When you are a young child clothes don’t mean an awful lot. However, my relationship with my step-mother, Lorraine, is one of the most important things in my life and my first memory with her is buying a dress.
Lorraine is there when I laugh and when I cry. A friend, a role model, at times a bitch but I love her as if she gave birth to me.
I am a Daddy’s girl. Always have been and always will be. So, it’s through gritted teeth I say that for the first part of my life visiting my father at weekends was dull. Something was lacking in his life and dampening his mood, the atmosphere and even the clothes he wore. Countless grey and black jumpers. Yearning for a bit of light.
When I was five years old my Father took me on holiday to Cornwall and there was a new scary woman in the car. She was pretty and smiled a lot but I was worried she wouldn’t like me. I was young and easily influenced and I had seen Cinderella enough times to know that step mothers are never a good thing.
I didn’t want to end up sweeping her floors and talking to pet mice. I really wanted her to like me. I remember sitting in the back seat, my heartbeat echoing through my whole body as I caught her eye in the front wing mirror. The first time we had properly exchanged eye contact. I just looked away as if I hadn’t noticed. I read my book to distract myself which I found out to be a very, very bad idea. I ended up making myself travel sick. I was so embarrassed I started to cry. I thought to myself: “This new woman will think I am a disgusting child. I have ruined all chance of her liking me and being part of my life. What will dad say if she doesn’t like me?”
I was taken by surprise when we pulled into a retail park and she unbuckled my seat belt and took me by the hand, still with sick smeared on my jumper and in my hazelnut ringlets, and took me into a shop to buy me some new clothes.
I love shopping. It is one of the best things in life – any bad mood, break up, argument etc. can be solved by a new handbag. But, this was a passion that came much later in my life and at the time I hated shopping.
I was in a complete maze of clothes, holding a scary woman’s hand, covered in sick. I hated it.
Then I saw the dress. Sunshine on a hanger. It was beautiful; exuberant orange with pink edging and matching embroidered flowers. I didn’t think she would let me have it. I thought she would make me buy a “sensible outfit” for the cold holiday ahead. But not only did she say yes, she said she would help me find a matching cardigan. The one she picked out was simplistic and bright yellow and I loved it not only because of the colour and that it matched the dress I wanted so badly but also because SHE chose it.
I tried the dress and cardigan on in the changing room and I spun on the spot feeling like a princess and a completely different child to the one crying and covered in sick 30 minutes previous. I made a mental note to let Disney know that in my story the step-mother was not the villain but the hero.
As we walked through the checkout and the orange dress was officially mine the happiness completely consumed me. I wanted to run and skip around the car park and show Daddy who had been waiting in the car how great I looked. I didn’t mind the dreary holiday ahead now that I was bringing the sunshine. She sat me back in my seat and as she helped me with my seat belt I remember thinking “Why did I think this woman was scary? She is lovely”. Little did I know she would become a mother to me.
When I look back on this time I can see that despite the bright dress, I wasn’t really the sunshine, but ever since then my step-mother has dried up the rain in the lives of my father and I.