Dressed in her favourite pink pyjamas, the little girl peered through the car window, waving as her mummy tottered off on her high heels into a nightclub with her friends.
To passers-by, the laughing young woman looked completely carefree. Except she wasn’t. The vulnerable child in the car was proof of that.
Today, more than two decades on, that little girl still bears the emotional scars of her upbringing – all caused, she says, by the fact her mother became pregnant with her when she was just 16. Danielle Stockwood, 26, a retail assistant who lives near Worthing, West Sussex, remembers her youthful confusion.
‘One of my earliest memories is being in my grandmother’s car, driving Mum to yet another night out,’ she says.
‘Even at that young age, I knew it wasn’t normal. Other mums didn’t go out drinking until the early hours – or sometimes forget to come home at all. But my mother did.’
But it’s not just Danielle who looks back on those days with horror. As they confess here, her mother, Denise, now a 43-year-old school supervisor, and grandmother, Margaret, 62, believe the teenage pregnancy – which blew apart Denise’s life as a privately educated, middle-class girl – is still wreaking havoc on their family. Yes, they see each other regularly and, of course, love each other. But the ripples from Denise’s youthful mistake have had a detrimental affect on all three women. Tensions simmer between them to this day.
‘It’s only now I can see what a selfish mother I was,’ says Denise. ‘I never put Danielle first.’