If you’ve been to a workshop before, chances are you’ve met my mum. Her name is Karen, we work together in the business and she’s often in the background offering food, warm smiles and gentle conversation to our guests.
I heard a rumour from my dad that when they were dating, my mum would say that she didn’t want any kids, only cats. So how did they end up with me and my two younger brothers Jon and Greg? I decided to ask her one day and get to the bottom of it all.
Carrissa: So, Mum. True or false — you’ve always wanted cats, not kids?
Karen: True! I grew up in a multi-generational family, where there were more people than there was space.
There was always a lot of noise, and also because I was one of the older children (as my dad was the oldest son), I had a lot of younger cousins always screaming around me.
So I grew up thinking that kids are a bunch of noisy, irrelevant people, and found my solace in animals, because animals never talk back to you, especially cats, they’re like, so dignified and quiet, and elegant — they’re just the best — so my motto growing up was “CATS, NOT KIDS”.
Carrissa: Now that you finally have more cats than kids, which would you say is better?
Karen: Hmm. That’s a really sensitive question to ask.
I think if I want to be really honest, definitely kids. Because despite the noise, and the mess, and the inconvenience, and sometimes the heartache, they are more reciprocal.
They interact with you more and you actually see a part of yourself in them, and a part of them is also in you, so there is definitely a deeper connection than cats.
Carrissa: That’s quite a transformation! Do you remember your first thought when you first found out you were pregnant with me?
Karen: Actually, that was the only pregnancy that I have the clearest memory of, because it was the very first.
I remember the day I went to see the GP to get a positive pregnancy test. I remember walking out of the clinic feeling like, it was a very special day.
It was actually quite amazing just entertaining the thought that there is another life growing inside of me.
And I think, it’s one of those moments where the clarity of the existence of God, a Creator God, was very, very clear in my mind.
Of course, the next thought that came was like, there’s an alien growing inside (laughs), but that came later.
Carrissa: (Tearing up) That’s so sweet. So, what’s one thing you love about being a mum?
Karen: I quite enjoyed looking after something that needs looking after (laughs again).
And doing all the different activities, I mean having kids gave me that permission to do a lot of things which I would never do if I were on my own, like reading bedtimes stories, trying out all these little kids classes, buying cute dresses for you, experimenting with hairstyles for Jon, remember he had that rat’s tail?
It just opened up a lot of different experiences.
Now that your question has me thinking, those were activities that I didn’t have a chance to do when I was a kid, and yeah, it was fun doing them!
Carrissa: And what part about being a mum could you not care less about?
Karen: When you guys got sick, and threw up on all my clean mattresses in the middle of the night — ALWAYS in the middle of the night!
And also all of you had an asthmatic disposition, so that was a bit stressful with the wheezing and the hospitalisation.
Carrissa: That’s so funny, because I don’t remember being sick, or much of the ‘big’ things we did, it’s all the small moments, going to the shops, or doing art together at home, that stick in my memory.
Karen: Yeah, that’s really interesting and good to know. It’s almost like, that New Zealand trip where we went to so many different places, but the best part was just playing in the backyard with my aunty’s dog.
Carrissa: Definitely. Thanks mum, I decided to make this year’s Mothers’ Day Workshop a Paper Camellia Bonsai, because you have camellias growing in your garden, and Bonsais take lots of care and work to grow, just like how you looked after us. What has it been like for you to work for me in Jotterbook Flowers?
Karen: I just see it as a way to continue being a part of your life. And it’s something that I can do without too much drama, so yeah, it’s good!
Carrissa: Aww. Thanks mum, it’s been really fun working with you too. I’m excited for Mothers’ Day, though I won’t tell you what we’ve got planned yet!