I’ve never been the best daughter.
I was the loud, crying baby on the plane, disturbing you while you were trying to sleep. I was the fussy kid at the table next to you in the restaurant, whining because my peas were touching my mashed potato. I was the teenager with secrets, who kept quiet about her friends and what she was doing that weekend. And then I was the adult who left home as quickly as possible, and didn’t really look back.
Despite all of this, and even though she has a slightly mental daughter who insists on travelling the world even though she can barely tie her own shoelaces, my mum has always been there for me. She’s bailed me out of countless situations – a missed train in Amsterdam, a disastrous road trip in Australia, a variety of illnesses, struggles, and bad decisions. I often get asked questions along the lines of: “doesn’t your mum care that you moved across the world?” or “doesn’t your mum mind that you don’t have a real job?”
The answer is probably yes, I’m sure she’d prefer me to be back in the UK, maybe a vaguely successful career or a plan of some sort, but really, I know she’s supportive of me and my life choices. Although she is very laid-back, my mum does have some rules. Rules that are strictly set – rules that, no matter how far away I drift, I always aim to live by.
Are you ready to hear them?
1. Don’t trust shop-bought sandwiches
This is the first rule because it is the most important. You know the sandwiches I mean – wrapped in cellophane with illegible best before dates, a paragraph of complicated ingredients, soggy bread and suspicious looking contents. NEVER BUY THESE SANDWICHES. You will be disappointed and your trust in the world will slowly start to dissipate.
2. No motorbikes
Apparently this is an easy way to die.
3. Don’t stand too close to cliff edges (especially not to get a good picture)
Apparently this is another easy way to die. I’m not very good at this one. Sorry, mum.
4. Take care of yourself
Sleep properly, buy good, organic food and don’t feel bad for spending a little bit extra money on things that make you feel good. Which leads to….
5. Happiness is much more important than money (and you can get by on less than you might think)
Try not to stress about whether your bank account is big enough. You don’t need to have a six-digit income to survive. There are people out there who are just saving-saving-saving for their future, and I can understand that, as long as it doesn’t affect your happiness today.
If there’s a trip you want to go on, or a thing you want to buy, and you know that doing X or buying X is going to make you happy, then my mum’s advice would be… do it.
My mum has always tried to install this belief into me. She grew up pretty poor in London, and I’ve heard all sorts of horror stories about cold nights and cockroach infestations – just some of the joys of lower-class England. Even now she’s a home-owner, successful manager, and mother of two daughters, she reminds me that she didn’t used to have a lot, and she doesn’t need a lot of the stuff she has today.
In other words, there are a lot of things you can live without, so spend your money on the things that matter, and don’t be afraid to invest in your passions. Sometimes it’s a case of living for today instead saving for tomorrow. Focus on the happiness you’ll get from making that trip or buying that fancy block of Brie, not the price tag that comes with it.
So, repeat after me! Live for today! Avoid consumerism! Invest in yourself!
6. I deserve happiness
I suppose that as a child I was, in some ways, spoiled. I think spoiling children is generally considered negatively, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It doesn’t always have to be about getting the next new best toy, and throwing tantrums if everything doesn’t go your way (Seb’s reading this and looking at me like I didn’t get mad at him for eating all the ice cream the other night – LET ME BE).
No, I was taught that I can get what I want, as long as I work hard and live with good intentions. I learned that I deserve to be spoiled with love. I learned that I deserve the best, and I’m not going to settle for anything less. I am demanding sometimes – I demand that people are respectful, courteous, and true to their word – and in return I will be respectful, courteous, and true to mine.
I know that I am worthy of happiness, and I refuse to let anyone or anything get in the way of that. I hope everyone reading this, even if their mum didn’t teach them, knows that they’re worthy too.
I’m thankful for all of these lessons that my mum has taught me (especially the sandwiches thing), and I’m grateful for everything she does for me. I’m sure it’s hard having your daughter frolicking around the world, but she makes it look easy. If it ever seems appealing to me to push an infant out of my womb, I’m going to have a really good role model to aspire to. If I can be even half as supportive, understanding, and non-judgemental as my mum, I’ll be happy.
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