My mum does the things you can see, but she does the things you can't, she is always looking out for us, worrying about us, doing little things. The truth is, we have never bought nappies for the babies, she just keeps putting boxes in the cupboard under the stairs, and it remains an unspoken thing, she keeps buying washing liquid and fabric conditioner and no matter how many protests nothing can stop this woman. Even when you think she's done enough she'll turn up with a dress she's made for Seren or some jumpers she's made for the boys.
And in the last year, she's gone from one grand-daughter to five grandchildren, and she takes it all in her stride. As she invited us all over for Christmas this year, with no thought for where everyone would fit.
So, for my mum's birthday, my little brother and I plotted and came up with our plan.
My mum has a bucket list, on it was Afternoon Tea at the Celtic Manor. My brother and I got this wrong two years ago when knowing she was obsessed with the Celtic Manor we booked Mother's Day Lunch there, we didn't realise it was the Afternoon Tea that the place is renowned for.
We brought my dad in on the plot. He was of course, well, my dad, "No, I'm not planning on doing anything for your mum's birthday, we're going to see the Northern Lights for her birthday, is that not enough?"- Fair point I guess, and when I checked to see if it was ok for me to take her out on the Saturday- "Can you make sure it's all day, there's rugby on." Gotta love my dad.
My mum goes for coffee every Monday with 'the ladies'. Mum has Seren on a Monday and this is what they do. 'The ladies' are people my mum worked with over ten years ago, and this is their thing. So, with the help of my dad providing me a phone number, the ladies were brought in on the plan. My mum's best friend was so excited with the prospect that I didn't even get chance to ask for everyone elses number she went to work and within half an hour all were confirmed.
My brother and I carried on with a plan to spoil my mum and decided to book a personal shopper for her. My mum is one of these people who has her tastes, and buys to them, but when we go out together we'll look at different things and she'll like them and treat herself, but then reverts back. She then moans about how boring her wardrobe is....
So last Saturday, bright and early, I picked my mum up, we did a few errands around town, went for coffee, and then magically 'ended up' at the Personal Shopper counter at Debenhams. My mum knew we had surprises planned, but with the brief of "wear nice underwear" I don't think she had a clue.
The personal shopping experience started off quite intense, lots of questions, lots of personal questions, and lots of questions without an answer, "what's your budget?", I didn't have a clue, if I really like something I might be willing to pay for it, when I'd never think of spending that much is you told me before I'd seen it.
My mum spent an hour and a half trying lots of clothes on, and lots of clothes she'd never have thought of trying on looked terrible, but lots of clothes looked fab. My mum was even tempted into buying a jumpsuit- but the 'convenience' is an unresolved issue.
Admittedly, my brother and I spent more than we budgeted. But my mum did say the next day that she hadn't changed her mind about any of it, so in my world it was more than worth it.
My mum loved the experience, and I think if there comes a time when I reach my target weight I might book myself an appointment, I think my recommendation would definitely be to put the time aside, but to go in knowing your budget and how many outfits or whatever you're looking for, it is very easy to love everything.
As we spent so long in Debenhams we were in a bit of a rush to get to our next destination. My mum had not a clue, I told her all sorts along the way, asking if she'd be to random destinations, telling her about craft fairs, pretending I had taken the wrong turning, until we got to Afternoon Tea.
My mum was almost in tears before we got to the restaurant- "But I haven't brought my camera" was her response, as we followed the attendant to the right part of the hotel her friends were waiting. And love my mum, for putting the idea in her head that we were running late she strode straight past them... hmmmm! And then the shocked look really did take hold, it is quite good fun watching the thoughts running through a person's mind.
And what an afternoon tea, it was. For the reality check it's £32 for two people, and I had no idea whether this was a justified price, it was! I forced myself to eat everything, I hadn't eaten all day so thought I was starving, as usual I had saved the nicer things for last, and even pacing myself couldn't help how full I felt.
My mum and the ladies loved it, people watching, trying all the varieties of sandwiches and pastries.
It was the most fantastic day.
And as much as I shouldn't say this, we got back in time for the end of the rugby, and completed a perfect day.