When billy roll and lunchables were the envy of the whole classroom, and anyone opening their Spice Girls lunch bag to discover the wonderous shiny wrapper of a Kellogg’s Winder inside was subject to gobsmacked-stares and whispered glances as green as the ever-coveted apple-lollies that counted down the days to Friday as intently as I do now from my office desk, sitting patiently in their plastic container on the shelf behind the teacher.
When the ten-minute walk to school alone was a thrill beyond any we had ever experienced, and although you followed cautiously at a distance behind, clearly worried out of your mind that the two road-crossings in between the house and the school would prove lethal just that one time when you weren’t there to make us ‘look-up-and-down’, we pretended not to see.
When you passed your driving test with flying colours and we made a cake as if it was your birthday and sang songs and although the importance of it didn’t resonate with my young and selfish mind at the time, the house was full of excitement and pride with how genuinely happy you were, and I knew this was a good thing. A very good thing.
When bringing us along to Dunnes Stores or Crazy Prices promised an inevitable return laden down with at least one extra shopping bag containing Barney-shaped crisps, Fruit Pastille Icepops, Andrex-Puppy toilet roll and ‘No More Tears’ L’Oreal shampoo (no more tears, my arse!) or Iced Gems – sugar rushes we certainly didn’t need, but that were better than the ‘teeth-rotting’ Pushup Pops that you downright refused to be associated with.
In Summer when we’d stop on the bridge and race our finished ice-pop sticks down the river to see whose was quickest, and cheer them on until they disappeared out of sight, lost forever to the swirling rapids of the River Liffey.
When you never once complained about the fact that my curly, matted hair added an extra forty-five minutes on to the time we spent getting changed after swimming, instead devoting the time to removing each and every knot – in hindsight, a completely fruitless and unecessary venture – curly hair is curly hair, it’s gonna’ knot! – but you tried your best.
When a trip to town at Christmas wasn’t complete without posting Santa’s letter carefully in the G.P.O, always followed by a half an hour gazing longingly at the display in Clery’s windows across the way, the vast expanse of O’Connell Street at our age seeming like the distance between two cities.
When Mother’s Day fell on your birthday, and this seemed to us to be the most wonderful thing that could ever happen – a double celebration; double the flowers; double the presents, and lots of cake. ‘Today’, I announced proudly, ‘you’re not allowed to get out of bed’, not even considering Dad’s lack of culinary skills, and that you might be necessary to figure out how to turn on the cooker.
When a chapter of Harry Potter became a necessity at bedtime, instilling in me the drive to learn how to read by myself – up until then ‘The Enormous Turnip’ having been the extent of my read-alone achievements. These nights quickly became the most attentive hours of my day, giving me a love and a passion for all things magical, literary, and opening my mind to the world of possibility that exists within books. For this, I am most grateful.
For these things, and for many many more that have escaped the random-selective memory of this overactive mind on this early morning, I thank you, Mum.
The little things never went unnoticed. They never were forgotten. They just get glossed under ‘things that happened’ and ‘things that were’, which is natural. But sometimes it’s nice to take a second and remember them; to remember you enjoying, as I prepare it now, your dry, butterless toast with tea on a Sunday morning– a preference of yours that I never understood. It’s nice now to be able to express my appreciation in words that I didn’t have at the time.
Because I do appreciate it. Every little thing. Even though it may not always seem obvious.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mum <3.