One of my favourite journos – pah, who am I kidding, my ABSOLUTE favourite, aside from Giles Coren, which is purely sexual so doesn’t count – recently penned a letter to her daughter in the Saturday Times magazine, in the event of her untimely death. I thought about what such a letter might sound like in twenty years to my own, as-yet unborn child.
Hello darling, it’s me, your mother – or what may one day be your mother, should she ever manage to find someone with whom to share a gene pool, nip the sketchy clubs in the bud and stop ginning for nine months.
I hope you’re happy, and that your father and I – or mother for that matter, for who knows which way the wind’s blowing these days –haven’t fucked you up too much.
You’ll be pretty grounded because you can choose where you go to school, and what you wear, and who your friends will be. If you want to run around Hampstead Heath until you’re twenty-five, take up fly-fishing or dance until your feet are bruised and bloody – babes, be my guest. Just don’t call me at 4am doing a Super Hans, having taken a load of speed and run to Windsor. I won’t be able to come and get you because I’ll be out with your aunt getting shortsighted on Tia Maria.
I hope you’ll be able to do all the things you want to. I hope you won’t have to avoid the stares of creepy blokes on the last bus home, that I won’t have to move Nuts from besides the kids’ comics you’re browsing. I hope you won’t have to watch male performing artists fully-clothed on TV as naked women grind against them. Above all I really hope you’ll be able to walk into any situation and know that you’re worth it – and not in a shampoo kinda way. I hope that things are good for you as a woman.
I guess my main advice to you is just to give it all a go. Try to enjoy all the little things: there’ll be so many. Take pleasure in walking down the street, swinging your arms, and in running and jumping and dancing. Especially dancing: do as much dancing as you can. I am your mother and this is what I decree. Try not to wear those silly heels when you do it, though. No one can see your feet in a dark bar, and even if they could they wouldn’t care anyway. Never think that you’re not good enough – you are, you will be. You just have to keep trying, every day: there will always be something to make you happy, and if there isn’t you can come home and have spag bol with me.
Listen to your aunt and uncle. They’re two of the best people you’ll know. Your aunt will make you laugh, she will bedeck you with plastic pearls and faux fur and teach you how to roll a fag whilst making béchamel sauce. (Oh, and eat this off the spoon, honey, it’s much better that way.) Your uncle may not say much but what he does say will be golden, and he’ll teach you how to set up a savings account and put things into it rather than whanging all your cash away on happy meals and lipliner. Your grandparents? Well, you’re not allowed to see them, because they’ll put my parenting skills to shame, and you’ll end up liking them more than me.
Oh, and you’ll have a bandwagon’s worth of fab godparents: listen to the older women I’ve picked to sort out your mares when you don’t want me to. But please don’t try and shag any of my friends at my 60th. Cheers love.
If you ever think to yourself that you should get what is commonly-referred to as a ‘bikini body’ please remember, my love, my pal, to simply PUT A BIKINI ON YOUR BODY. Stay healthy, however that works for you, even if it’s bikram yoga. I’m sure I could get into that.
Buy everything you want to when you get your first pay cheque: stock up on tights and dark dark lipstick and as many books as you can get your mits on. When the going gets tough try The Pursuit of Love and have a chuckle. I’ve got a few copies knocking about: you can have one. You can have all of them. Get a Saturday job early. Go to town.
There will be times when you think you are a horrible, terrible person: but by very virtue of believing that to be true you’re taking the first steps to not being one. It’s okay to change your mind. You will have big regrets and small regrets and babe, that’s the way it should be. It’s the only real way to become a person. Never forget that your life will be big and long and there’s plenty of time. If you want to stay in on a Saturday night and watch Troy with a vanilla cheesecake, you do it. Always, always do it. You’re gonna be great, I can just tell. And if that’s a lot of pressure to handle, sorry. I can promise all the rest but I can’t promise not to be what I already am, by writing this to you – my un-born, swashbuckling, dancing darling daughter –
Your Tiger Mom.