On 13 August 1993, six weeks ahead of schedule, Michele and I met our first child, Jamila Dawn. It was memorable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Michele’s pregnancy and birth was terrible, and I’m being generous. We smile about it now, but during the seven and a half months of pregnancy Michele had acute hyperemesis. She was hospitalised a couple of times and as a husband I felt completely helpless as the love of my life had her head in a bowl or over the toilet for many months and all I could do really was just sit and watch, trying to be a comfort as best as I could, as we began to time the 30 minute cycles between the brewing from one vomit to the next.
And then there was the trauma of giving birth to Jamila. The butcher of a Registrar who was clearly only doing time in obstetrics as pennants on her journey to being some big shot specialist somewhere in the world. I hope I never come under her care. She was awful. It took Michele at least two years to physically and mentally recover from that ordeal and it took a further three years before she was brave enough to consider doing it all over again.
The second memorable aspect of meeting Jamila was that her first few days in life were tricky. Being six weeks premature she went into the Middlemore Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unity (SCBU). There was a moment when she could have easily slipped away from us almost as quickly as she had arrived. Our faith community at the time, the Manukau Central Baptist Church, were amazing. I remember being in a church service on a Sunday morning and the church praying for Jimi (her nickname). There were words of affirmation and prophesy over her as she was in SCBU fighting for her life. Things like, “there is something special about this young child”, and “she is going to do amazing things in the world.” Both Michele and I were encouraged and we believed those prayers were heard by God and Jimi started to improve.
In August this year we celebrated her twenty-first birthday. Wow! Where did the years disappear? And there is something special about this kid. All grown up and at University getting a base level education so she can go off and be and do amazing things in the world.
And now last night we experienced a new chapter in hers and our lives. Last night she spent the first night at her new home. Of course, she has spent plenty of nights away from home over the years, but what is different this time, is that she no longer lives at our home, she is now living in her new home.
As I have been reflecting on this I have felt a sense of pride for Jimi. Here she is, with her best mates, stretching out from the safety of a loving and safe family home, to make a new mark in the world. I’ve been trying to monitor how I feel about it all. Frankly, Jimi and I have very similar personalities and that has its challenges. <pause> (this little pause is for those who know us and need to have a little chuckle to themselves about the truth of that statement). Honestly, I think she needs to leave the nest and make her way in the world, and I am total supportive of her (imagine me doing a little celebratory moonwalk dance), but I will miss my tenacious effervescent Jimi! Those who know Jimi well know her as a confident, passionate, and loyal young woman who lights up any room she walks into, and I think she is special and she will change the world.
I guess I’m feeling somewhat melancholic at the moment. Have we done a good job as parents to see her succeed in the world? Is she able to take what she has learnt under our roof for the last 21 years and two months and apply it in her life, new home and with her housemates? Will she embrace the responsibilities that come from now being responsible for all aspects of her life? Part of me hopes she doesn’t, because it validates our lives as her parents, but that quickly passes to a confidence that she will. She has some very long term friends to share in her journey and I think they will do just fine.
Last night I offered to buy them all dinner, from a local Thai and Malaysian takeaway bar, as a house-warming gift. It was great to share a meal with these three friends. I think they would be happy if we visited every Saturday night with dinner… ah yeah nah! But it won’t be the last time we will visit.
A new stage of life begins for the Mihaere family and I think it’s going to be alright, maybe even fun. It works like this…
This morning we are sitting in church and predictably Michele gets a text from Jimi. “Are you guys at Church? So you wanna catch up for a coffee?” So, coffee turns into lunch, and then a bit of shopping. But before we left I update my address book with my daughter’s new address and it suddenly made it permanent. Jimi no longer lives with us she lives somewhere else and my address book confirms that.
Go well Jimi! Your Mum and Dad and your little sister love you heaps and will always be here for you, although we are considering changing the locks so that the food in our house stays there until we three consume it for ourselves.