Mum and I in 1980 on my 13th birthday

A letter to my mum on my 51st birthday

Nikki Parkinson Life 54 Comments

Mum and I in 1980 on my 13th birthday

(Letter to my mum) Mum and I in 1981 on my 14th birthday … wearing velvet tracksuits

Dear Mum,

It’s been a while between letters. My last one back in 2012 has been lost forever to cyberspace, penned for a website that no longer exists. I could have written to you on my 50th but I self-indulgently instead chose to write to my 21-year-old self.

Today, though. Today seemed the right day to get the thoughts out of my head that have been swirling around this past 12 months. Today, I’m 51. Today, I’ve reached the age you were when you died suddenly.

I’m officially older than you ever got to be.

It’s a very weird feeling to process. What if this past year had been the last year of my life, like it had been yours? I can’t imagine NOT being here; not being with my husband, kids and friends. Not travelling to all the countries on my wish list. Not cherishing all the small and big moments that go to make up a full life.

But I suppose you never imagined that either. Life gave you no indication that those months would be your last. And that sucks big time. It sucks very much for you and Neville. It sucks very much for everything you have both missed out on.

I’m not kidding myself that if you had been around these past 22-plus years that things would have been Hallmark-worthy between us. Our relationship was rarely like that. 

People would often say I am just like you. I think there are some traits, yes, but we’re very different on so many levels. And parenting is definitely one of those. I love the relationship I have with my kids – the bigs and the not-so-little one. I love that they love hanging out with us. It’s the relationship I think I always craved from you but didn’t know how to make that a reality.

If you were here, you’d probably think what I do is superficial and fluff but I love it. I do. I often share the story of you not letting me have a Barbie doll – and giving me ALL the trucks – as a child. Because. FEMINISM. It’s a funny and somewhat ironic anecdote because essentially what I do now is play dress-ups – and help other women to play dress ups – every day. 

I guess this is my 2018 version of feminism. I want to help women of all ages feel confident in their own skin, to wear clothes that show the world the real person that they are and to use that confidence to show up and make a positive impact. 

In your 51 years, no-one could say you didn’t make a positive impact on so many lives, particularly the rights and conditions for female teachers, which you fought for throughout your working life, but perhaps the greatest positive impact you’ve had on me has come in the years since your passing.

I now no longer take life for granted, for I know it can be taken away in a moment. 

Nikki x

 

Comments 54

  1. Thank you very much for sharing this heartfelt letter with us and making a difference in the lives of so many, you are an inspiration.

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  2. Ah Nikki – you’re Mum and Neville would have had a lot to be proud of and something tells me your Mum would have lost her Feminine veil and embraced the new age of blogging, advising and uplifting women to be the best versions of themselves. I read this post today (and not on the train coming home from French classes) as I knew I would have a tear and I wanted the peace fo the room and the flicker of the candle to be my only distraction. Your parents sounded like brave wanderlust warriors – I sense you are the same! Its therapeutic to reflect this way – I loved reading your letter – thanks for sharing! Jenny (Porch & Butler) xx

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  3. A great letter, very insightful and I’m sure it was a hard one to write. You must feel a little bit wise now at 51! x

  4. Oh Nikki……………….a beautiful letter and many tears flowing. I lost my Mum and my daughter close together, and do struggle and would give anything to have a phone call, a hug anything again! Birthday Wishes being sent to one stylist, caring, beautiful lady. x

  5. I love this letter. I lost my mother young – she was 2 weeks from her 50th birthday and I was almost 14. She has now been dead a lot longer than she was with us, but I still think of her everyday.
    I think the day I turn 50 will be epic because I would have lived longer than her. Its only a few years away. I want to do something amazing.
    I think the way I parent has the same thinking behind it as you. I want to be close and open. I want her to feel like she can ask me anything and never be wrong or bad. I want her t0 be sensible but have a strong sense of independence. Everything mum wouldnt let me do. I dont think I had a bad mother – Ive just become the opposite of her as a mother. Who knew.
    I feel every word of your letter – happy birthday!
    x

  6. I lost my previous partner on 25 November 1995. I will also never forget the phone call from the hospital. Today I’m attending the funeral of a Man I worked closely with who died much too soon. He was 51 as well. It’s been a strange weeks of ups and downs and yet the universe sent me this post today of all days. …. now you are making me think about what to wear

  7. What a lovely letter Nikki, I can’t imagine losing my mum at such a young age. I have doubt she would be proud of you and all your achievements, the way you lift so many women up, how you help so many people who are struggling to feel good about themselves. You are one of the most generous souls I’ve ever met, always having time for everyone and anyone.
    P.S I can see a lot of your mum in your daughter! That incredible smile

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  8. A beautiful letter penned by a beautiful soul. Hope the year ahead is filled with fabulous things. Thank you for creating a community without judgement and where women truly support each other to be their best self. x

  9. What a heartfelt post. Truth and honesty are your best attributes. Happy birthday Nikki. You have created your own beautiful family as well as a dedicated online family! Enjoy!

