This weekend I was a bit depressed. Piglet was ill, we couldn’t go swimming, and although I was briefly delighted about this as it meant I wouldn’t have to get up at 7am and sit on some godforsaken bus for half an hour, my dreams of a cosy lie-in remained just that, as Piglet was up and pointing at the bedroom door by 7am. Our only venture into the outside world ended in a bout of diarrhoea that was only discovered upon removal of his snowsuit, which fortunately had remained on whilst we were out, and I started feeling morose. I had cabin fever. I was a 35 year old woman living at home with my mother, and my mother was bossing me around.
Now there are some things about being twenty years younger that I would not say no to, like having perfect skin (I’ve conveniently forgotten about the spots, and am choosing to remember only the lack of wrinkles), being able to go to school every day and learn stuff and, better still, hang out with all your friends all day, every day, and being able to rock a crop top without sucking in your mum tum and wondering whether the phrase mutton dressed as lamb is going through the heads of all who wander past. However, the following are not among them.
1.) Being constantly reminded to do your homework. Yes, you do read correctly. Only these days, homework is a pile of books to be marked, or some lesson planning you made the mistake of admitting you needed to do this weekend, only to be constantly reminded of it every five minutes. I’m an adult. I’m not trying to get out of it by lying on the sofa with my head buried in Twitter, yelling “I’LL DO IT IN A MINUTE.” No, not at all.
2.) Having no social life. Now I’m sure that if I had my time again I would be the most popular girl in school. Isn’t everyone now, in these days of social media? People just never stop talking, socialising and taking duckface selfies so that some acquaintance will drop a passing “gorgeous, hun” on their profile. However in 1996, my social life mainly consisted of waiting until Christmas, when someone’s parents would be going to some kind of function with a buffet and a “disco,” and would allow some of their daughter’s friends to come along to make it a bit less boring, and sometimes there would be boys there. Or at least vaguely in the area, on the street outside. Now, alas, I have no friends within a hundred mile radius, and the only boy I see is my own son.
3.) Being told what to do. Once upon a time, I was an adult, I had autonomy. I lived in a flat on my own with Piglet, and if I wanted to allow him to throw his dinner around-or at least ignore the fact that he was doing it-I could, without anyone telling me I was being “too soft,” “making a rod for my own back,” or “you never did that.”
4.) Living in the house where I grew up. Well, it could be worse. I could be still in my old bedroom, but apparently having a child does confer certain privileges, and I am now in my brother’s old room, which is at least not the size of a small cupboard. The main drawback of this is not the house itself-at least it’s got double glazing these days, and they’ve even opened a cafe up the road. Modernity is catching up-but the constant fear that you will bump into someone you know from primary school, and they will THINK YOU NEVER LEFT.
5.) Realising that your son might be having the exact same childhood that you did, not that there is anything wrong with that, except that you went to university, you built a career, you bought a flat, and you had your own baby, for you to bring up. Now it feels as though he isn’t even your son, but your brother in all but name, as he is effectively being brought up single-handedly by your mother whilst you are at work, in the same house where you grew up, and that, like a salmon, you have returned home to breed, and life has come full circle.
One day, I used to promise myself as I leaned out of my bedroom window twenty years ago, one day I will leave this place and find my own life. So I did. And then I came back. And now I can’t even get into that bedroom as my brother is in it, having also come back. Thank goodness we have an understanding mother.