The “reds”

To Minnie s generation the pill was commonplace.   She took it for many years – at first to try to deal with her hormonal mood swings which were bleak at particular times of the cycle.  Later, as a contraceptive – one of many.

Minnie was casual in the way she used to take the pill, sometimes doubling a dose; other times, adding alcohol to try to dull her increasingly ferocious “blues”. Period pain was often intense.  Minnie missed school several months in a row due to severe cramps and diarrhoea. Unfortunately, there was little sympathy at this time.  Instead, the message was stop whinging and get on with it.

It was not until she was in her thirties that doctors discovered endometrial scar tissue, revealing that Minnie was most likely fighting more than “the menstrual blues” during her narrow, reproductive window of opportunity.

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Mini Minnie

The only time Minnie did end up with a mini Minnie alongside her was through well-meaning “tosh talk”.

An old school friend had died in a car crash.  She happened to resemble  her.  At a couple of different alternative healing events, psychics “saw” her next to Minnie.   They tilted their heads to one side, lowered their voices and softly enquired, “Did you lose a child?”  They described the image.   Each time Minnie kept quiet, knowing she had not miscarried but wondering if guardian angels did exist.  If they did, she did not mind the idea of Rosa accompanying her on her life journey.  Rosa had been a party girl during her short life and Minnie had loved her untamed soul.

Minnie could not imagine how it felt to lose a child.   She had always felt for parents who had.   Grief was a many-headed monster who developed a dragon’s tail lashing here and there when it came to a lost child.

Minnie mourned for what might have been but never was.image

Nanny McMinnie

imageMaybe Minnie was destined to be barren? She was certainly unconventional.  At a time when other little girls talked about princes and princesses, Minnie told her mother she thought she would be married three times and it might work the third time.

In other respects, Minnie was highly conventional and responsible: she did a lot of babysitting and child-minding in her teens.  She was startled by hanging pheasants at one stone cottage. At another gentrified address, she struggled to fulfil the parents’ timetable which included daily violin practise for a 6 year old. Only ten years older than the child at the time, Minnie could not see the merit in imposing such a punishing schedule on a child who wanted to play. She had to phone her mother for advice from another babysitting gig. The toddler kept peeling off her nappy. She was screaming; Minnie was sobbing with exhaustion.  The toddler’s parents could not be reached on any of the numbers they had left. Minnie’s Mum talked her through it over the phone. Turned out the child had an ear infection. The parents had decided not to inform their babysitter so they could enjoy a night off. Minnie had felt powerless as the child repeatedly stepped out of her nappy and bustled away screaming. It was her first experience of the power of a toddler. Of not being able to reason with another person.

One trio of little girls Minnie looked after she imagined as her own brood.  The sisters were very different to each other. The youngest was a fairytale princess, the eldest an imaginative writer, the middle one…a tearaway in training.

Minnie was gentle, kind and responsible.  She attended Junior Red Cross and Girl Guides. She was was a popular child-minder. There is a photo of her, lean and fair-haired, gazing as if mesmerised at a small child next to her.  She looks curious and astounded by the little person in the making by her side.

 

 

The hips that lied

imageMy younger self saw my future self as a farmer’s wife. Children milling about, ruddy complexion, dogs and geese. I look back fondly at the little girl who imagined having six children easily. I was always told I had child bearing hips. That turned out to be a lie. These hips have borne no life.  I ve tried to conceive but it did not work.   This is my story – or rather, this is Minnie s story.  Minnie s story of the hips that lied.