28 May 2013
STAYING MUM UNTIL DAUGHTER FLIES THE NEST
“MUM, can you get my washing out of the machine and hang it up?” my daughter Ashley asked at the weekend. She is 27 years old and still lives at home as a self employed comic and writer. It’s good fun.
My husband and I had made all sorts of plans for our 50s. We love travelling. Toronto, the Netherlands and Los Angeles are just some of the destinations we have visited in the past with my comedy act, but we were going to do so much more.
These plans have been scuppered, as Ashley doesn’t like her dad going with me. He is her full-time father and she is not about to let that go.
Underneath her pretend adult facade is a wee girl who likes having her daddy around.
I inevitably end up going on tour alone, husband stays at home and Ashley commandeers all his attention.
Ashley lives a charmed existence – one that requires no real decision- making, except which shoes to wear or what kind of shellfish to have for tea.
I am not underestimating her abilities or work ethic.
If only I had had an easy life when I was 27 years old.
My mother died when I was 21 and I accepted her death and assumed I didn’t need a mammy anymore. In my head, I was all the woman I was ever going to be. How wrong I was, and still am. I was just a child playing at being an adult.
I was already six years married at 27 years old. I was a mother, managed a bar and a home. I was just a kid, yet I dealt with wee drunk Glaswegians who spent ages trying to figure out if you liked King Billy or the Pope.
Sometimes they challenged you to a boxing match or sex – it depended on the day, really. You learned skills you never knew you had, like speaking Spanish to confuse them or being handy with a bleach spray.
Life in the bar was hard work, especially in Glasgow’s tough East End. I am sure Ashley would have coped admirably, though I am glad she didn’t have to go through such experiences.
We left the bar when she was eight, and by then she had seen enough scary stuff to ensure a few years in therapy when she reaches her thirties.
Her CV is mainly performing in comedy. She had a “one-woman” show at the age of 13 on the Edinburgh Fringe and went on to help run a comedy club in Glasgow at the age of 15.
We both had very different job experiences in our youth. I did work she would hate and she entered a career that I would never have dared to step into or had the confidence to carry off at that age.
But, despite her admirable self-assurance, she is not leaving home.
I encourage her to stay within my wee nest. Having a child at home, despite her full formed adulthood, means I get to be a mother for all time, no date-expiration on my parenting skills.
I am needed, I am wanted and my child is nurtured and loved. Empty-nest syndrome will not be added to the litany of my mid-life crisis problems.
I still check on her as she sleeps, I ensure she has her breakfast and I grump contentedly as I fold up her freshly laundered clothes and lay them on her bed.
I suppose I will have to adjust quickly when she starts bringing guys over to stay. Maybe that will be the time when her bags are packed and she learns how to pay a phone bill.
Then husband and I will finally get jiggy on the sofa at teatime, run naked through the house and play Jackson Browne on full blast without the Iphone plug being ripped out of the wall.
I am looking forward to that golden age, but who will show me how to download music without crashing the PC, cook bread that doesn’t taste like a raffia mat or apply eye-shadow that won’t make me look like a victim of domestic abuse?
I suppose I have to conclude that there are skills I still need to learn – and letting go of my child is only one of them.
Maybe next year? Meanwhile her Star Trek fanaticism drives me nuts.
I AM sick to death of Star Trek episodes. My husband and Ashley, love everything sci-fi and I grit my teeth through every show.
To me, every episode has the same format.
Each week, the crew let some sexually alluring woman on to the ship and the visitor turns everyone into a tree and then they finally expose her as a Cardassian death lord and, by the end of the show, they all agree to never let that happen again. Of course, the next week they invite yet another scantily clad woman aboard!
Ashley screamed: “Mum, there has never been an episode where people get turned into a tree! I checked, so shut up!”
To make matters worse, Ashley wants to buy her dad the entire box set of Star Trek: Voyager.
I am going to go live under the sea.
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