It’s been an exciting week in our house: Martha was in the local paper yesterday as she’s raising money for Alzheimer’s UK (more on that in another post), which made her feel like a bit of a celebrity and of course, it was Valentine’s Day on Tuesday, which meant my eldest two got a bit giddy and unnecessary for a couple of days.
I say giddy and unnecessary but actually, I was quite jealous. I remember back to being around 10 or 11 and having butterflies in my stomach all day wondering whether I’d get a card at school or have one waiting for me (once the postman had been) at home. I remember the excited tummy, but I don’t actually remember getting a card until many years later, when there were excited murmurings around school that the hardest boy in my year (he was very scary and I believe may have done time at her Majesty’s pleasure a mere few years later!) was planning to present me with a rose and a card.
He did. An enormous padded card and a single red rose in one of those long thin boxes. He had an audience of around 50 kids as he and I both blushed terribly and I wished the earth would swallow me up whole. It didn’t. Beastly earth!
I remember a friend berating me for breaking his heart and telling me I should go out with him as he was so in love with me. She changed her tune a few weeks later when his attention was diverted to her and she was suddenly the only jam he wanted in his dodger! She suddenly wasn’t that bothered about his broken heart.
Mum was never very good with the whole early teenage and first boyfriend years. She and I together didn’t traverse them very well – let’s just say, it could have gone smoother. She was strict and I think it’s because she was fearful of it all. I was, after all the first daughter to go through it and she was finding her feet. My first ‘serious’ boyfriend (I say that with a hint of irony as I hardly saw him and when we did, we just used to go for walks) was when I was 14 or 15. After a few months, Mum could tell I wasn’t that into the whole thing, as I dodged his calls time after time.
Despite her obvious misgivings about this boy, who was a few years older than me, I remember her taking me to one side and telling me to be kind to him. I love that! It makes me smile even now as I write this. My mother, who struggled with me growing up and had a tough few years with me as a teenager, still wanted me to remember my manners and to be a nice person. I thought she hated him, until that moment, when I realised she didn’t hate him, she just didn’t particularly want me to be with him.
I met my now hubby when we were at school. I was 13 when I first met him and we started “going out” when I just turned 16. I was having a tough time at school with friends and this boy, who was in the year above me and who was one of the cutest boys in schools called me up and asked me if I wanted to go to the cinema. I did. And we did (we watched My Girl and I lost my purse down the side of the seat, which was excruciatingly embarrassing and I had to get one of the stewards to come with a torch to try and find it as the credits rolled – it still haunts me to this day!) But, despite my awkwardness, it was the best decision I ever made.
The mean girls who broke my heart suddenly didn’t seem so important anymore and my world was filled with a funny, cute boy who thought I was the bees knees. And what is more, my mum thought he was the bees knees too. From day 1 she liked him. After a couple of years, she loved him. After 15 years, she adored him and would tell stories about how she always knew he was the boy for me….
…After 25 years, she no longer knows him. But, I know she would still love him and laugh at his jokes and giggle at his sarcasm and dance around the kitchen with him, if she could.
I am not sure how I will cope with the teenage years. I hope I will be calm and relaxed and able to guide my kids through it all with a smile on my face. I know it was fun and lovely watching my two eldest create their Valentine’s cards and hearing them talking about their respective Valentines was adorable; though I had to stifle a loud guffaw as I overheard Martha explain to her brother why she hadn’t received a card:
“I know he loves me, he just can’t show it very well. That’s all.”
I have had a taste of the Valentine’s days to come. I can almost feel the broken hearts and blushing cheeks that await me in a few years. I can almost hear the excited banter and heart-felt sorrow as my children learn about love and about being teenagers and I already know I will miss my mum terribly.
Oh how we would have laughed about unsuitable boyfriends or girlfriends. How she would have loved watch the children grow into young adults; having their hearts broken; choosing the wrong boy/girl; choosing the right boy/girl (apparently it does happen!). I’d have asked her opinion on stuff; teenage love stuff; mood swing; hormones – those things that will feel as alien to me in a few years as they once did to her. She’d have told me time and time again how dreadful I was as a teenager and how difficult I was and we’d have laughed about it. We’d have laughed about it all.
I’m not laughing now.
I miss you, Mum.