As I typed in the heading for this topic, I stopped and pondered over it for a few minutes.
- Was my greatest achievement the swimming trophies, medal and prizes I won as a teenager?
- Was my greatest achievement my nursing career; gaining my General , Psychiatric and Theatre qualifications while still working daily on the wards of each respective training hospital?
- Was it gaining entry, as a young mother with 2 small children, to the University of South Australia to study for my Social Work degree?
No, my greatest achievement has been my two children, Ken and Susie, now both in their 30's and successfully happy in their chosen careers.
I was working at Glenside Psychiatic Hospital as the Assessment Sister in the Geriatric Admission ward when I was expecting Ken in 1973 and the senior specialist at the unit told me that he would keep my job position open because "You'll be back to work quickly, Annie, as I can't see you becoming an 'at home mum."
I proved Dr Carl wrong in that I enjoyed being at home with my baby boy, despite living in an isolated area. Once we'd moved to Stirling, I had fun walking to the shops with Ken in the pram, with our Irish setter, Jasper, trotting along beside, stopping and chatting to passersby. We joined the local playgroup and I started a baby sitting group for local mums, initially with the other mothers I met at playgroup.
Almost 3 years later I gave birth to Susie, whose dark copper curls and transluscent skin bewitched everyone who met her. My mother in law visited me in hospital and reassuringly patted my knee, telling me that I had 'done the right thing' by giving her son Brian a son and a daughter - a pigeon pair!
Both kids grew and developed their own interests in our community - Ken discovered horse riding and Cubs; Susie started ballet lessons aged 4, when she was a harem girl in the Christmas concert, which involved me sewing a turquoise costume festooned with sequins and sparkling braid.
Both enjoyed their time at the Hills Kindergarten and then St Catherine's Primary School before moving on to being educated down in the city - Ken at Pulteney Grammar Scool and Susie at Walford Girls Grammar (both Anglican schools) where both remained until they completed Year 12.
I always encouraged Ken and Susie to bring friends home for dinner, to sleep overnight or just to 'play' after school. I became involved with the parent's committees at both school as a way of keeping informed about and having a say in any proposed changes. School sports day's, inter college sports games, cutting lunches in the school tuck shop - I was involved in all of these activities, plus more.
When they were young adults, I was the parent who sat up, ready to collect either child at midnight and once they started driving, I couldn't sleep until both kids were home and tucked up in their own beds!
Today both a confident adults who have moved away from Adelaide with their career choices - Ken into the retail side of the Australian wine industry and Susie as a bio-medical engineer. A mother's job is always to provide their children with the skills they need to progress into their adult lives and for them to settle down with someone they love, doing a job they are passionate about and setting up a home of their own to repeat the process all over again.
Both Ken and Susie are on their way to achieving all of these goals for themselves and that has been my greatest achievement.