“Kiss my children for me” – the last line of the letter my mother wrote to my step mum just after they’d swapped places in our family. On first reading it’s heartbreaking as I cannot imagine what that must have felt like for her, let alone what it made her feel to write it to her love rival. But that was Mum – she said the things out loud that most people would keep inside. Because she wasn’t there to kiss my brother and me goodnight, she asked the one person who she knew would do a good job on her behalf.

Probably the shortest blog I’ve written (some would say that’s a good thing), but I wanted to share it as that line has had a profound effect on me and how memories can sometimes trip you up. I’ve written about the effects of seeing your mother skipping down the road, apparently without a care in the world, leaving you motherless, confused and abandoned. It led to all the obvious issues, but now with my 50+ thinking I can see it as an act of love to leave us with a woman who deeply loved my father and had the stability and kindness to provide a loving home. The fact that my step mum recently gave me the little letter that she’d kept safe for over 50 years is evidence of the silent contract that these two women had with each other.

The other great letter sign-off from Mum was “please tell the Salvation Army that their bacon sandwiches are lacking in the bacon department.” Up until that point in the letter there was no mention of the Salvation Army or bacon. And the best opening line ever was. “Sonia Darling, I fear for the lives of the woodlice who creep into my bed every night”. After that it was all about coach rides, weather and not driving in the rain. As I’m searching for the perfect opening line for the new children’s book I’m writing about learning how to drive a bus, I’m wondering what Mum would have written and it’s making me laugh – in between the odd teardrop. What a woman.

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