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Lessons Learned

by Julie Murrow about a year ago in parents
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Thank you mum

Simplicity and Practicality. My mum was a simple woman. I don’t mean unintelligent, she just didn’t crave money or material possessions. Her hair was always short and she rarely wore make-up. I rarely remember her in anything but trousers (particularly her purple, flared cords so popular in the 1970s). My dad told me that he loved the way she was plain but feminine. In her wardrobe though, she had a pretty pink blouse, a black pencil skirt and some patent leather court shoes for special occasions. After my son was born my wardrobe was divided up much like my mum’s used to be. Looking back at photos I can see that the clothes with the persistent stains and holes are linked with some wonderful times with my son and my sister’s kids - messing about in the garden, playing on the beach, making art and craft projects and cooking. When I was a kid we had a vegetable garden. Mum was always out there weeding, picking and digging. In fact she was digging up potatoes the day my sister was born. She was never bothered about my clothes getting dirty - they could be washed. I’m very much the same. I would much rather enjoy my time with my youngest nieces than fret about chocolate finger prints on my jeans. They’ll grow up soon enough and my jeans can be washed.

Constancy. Mum was always there. Every lunchtime I’d come home from school, sit at our yellow and black formica table where mum would give me tomato soup, boiled eggs or pilchards on toast. And every evening mum, dad and I would sit at that table and eat dinner together. Back in those days it was common to have a lot of routine and food was no exception. Sunday roast would be followed by stew on Monday and we always had fish on a Friday. Even now I love the smell and taste of smoked haddock poached in milk. Evenings when dad took me up to bed I slept safe in the knowledge that one or both parents would be just downstairs or in the bedroom across the landing. I remember one night, when I must have been about seven or eight years old, I woke up and as I usually did, I peeked around the door of my parent’s bedroom. From the door I could see four little bumps at the end of the bed. Reassured that mum and dad were there because I could see their feet, I’d go back to my own room. Until one night I didn’t see any bumps in their bed. I decided that they must be downstairs but when I opened the lounge door everywhere was pitch black. I sat on the bottom of the stairs and cried. I was so relieved when mum came down the stairs to fetch me. My parents didn’t drink so nights out for them didn’t happen. I never had a babysitter either. That way of child-rearing isn’t for everyone but, you know, my son grew up never having met his father and I firmly believe that my own constancy is the reason why among his peers, who had the odd weekend relationships with their fathers, my son was the most stable.

Choose Your Battles. This nugget of wisdom has come in handy many times over the years. When our children have been behaving like typical teenagers, mum’s words would spring to mind. It meant that some misdemeanours were not worth having a fight about because something more serious might be around the corner. Of course this didn’t mean that my son got away with doing wrong without consequences. But it did mean that by using my discretion to discern whether I needed to firmly guide my son or hammer home my point, we had a very harmonious home. Now, as an adult, with social media posts just about everywhere, I feel disappointed when I read a friend’s post and it makes me sad or angry. And I do respond to it occasionally. Generally though, I take a moment to think, ‘is this worth getting into an argument about?’ Most of the time it just isn’t.

I saw a meme ages ago. It read ‘Mirror, mirror, on the wall, I’ve become my mother after all.’ I can live with that.

parents

About the author

Julie Murrow

I'm an avid reader, writer and pianist. I have written on a variety of subjects and in various genres from children's stories, poetry and history to adult short stories. My three Skinny Pigs and I live by the sea, where I grew up.

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