With Mother’s Day coming in May, I have been thinking a lot about my own relationship with my own mother; I am sorry to say I was a wayward daughter, not all of the time but at times I was a real problem to her, especially when I was 13 and met two other girls, Christine and Jennifer. Christine was adopted and given basically anything she needed; at age 12 she was given one Christmas a recording machine, a portable one. It had big reels with tapes on them and recorded anything one wanted, from our voices to any kind of sound. Jennifer came from a very wealthy family and lived in a very ‘posh’ house. Both her parents worked, so we would often go over to her house to cook, mainly French fries and other such quick food.
Until these girls came into my life I was what would be termed a ‘good’ girl. I went to church three times on a Sunday and attended all of the church social events. I was obedient and did not go out much, all of that changed once Christine and Jennifer came into my life. My mother did not like either girl, and told me so, she tried to keep me in, but I found ways to get out of the house, once, hitting her over the head with a frying pan! The girls told me if I wanted to be friends with them I needed to smoke, my first misdeed was stealing money from my father’s back pocket to buy cigarettes, I was 15 before he discovered I was stealing from him. Christine stole money from under her grandfather’s bed where he stored his money in a large case.
Jennifer kept any money and cigarettes at her house, so we all had a role to play in the misdemeanors. I stole jewelry with them from a large department store, and became cheeky and insolent towards my mother. We argued a lot and it was very often she would make me stay home. The one time I was civil to her was Mother’s day. It was in March in England in those days and even though I had the problems with my mother, I loved her very much. Each year Dad would give my brother and I some money and we would go to a local store to buy her a present. For some reason I never bought flowers or chocolates, but would buy her a small plastic cup designed like a presentation cup one would get for running a race; it was hideous, but to me it was what I thought she needed.
Thinking about it now over 50 years later, I feel so embarrassed, but at the time I thought it was what represented her, for engraved on it were the words “World’s Greatest Mother.” For one day in March, I loved my mother enough not to argue with her or be a problem to her. My Mum died in 1987, she was 77 and had a good life, but if I could take back those years I caused her strife I would do so. I realize now she did what she did out of love, I just could not see it, for me she was a nasty woman who tried to curtail my freedom and cause problems for me.
Two years after being very close to Christine and Jennifer, Christine’s mother found out about the stolen money, there was a big investigation and thankfully my mother believed me when I told her I was not involved, nor did Christine accuse me or implicate me. We parted ways, and I went back to being a loner again, kept myself to myself, was back in favor with my mother again, in fact we got closer and never connected with the girls again. Both girls went on to senior high schools, which were privately run, and I went to the local state run high school.
Of course as I got older and had my own family I lavished gifts such as flowers, wine (she loved Ginger wine) china (she collected Royal Albert china) and other expensive items on her, but the year she died, on Mother’s Day, we bought her a lovely clock, it was then she told me she had never forgotten the cup I bought her each year, and how much she loved it! I could not believe what I was hearing, for years as a young girl I thought she felt it was hideous, but it was me thinking that, not her. She died very quickly and I had no time to say goodbye, but it was nice knowing that the two shillings and sixpence I spent on that cup really made my mother happy.
I have a very small painting in my office, which was given to me in 1989 by a student who painted it; it is a scene of a woman with her head poking out of an open window in a little house near water. There are three words written underneath the picture, “I am home.” My student told me she was given the impression in a meditation; I would like to think on a shelf is a plastic cup with “World’s Best Mother” engraved on it. She really WAS the World’s best mother!