I'd like to think that I have always appreciated my mum. However, since becoming a mother myself my appreciation has gone up a level or ten. My mum gave up work to look after my brother and I in the early years. Her life as a mother was in many cases, give or take, much like mine is now. My mum would cook lovely dinners, bake amazing cakes and make us homemade ginger beer. She would take us to the park, prepare us picnics and put up my wendy house for me in the garden when the weather was good. She made me dresses and fancy dress costumes. When I wanted my straight hair curly, she would painstakingly plait my damp hair into masses of tiny braids before bed so that I could wake up with wavy hair. Mothering seemed to come natural to my mum. It was the kind of mothering that made you feel happy, safe and warm. If I can be half the mother to my children that my mum was to me, I will consider it a job well done.
At quite a young age I can remember sometimes catching a glimpse of my mum (and dad) in another light: as a young couple. Before I came along my mum was a Biba wearing girl who hung out at the Station Hotel in Richmond watching the Rolling Stones in their early days. I can't beat that for pre-parenting coolness. I have memories of rare occasions (probably anniversaries, birthday's or work do's) when they would go out for the evening. Someone, usually my grandparents or a neighbour, would come round to babysit my brother and I. My mum would go upstairs to get ready and come down looking stunning. She'd look so lovely, I almost didn't want her to go out - I wanted to spend the evening looking at her. She'd be wearing a special dress, high heels and her 'going-out-for-the-evening' coat. When she left there would be a lingering smell of perfume in the room. I'm not a perfume wearing person - no particular reason other than I don't think to wear it. But on the odd occasion that I do splash on a bit of scent, at the age of thirty-nine, feel 'very grown up'. My childhood home had a number of pictures on the wall including 'La Loge' (Box at the Opera) by Renoir. As a child I would always think that the woman in the painting looked like my mum when she was 'going out for the evening'. It must have been the hair or something as she certainly didn't have gowns quite as full-on as the one in the painting. Even now that picture still gives me that warm glow inside.