I’ve talked about my childhood quite a lot on this blog. I grew up in a council house with working class parents – a dad who worked around the clock, especially at Christmas and a Mum who was always there when I got home from school, always walked me to school and at times left in the evening to go and work a cleaning job. They both worked so hard to make sure we had a roof over our heads, food on the table and clothes on our backs.
I never had designer clothes – I didn’t need designer clothes. I had new trainers and school shoes from the local market and my school blazers were bought sizes too big so that they’d last. We had a car for some of my childhood – and made do without for some of it too. We went on a camping trip once a year when we could and we had the best Christmases – ones that my parents spent the following year paying back.
We always had home-cooked meals, didn’t have much processed food and treats were limited. I remember having a carton of fresh orange juice and a crusty stick of French bread on food shopping day and that was the treat for the week – and it felt like such a treat.
I got new clothes and shoes when I really needed them and new toys and things were limited to birthdays and Christmas – with a very strict £30 birthday budget every year. We went on days out to local parks – or the beach when my parents could afford the high parking charge. But really we spent a lot of time close to home, playing board games, playing in the garden, reading and having the best family dinners. I had a great childhood despite the lack of bells and whistles – and maybe even because of it.
But throughout my childhood there was a underlying dream.
My parents would play the lottery every week and we would watch the lottery live draw at the weekend. Whilst we waited with anticipation of the numbers being called we would talk about the family dreams that we talked about week in week out.
We talked about how we would buy a house in the New Forest – the place we camped in the summer when we could afford to. The big house that would have pillars by the front door. We talked about the new car that we would get, with that lovely new car smell. We talked about the Seychelles, the tropical paradise that my parents dreamed of. And we talked about Disney World, the Florida dream that spanned my childhood.
We were going to Disney World. It was our dream and when, one day, those six numbers matched ours, we would go to Florida. It was something we talked about so much and even as a child I knew that if those balls never came out with our numbers on them there would just be no way that dream could be realised.
My parents split up when I was 16 and I got kicked out of home a few months later. At that point my parents numbers still hadn’t come up and those dreams never materialised. Really those dreams shattered the minute our family fell apart.
But, now, 17 years on, I am realising that dream. But not with my parents. Because now, I am the parent and I get to take my two children to the place that I always dreamed of going. The place we talked about each week and the place where I never imagined I would be in a position to travel to – let alone with my own family around me.
We booked the flights a few months ago but only booked our villa and car hire last week and at that point, when I knew we were really going to live that Florida dream I felt so emotional. I feel so sad that my parents could only dream of this holiday – I know how much it would have meant for them to take me to Disney World all those years ago. But I am so proud that I get to take my own children there, that we get to live these dreams and I hope that this holiday is everything I have spent the last 33 years dreaming of.