child on mothers back at dusk

Dear Mum

By Lauren Edwards

It has been so hard this past year having to keep our distance from each other due to Covid restrictions. I envied my brother living closer to you and Dad as he could ‘bubble up’ with you both. I have had to make do with seeing you on Zoom (well mainly your forehead until you got the hang of it!)

You are more than just my Mum. You are my friend, my therapist and a shoulder for me to cry on. We share a sarcastic sense of humour and can laugh together to the point where no sound comes out. We can sob at the silliest things and when one of us starts to blub, it is impossible for the other one to remain dry-eyed.

When I was a child, you became a stay-at-home Mum, juggling part-time jobs to fit around me and my brother. As a young Mum you must have had enviable calves; walking us on four school runs just so we would have lunch at home. I remember being at primary school and coming home for a bowl of Scotch Broth and a 20-minute Sullivan’s episode before you walked us back to school for the afternoon. You never said no to our many fleeting hobbies and happily ferried me to brownies, swimming and ballet after school. And even though the family budget was on a shoestring, it never felt like we went without; although I am sure both you and Dad did.

I remember our annual holidays with fondness. Travelling by train, before we had a car, was such an adventure, even though poor Dad was our packhorse for the journey with all our luggage. Then we had our beloved Morris Marina, allowing us the space to cram in all our things. Whenever I hear a Billy Joel song now, I am instantly transported back to car journeys to one of our coastal retreats. Our holidays consisted of simple pleasures; silly walks in the dusk along the beach, hot chocolate and word games and Dad dragging us along in the sea for what seemed like hours in our inflatable dinghy.

You have always taught me to strive for what I wanted in life. You despaired of me in my sometimes -volatile teenage years when I was, admittedly, a little wayward at times. But I always had huge respect for you and knew your advice was right, even if my stubbornness didn’t allow me to voice it at the time. I remember writing you many letters of apology whenever we argued as I hated the thought of upsetting you, but as a pig-headed 15-year-old, I never wanted to say sorry out loud.

After college, as I stumbled briefly unsure of my future, instead of lecturing me, you took me to the bustling streets of London during lunch time and gently nudged my attention in the way in which I should go. You never let me think I couldn’t achieve what I wanted in life and always told me to aim that little bit higher, which is the advice that I have lived by. My amazing career would not have happened without your encouragement along the way. You have taught me to be accepting and never narrow-minded in life. When I upped sticks at 21 to move to Brighton with two dear friends of mine, who happened to be gay men, you not only accepted it, but you and Dad came to Gay Pride with us!

Throughout family illnesses (including your own cancer scare) you have never faltered. When times were tough, you always managed to put on a brave face so that we could feel okay about everything. You are the most mild-mannered, polite and dignified lady yet you will always stand up for us if you feel we’ve been wronged.

When I became a Mum, you were a patient adviser and allowed me to find my own way of parenting without ever patronising. When my twins came along and I already had a 3-year-old in tow and a husband on shifts, the cards were pretty much stacked against me. When I began to resemble a corpse on a regular basis, finding it hard to keep my head above water, you dropped everything to come over and help, which included your job in the end. We would juggle my babies and my toddler, attending playgroups, going for picnics, disrupting once quiet coffee shops for an outing. We made camps in the living room, had craft days and when nursery rhymes were played, we would exchange knowing amused glances when we heard ‘here we go loopy loo’ as it was tantamount to how we felt most days!

Now I have moved away, my children are teenagers and you and Dad are both retired, we are unable to see each other very often and our time together is even more precious. I often think fondly of long-ago afternoons, when I had dropped my eldest at pre-school and we had managed to get the twins down for a nap. We would have that one hour of respite to collapse in a heap, chat, laugh and promise ‘to get up in a minute to sort out the mess’.

When I became a Mum, I changed so much as a person. My life had a different perspective, I was a lot less selfish as I dedicated the majority of my time to my offspring. It is easy to forget the person you once were and I think we as children forget that our Mums were once young women, with dreams and ambitions of their own. You are my pillar of support, my role model but, above all else, you are my friend.

I love you Mum.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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