You taught me to talk to everyone, even the scary girl I was afraid would steal my lunch money

My mother taught me to be a people person. To really, genuinely like people. To be interested in them, find out what makes them tick, bring them out of themselves and enjoy the good conversation that inevitably follows.  It’s only now, older and wiser, that I realise just how unique that is. And maybe that’s a key point about the mother-daughter relationship – spending so much time with her, you grow up learning, imitating, immersed in the cultural web she weaves for you and it’s easy to assume that everyone works the way your mother does.

Yet the dawn of adulthood brings the stark realisation that actually, they don’t. Suddenly you are out in the world with your own set of values and beliefs, flying the flag for your own particular upbringing. Many people seem to lack this interest in others, or perhaps they just haven’t put much thought into it. Maybe they don’t have the time, maybe they are shy, maybe they are too busy worrying about what others think of them. But it is a quality I am really, really grateful she worked so hard to instill in me.

As a journalist, my mother has always had a natural fascination with people. When I was about 12-years-old we visited some family friends. One of the children, of a similar age to me, was going through a rebellious phase – piercings, leather, white face, purple lipstick, sooty eyeliner, the works. I, meanwhile, was going through my awkward phase when my mum was a huge embarrassment and I was frankly terrified of anyone who didn’t dress like me (clothed largely through a twice yearly trip to Dunnes Stores in Cornelscourt). I was sure with one look at her that, were we in a different setting, she’d have me wedged up against a wall, demanding my lunch money.

Mum was completely unphased and asked her all about her clothes, where she got the piercings done, whether they had hurt and so on. Before long the girl spoke animatedly about finding the perfect leather jacket on a stall in George’s Arcade. Watching her and my mum chat so easily made me realise in a simple, 12-year-old way that people are just people, no matter how they dress, or what impression they try to make. Everyone loves someone to take an interest. And that is something my mother does brilliantly.

– Judy Lovett, Dublin

Read More Stories