I am the oldest of 4 children, my father buggered off when my sister was a baby. Things were tough, we shared a big 4 bedroom council house with Nan and my Mum’s 3 brothers. Nan was VERY much in charge, do as you were told or get a clip around the ear, smack and even things thrown at you!! That’s how it was in those days..
Mum had to work full time so Nan looked after us. We only had sweets or biscuits on Saturday, that was our treat while watching TV. We played lots of board games, card games and when it wasn’t raining we played outside – in the garden, in the park, playing fields, in the street or we went for walks – miles and miles. We dug in the dirt, got dirty, swigged water from a bottle that at least one other person had already swigged from and we all survived having germs on us. We used to walk along the canal that ran through the estate where we lived.. most of time walking in it, we wore jelly shoes and shorts and never worried about it. (BUT – 40/50 years ago it was clean and not the dumping ground it is now!)
We never went short of anything, we always had the basics, food, clothing and a roof! Meals were made from scratch and we made cakes every Sunday. We were also expected to help with housework, cleaning, washing, ironing and gardening.
There must have been bad times but you know I really can’t remember any. That’s good isn’t it?? Well except for the very worst moment – getting a phone call on a Sunday evening saying your Mum has passed away. For reasons I won’t go into here.. I didn’t call Mum ‘Mum’ – I called my Nan ‘Mum’ and she had had a stroke some months before so I assumed it was her that they were referring to on the phone. It wasn’t until I got to the house that the unthinkable became known. She had a massive heart attack – she was only 51.
The worst thing was that we had been out all day and as we passed the motorway junction Hubby asked if we should drop in to Mum’s. I said no as I wanted to get home and get the boys bathed and in bed.
What I can remember is:
- Dancing around a chair when Nan put her Russ Conway or Winifred Atwell records on.
- Loving it when Uncle Johnny bought home our first ‘Stereogram’. It came with a special record to demonstrate stereo sound.
- Sitting on the backdoor step shelling peas or peeling spuds.
- Picking enough green beans to fill a huge saucepan (there were 8 or 9 of us most of the time!) Slicing them up and cooking them just to have a plate load with some worcestershire sauce and bread & butter.
- Playing Thunderbirds by climbing inside small conifer trees and rocking them back and forth – these were in a plantation along side the playing fields.
- Walking – around the estate, up Twmbarlwm, to Rogerstone, Cwmbran.
- Playing games in the steet, rounders, skipping, tag, hopscotch.
- Mum on yearly shutdown from work – days out, Barry Island, Porthcawl. We also had a holiday about every 3 years, a week at Butlins or a caravan at Porthcawl.
- Getting excited when Pomegranates were in season and having a half of one and a pin to pick out the seeds one by one.
- Going to the library and bringing home lots of books – I love books.
- Knowing I could ask Mum anything and get an answer – not always the one wanted but an answer all the same!
Lots more of course!
As a Mum there have been times when I’ve had to remember that children don’t come with a handbook or instruction manual. Sometimes you have to do what feels right.
Coping with a child who won’t poo in the potty – all in good time…
Two children who weren’t keen on veg – solved when we had an allotment and they helped out and watched them growing.
Remembering my mums words when they both got to the point where they pinched or bit me – “bite them back – only a gentle one – they have to know it hurts” both of them only bit or pinched me once!
Worrying about oldest son being understood in school as his speech was so slow (now worrying about his son being the same!)
Worrying about them doing well in school, getting jobs, girlfriends.
Dealing with ‘terrible 2’s’ with youngest son – he still had them when he left home aged 27!
Dealing with teenagers not keeping their rooms clean and tidy – cutting up the internet cable to stop them playing Warcraft to get them to do this.. REALLY… cut into little bits and no internet until they did enough chores to pay for another one.
Things I’m proud of as a Mum?? My two boys – both now married to lovely young ladies. Both treat their ladies like princesses. Both confident young men – youngest especially so – knowing what he wants even if that meant going all the way to Australia to be with her!
So you young ‘uns reading this be good to your mum, if you are a Mum remind YOUR Mum she did a good a job before it’s too late to do so. Take pride in knowing that you’ll do a good job too even though it may not feel that way at times.
Lastly remember that no matter what age they are you’ll ALWAYS worry about them.
Happy Mothers Day!