My mother is on the phone. Actually calling, not texting this time, or asking me for the nightly update on Piglet’s sleeping habits. Has someone died, I wonder, as I nervously answer. It must be something serious to merit an actual real-life phone call.
Fortunately not. It’s just Mother, Mother has been on the Internet again. This time, she says, she has found me a car. Found me a car, reserved it and made an appointment for me to see it the next day.
“Mum!” I shriek, “You are trying to run my life!” First she looks after my son every day and takes on the role of second parent, then she chastises me (daily) about my parenting choices, and now she is trying to muscle in on what car I drive. This is ridiculous. The apron strings have not only never been cut, they are now so tight they are practically strangling me.
I cast a critical eye over the car, sitting on the internet in all its glory. I have to admit, it is quite nice.
“But I wanted a red one!” I hear myself whining pathetically, trying to justify my ability to choose my own car like a regular adult. The next thing I know, Mother is texting me to inform that she is coming along for a test drive. If I didn’t know that she hadn’t driven since 1998, I would be fearing that she wants this to be our JOINT CAR.
Oh God, she wants us to have a joint car. I am going to share a car with my mother, and this is hideous. It’s like we are married. I am literally married to my own mother and all is terrible.
When I moved back to Bristol in 2015, I lived with my mother for a year and a half. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the support I needed, and the criticism I hated. It was having my mother-a seasoned pro at child-rearing-step in when I was obviously useless, whether I wanted it or not. But she also let me, the returning boomerang child, stay in her house and looked after my son for three days a week. Without her I would have been living in penury at the cost of London childcare, and unable even to work late without some kind of enormous babysitting drama involving the good will of whichever friends I could cobble together. And for that I can probably excuse the occasional barbed comment about being “too soft” on my wayward child.
I love my mother, I really do, but I do sometimes wonder whether things would be easier if I was married; whether she would keep her distance, and let me do things my own way. Parenting, cars, houses, sofas, all is subject to her advice, approval and relentless Googling on my behalf.
However, although I may moan, I am lucky to have her. Things could be worse. I’ve even considered moving her in when I move to rural Wales and own a house big enough for a granny annexe. It would be easier from a babysitting perspective, and hey, she hates cooking but will clean my sink when I’m out, and I love cooking but hate cleaning and will happily live in squalor to avoid it, so together we make a pretty good team.
So what do you do when your mother rules your life? Embrace it. There’s no point fighting it. She’ll always be there, your best interests at heart, tightening the apron strings around your pitiful single life.
And reader, I bought the car. She may be a busybody, but she knows what I like.