Catherine’s story

born late seventies, second of four children, no significant bad events like illness or parent or grand parent dying. Traditional home with mother at home and father out at work. Father a workaholic though and mother basically raised us but thats ok as she was great. Grandparents were big part of our lives. Went to small primary school with same, lovely teacher all through. Like a second mother. Feel very lucky to have had a very stable, secure & simple childhood.

birthdays, Christmas, first day at school, when I was sick, school plays, swimming competitions. Most of all, it was the very rare times that I had both my parents to myself without siblings. I remember one time coming home from school, I’d say I was five or six and I was with them. It must have been autumn as there was a sea of leaves on the ground. It still makes me happy wading through fallen leaves because it reminds me of that time when I was deliriously happy on my own with my parents.

They provided a secure, consistent, loving home where mistakes were quickly forgiven and where we were supported to each find our own different paths in life. They were basically happy people. We didn’t have a lot materially – I was in my late teens before I ever had a new item of clothing, not a hand me down, for example – but I don’t feel that matters as much as society would  make you believe. Focus was on education & money was spent on that.

encouraged me to do what i enjoyed like cook, knit, make things, do projects and they would praise the results. My Dad would tell me I looked nice when I wore a dress. My mum would dress me up as a princess. My grand mother would too and my grandfather would play along and he’d bow to me and call me your majesty and we’d have tea together.

when I was 8 I had trouble getting to sleep. My head was whizzing with ideas as I spent a lot of time thinking about stuff. My mum would give me hot milk, let me come down stairs till I got tired, then I’d go to bed much later.

When I was about ten our house was burgled and this really rattled me as the burglars came in through my bedroom window. I was frightened going to bed so I went to sleep in my parents bed for a while. We got a burglar alarm and eventually the fear went away but it took time. I think my parents always took my fear seriously, believed me but didn’t make a huge deal out of it either

I used to be terrified of tests and exams. I couldn’t sleep or eat before them. I don’t know why as there was no parental pressure at all just my own pressure. It took years and years to get over this – still haven’t totally – but again, my parents listened  to me, supported me, didn’t trivialise it but kept the issue in proportion too. Eventually it got a bit better.