They say that art is in the eye of the beholder – and thank goodness for that, otherwise none of our childhood paintings would ever have made it onto the fridge, and our wonky pottery bowls would not still adorn the kitchen windowsill. Thankfully too, as children, our parents praised and encouraged all of our best efforts, whether they were ever any good or not.
My mum loves to tell the story of one of my ballet classes she watched when I was about five years old. We had been encouraged by the teacher to make up our own dances – the inspiration of which could be absolutely anything. Soon it was my turn. I bounced around the room twirling and bending, stooping and jumping with all the grace that only a chubby five-yearold can muster – not to mention limitless amounts of enthusiasm. After the applause had died down, the teacher asked me what my dance had been about. “I was putting flowers on granny’s grave!” I replied, as if the answer should have been blatantly obvious.
When I grew older and thought back to my ballet days, I asked my mum: “Did you put me in ballet because I was graceful?”
“No darling, we put you in ballet because you were knock-kneed and we thought it might help.” Fantasy well and truly shot out of the water.
But the point is that she would never have told me that as an enthusiastic five-year-old who thought she was more Margot Fonteyn than a hippo from Fantasia, and it is precisely that kind of unwavering support that encouraged so many of us to explore our talents and interests – whether they turned out to be prizewinning and long-lasting, or not.
And that, I think, is one of the most important gifts a parent can give you. Yes, they clothe and feed you and give you cuddles and set boundaries, but, just as importantly, they support you and encourage you and are at once your biggest cheerleader and your most fearless protector. And it is because of this, that many of us were given the opportunity to dream and grow, be brave, and conquer our own worlds. When you think about it that way, just how many of your personal successes in life have stemmed from your Mum cheering extra loudly at your ballet recital, or making a point of always putting your picture in pride of place on the fridge?
This Mother’s Day why not tell your mum how much her support meant to you – I promise you, it will be a far greater gift than a box of chocolates.
Nicky Furniss Editor