My mum’s 72, and I thought until I began writing this that she’d had quite an ordinary life raising me and my two older brothers in a boring little village in Scotland.
But as I began to consider her life I realised it was far from conventional.
Over and above raising me and my oldest brother, my mum also raised a son with learning difficulties in the 60’s and 70’s when there was very little help or understanding. She fought to get him into mainstream education and then she fought to get him into special education when she realised he’d become a target for bullies in his mainstream school aged just 5.
She stood as a councillor in a male dominated local council, was a member of the village community council to ensure her children had a great community to grow up in and was actively involved in fundraising and spreading the word for her political party.
She started the first playgroup in the village and was a pioneer member of one of the first women’s groups in the village.
She moved to London with my dad for a while when my brothers were toddlers and she caused uproar upon her return to our little mining village when she walked down the high street wearing a miniskirt.
Because we were never rich she didn’t get to go abroad until in her 50’s when she went on an 18-30 Club holiday to Tenerife! My oldest brother, throwing his law degree to the wind had become a holiday rep: I’ve seen the photographs of those holidays and believe me they out-partied every single one of the youngsters.
And when her, my dad and my middle brother, who continued to live with them until only recently, went to Florida they were met with a hurricane. Everybody else was driving out of Florida as they were driving in. Mum said: “It was just a wee bit of wind and rain. I don’t know what they were running away from?”
She’s walked down Sunset Strip obliviously videoing the prostitutes, and partied so hard in Times Square when the Yankees won the World Series that she broke that prostitute filming video camera.
And when oldest my brother came out as gay in the 90s mum didn’t bat an eyelid (and neither did my dad). In fact, she made it easier for him to tell her: When he said: “I’ve met someone special,” she replied: “What’s his name?”
Shortly after my brother came out I told my mum that at 22 I was pregnant (and single) with teenboy. Her response: “There’s worse things than a baby.”
And she looked after teenboy every day so I could go to college to study journalism and then she did the same when I began working in newspapers. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have been able to study or work.
When I started to write this blog entry my plan to tell you all that getting to go to the Not On The High Street’s #BYOM event was a highlight for a woman who hadn’t had the most exciting life. But as I began to write I realised that my mum, for all her adverse impact upon my self-esteem (that’s definitely a mum thing isn’t Shappi Khorsandi?), is a women who has really lived a life less ordinary in a very ordinary village where it’s still frowned upon to be different.
My mum is mad, she’s up for anything. She’s tired now she’s 72, and she’s annoying and a bit hard work now but I think a lot of that is down to me not wanting her to be old and forgetful. I expect her to be the mum and granny she was in her 50’s.
But despite getting on a bit she still helps me with the kids and works hard on our business. She gets excited about the small things in all of our lives; she likes to get drunk on sherry with my brother in law and annoy my dad; she wears bright colours and no make-up; she cuts her hair short cos she can’t be bothered doing anything with it and the only shoes she’ll wear are crocs or flip flops cos all the stilletos she wore in the 60s ruined her feet with massive bunions.
When I took her with me to the Not on the High Street event I was slightly embarrassed in a teenage kind of way by the Crocs on her feet and her blingtastic cardigan – I felt self-conscious again in a teenager kinda way by her parochial attempt to be glamorous – does anybody else revert to being a teenager if they spend more than a couple of hours with their mum? We didn’t really circulate because she can’t stand for long now, so we sat and she ate lots of the delicious little nibbles that were handed round by delightful waiters who had lots of smiles for the old lady who would tried everything they brought to her especially the cakes.
If you sat down beside her she’d chat to you but otherwise she was quite happy on the white couch with her cocktails and canapés. She sat there with a quiet confidence I hope to one day achieve. She sat there and rocked with laughter at Shappi’s rudest of jokes. And showed her naivete when she turned to me after Shappi’s final joke about a middle eastern man always gets his abandoned suitcase back in Paris and said: “I don’t get that one”.
I was supposed to review the event by Not On the High Street but instead I’ve wittered on about my mum. But somehow I think that’ll be ok because it was an event celebrating mums. And it turns out my croc wearing, short haired, bling loving, batty old mum’s life was always less ordinary and she should be celebrated for it.
Hmmm, who knew…?
This year for Mother’s Day I’ll be buying my mad old mum something from Not on The High Street cos she deserves something as different as she is.
In case you didn’t realise it my mum and I were at the Not on the High Street celebrating mums event at 5 Cavendish Square in London.
**I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial content and retain full editorial integrity.