Tuesday, August 09, 2022

My Mum

I think of my mother every time I throw away a butter wrapper, she used to save them to line her cake tins. Banana Bread, Apple Cake, Pear and Apple sponge.

She only had butter for cooking, we got margarine for our food, bread, whatever, as she was one to embrace margarine for health reasons.

A woman who never bought cling film in her life. "I cook everything fresh, why do I need it?"

She would always have a roll of grease proof paper though, something in which to wrap cake for our lunches, which she made for us every day.

She cooked us all breakfast every morning and made lunches for us, which would be in 4 brown paper bags for each of us, 3 kids and dad.

She worked full time, all of her girlfriends worked full time. They all had 3, or 4, kids. (Not 2, not 1)

She was friends with the same group of women for 60 years with whom she went to teacher's college. 60 years these women were in each other's lives.

I asked her once, "All of your friends, Aunty May, Aunty Pam, Aunty Brenda, Aunty Doffa, Aunty Eleanor, Aunty Joan, Aunty Isobel they all had 3, or 4 kids."

"Yes, except for Aunty Brenda who had Jennifer and Neil. And Aunty May didn't have any kids, but she dedicated her life to the kindergarten holiday home."

"And you all worked full time?"

"Oh, yes, for the most part."

"Well, kids and day care and returning to work?"

"I took 5 years off and had 3 children."

"So, I was 1 year old when you went back to work?"


"Who looked after me?"

"Aunty Ida. Then I took you to work. Then you went to kinder just up the road, and you'd walk home and entertain yourself. Your sister would be home from school. You entertained each other."

"So, you didn't need time for yourself, to work out who you were, or to find yourself?"

"No, darling, we'd already found ourselves. We loved our jobs and our kids and our husbands."  

"In that order?"

"No, not in that order."

"We just thought our kids were marvellous. We thought our lives were great."

"Do you think it is different now?"

"I don't know, darling. I can only talk for my time."

"No children on drugs?"

"I've nearly finished mixing the cake. Put that butter wrapper in the loaf tin. Quick sticks."

"Like this?"

"Yes, like that. And put the second one the other way."

"Like that?"

"Yes, honey, just like that."


"We all just loved every one of you," mum said. "And all our kids turned out okay."

"All of them?"

"Yes," she said. "Hand me the tin, the cake is ready to go in."

I stood with the butter wrapper in my hand and gazed out into the garden. My mum, she was always busy, she was always doing something. Not a gene I inherited. I laughed to myself. I tossed the butter wrapper in the bin.

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