This is my Mum:
Or as I still call her, with no shame and perhaps a smidge of arrested development, Mummy. As its Mothers Day here in the UK, I want to introduce you to her because she is one of life’s unsung heroes, well, I want to sing.
I saw this quote on a card a while back but it was referring to fathers but I loved it because it reminded me of our family’s sense of humour, ‘You’re the best mummy in the world, if I had another mum, I’d punch her in the face and come and find you’ There are so many things about her that, should I try to write everything down, I’d be collecting my pension before I was finished. If you have ever had a conversation with me in person and the subject of my mum has come up, I will have 100% described her to you thusly, “My mum is like the Matrix, she couldn’t be described, you have to see it for yourself”. Well, I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I thought I’d try to explain her anyway. Here are a few stories in an attempt to show you what I mean:
Protector aka Arm Bands and the Green Man.
One of my earliest memories is of being at Scartho Baths (a public swimming pool in my home town) with my mum and her friend. I’m not sure how old I was but I’m thinking pretty young, around three and as most kids that age, I loved the swimming pool but the thing I enjoyed most about it was getting out and jumping back into it (a passion my son has also inherited). We were in the deep end because back then, it was a simpler time when there weren’t any rules about where non-swimmers could and couldn’t swim. So, there we were, my mum and her friend chatting away, me safely ensconced in my arm bands, climbing out of the pool and jumping back in, when an idea formulated in my head, the idea was something like this –
I think its pretty obvious that even back then, I was on the cutting edge of innovation and was so far out of the box, I wasn’t even aware of its existence.
So, there I am, all little and a bit gangly, in my cossie, wiggling my toes with excitement on the wet tiles, feeling pretty damn impressed with my completely original idea. I start to do the knee bobbing thing kids do, to make sure they remember how to jump, then I’m in the air hands up like I just don’t care. Now I’m not so sure if you have ever jumped into a pool with arm bands on while your arms are completely horizontal but the force of the water hit the inflatables tends to remove said inflatables pretty sharpish. I sank. I sank to the bottom. I still remember looking around under 8ft of water, there was a calmness to it, a silence in which my child brain very quickly figured out ‘This is how I go’.
Meanwhile on the surface, my mum had noticed pretty quickly (as mothers are want to do) that in place of her daughter were two arm bands, bobbing on the surface (when I think of this it always reminds me of cartons, were someone gets hit at speed and all that remains is their shoes, marking where they were only a few seconds ago) She looked down and saw me having a little play date with impending doom.
By this time (roughly 1.42 secs after hitting bottom) I was wondering if there was life after death, when I saw a hand reaching toward me (I like to imagine it looked like Frodo reaching for Sam) She pulled me out of the grasps of infinity and brought me back to the echoes of Scartho Baths. As I recall, she laughed at me, put my armbands back on then turned to continue her conversation with her friend. When I have challenged her about laughing at your child’s near-death experience and then returning to your conversation, she says, with great humour, ‘Well you were breathing, there was nothing to worry about’
A Friend aka Nobody Can Spell ‘the’ at 2am
Now before I begin this story, I need you to cast your mind back to the early noughties, Internet was a thing but nothing compared to what it is now and most of my homework was written by hand. That’s right I used my hand muscles to hold a pen like a cave man, scrawl my thoughts onto paper and curse Hades if I made a spelling mistake because you can’t delete ink my friend and no matter what the tippex company would have you believe, its product does not lay seamlessly on your paper, its more of a he circles saying, hey look! I fucked up!’ Anyway, I digress.
It was close to midnight and I had been slaving over some history course work, the end was finally insight, which was a relief because the topic was ‘local history’ and it was by far the least interesting subject I had studied in one of my favourite classes. So, there I am, all teenage-ie, awkward and tired, sitting on my single bed, in my bedroom (which is generously described as the box room) surrounded by posters of Christina Aguilera and Sarah Michelle Geller and I’m feeling pretty good about myself. I had almost come to the end of this hideously laborious, boring ass course work. I’m doing my final checks on the work, making sure I’ve included all the points etc when I glance over at the homework instruction sheet and I notice, it says very clearly (I think it was in bold) that it has to be handed in TYPED. I went into panic. When I say panic, it was a frozen, deer in the headlights, cold sweat, ‘I swear my stomach and throat used to be separate’ kind of panic. I didn’t know what to do.
