over it!’ I hear you say again …
Ok, so I’ll cut to the chase.
Almost forty years later I find myself content with life. I’ve lived and worked, I’ve met those ‘better things.’ I’m lucky to have a loving family, made great friends, started businesses and closed them. I’ve started up again. I’m accused of being a trouble-maker, rabble-rouser. I’ve picked up pieces, learned lessons and carried on.
You see, the path my brothers and sister walked with mum and dad, while it seemed tough, it was our ‘normal.’ Tough was normal.
Life has a habit of throwing challenges out along the way and these have galvanised me to some extent. I’ve learned the value of reaching out, engaging people. When doing so I’m offering time to observe, listen, hold a conversation and ask questions.
I’ve enjoyed finding out how to be comfortable in my shoes. I found out a long time ago that life isn’t about bigger, better things but the better people in your life … life is about how we adapt, relate.