A very happy childhood

I was very fortunate to have a very happy childhood, owed almost entirely to the love, care and support of my wonderful mum.

As the youngest of three sisters, I grew up happily as the baby of the family. I, of course, lamented the inevitable swathe of hand-me-downs, but relished getting away with all sorts of hijinks and being spoilt rotten in the process.

I also spent most of my childhood hunting down an eager audience, and desperately trying to make them laugh.

In junior school, I ran a lunchtime comedy show for my friends (God forbid the content I pedalled during this brief period…). And then, at home, I thought I was freaking Fizbo the Clown. I would do impressions of my favourite characters from TV and film (Ace Ventura, obviously), and would crack (bad) jokes at the drop of a hat.

Then, when we went out as a family I would, without fail, tuck my dress into my knickers to get a huge laugh (of horror?!) from my family. And, the more they laughed, the more I loved it.

I think, quite frankly, I was insufferable! But, it does explain, how I ended up performing a clown show on the streets of Exeter during my final year at University…

Mum cooked every night and baked every weekend. The food was always fresh and cooked from scratch, but that did not stop me whinging through the nights of cottage pie and bubble and squeak. I was a fussy child, and would sit and push my food around with a fork (occasionally managing to hurl a pea (or twelve) down the side of the dining table for mum to find some weeks later. Of course, I COULD leave the table and carry on with my evening’s entertainment, but mum warned that my fossilising lasagne WOULD be waiting for me at breakfast time. I never tested this theory, because I am absolutely certain that mum would have kept her word.

Mum stayed at home until I was in secondary school, and it never occurred to me that perhaps she was carrying both the mental and physical load for our family. It was only when, in year 8 (age 12ish), my friend Emily told me about the dinner her DAD had cooked for her the night before.

“Wait, your dad cooked? Do you mean he reheated something your mum had made?! He looked after you all evening without instructions from your mum?! Wasn’t there a list?”

I couldn’t fathom it! It had never occurred to me that dads might also do the cooking and cleaning, especially without prompting. Of course, this was an entirely toxic set-up – and something mum was keen my sisters and I never replicated in our own lives. This all came to a head a lot later down the line, but that dad drama is another story for another time.

Looking back, one of my fondest memories was mum’s Sunday bake-athon.

The Sunday morning air would be filled with the sweet smell of fairy cakes, which would rouse me from my slumber like some kind of Disney-esque dream. Mum would then spend the whole day baking – flapjacks, cookies, muffins – all kinds of sweet treats, interrupted only by her mid-morning trip to church. By the end of the day, the dining room table was filled with cooling racks and Tupperware full to the brim with homemade delights. We would help her decorate the fairy cakes with our favourite sweets, and we would all tuck in to our favourite treat – warm from the oven.

Mum was the picture perfect housewife, and she was exactly the mum you would want to come home to after school.

What. A. Woman.

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