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  10. Happy Birthday ! and thankyou Nikki , I don’t comment often , but I love what you do for all of us, encouraging us to be our best, by your own example , honesty and passion. Sharing your healthy journey as well as tips for this and that .
    I lost my mother when I had a baby and a toddler , so she never got to see my darling third baby.She was 53 and I was 33. So I feel your sadness .My life took on a different meaning and spiritual path .
    Love and hugs to you , love Maria x

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  11. Dear Nikki,
    This is a beautiful heartfelt letter. It made me cry. Our relationships with our Mums can be such an up and down journey and you had that journey cut short. I am so glad you have chosen to be the beautiful Mum that I am sure you are and you have chosen to follow your passion. Thank you for sharing such a personal story.

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  12. Happy birthday Nikki.
    What a lovely letter to write to your Mum.
    Today you must feel happiness to have your husband and children but sadness that your Mum can’t be here with you. I’m sure she is looking down on you, feeling very proud. X

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  13. Such a beautiful and vulnerable letter. I’d love to think your Mum is watching you and is proud of all you’ve achieved, and the supportive and positive space you’ve created for so many women through your work. Feminism is such a loaded word (important, but loaded) and our interpretations and views of feminism can be, and should be, as individual as we are. But I think an environment where women are welcomed, celebrated and supported is definitely feminism at work. Happy Birthday Nikki – you deserve the many great things that will come your way in the decades to come.

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  14. Such a momentous occasion to pen this landmark letter. Wow. I knew your mum was a teacher & I “know” sometimes we took the sexism thing too strictly back then.
    I have never identified with my lat mother until (interestingly) this past 12 months recovering from cancer & deciding that only my mindset was stopping me from beind proud of my appearance!
    So, thank you for “teaching me & many” that no matter what size or shape or budget we can all develop our #everydaystyle. Your belief in the direction you wanted to go once you began your blog and hard work has paid off over & over in bringing success, self-worth and connection to many thousands of people. Celebrate your 51st birthday with gusto my friend! Well-earned & deserved. Denyse xx

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      Oh Denyse, thank YOU beautiful woman. Your support for all that I do has been unwavering. You are an incredible woman and I’m honoured to have met you all those years ago x

  15. Happy Birthday Nikki xx
    51 is too young to pass away. Your Mum would be amazed at her little girls career. Much love to you xx

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  16. Happy birthday Nikki!

    My mum moved from her self contained villa into the hostel accommodation at her retirement village in September last year. Her dementia and dysphasia means she has physically and mentally shrunk from the formidable woman she once was and so we are grieving already although she’s still with us.
    Having lost my Dad suddenly at 54 as I get closer to that age (53 in July) I do relate to what you’re saying about sudden loss continuing to effect your outlook. That’s shy I won’t allow myself to completely wallow, instead I just try to judge myself as kindly as I judge others.

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  17. Happy birthday Nicki! I loved your letter to your Mum. I am flying to Melbourne today to see my Mum. She is 85 and I know our time together is limited. One of the only things we have in common is a love of fashion! You are playing dress ups and that is an awesome job especially when you are empowering women to be the best they can be. Enjoy your special day!

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  18. Very lovely letter. And I love what you do, not because I’m particularly fashioney (you’re shocked to learn that, I’m sure 😉 ) but because you do it with a level of inclusiveness that I think is missing in many areas of life, but often fashion.

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  19. Beautiful words Nikki. No doubt your Mum is cheering you on from above and would have been your biggest fan, if she was still here. Thinking of you on your special day. You rock 51 girlfriend

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  20. How Nikki,
    Today is my daughter’s 33rd birthday. She is the same age I was when I gave birth to her. Your letter struck a chord with me. I didn’t have a relationship with my Mother but this has made me determined to make it happen with my own daughter and luckily she feels the same.
    My beautiful daughter who shares the same birthday as you is also a mother now and I am so fortunate to share lots of wonderful times and make happy memories with my darling grand children.
    Sometimes we learn the best lessons from rejection and hard times. I certainly have.
    Happy Birthday to you beautiful!

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  21. Happy Birthday Nikki!
    My Dad was killed in an accident in NZ 7 years ago at the time of the Christchurch earthquakes and I was in Melbourne with a 5 week old baby. He died 3 days before my parents 38th Wedding anniversary and 2 weeks before his 67th birthday, so for us November is a sad month (like your December). The one thing that everyone has said since he died, was how he lived for the now. He did his hobbies every day – he was a photographer by profession and for pleasure – and he was always going somewhere and had more trips planned. Nothing was left until retirement. No regrets.

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  22. Happy Birthday 21st +30 Birthday What a lovely message to your Mum. She was taken way too soon. In our busy lives we take so much for granted and yes we need to sit back appreciate those around us and stop and smell the roses. I’m sure you will celebrate in style today, Cheers to you

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      Thanks so much Glenys! You’ll love this … the only sparklers we had for my cake were a 2 and a 1 (left over from my daughter’s 21st) so I did get the 21 + 30 celebration. Stopping to smell the roses (and eat cake) is so important. x

  23. A beautiful and honest letter..
    I too am 51 and parts of your letter struck a chord with me. Especially your comments of what you craved as a child. My childhood sounded very similar in that sense… And just like you, I also love the relationship I have with my kids.. the little things – the fun, the love and the silliness.
    It’s funny how we try to give what we didn’t get. Happy birthday Nikki.

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  24. Happy Birthday Nikki,your letter made me Cry,sending you love and hugs on your special day!
    You make so many women happy with your giving and caring personality and it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.. thank you Nikki Xx

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