Having a piece of your heart walk around

Ewen Lodewikus and Madison Johnson, Gracemere Scout Group. Picture: Supplied.

For context, this column was written on the evening of Thursday 27 July.

Almost 17 years ago, I learnt that my first baby was on her way.

An unexpected disruption to life, as

my husband, Nathan, and I knew it.

The fear, excitement and self-inadequacy rolled into one mesh of an adventure that has spanned just over 16 years.

Madison made me a Mum, and I’ll be forever thankful for that.

Tomorrow I let my 16-year-old venture to South Korea with 961 Scouts from Australia to form the

Australian Contingent, heading to join 50,000 Scouts from around the world for the World Scout Jamboree.

Having just spent this evening sorting and folding clean washing while listening to emotionally

invigorating country music, all the memories washed over me as I remembered sorting and folding

her baby clothes.

Now I merely add them to a pile for her to do herself.

Memories of her tiny clothes on the line sparkling in the sun, visible from our kitchen and dining

room in the northern suburbs of Brisbane.

Hours spent creating iron-on labels for her clothes so that her name was on everything during her childcare days.

Custom sewn face washers with decorations and hanging tags made especially for her by me.

All those creations were afforded to the first child, recognising that the second and third had Sharpies, a clothes dryer and store-bought washers.

I even recall creating scrapbooks out of all of Madison’s first finger paintings and craft creations only

to be rudely shocked at the sheer volume of content which was trampling home each day, realising I

couldn’t keep up and the elusive stealth rubbish bin maneuver would be my best friend in the years

that followed.

My mother-in-law, Marjorie, warned me about this in her beautifully roundabout way so as to not

intimidate me but plant the seeds of preparedness.

“You don’t have them for 18 years; it’s much, much less.”

As the District Commissioner of the Capricorn Scouts, in parallel with being the mother of an adventurer, I don’t know yet how the Friday, 28 July departure at the Rockhampton Airport will go.

I’ll wear my District Commissioner hat to wish my Scouts well on their adventure of a lifetime, but I’ll

likely be holding in some pretty big emotions until I reach the car, at least.

For more than two years, we have been planning this trip. Madison is a skilled Scout with an

Australian Scout Medallion Award and was a former Girl Guide in her younger years.

I know she has the skills, resilience and confidence both movements have afforded her and which she’ll require.

Still, as I sit on this Thursday evening surrounded by music while sorting her clothes, memories of

her life are inflicting themselves on me.

I know I’ve done my best to prepare her, whether it was right, wrong or figured out along the way.

I didn’t know if being a mother was for me, and at the young age of 21, I didn’t really have to think

about it.

Madison had other plans and didn’t wait for us to be ready, though, and joined us in 2007, just ten months after the day I married her Dad, Nathan.

She was a beautiful bub who loved to spend her days sleeping on me as we waited for Nathan to come home from work.

With beautiful big blue eyes and an adorable little face, I could stare at her for hours.

Never recalling having had a maternal instinct in my body, it washed over me the day Madison arrived, and I knew I would protect her until the day I died, whether she realised it or not.

As I now prepare to send her over 7,000 kilometres away, I’m reminded of a quote I once saw, which

implied that having children was like having a piece of your heart walk around outside of your body

for the rest of your life.

Those feelings are very real and ring true right now.

I’ll put on a front at the airport; I always do.

But the one person who’ll catch me when I fall, and always has, will be there again to pick up the pieces of the version of me that the world doesn’t see, and he’ll do it with dignity and respect.

I guess that’s what you get when you marry your best friend.

To all the parents, carers and loved ones out there who are preparing to send their children out into

the world in the coming months, I see you, I feel you, and I am with you.

Graduations, relocations, moving out of home, gap years and adventures.

May the piece of your heart that is walking around outside of your body be protected forever.