When my mum asked me what I would most like from her for my Birthday, I automatically responded with my usual sarcastic come back about needing a house, a holiday, or perhaps an apartment in New York. But of course ended the conversation with a far more honest response and declared that really, I didn’t need or want anything.

But just as the last few words fell out of my mouth, I realised that what I most wanted from my mum was for her to honour her incredibly creative self and for her to climb over the enormous lake of procrastination and perfectionism that she often plunges into and finally write something down from the vivid bank of extraordinary life experiences, that she houses in her beautiful mind, but very rarely share’s.

So what follows is my beautiful birthday present from my mum, which she specifically asked me not to post. (HA!)

She lay purple and dented like a little bruised plum, as though she had been lightly trodden in the grass and forgotten………….nothing, I knew, would be the same again’

 Laurie Lee’s words came to me as I gazed down at this tiny, sleeping stranger, my first-born. Up there on the Welsh hillside, in an old cottage in mid-renovation, one little room had been shaped out of the chaos into a calm and beautiful nesting place. 

 Beside me her father slept, unwakeable, exhausted by two sleepless days of giving me the most tender care and being assistant to the midwife, and too, protecting me from the doctor who appeared briefly with her friend the local pig farmer…..’ oh, but he’s never seen a human birth’.

 Wide, wide awake, unable to take my eyes off the stranger. 

She didn’t look anything like me and I saw only my mother. Nothing Saffron about her aura so now she was nameless. And then she woke with the frantic cries of the newborn.  

 ‘Am I supposed to feed her strictly every four hours?’ I had asked the midwife. 

She didn’t reply for a long moment, just looked out of the window at the sheep in the field. 

 ’Well, little lambs don’t do it that way’   

 So I put her to my breast and as she suckled, the love flowed out of my heart and my protective angel- wings unfurled forever. I, a female animal, instincts liberated, she my cub.

 Twenty-five years later, my girl, radiant with love, brought her Andy home to stay with us.  

‘I was watching him sleeping, mum, he was so beautiful, I know I have to protect and look after him for the rest of my life.’

 After many months of typical indecision baby Plum was named Vashti after a heroine of sorts from long ago. Written about in The Book of Esther; the story of a king who ruled from Persia to India and summoned his wife Vashti to show her great beauty to all the princes of his realm at a drunken banquet. Vashti refused to obey his command, so he divorced her and put out an edict that all wives must obey their husbands.  

All the brave and beautiful qualities we wished for her! And brave and determined she was! On the eve of her 3rd birthday we put a rope ladder up in a tree but it swung round and round as she couldn’t climb it. 

‘No, I’m too little’. she declared. 

 Early the next morning she ran out, stark naked, and climbed straight to the top.  ’I'm three now, I can do it’  And so she approached life from then on, even if it did mean frequent visits to the hospital!

 Gales of laughter, fun and mischief entered the room with Vashti, the tomboy in high heels.

Winsome, chatty to all and sundry, beggars and princes, young and old, she’d just hone in on some unlikely person and make a beeline for them. 

 When a cause fired her there was no escape. Heartbroken because the horses in a cowboy film kept getting shot ‘when it wasn’t their fault and they hadn’t done anything’ , she became a vegetarian. Soon her whole class followed, or at least had to do their meat- eating in secret.  Later, such a reasonable and amenable teenager……to this day I’m still hearing about what the wild- thing really got up to.

 Well wild- thing, your presence is still missed. How could it not be, a hemisphere away where my day is your night, my winter your summer. Letting go means accepting that with all the challenges heaped on your lone shoulders there will be times of closeness and times when you’re drawn away. Mother-love will hold it all together.

 Happy Birthday my darling…

  • Adela

    It’s amazing how is Your relationship with mum based on unconditional love and mutual trust. I love my mum, but I’m pretty sure that if I move thousands kms away from her there would be remorses and I should feel guilty for it in her way of seeing it. But one day I will finally try it!..Love and thanks for such a warm words!

  • Leah (Just Me Leah)

    I can see where you get your gift of writing from. Beautiful words, and again I’m misty eyed. You should be sponsored by Kleenex. ;)

  • http://freetobee.paycationonline.com/index.asp Tracee R.

    Our world becomes solid and do-able (if only for a moment) when wild-things everywhere get the nod from Queen Mom. In spite of (and alongside) imperfection, distance or absence, mothers hang the moon; and to affirm our cubs grants them permission to hang the moon as they see it.
    You are perfectly named, Vashti~ the biblical heroine had the courage to break tradition and say ‘yes’ to herself, as true queens often do. Your mum will playfully smack your bottom for sharing; even though she knew you couldn’t keep this beautiful tribute to yourself. Queens just ‘know’ stuff like that. Keep hanging the moon, Honey.

