So here’s the thing. I’m 47. I wish someone would tell my mum that!
Having survived 47 years of life, two marriages, three children, and eight houses I am pretty sure I have proved my worth as a functioning adult. I have managed to raise my brood, keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table and read bedtime stories to all of them. My children are alive and thriving, all the houses I have lived in are still standing, and I am still in one piece.
So why, oh why, am I reduced to the gibbering wreck of my former eight year old self whenever my mother comes to visit?
“Be careful with that knife, you’ll cut yourself” she tells me when I’m slicing bread.
“It’s bin day tomorrow, you need to take the bins out” she’ll remind me on a Thursday night.
Well, I still have eight fingers and two thumbs, have never had stitches in my hand, and nobody has ever had a cheese and bloody sandwich from me. And yes…I sometimes forget to take the bins out on a Thursday night but what the hell…the world isn’t going to stop turning and they’re MY bins to forget.
“Isn’t it time you had your hair cut?” she’ll say, looking at me through narrowed eyes. “Younger women can get away with having long hair but you should definitely get it cut short.” The last time she made that comment I buzzed it all off with my son’s electric clippers, just to spite her. Childish? Me? She didn’t like that one bit, apparently I looked like a lesbian.
“I like tattoos on men, it looks nice, but…” I knew what was coming, “…they look awful on women.” I knew I should have worn the long sleeved roll neck jumper, so she couldn’t have looked disparagingly at the ink on my wrist, back of neck, shoulder…
“Why can’t you find a nice boyfriend?” she’ll ask me.
“I would if I could Mum, they don’t grow on trees.”
“Well you’re not going to, are you, looking like that?” (She is referring to the tattoos, nose piercing, and long hair). Way to make me feel good Mum, thanks.
I say again – I am 47. In another two and a half years I will be 50. The big Five-Oh. I am a mother and a grandmother. I have run my own business and I now write for a living. But that’s not work apparently.
“I’m going to sit in the sun, but I don’t want to go on my own, come and sit outside with me. It’s not like you’ve anything better to do.”
Now, I have to explain that sitting outside in the sun is done, as far as my mother is concerned, with the express intention of getting as much of a tan as possible. Her chair moves around in sync with the sun’s journey, so sitting in the sun with her means at various times you might be talking to her back, or her side. She’s like a sunflower, she leans her face to the sun no matter where it is in the sky. I can think of nothing more boring. So I tell her I can’t, that I’m working.
*Snigger* “Working? You don’t work! Don’t make me laugh.”
I kid you not.
Writing is not, according to her, work. It is not a job, it’s not worthwhile, and it doesn’t pay. It’s a ‘silly hobby’. I should probably point out that she has never read a book in her life.
And when, on the odd occasion that I do sit in the sun, I get sneered at for using sun protection.
“You’re just wasting your money. All you need is moisturiser, that’s all. I don’t know why you bother with that stuff, there’s no need for it.” I am fair skinned. She has an olive complexion. I point out the dangers of sunburn and she will shrug and tell me it’s never done her any harm and wouldn’t do me any harm either.
I am constantly amazed that I am not residing in a padded cell somewhere secure.
She has just gone back home after a week long stay. I am writing. And looking at tattoo designs. And I’m just about to go and take the bins back in because yes…I did remember to put them out last night. I will probably have just about repaired my self esteem by the time she comes up next.
I think I need to drink more alcohol.