It’s very easy to dwell on the small things in life. When you turn around and look back you realise how quickly it all goes. I realise I sound like an elderly person saying that, but the other day I had one of those moments. I was standing outside the bank with the kids in the pushchair, waiting for my mum to get some money out. A knackered old car drove past and it was playing an early 1980’s power ballad. We were in a sort of non-descript town, no-one else was around. At that moment in time, I was transported back to 1981, except I had my children. This is a picture of me c. 1981, I was auditioning for a part in the film ‘Don’t Look Now’. My sister sits in her vintage Maclaren. We are outside the zebra enclosure at London Zoo.
I thought to myself in that moment outside the bank, that I had essentially become my mother. I think this all the time, but this was different as it was influenced by culture rather than genes. I wasn’t hearing myself say the very same phrases my mum does. Rather, I just sort of felt that I had become her.
When I look back on my life up till now, several things stand out; birth, death, moving house, school plays, days out, holidays, moments when I experienced feelings of pure happiness, the usual stuff. The small things I cant really remember. I am sure I probably was jealous of the child who had a bigger eraser collection than me, or the one whose parents took them to Disney World. But I cant even remember their name. It was all wasted energy.
I was born in the mid 1970’s. It hadn’t been long since a man actually had landed on the moon. It was only recently when I began to consider the possibility that it could have been a PR stunt by the Americans. This never crossed my mind when I was a child. I had a Spectrum computer, I used to load cassettes of games like Valhalla. It took ages for them to load, then they crashed after five minutes. The sound the cassette player made was part of the experience. When our school got a BBC micro-computer there was universal fanfare. I liked the keys on the keyboard, they made a satisfying noise unlike those on my Spectrum. When I went to school, Thatcher came into power, this was viewed by the child version of me as a brilliant thing. A woman in the most powerful job in the country. Inspirational.
We listened to the Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Madonna with the odd bit of Johnny Hates Jazz and T’Pau thrown in. I often tied pom-poms in my hair, I wore those luminous plastic bangles and lacy gloves. I had socks which started off very small and expanded till they fitted and a little yellow ra-ra skirt. I was annoyed when the Littlest Hobo, Heidi and Silas came on the television for the 100th time. I kept treading on my sisters Sindy doll shoes. This was an enduring source of pain.
These things flavoured my life. I loved my childhood. I thought it would go on forever. I dreamed of having a good job, marrying a kind, tall, dark, handsome man and living happily ever after. Before I knew it, this did all happen to me. I am lucky. But it has all happened very quickly. Days go on forever, years seem to evaporate.
Nowadays, life is an endless muddle of making ends meet, keeping the children entertained, and trying to keep on top of work and housework. I have to admit, I have rarely actually had the time to sit down and saviour the little smiles that baby Fifi gives me. Or watch as the Toddler becomes more and more communicative. I lay in bed and wonder if their memories will be watching Fireman Sam, or of me and them rushing around the shops, trying to get the products to make the cheapest possible dinners for the weeks ahead. I suspect that my mum felt the same pressures and directional pulls, just with a different soundtrack. I hope my children will be as happy as I was.
All I am trying to say, is that when you are getting frustrated with your baby screaming all night, or the toddler tantruming in Tesco’s. As I do all the time. Take a bit of time to step back and saviour the moment, in its entirety. Think about how lucky you are, how you got there and the joy of life. History is a powerful thing, life does repeat itself. You can use it to learn from the mistakes of others or you can simply just enjoy where you were in the past at specific moments. I often forget that my children are separate from me, with their own sense of being, their own memories and their own interests, tears and joy. They are part of me, but distinct. In thirty years time, they will have the same sort of moments as I did standing outside the bank. Such is the wonder of life.