  • Penny Douglas

    Wow, how beautiful. Incredible. Amazing words for you from your Mum. Happy Birthday to you beautiful Vashti.

  • Sally T.

    What an extraordinary gift!! Just like you, Vashti. Happy birthday, dear friend. x

  • Beth F.

    Your mum’s words made me misty eyed……that was the best gift of all! Thank you for sharing this even though your mum didn’t want you to, she is a talented writer as well! The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

    Happy 41st Birthday, Vashti x x

  • #Ccat#

    Where do we begin but in our mother’s arms to become the mothers ourselves, and lead our cubs to the arms of their future!! In this we do all the time knowing that those arms may take them away, but we smile at the distance and whisper to the wind “we are never apart, because our hearts are as one”. Your mother speaks as many mothers do, and as you will when your cubs are in the arms and hearts of their future however far or near that will be. <3<3<3

  • Kristin

    Wishing you the happiest of birthdays. What a gift from your dear mum. Now go blow out those 41 candles and celebrate! Cheers!!

  • Terri

    Have a very happy birthday filled with a plethora (that is on of my favorite words by the way) of joy, laughter, beauty, happiness, hugs, smiles and new and wonderful memories. Your mother is a treasure…I can tell. Hold her close in your heart and as soon as you can, give her a big and tight hug. You seem like a younger version in some ways by the way she writes. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. Many virtual hugs to you Vashti!

  • Rivke

    Wow, they are some thoroughly beautiful words! Seems a very talented family!
    Much love to you Vashti. Enjoy your birthday. Blessed Be!!

  • Ramonita

    Beautiful! Like mother like daughter! This is why I love your blog Vashti! I started to read and couldn’t look away for one second till I was done! Amazing!!

  • Jennifer

    Absolutely beautiful! Happy birthday Vashti, with huge sincerity, I do wish you ALL the very best life can offer!

  • Jenny

    Happy Birthday Vashti! Thank-you for sharing that generous, inspiring and beautiful gift. May your light shine brighter with each year!

  • Kate

    Beautiful! Hot hugs for you Vasthi at birth. Thank you for your blog, opened my eyes wide to the world. You are a wonderful woman, mother, I keep fingers crossed for you, dear. Greetings from Polish.

  • Stephen

    Dear Vashti,
    Such wonderful words from your mum. She’s truly proud of you. Have a Happy Birthday, and a wonderful day. Make more splendid memories. I know Andy is wishing you Happy Birthday from above us; and looking down on you with pride and joy to you, Jesse, and Indigo.
    Happy Birthday wishes to a wonderful mum.
    Stephen

  • mimi81

    Happy birthday to you Vashti :-)
    Thank you for sharing this staggeringly beautiful post from your mum, a post that descibes and shares your specialness (dunno if this word exists….”specialness”) and uniqueness (also dunno if this one exists..), you are one beautiful soul dudette! love and hugs

  • Juliana Choe

    What an amazing Birthday present! So beautiful…Happy Birthday Vashti…the fiercest lioness!!!!

  • Madeleine

    Your mother is such an elegant writer! Very Beautiful words to a wonderful woman! Happy belated birthday Vashti. xoxoxo

  • Tammie

    As I read the beautiful words your mother put to paper for you my first thought was “Wow Vashti is so lucky to have that kind of love, so deep, so unyielding” I wasn’t that fortunate… I knew my mother loved me, but she was never in love with me. I almost stopped reading as tears of angst and a little jealousy came to my eyes but I didn’t I kept going and I am so glad I did. Vashti I didn’t receive that love, but I give it! I am so madly in love with my children that I scream it to and from. I show baby pictures and one has graduated college and one has started. My daughter called me because she was sad and said “Momma, I knew no one else would understand and no one else makes me feel like you do. I love you so much! My heart is so safe with you!” Kinder words have never been spoken. Thank you for sharing your Mothers letter it said so much. The love and hope for her precious new baby and the heart ache and love when your heart isn’t feeling so safe. I am glad you have her to love you! and that your children have your heart to share as well. Be kind to yourself absorb all the love you can in all the not so obvious ways it is delivered. You, your Mother and I have a membership to the worlds greatest club Motherhood. Nothing but love~Tammie

    • Sally T.

      What a beautiful little share, Tammie. I feel the ferocity with which you love your children and how wonderful for them! We can only take responsibility for ourselves and our own actions at the end of the day, and it sounds like you have soundly done that by being the best mum you can be.

  • Susan_Mangan

    Gorgeous post Vashti. What a lovely pressie to get. Happy, happy birthday Lady!!

  • Gabriella Mehmet

    Motherhood is a gift we are given for life.The light that surrounds it is inexplicable.Your mother has put so eloquently the amazement & love we feel as we watch our cubs from birth to adulthood & beyond.Happy birthday Vashti. What a wonderful gift your mother has given you.