Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asked a few times what Mum ‘did’, what was her ‘profession’, her ‘job’.
My answer was, and always will be – a Mum.
One word – so simple and short – yet, that word is really all encompassing – she brought us into the world, she fed us, bathed us, nursed us to sleep. Loved us. But she also taught us, listened to us, negotiated our arguments, advised us the best course of action but still let us learn from our mistakes. She scolded us, she corrected us. She laughed with us, sometimes at us. She set examples for us, and smiled when we did the right thing.
She would say things like: Get up before you fall. If in doubt, don’t or If in doubt, chuck it out – or as we got older, If in doubt, fuck it.
It was her lessons that will stay with us most. Little things like: A piece of bread will pick up broken glass. These lessons came to us through the absorption method – we don’t know we know the lessons, until we get ourselves into a situation (like dropping a glass) and suddenly something strange will pop into our heads and we’ll remember Mum using a piece of bread to pick up the broken glass. It really does work.
We will forever know the following:
A Mars Bar and a Can of Coke equals a surprise.
When looking up a word in the dictionary, make sure you read the word above and the word below. Learn three words instead of one.
True friends are those who call you spontaneously, at that precise moment you need them. Or who come over for a coffee, and take their cup to the sink afterwards. True friends are not those who simply ‘LIKE’ a photo on facebook.
Make the kids do the washing up – it is the best way to get them to talk. Although we would never admit it, we had all our best deep and meaningfuls when we did the dishes.
Remember You’re a Womble
Life is too short for shoelaces. And museli.
Always rub Buddha’s belly and make a wish.
Burn white sage to get rid of evil spirits, or bad vibes.
Milk in first, when making coffee.
Stand up straight. Pretend you have a pencil sticking out from each shoulder and draw a little circle, and stand proud.
Never mix or knead scone dough, always cut it with a knife.
When making Yorkshire Puddings, always heat the oil in the tray first – and make sure it’s smoking hot.
Women and Men have always, and will always be equal. Your relationships should also be equal.
Spring cleaning must be done the Saturday of Bathurst Weekend, so that you can sit quietly and watch the race on Sunday.
No matter how excited you are on Christmas morning, you can’t wake Mum and Dad before the clock says 6, dot, dot, 0, 0. You can however sneak out, one at time, and check out the presents.
If you want to ask for a sleep over, you don’t do it while the friend is still on the phone.
Holy Cow is a swear word if said when you fall off the end of the step and yell it really loud.
But if you kick your toe, you must say a swear word. It doesn’t matter which one, but you must say it. It will make the pain ease.
If you don’t know what you’re going to have for dinner, but the kids keep asking, fry up an onion. The smell will keep them quiet.
You can open the jar yourself (use a rubber band, or run it under the hot tap for a minute, or whack it a few times with a knife around the edge). But it is always a good thing to occasionally ask a man to help. But don’t ever ask a man to help you change a tire, sort out your finances, or to make the big decisions in your life. You should know those answers yourself. And if you don’t, learn.
You really should do the ironing. And keep a tidy linen press. Opening a neat and tidy linen press with all the towels and sheets folded the right way will make you smile.
Savoury mince is a good dinner. But it makes a better meal the next night, on toast.
Play board games – especially cards or Trivial Pursuit. Do Find-a-Words and puzzles. Jigsaws too. Challenge your mind.
Chicken soup really does heal the soul.
Don’t hoard things. They are just that – things. Clean out regularly. Especially when moving house. If you haven’t worn it in 12 months, donate it.
Cut up your old towels, your sheets, anything cotton (even undies) and make rags. Stockings too, are good to keep.
Make your bed. Every day.
Before Christmas, clean out and donate all your old toys. It’s only after you’ve done this, that Santa will give you new ones.
Vinegar and Bicarb are all you need to clean your house. You do not need a bottle of chemicals – a different one per task – especially if they are in a pink bottle or smell of flowers.
After cleaning the house, always have a coffee and a sit down for 5. Better still, have something to eat – but only do it on a paper towel – you’ve just done the dishes.
Give your kids boundaries. And enforce them. You’re the boss. Be their parent. They will always have friends, but only one Mum and Dad.
Write letters. And Birthday Cards. Go to the Library. Borrow books. Read books. Read the paper and watch the news. The world is bigger than you – and you need to learn about it, understand it, and have an opinion on it. Even better – yell it at the TV while watching another politician do something else that is incredibly stupid, yet not at all surprising.
Use spell-check, but don’t rely on it.
Use a calculator, but don’t rely on it.
Everyone always likes a homemade gift. For any occasion, or for none at all.
Be true to yourself. Never second guess, never question your own feelings. What you feel is right. Trust your gut.
A good man is one who knows you. Talks to you. Listens to you. But also one who makes you laugh and knows when you need to. One who can hold your hand, but also give you your own space when you need it. He should respect you. And he should call you. Sex isn’t something to give away, it’s something to share. And he should be good at it. If not, teach him. If you can’t teach him, say good-bye.
A good woman is strong, independent and intelligent. She will like to laugh, and perhaps be witty. She will be caring, and kind. She will help both you and strangers. She will know what she wants, and she will be determined to get it. She will however, be grateful in defeat and acknowledge her weaknesses. Her heart will be soft and gentle, and her words will be clear.
You’ll know you’re in love when it happens.
There is one lesson we still haven’t learnt. Even though you loved them, and despite your best efforts, and many many road trips and karaoke attempts, we cannot accept that The Carpenters will ever be cool. Johnny O’Keefe and John Lennon however, always will be.
The biggest lesson of all: Never, Ever Settle.
Mum – everything I am, everything we are – is because of these lessons and more.
You made us who we are today. And I think you’ve done a pretty good ‘job’ as a Mum.