“We’re thick as thieves, Mum and I.”

Weekend Herald - - Front Page -

We shouldn’t need a ded­i­cated day to cel­e­brate moth­ers. We shouldn’t need end­less pro­mo­tional emails from re­tail­ers, gaudy ad­ver­tis­ing and spe­cial deals on Face­book to re­mind us to show our mums a bit of love.

It’s easy, how­ever, to get swept up in the hus­tle bus­tle of every­day life and for­get to show our grat­i­tude as fre­quently as we’d like. I know that I’m guilty of it. So I’d like to take a mo­ment to­day to tell you a bit about my mum.

My mum’s name is Vlasta. She named me El­iz­a­beth for the Queen, both be­cause it was easy to pro­nounce (un­like her own) and be­cause she had a run­ning joke with a Bri­tish fam­ily friend that she’d name me af­ter the monarch if I were born a girl. I was born two years af­ter my par­ents had bought a ho­tel; some­thing of a joke of fate. I was a com­plete sur­prise — the mis­take my par­ents never made twice.

My ear­li­est mem­o­ries of my mother are of sit­ting on the bath­room van­ity as a tod­dler, watch­ing her get ready for the day. She was so glam­orous and beau­ti­ful that I was mes­merised by her.

She smelled of Yves Saint Lau­rent Opium when I hugged her, and she al­ways had ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol. She was the glue that kept both our fam­ily and our fam­ily busi­ness to­gether. That much has never changed.

As a work­ing mother and a busi­ness owner, she had heavy re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to jug­gle. She would of­ten have to work late, and I re­mem­ber her com­ing into my bed­room to hug me good­night af­ter I’d gone to bed. Her hair would smell of cig­a­rette smoke and cook­ing smells in those days, when smok­ing was al­lowed in res­tau­rants and bars. She in­stilled her tire­less work ethic in me by os­mo­sis. Or maybe it was al­ready in my blood.

She used to take me to the li­brary af­ter school. My mother has never been a big reader her­self, but she nur­tured my love of books un­til read­ing be­came a life­long pas­sion. She would pull books from the shelves for me, read­ing blurbs and car­ry­ing the ever-grow­ing pile of ti­tles that I tossed into her arms to the counter. When we went to Auck­land, she’d take me to Bor­ders, where we’d while away hours. I grew up sur­rounded by sto­ries in an en­vi­ron­ment where you could never have too many books.

I still have ev­ery sin­gle one of those books. They’ve been lov­ingly stored at my par­ents’ house since I moved out nearly a decade ago. It’s highly likely that I’ll have my nose buried in one of them as you read this, as I’ve been sum­moned home this week­end to take the books out of their boxes and put them into the new book­shelf that I know Mum and Dad had built es­pe­cially for me.

It’ll free up some cup­board space, which is in high de­mand given that Mum had kept ev­ery sin­gle school ex­er­cise book I ever owned in boxes for me un­til very re­cently. It wasn’t un­til last Christ­mas that I fi­nally biffed out my print­ing book from 1995.

My par­ents have been busy peo­ple for as long as I can re­mem­ber, but my mother still made time to have fun. We moved house when I was about 6, and we bought new beds. The mat­tresses came wrapped in plas­tic, and the house had two long, steep stair­cases. Drag­ging the mat­tresses up to the bed­rooms with Mum soon turned into hours of surf­ing the mat­tresses down the stairs to­gether. “Don’t tell Daddy,” she said, con­spir­a­to­ri­ally. It’s a phrase that may or may not have been used once or twice since then.

We’re thick as thieves, Mum and I. “You two stick to­gether like shit to a wet blan­ket,” my fa­ther has of­ten said. She’s the one that I call when some­thing good hap­pens, when some­thing bad hap­pens, or when I need some­one to tell me that it’ll all be okay.

She told me on Mon­day that there’s noth­ing I could do that would ever make her ashamed of me. That she would al­ways love me, no mat­ter what. It was ex­actly what I needed to hear this week.

My mother may be shorter than I am (a feat that is quite dif­fi­cult, de­spite what peo­ple think when they’ve seen me in the pa­per or on tele­vi­sion), but she is a tower of strength. She loves fiercely. She’s pint-sized, but you wouldn’t want to mess with her or the peo­ple she loves.

She’s al­ways been in my cor­ner.

Even when I’ve writ­ten some­thing out­ra­geous that has seem­ingly in­censed half of the coun­try. She told me this week that I need to get back into writ­ing more con­tro­ver­sial col­umns.

Sorry, Mum. You’ll have to wait another week, I’m afraid. But don’t worry, I’ll give them hell next Satur­day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I am so lucky to have such a won­der­ful mother, friend and role model.

She smelled of Yves Saint Lau­rent Opium when I hugged her, and she al­ways had ev­ery­thing un­der con­trol.

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