The following I posted once before. So it may sound familiar to you.
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 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! I did not like to be a girl. Oh, I wished so 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. A year and two months after the birth of the baby 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 us children in the care of our home-help! 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 our 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 five 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’. If I’m right that this holidaying on the isle of Sylt took place during the first half of August 1939 this would mean that just a few weeks later, on the first of September, Germany was at war and the above mentioned young navy pilots would immediately have been on call for they were officers in the German Navy.
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. When Baby Brother was nearly a year old he had developed an allergy to cow’s milk. He was not allowed to drink milk then. However when he was a bit older, he could drink milk again.
Mum’s third child, also a boy, was born during the war in 1941. We had a twenty year old 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. Dad, when he was around, would pay a lot of attention to us children. But I suspect, this very sensitive brother did not always get sufficient attention. However when he had one of his awful asthma attacks Mum would always be very concerned and tirelessly look after him. Later on in life he failed to establish a long lasting relationship with a woman. The photo shows Mum with us three children in 1948.
10 thoughts on “MY MOTHER”
What a lovely looking little family – and all that turmoil going on underneath. Were you aware of the tension, or was your mother’s love enough to hide it from you?
The picture from 1948 was taken at a time when we practically hadn’t seen our father for years. I inserted now another picture from 1944 when we lived in a desolate country place well away from the frequent bombing of Berlin. I also made a few changes to my story. I hope I did get it about right now with what I was trying to tell.
Cat, I think parents have a hard time hiding tensions from their children. Children can probably always sense it if there are tensions.
A beautiful family photo. Families experience so much stress, and I am not sure we ever really know the whole story when our parents have trouble. But this was a nice way to learn more about you, Uta. I think you were very generous with your mom when she left you kids for a visit to her sister. That must have been confusing!
Thanks, Debra, for your comment. I believe it wasn’t confusing at all. I think even as a little kid I wasn’t surprised by my father’s reaction. For us children I think it was not so bad not to have Mum around for a week. I think even when I was little I didn’t mind the home-help doing things for me. And I liked it when I heard Mum had been having a good time. She was so full of beans when she returned. 🙂
I love your response, Uta. Perhaps it’s just my own experiences that make me feel this way, but I think your open and accepting attitude is unique. It’s lovely! It also tells me you are a very accepting and open person. 🙂
I think your mother must have been a very lively person, and must have really needed a break. A week isn’t that long, come to think of it. And yes, babies can adapt quite easily, given a chance 🙂
I remember most of this story, but it was really nice to see the accompanying photos in this post, and some other details that you mentioned. An interesting read.
I love your comment, dear Munira. Thanks very much for reading this post again.
So, I was already nearly five at the time! For me one week certainly would not have been all that long. To be honest I do not recall how the young live-in girl was coping with fourteen months old Bodo. She was just a house-maid, not a nurse or anything like this. All our house-maids came from some country areas and usually would have been part of a larger family where maybe they had acquired some experience in handling children. I remember when I was seven or eight I was able to change my second brother’s nappies, I knew how to feed him and I was even allowed to take him for walks to the park when Siglinde, my twelve year old friend, would come along too with her baby brother!
By the way, Munira, I changed the dates in my story as you may have noticed. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that this sojourn on the island of Sylt definitely happened in August 1939, not in 1938 as I had originally written. It shows memories can play some tricks. It’s not always possible to remember things for certain!
Was the village school in Lichtenow a one room school? If so, we had many such in America. Were married women allowed to teach in school? In the U.S., this was not allowed; when a woman married, she had to quit teaching school… The verse you learned seems to be a variation on a nursery rhyme: “When she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad , she was horrid.” A comment on children’s behavior, perhaps. Our Mother Goose rhymes came from England in the 18th cent., and were not necessarily intended for children, since they often had political overtones.
It was a two room school, Robert. The teacher used only one room. I think he used the other room for handicraft work for the boys. During the war most teachers would have been women. Even after the war there were very few male teachers. A lot of them seem to have been killed during the war or were still prisoners of war. I never heard that women weren’t allowed to work. A lot of women had to continue working after the war because their husbands didn’t return from the war.
When we came to Australia in 1959 there was this rule that when a woman married she had to stop working as a teacher!
This verse, I always thought it referred to this curl in the middle. But I see you could say the curl turned horrid because the girl was bad! I always imagined the girl turned nasty when the curl was bad, meaning that the curl was to blame!