I’ve always thought it strange to find that on many websites “About Us” was actually about only one person – a single service provider or lone voice speaking for a cause. It’s just a convention of the Internet.
Now I find that on this website there is only me, but actually there are two of us. Let me introduce us.
DAVINA LLOYD – D’MUM
I was greeted by a stranger in the supermarket the other day, who recognised me from former days, with the words, “Usedn’t you to be Davina Lloyd”. It was such a zen sort of greeting, I just denied it and wheeled my trolley away swiftly.
But, in truth, I did used to be “Davina Lloyd”, the one whose features graced the top of a problem page as an Agony Aunt, and whose features graced the insides of several women’s magazines, the one who recounted the adventures of her young family, who wrote a column on Family Matters in The Times and who edited the first and many subsequent issues of Practical Parenting. Yes, I was she. She was me.
But 30-odd summers and winters have passed since then, and I can vaguely remember her. She fully embraced the contemporary ethos of wanting to “have it all”, and she worked and played and had a family and a life and raced around trying to pack everything she could into the stream of life. Exhausting. I’m amazed that she survived and grew up to become me.
THE CURRENT VERSION – D’GRAN
I still do loads of things – I teach a bit, write a bit, give a few talks, meditate a bit, travel a bit. I do it all, but in a more leisurely fashion. I had felt that all that history was a T-shirt I’d once worn and would now be more comfortable in a quiet M&S cardigan. But the arrival my granddaughter Robyn has stimulated interesting creative stirrings which have encouraged me to unearth the dusty old cuttings in the loft, to search out missing episodes in the farthest reaches of the British Library and to record young Davina’s writings, lend her my voice (an older, possibly wiser, voice) to speak again, because her observations of family life as a mother are so like – and sometimes, so unlike, my own – as a grandmother.
And the incidents of life in our family, which entertained her enough to capture them in words that entertained other people… well, they make me smile, too.
So, I’ve recorded and revived her writings in Mum’s The Word – not pretending to be her (that would definitely be mutton trying to pass itself off as lamb – and she would have been doubly entertained to think of herself as a dedicated vegetarian in the future). No, I have just lent her my voice, so that the scenes of our shared past can come to life again. You can follow them on D’Mum.
Just as – when a Mother myself – I gave voice to the feelings of the mums of my generation and the issues that challenged or delighted us, I am moved to share my current experiences and emotions as a Grandmother for those same mums, many of whom will be grandmothers now too. More of that on D’Gran.
ABOUT THE REST OF US…
The rest of “Us” in these writings are many. Some still around, some not. All grown up, or grown old or grown away. First there are the children themselves: Ben and Miranda – all grown up.
Ben, the little boy in Mum’s the Word, has grown up really smart and earns his living doing something with computers, the internet and security and international banking which is so clever that I could not explain it to you, even if I understood it, which I do not. It is he and his wife Georgina who have promoted me to the title of Grandmother, and young Robyn who makes me thrilled to carry it.
Miranda, the baby of the story, is now has a successful career and full and happy life. She possesses a great enthusiasm and energy for life – running marathons, running her home, running nearly as fast as the two greyhounds she owns with partner Paul, and living out a beautiful story of her own. It is her loving and pragmatic encouragement that has allowed me to collect the material and set out on this project.
Both have graciously allowed me to share their lives again, as I did thirty years ago when the articles were first published. I thought they were too little to ask then, and now, they have been “big” enough to give me their permission.
Their father Simon (now part of another family too), my sisters and friends and neighbours, all those I can remember and trace have been kind enough to indulge me in this déjà vu of family life.
And young Robyn, with her mother’s permission, takes centre stage starring in her own adventure just as her father and aunt did (Miranda at precisely the age she is now.) History repeats itself. Or, as he Dad Ben would have pointed out to me 30 years ago, “Her-story”, Mum!”
If you want to know why it’s called “D’Mum” and “D’Gran” see below.
HOW THE STORY BEGAN…
I was a jobbing journalist, writing on women’s issues in women’s magazines, determined to prove that anything boys could do, we could do better. And then I came to time of life when you feel you’d like to do something the boys can’t do. I wanted to continue the career and I wanted to go play with my baby. The then-editor of Family Circle, for whom I wrote articles and a page as an “Agony Aunt” offered me the perfect compromise – a monthly column called “Mum’s the Word”, which ran in the once best-selling magazine that shared space at the checkout tills of supermarkets with razor blades and mints.
My brief was “Just write about a typical month in your family” – hence the second episode which is called “A typical Month, huh!” The column ran for almost 10 years during which I jotted down and published the little things and great things that make up family life. It seemed to reflect what was happening to other families – a universal patchwork of the fragments of family life that mirrored many lives. That was exactly 30 years ago. It had its community of followers. If you were one of them, I’d love to hear from you.
Just as I was encouraged to start writing “Mum’s the Word”, I have been encouraged to let it see the light of day again. My lovely daughter-in-law Georgina who coined the name “D’Mum” (a blending of “Dee” which many friends call me, and “Mum” as preferable to “Mother-in-law”, has been the most encouraging. Of course, she has a special interest: she has a daughter of her own, my granddaughter Robyn who is precisely the age that my own daughter was when I started the column. The similarities make her smile, she tells me.
So, here is Mum’s the Word – a reprise. A decade of diary that a Mum wrote 30 years ago. She – the one who wrote it – seems to me like another person, my younger self. In this section, I lend her my voice to speak again of those times (in video links). It’s unexpurgated, full of forgotten bits of history, and things that today we would call “politically incorrect”, but I’ve left it as it was written, a testament to its time.
And elsewhere, in my own present voice, as D’Gran, if you like, I can share the view as I see it from a very engaged, participating, active and almost totally besotted grandmother.
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