I have just finished reading a very thought provoking and interesting and funny book and suggest, Dear Reader, that you have a go of it – particularly if you are female. It’s by Caitlin Moran and is called ‘How to be a Woman’ (I could go to all the trouble of putting a link thingy here but I’m assuming you’re quite capable of summoning Amazon up).
By her own admission it’s a bit of a rant and an autobiography – but not necessarily in the order. Parts of it are so accurately observed that it made me by turns feel terribly sad, nostalgic and obliged to snort very loudly with laughter on the Isle of Wight ferry at some of the funny bits which caused no small amount of consternation amongst my fellow passengers and particularly TG who fixed me with one of his exasperated looks. I have passed it on to my good friend Mrs G because she was the first person who came to mind during the snorty bits and who will, I think, appreciate the rants. It was also a thought provoking book which made me think about some of the things that have gone on in my own life and one thing in particular that happened a couple of weeks ago and about which I haven’t yet written because I was furious and hurt all at the same time and I didn’t want a ‘write in haste, repent at leisure scenario’.
The Mater with whom I have a sometimes exacting relationship has more or less retired and at times gets lonely – as you would imagine she would. She has bought herself a dog (against all family advice as her boredom threshold is legenday in it’s shortness) and this is proving a temporary salve. Now, don’t get me wrong, she is out and about every day of the week to a friend, or a class, the theatre, an exhibition – whatever. The problem lies in the fact that we all live in Blighty whilst she is still in the family seat in Ireland. So I had an idea. A good one I thought. Why not fly her over (at my expense) to have a couple of days here, ask one brother to pick her up from here and take her to stay with him for a few days in London and then drop her to the coach to join my other brother in Suffolk where he will be on holiday. Oh yes and why not do it on the weekend of her birthday in August to make it a bit special. So, I spoke with the one brother and he thought that it was a splendid idea – and we agreed that he would put it to her – stressing of course that we would pay for the entire trip. Excellent we thought – she will have the opportunity to see everyone and at no cost to her apart from getting herself to Dublin airport.
But of course Dear Reader, how wrong we were. Brother telephoned to say that she thought that it wasn’t a good idea at all and that she would just be going to him in Suffolk for the last leg and to celebrate her birthday as the travelling didn’t suit her. Fair enough thought I. A shame but her choice.
Now, I don’t know about you Dear Reader, but I try to call all my family over the weekend. Pretty much every weekend. So, I duly phoned the Mater and after her usual diatribe of what she had been doing she mentioned that she would be joining my brother for her birthday. Now, here’s the bit that you will sigh at and say ‘ why did you say anything?’. I said ‘it’s a real shame that you aren’t coming to see all of us it would have been nice’. Light the touch paper and stand back…. I won’t give you verbatim what she said but the words ‘ridiculous idea’ and ‘what were you thinking’ and ‘it’s a shame you don’t make more effort to come here’ and ‘sick of all your excuses’ and ‘your brother is so marvellous to me’ culminating in her shouting (yes shouting) ‘I AM YOUR MOTHER, YES YOUR MOTHER, AND YOU MAKE NO EFFORT’.
To say that I was a bit stunned at this reaction is a bit of an understatement. I had tried to arrange what I saw as a treat with as little effort for her as possible and yet I was wrong. But then I always am. No matter what effort I put in I always seem to come up short. Having got all of this off her chest she changed the subject and it was as though I had imagined the whole rant. If I’m being honest I don’t go home a lot and this is for a number of reasons the first of which is that she comes to London for the whole of the Winter and therefore we see her a lot. Secondly, to date I have had one weeks holiday this year which I spent with TG who had been away for 7 months. Up until June I was a taxi service for my college going child – there was no other way for him to get there and I have a job which doesn’t pay brilliantly and leaves me brain dead at the end of the week. Yes, they are all excuses but my thinking was that as opposed to all of us going over there at vast expense with small people and trying to book time off, that her coming here was the ideal solution. A chance to see all her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren…
The past Sunday was the first Sunday that I haven’t phoned her (she never phones me) and I am feeling a mixture of guilt, self righteous hurt and if I’m being honest anger. TG who heard my trying to get a word in edgeways bit of the conversation was as astonished by the rant as I was. He tells me that I need to harden up a bit and not let it get to me so much but it’s hard. Very hard. I am not by nature confrontational and being unfriendly doesn’t come naturally. I hope that I never make either of my children feel like this – small and judged and I hope that I never guilt them into seeing me if they don’t want to. I’m not old yet – so maybe I will who knows, but I shall try very hard not to.
So there’s my rant. Inspired by Ms Moran. It’s good to talk.