The following is an edited version of what I wrote about a year ago. I was reflecting on what Mum was like during my early childhood years. I was also reflecting on the way women and men communicate with each other.
Mum doted on me. I was her first born child. I am sure I got a lot of attention during the first years of my life, and not just from Mum, but also from her sister Ilse, who had no children of her own. Later on I realised that my mother would very much have loved to have a daughter in her image. What a disappointment it must have been for her that I was in a lot of ways the exact opposite of her! Maybe I did not like to be a girl. I think I wished very much to have been a boy. Girlish things just did not interest me one bit!
On the ninth of June 1938, when I was not quite four yet, I was very excited about the arrival of a baby brother. In August 1938 Mum left us children in the care of our live-in home-help. Why did Mum leave? I remember a call from Mum’s sister who was holidaying in Westerland on the Island of Sylt. I imagine Aunty would have said something like this:
‘Please join me, I am so lonely on that island here, I don’t like to have to spend all the time with that pretentious mother-in-law. She watches me like a hawk! Please, please, come, spend some time with me. It would be so good to have you around here! We can have such a lovely time together. And listen, I’m going to pay for your airfare. You can stay in my room with me. Mother-in-law is in the connecting room.’
Mum promised her sister, she’d fly to Westerland the same day. She was quite excited about this. In her excitement she forgot to ring Dad’s office to let him know about her plans. Or did she deliberately not ring him because she sensed that he would have objections to her leaving. I remember when Dad came home he was furious when he found out that Mum had taken off to join her sister and left us children in the care of an eighteen year old home-help! I believe Mum stayed in Westerland for a whole week. When she returned, she talked excitedly about how she had been spending time with her sister in Westerland. Come night-time they waited till Auntie’s mother-in-law was fast asleep, pretending they were going to sleep too. However as soon as they thought the old lady was fast asleep, they escaped through their bedroom window and went dancing. I remember seeing pictures of them that were taken on the dance-floor. They had already acquired a nice brown tan from having spent time on the beach. I remember looking at the photos and seeing how very brown their faces looked in sharp contrast to their white dresses. Two young marine officers, smartly dressed in their uniforms, could be seen with them. Later I found out, that one of the officers was Helmut Lorenz who six years later became Aunty’s second husband after her divorce from the first one. And the other officer was no other than Max Tomscick, who after the war became Mum’s friend and whom she would call ‘Bambie’.
I cannot recall that having to stay without Mum for a week did cause us any hardship. So the young home-help must have coped quite adequately. The baby was probably given formula. When Baby Brother was nearly a year old he developed a skin condition called ‘Milch-Schorf’. He was not allowed to drink milk then. When he was a bit older, he could drink milk again.
Mum’s third child, also a boy, was born during the war in October 1941. We had a Polish maid at the time, who soon cared for the new baby as though he was her own. She became his ‘Dada’. She was the main contact person for the first three years of his life. This second brother became a very happy and contented child, whereas the first brother was always highly sensitive and suffering from Asthma through most of his childhood. In lots of ways Mum was a tremendously caring mother. I remember her being always very concerned when Bodo had his Asthma attacks. He outgrew his Asthma eventually, but maybe he never had a close relationship with any of the various live in home-helps we used to have. I think he had a close relationship with me, his older sister, for the first few years of his life and later on with Peter Uwe, his younger brother. My father, when he was around, would pay a lot of attention to us children. But I suspect, Bodo, being very sensitive, noticed that he did not get as much attention as I did or later on Peter Uwe, the new baby in the family. Bodo failed to establish a long lasting relationship with a woman later on in life.
TALKING TO WOMEN AND TALKING TO MEN
Women talking to women is easy, uncomplicated; there is no pretence. The women are just being themselves. Unless of course one woman in the group happens to be very dominant with an abundance of male hormones. When there are several such women in the group, there may be constant fighting for dominant positions. As soon as a male person enters a women’s group, the mood in the group tends to change . . . .
My experience is, that I get on very well with women if the talk centres on womanly things. Of course women tend to discuss also certain male issues from a woman’s point of view. Which is fine with me, and I enjoy participating.
However I ask myself, why is it, that subjects, on which I have formed my own opinions, which are not necessarily mainstream, I rather discuss with a sympathetic man than with a woman? Somehow I get the feeling, it is easier to discuss such a subject with a man, if the man happens to be interested in such a subject. I often get a better response to my ideas if I open up to a man.
Naturally the number of men who are interested in discussions about philosophical questions is limited. It would be a bliss for me, if I had opportunities to meet such men on a regular basis.