My mother is the reason I read. Mum is the one who read to me as a child. Mum is the one you’d often find with her face in a book. Mum is the one who went to bed with a novel in her hand every night. And in that regard, I’m a carbon copy.
There was one memorable (if very brief) period when I was about 6 when she decided it would be a marvellous idea to record herself on the tape deck reading my book out loud, (it was the 70s, so this was a pretty high-tech innovation on Mum’s part). She figured I’d be happy enough just listening to her reading my latest book from the tape.
But she figured wrong, my friends – I was having none of it.
I let her know in no uncertain terms that her presence was required and I would brook no argument (although possibly I didn’t use expressions like ‘brook no argument’ at six). My poor weary mother, who I dare say just wanted some quiet time with her chamomile tea and a little telly, was marched unceremoniously back into my room for bedtime reading duty.
But apart from that one blip Mum remained my constant reading inspiration.
She’s also the one who first taught me to write. I remember it clearly even though I couldn’t have been more than about 3 or 4. I was about to start pre-school and Mum wanted me to know how to write my name beforehand. I remember how excited I was as she sat me down at the table with a sheet of paper and coloured pencils. She asked me to pick one up and hold it in each hand to see in which it felt most comfortable. I remember the sensation so clearly and it was a close call (my dad’s a lefty so it could have gone either way). But by a margin, the right hand won out and I was on my way to understanding the mysterious sequence of lines and circles (as they appeared to me) that was the written word.
I took to it like a dog to a mucky pond. Although, for a while, I didn’t quite understand why my name, Trudi, had to start at the ‘T’ and not the ‘I’, so I had a number of Golden books from that period that read, “This book belongs to Idurt Nivals”.
So, these days when I talk to Mum on the phone, our conversations often drift on to what we’re reading. And although Mum’s reading tastes are a bit different to mine (more historical novels and no monsters, alas), I still enjoy hearing what she’s recently added to her very tidy and strictly alphabetised bookshelf (my sister inherited the tidy genes. Mine got lost in transit sometime before I was born).
Mum doesn’t really believe in Mother’s Day and never has; “It’s really just commercialised rubbish” is a refrain I remember from my childhood. But I thought I’d make this post about her anyway.
She taught me to love books and vegetables, walking and animals, people watching and old buildings. She taught me to question authority and think outside of conventional assumptions. She showed me what it’s like to have someone look at you with absolute love. I’ve always enjoyed her company and she’s always laughed at my jokes no matter how lame.
I’m eternally glad she’s my mum and I wouldn’t have her any different to the book loving, dog walking, lovable obsessive compulsive that she is.
I won’t wish her a happy Mother’s Day because that would just annoy her. But what I will say is thanks, Mum, for my reading habit – now I know who to blame for my growing book mountain.