My Gang

It was done without a second thought, that’s what made it so beautiful. The third traveller was on the phone to the first – I was driving and had asked him to make the call.

“Hey Lizzie” said the voice of my twelve year old boy “Can you move a few of the beers from the fridge into the freezer, the Ford’s are coming over for a drink and Mum and Dad are worried the beers aren’t cold.”

She wanted to know which fridge, which beer, what time were they arriving and with kids or no kids? Spot the eldest child? Years of neglect and bad parenting has given us a child that my very organised and reliable friend tells me I do not deserve. “She’s so bloody good! How did you get a child like that? I WAS MEANT TO GET THAT CHILD”.

“It’s the beers with the silver labels. Oh and maybe put a bottle of bubbles in there as well. Oh okay…yep, okay…see you in about 15 minutes we’re just grabbing the baseball snacks and then we’ll be home…yep, okay, love you.”

Hear that? That last bit? My twelve year old son to my fifteen year old daughter. “Love you…”

Music to a mother’s ears. Or is that just me? All I’ve ever wanted is for my gang to be exactly that – a gang. I’m sure Freud would tell you it has something to do with me spending a lot of time alone as a child, the age gap between my sister and I rendering us useless to each other. She listening to Bob Dylan while I remodelled Barbie’s dream house.

“Don’t ever stop saying that Fred” I told more than asked as I flicked my indicator and turned left towards home.

“What?”

“Don’t ever stop telling your brother and sisters that you love them. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel that it’s weird or unnecessary. Don’t ever get too cool or too angry. End your call in the same way forever -always tell them that you love them.”

“Is this a cancer thing Mum?” he smiled

“No!” I grinned back. “It’s an everyday thing”.

When each new baby arrives there’s a conversation about confusion over where they’ll fit with time and space. Will I have “enough love” for two, an idea that seems ludicrous from the first contraction. The second they’re born you can’t picture what life was like without them. For us it was one, two, three, and then four. We were then complete, this would be our story from now on.

8 years

And and as they grew they each took on their own shape, found their words and their roles. Each child has something in common with another. While two have the same skin a different, two have the same eyes. A matching strawberry patch, the shape of a nose. Each has something which ties them to another.

7 years ago

Each discovered which buttons to push, when to stop, and when to run like the clappers because you were going to be dead once caught.

6 years ago

Through different houses, different countries, they slept side by side: on planes, busses, spare beds and in between us.

5 years ago

They began at different schools, made different friends, played different sports. Travelling together they’ve learnt how to find each other between each move. Each holiday beginning with a re-association.

3 years ago

And somehow without me noticing but noticing, they changed form.

2 years ago

From primary or elementary, from middle to high, from tiny to grown. Yet another pair of shoes to hand down, bigger bats and gloves, jackets that didn’t last a winter, outgrown uniforms and height marks on the wall to prove it.

IMG_4622

The playroom changed, the stuffed toys dwindled in numbers while the games and appliances grew. The dress ups have more meaning. The conversations more depth. The emotions just as fierce.

www.imbuephotography.com

And somehow we got to here.

“Is this a cancer thing Mum?”

Maybe it is. Maybe if there’s a doubt, an inch, an inkling of fear – it all seems okay when I hear you say “love you” at the end of a call. You’re going to be okay.

My gang.

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