My Mum turned 60 this week, and it suddenly hit me that I only ever think of her in terms of the last 30 years – since I was born. It took me putting together a DVD of images for it to really hit home that she had a life before rearing five children.

As I scanned in hundreds of black and white images of her wrapped in blankets in the arms of old men in trilbies, playing next to the fence of a brownstone terrace in the States, or standing innocently with a Jack Russell terrier, I realised that my Mum was a little girl, just like I had been.

There were photos of her bronzed and sexy in a bikini posing next to a surfboard or sitting proudly on the bonnet of a Holden – Dad’s other love. She had a glamourous look, the way that 1960’s photos always do.

She was beautiful; wrinkles and sun spots were decades away. Her simple and honest self-made clothes made her look like Jackie O and her vibrant smile exuded an energy that leaps from the picture even now, decades later.

This was my Mum at my age. And then she had kids.

Not that the smile isn’t still there and that she can’t surprise you with quirkiness you never believed she had; but she is different. She is my Mum. Not a baby making sandcastles or a fife playing school girl or a carefree teenager. She is my mother and all it encompasses – and it wasn’t really until now that I realised the true sacrifice that motherhood is.

Janette, 33, Paris, France

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