Mother’s Day dawned in a whirlwind of sun, hail, sleet, snow, three over-excited little girls and their resigned-looking father. All I really wanted was a quiet lie-in. Instead I had to raise myself from my slumbers to a shrill chorus of Happy Mother’s Day, much jumping on the bed and a barrage of home-made cards and drawings all of which I had to admire and praise; a breakfast tray of cold tea and toast and soggy shreddies and a wonderful bunch of flowers from my husband. This year there was even the added excitement of a handmade photo frame with a picture of Eldest Daughter in her Brownie uniform and a talking toy parrot which repeatedly screeched ‘Happy Mother’s Day, Tah Dah Yeah, Mum’ in my left ear courtesy of my youngest. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When they finally all got bored I was left to read the Travel pages of the Telegraph in relative peace, lie in an oil-scented bath with Gardening Which? and learn that I have made a pig’s ear of pruning my fruit canes. Still, I’m not too despondent. I approach gardening in the same way I approach cooking – with a large dose of natural instinct. I can’t be bothered with fiddle-factor cooking. The key is good ingredients, a good palate and an innate sense of what goes well together – all lessons which were driven home in Italy where I cut my cooking teeth. As for gardening, I read a bit, remember a bit, forget a lot and just go out there and enjoy learning by experience. If the raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries aren’t good this year I’ll know to do it differently next! My approach to sowing seeds is similar. I chuck ‘em in and hope for the best. My new batch of bulbs, though planted three months late, are coming up just fine; the vegetable seeds I sowed in pots last year gave me a humble little crop of carrots, courgettes, tomatoes, runner beans, broad beans and salad. Not enough to make more than a few meals, but rewarding and encouraging nonetheless.
One of the things I would like to do today is pop out to the potting shed, select some seed packets and sow them in little trays with my daughters. Plant the seed, feed it, water it, watch it grow. It seems particularly appropriate for Mother’s Day.
Meanwhile there are good smells coming out of the kitchen, husband at the helm, and Middle Daughter has just come in with another laboriously hand-made card full of hearts, beads and princesses. I feel very blessed.
Oh, hang on, no – quick reality check: there’s screaming in the playroom, sobs and shouting. Time to go and sort it out. Find the culprit, dispense the lessons and wipe away the tears. Just get on with the business, with all its ups and downs, of being a mother. I wouldn’t have it any other way.