Verity Lush is a 36-year-old mum-of-two who lives in Portsmouth.
She is a tutor in philosophy, English and maths and has written a book for newly-qualified teachers, plus textbooks and articles for teaching magazines and supplements. Follow her on Twitter @lushnessblog
Last week it was my mum’s birthday. I searched high and low in several shops for a card that conveyed what I wanted to say and that preferably didn’t cost the same as a present. I came away empty-handed because nothing seemed personal enough. So, instead of purchasing a piece for the recycling bin, I decided to make a card that would really mean something.
I sat down with my laptop and I searched Google images for hours, finding depictions of memories that would mean little to anyone else, but that my mum would recognise instantly as being special to our family.
After I had printed myriad tiny pictures, I glued them on to the back and front of an A4 card, and popped a quotation from a song that she loves inside it. I included some photos of my mum with her grandchildren among the montage, and then fought with some sticky-backed plastic before my mission was complete.
Images of a Fiat Uno, Kate Bush, the signpost from Land’s End and the sheet music of Morning Has Broken mean nothing to most people.
Miniature instructions of how to make a dry cappuccino, flat scones, Buckwells in Southsea and a Calor gas bottle probably don’t seem like the most poignant of pictures.
Nor do French linen tea towels, broccoli stems and metallic green stretched limousines. But most people don’t know that my mum and I were once bent double, helpless with laughter, leaning for support against a wall in Chichester 14 years ago.
We wept with silent mirth at a shop that was selling filthy used tea towels at £12 a pop simply because they hailed from France.
They don’t know that my mum used to find it hysterical to come into my room when I was a teenager, flinging the curtains open at the crack of dawn, warbling Morning Has Broken in her best falsetto.
Nor do they know that when I was eight, we went camping for the first time, and my father, being a car dealer, decided to drive us and the camping gear all the way to Somerset in a metallic green stretched limo he was selling – to my mother’s excruciating embarrassment.
These things are special just to us; the little webs we weave around our families as we build our lives together.
Happy birthday mum; I love you. And I didn’t even mention your age.