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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: 48 - An Unwelcomed Surprise

“In fact, these were some of the happiest months of my life. I was content and felt fulfilled as a mother. I enjoyed the mornings particularly. I would get Jeff off to school, lunchbox, homework and drink in his satchel, bath, and play and feed baby Karyn and then have the quiet mornings as she slept…’’

Gayle Woodward is more than content with her domestic life – then husband Woody arrives home with a shock announcement.

Karyn was a quiet and satisfied baby who gained weight slowly but surely. She sucked her thumb from the moment of birth and with this habit became very self- sufficient and contented while still a tiny infant.

I was a happy but busy Mum. Jeff was at school and Mark began afternoon kindergarten. I could drive now but had no car so we took up the daily walks with first the pram and then a pushchair again up hill and down.

Mark was a boy who loved digging and building in mud or sand and kindergarten gave him plenty of opportunities to do this. He enjoyed sorting - blocks, Lego, buttons, fireworks. All were sorted and classified by type, colour or other variants only known to him. He played by himself and was content with his own company. The song ‘Killing Me Softly’ was playing on the radio and Mark could be heard singing quietly to himself “Killa Ma Sofya,” over and over again.

Some of the neighbouring mothers invited me to join them at yoga classes. We were all interested in retaining the figures that we had lost with second or third babies. We had tried exercise to music and tried holding exercise afternoons in each others’ homes where our babies took up most of our attention. So, evening classes seemed a good idea to me. I enjoyed the yoga and was so relaxed about the stretching exercises that at the relaxation poses at the end of the sessions, I would doze off to sleep.

I seemed to have a talent for this exercise and took to it with gusto. I was one of only a few young mums who could do the three point headstand, the three points being bent arms and the top of one’s head. One night I tried to do this pose as I had many times before but felt a great pain inside my head. I looked at the instructor aghast. “I can’t do it tonight!” I said. She explained that I should not do anything that caused pain and then told me to see a doctor because I might have a serious but hidden illness. I was shocked. I was filled with a feeling of dread and a certainty that she was right.

We decided to build our terrace to give the boys some more play space in the winter. We enlisted help from Owen with building and Peter with the welding and soon the deck was erected, large and with a safe handrail. At last the doors could open onto a wooden area. I was so delighted. I enjoyed having the doors open on sunny winter days and could place Karyn in her pram out there to sleep.

In fact, these were some of the happiest months of my life. I was content and felt fulfilled as a mother. I enjoyed the mornings particularly. I would get Jeff off to school, lunchbox, homework and drink in his satchel, bath, and play and feed baby Karyn and then have the quiet mornings as she slept to play and be with Mark.

The winter sun was low and shone into the house at an angle to make sun patterns on the floor, which combined with my feelings of satisfaction made me feel joy and peace for the first time ever. I wrote:

The euphoria came to a sudden end when Woody announced out of the blue one night that he had been promoted to the position of lighting engineer/senior sales rep. My pleasure in his success was dampened by the fact that the job was in Wellington and we would have to move there, an hour by plane or a full days driving, away from our new house and our families. “Oh, but we’ve only just got our deck built!” I cried. “I don’t want to go down there”.

He was excited by the possibilities that the move could bring his career. I was scared and horrified. I phoned Mum to tell her the news. She cried, which made me do so too. I wanted to say that I would stay with the kids in Auckland but I knew that I wanted to stay beside my husband for the financial support he provided and because I had seen how traumatic it was for Mark when his father was gone for only six weeks.

I decided, and Woody agreed, that I would only go for two years to see how it went. We would rent out the Glenfield house and rent a house in Wellington. This, I thought, would give us an escape route if things turned sour. Mum was worried that the great relationship she had with the boys would not develop with Karyn, with her growing up so far away. The boys were unruffled about the news, stopping only to ask whether there would be new schools and kindies in Wellington, and then turning back to the television.

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