I eventually remembered how my limbs worked and walked downstairs, into the living room, where my mum was sitting. She quickly realised that I was not the daughter who had been seen earlier that evening and enquired as to what was wrong. I explained the whole series of events and she, to her eternal credit, said, ‘We can do this, you read, I’ll type’
So that’s what we did, for around two hours, I read aloud my paper and my mum typed it up on our brick of a PC. My favourite part of this story is, at around 2am when we were both delusional due to lack of sleep, mum was reading a section back to me – in order to make sure we had it right (printing wasn’t cheap, or fast) and she just started to tremble. Her shoulders were silently bouncing up and down, now I don’t know about you but if I see someone trying to hold a laugh in, in this manner, I instinctively start laughing. So, we were both laughing and I had zero clue as to why. She pointed out that she had spelt ‘the’ incorrectly. In her haste to type she had spelt it ‘teh’ I still, to this day, don’t think I have laughed so hard about something, that is in no way funny but in that moment, in that state, that was the funniest shit that had ever happened and we wept, we couldn’t breathe, our faces were beetroot and we laughed, nay gauffered for what seemed like an age.
My work was handed in, as requested and on time the following day and I still laugh whenever I think of that night, or I see ‘the’ typed incorrectly.
A Safe Haven – aka You Can Have the Cardboard Box Next to Mine.
Since 19, when I left for drama school, I have lived (in various states of luxury and decay) away from my mum. She still likes to remind me though, no matter what happens, if I ever need to go back for a time, I am so welcome. She says the same for my sister – which is lucky really because this would be an awkward way to find out I’m the favourite.
Mum just likes us to know, that it will always be an option. Even when she has lived in places that could not, by the laws of physics, allow another adult to reside in them, she re-affirms that it is still an option, should we ever need it. My favourite time she ever told me this was when she said, ‘Even if I am living on the streets in cardboard city, you can have the box next to mine’ I think it might be the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.
A Teacher – aka ‘You Know Your Problem…’
Some pieces of advice, are burned into your brain. You hear them, or read them and your brain explodes, it resonates so deeply.
I had one of these moments with my mum, I was a teenager and we were arguing about something (I was a hell beast of a teenager) now my mum would take a lot of crap from me, until she didn’t and then it would turn into a verbal thunder dome. During one of these events, I was complaining about some pointless stuff and being so incredibly ungrateful towards her, when she hit me with a verbal smack down that shook me to my core, she said to me, ‘You know your problem Sam? You want EVERYTHING and are prepared to do NOTHING to get it’ It took the wind from me, I was furious because she was right.
I still remind myself of that nearly daily and I regularly thank her for it.
Unconditional Love aka It’s OK to Need Help
When I was around thirteen was the first time any mental health issues noticeably popped up, I had already attempted suicide at this age (unbeknownst to anyone) and my Mum noticed something wasn’t right. She had gotten me into counselling at my local GP, with an amazing councilor called Ian (he looked like John Malkovich’s character in Con Air, which was terrifying to me but never a kinder soul have I met.It taught me a lesson about judging people based of their appearance) during those sessions it became very clear that I was dealing with a lot and I assume he had relayed this back to my mum because one day, not long after this had come up in the session, she handed me an envelope with my head of years name on it.
Turns out that she had planned a long weekend away with the family to Butlins, so I could have some time off. That meant a lot to me, we didn’t go on holidays because we simply did not have the means, so this was a huge deal to me. For four days, nothing really mattered and it was an incredible thing to do.
Support aka You Do You
I remember my mum, sister and I were obsessed with Ally McBeal and would watch it together (I still don’t think I’m over RDJ shock departure from the show) It was while watching the show that I decided I wanted to be a lawyer, it seemed obvious to me that this was an extremely realistic, almost documentary level representation of life as a lawyer.
So, when I went to college I studied law (or read law, which I think is the correct term) lots of my friends were doing the same and it seemed like the rational thing to do. My first shock came when I discovered that in the UK, you could be a solicitor or a barrister, not a lawyer – I was not happy about this, less so when I saw the wigs and gowns barristers wore. My second shock came when I realised just how boring I found the subject, there were interesting cases etc but I could not get on with literally having to learn all of it, there was no wiggle room, no creativity in it for me and I soon felt extremely trapped. Luckily, I had also chosen t study performing arts as a rest bite from my more academic studies and I actually found that that is were I wanted to be all the time, so much so that in my second year, I dropped law and psychology and did a drama A-level in a year.
I told my mum and after roughly a two second adjustment period she was thrilled for me and has continued to support all my creative endeavours because she holds value in what makes me happy and I don’t think you can get more supportive than that.
One of a kind aka Who Needs Real Words Anyway?
Lastly I’d like to share with you how unique my mum is, she has her own vocabulary, a prime example is that she calls her mobile phone a ‘Moby Dick’, she can make conversation with anybody (and she will), she finds the humor In every situation (sometimes when you wish she wouldn’t) and she has a unique sense of what skills its important to raise a child with, I could cook by the age of ten, do general house work around the same age, I knew the only reason that is justifiable to judge someone on is their choices
and of course most importantly, I can get into a car when it is moving because my mum was convinced (and still is to this day) that that skill will save my life one day and if not it might come in handy on when I’m on set!
Happy Mothers day Momma, I bloody love you x