Playing dress up when I was a kid was my most favourite game in the whole world. Slipping my little feet into my Mom’s high heeled shoes, drowning in her fancy satiny dress and then piling on all of her beautiful necklaces made me feel sooooo grown up. How exciting – I was instantly transformed into an adult and no longer just some little kid. My imagination took me to all kinds of places, I was going out to fancy parties every night, traveling the globe on my private jet and I had oodles and oodles of money in my fancy purse which meant I could have anything I wanted!
On weekends we would visit my Oma and I would play the game all over again – rifling through her wardrobe and finding even more beautiful treasures to prance around in.
Both my Mom and my Oma encouraged me to use my imagination to be whoever I wanted to be.
When I was 17 my Oma took me to Barbados, just the two of us. I introduced my Oma to Peach Schnapps on that trip, she had never had it before and assured me it was nothing like the strong German Schnapps that she knew. I knew my Oma did have a sweet tooth and so the Peach Schnapps was a big hit. I made us each a fuzzy navel every evening after dinner. We sipped our little cocktail and giggled with our feet up on the balcony railing overlooking the ocean. As the sun set Oma would light up a Matinee Extra Mild and tell me stories about my Opa and how in love they were. Their eight year separation during World War Two was difficult but she always believed they would be reunited. My Oma had to work hard during those years and take care of their business, her two small children and her in-laws. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the amount of stress she had to endure. As Oma told these stories I looked at the sparkle in her eyes and how much she was enjoying paradise with me, her granddaughter, all these years later. She carved out a wonderful life for herself, despite her suffering. She had tremendous self-respect and believed in a better future. I felt very comfortable with my Oma and I could talk to her openly about all of my teenage angst. She made me feel extra special. I grew up proud of my family history and thanks to her I felt connected to family members I had never even met before.
My Mom really has loved me unconditionally from the day I was born. I do feel ashamed of the way I may have treated her over the years. She was on the receiving end of my troubled teens and twenties, the more she showed compassion and understanding, the more frustrated I became. When my grades were low she never berated me, she encouraged me to try harder and she always wanted to help. I knew most days that I did not deserve her kindness, it wasn’t always reciprocated. Uuugh, I was such a brat! There were days I would be home all day, sunning myself in the backyard and my Mom would come home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I got in trouble, but I continued to rebel against her.
Then something changed. I matured. By my mid-twenties I took an interest in my Mom. I wanted to get to know her better and I really enjoyed hearing more and more about her life experiences before my brother and I were born. She was and still is quite the adventurer. She and my aunt hitch hiked all through Europe in the sixties and then, three years later she planned another, more extended European trip with her new husband, soon to be my Dad . . . all planned with no internet people! Not even a Let’s Go Europe book!
Today my Mom and I are best friends. I tell her everything and her wisdom soothes me. She never passes judgement and her belief in me gives me strength and courage to keep going and to try harder. She has taught me to make life choices that are good for me. She has shown me that people pleasing is a waste of energy and staying true to myself is what really matters.
Today I feel the life force of my Oma and my Mom within me. I absorbed the best of both of them. I somehow find a way to navigate through the hard times in my life and hope for a better future when everything seems so dark. I have used my stories to comfort others and I give to the people I love because I have witnessed first-hand that people can change when they have love around them.
Over the Christmas holidays my Mom gave me a bunch of beautiful necklaces that she and my Oma used to wear, a couple of them from my dress up days. She said I should have them to remember those times and to perhaps make them into something new.
I never had children myself so there is no little girl except me who can play dress up with these gems.
I love the idea that we all have our own little girl inside, she’s the one who has dreamed and imagined and brought you to the place where you are today. She is the little girl who needs to be honoured.
I do have an idea up my sleeve as to how I can share the women I came from with you.
Just you wait, in the coming weeks it will be time to play dress up . . .