With reflections on motherhood, 8mm film, memories and music...

'My little prince' and me...July 2015

I have had a night of reflection following an extraordinary one and a half hours in which I shared 32 year old Super 8mm film reels with my daughter. There is no soundtrack;  the only audible comments are those we made while watching them together so many years later.  She is now a mother of a 17 month old son, and awaiting the arrival of another child in December.

The reels, filmed mainly by her father, commenced with minutes of her, before she could walk, staggering for a few steps before falling onto her bottom, only to straddle forward for another few steps. They concluded with her, at about 5 years of age, riding a small tricycle with a back tray in which she carried her younger brother. In between they documented the life which was hers for those 4 or so years.  Our family traversing Europe while I was pregnant with her brother, returning to Australia and showing, even at such an early age, her enduring strength of character.

The particular joy I felt when I watched these images with her tonight was when my daughter looked at the little girl in the film, feeling realistically disconnected from the image, but realising how much that little girl looked like and had some of the mannerisms of her son!

Two months ago I was visiting Sydney and my grandson, 'my little prince',  was at the same stage of development as his mother had been as that tottering toddler;  holding on tightly to my daughter's hand as he tentatively put one foot in front, or to the side, depending on his balance, of each other.

This weekend they are visiting us in Perth, on the other side of Australia. They arrived late last night; and while we started the day in a bright and breezy frame of mind, as the day progressed my little prince became more unwell with a nasty cough and a wheezy sound in his chest.  Some hours later he is settled, but the threat of a possible  emergency visit  to the children's hospital loomed large over the afternoon despite the visit of a doctor.  It reminded me of an emergency trip to the same hospital when my daughter was a little girl of  4;  I stayed all night in a chair beside her bed, terrified, exhausted but thankful for the care she was given.  When I awoke from a fitful, upright sleep it was to see my mother offering me her comforting chicken sandwiches.  I hadn't thought about that night for so many years but after watching these films my memories, long unremembered, but not forgotten, have resurfaced.

And I wonder, did my mother feel these same emotions?  The emotions of a mother reflecting on the amazing journey that she takes towards becoming a grandmother? The early uncertainties of motherhood, the mistakes, the joys and moments of indescribable pride,  the apologies, the tears of happiness and sadness?  The what ifs?...

I will never know because my mother died many years ago.  But I now want to have these conversations with my daughter;  I don't want her to wonder as I do.  And equally I would like to have them with my son when he is a father.

My night of reflection has also encouraged me to disturb from their long repose the music tracks which enveloped me in the evenings those 30 or so years ago after the children had drifted off to sleep;  they have quietly again played as I write, and have comforted me as my memories have reappeared as the treasures that they are.  


  1. I used ScanDigital transfer my 8mm to DVDs. It is such a relief to not have to think about those reels deteriorating in my closet.


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