And then the child arrived home and the battle was lost. And the house was lost and I was lost and he was found. Found everywhere. In the spare room where everything he owns is piled almost to the ceiling. And in the living room where bizarrely he steps out of his clothes and leaves them in a puddle. In the hallway where shoes and rucksacks and random books pile up and in the kitchen where he makes midnight snacks and then apparently throws them at the walls.
Was he always this messy and I have just forgotten how to follow him around tidying his life up, or is it that he left Chez Brocante and went a bit wrong in the brain, care of too much fun at university?
What is a woman rushed off her typing fingers to do? Must she simply resign herself to chaos until October or does she need to become a housekeeping harridan and go to war with the kind of pathological demand avoidance it is only truly possible to deal with should she wander around pretending she doesn’t give a hoot if he moves the socks he has draped over a photograph of his late Nana. while annoying him by not carrying her cup into the kitchen the moment she takes her last mouthful, for while he is hunky-dory with clothes and bracelets and books and unidentified wires hither and thither, he apparently draws the line at mugs left lying around and picks them up himself to abandon them somewhere halfway to the sink in the kitchen.
Tis a battle of wills I tell you. And one I am not winning, for this is a boy as reasonable in thought as he ever has been. So that yesterday while I was throwing something of a hissy fit, he placed a cup of tea in my hand and told me that a house that is too tidy is uncomfortable. That he wants to feel like he can breathe without being told to tidy up his face and isn’t that what I have been trying to teach all these years?
And damnit if I wasn’t totally undone by my own wisdom.
So I want you to know that for the foreseeable everything I share here will come from a midden and if I can embrace it, then so my darling must you because he who rules the roost has spoken and honestly, I just haven’t got the energy to argue.
Let’s see, now. what else? I’ve got a new shiny red metal vacuum I am besotted with. For who needs a man when a person can hoover the cat? And speaking of men I’ve got a date this weekend, so once more into the fold with me I go. In other news I’ve been drinking can after 36 calorie can of Rhubarb and Apple water because every sip strikes me as a little explosion of happiness and I caught up with And Just Like That and spent a long night lying awake and wondering what happened to Miranda’s derring do and the inevitability of Charlotte turning into her ex Mother In Law.
Meanwhile outside the lane is getting more like Balamory by the day. The once ramshackle bungalow to my left now porch to roof in lemon, with the house next door an odd riot of hot pink and black and the one after that with a door in a happy shade of pale green complete with sequinned rainbow. So jazzy are matters apparently becoming that I do believe the elders of the village might have to get together and call a meeting to debate the wisdom of allowing people with paintbrushes to run riot willy-nilly.
Here indoors, all is sedate if not blessed by the relentless noise and fragrance of a washing machine earning her keep while the dishes keep piling up because teenagers multiply and seemingly serve everything they eat with fluorescent yellow mustard that seeps into the wizened cracks of my vintage china to give everything a jaundiced cast I deeply disapprove of, as it becomes more and more apparent that within my own four walls I am being relegated to stern housekeeper and will no doubt soon have to move into an attic bedroom I haven’t got, to warm the cockles of my once kind and understanding heart by the light of a one bar fire, while having my remote control privileges revoked and being summoned twice a day to discuss the contents of the meals I am planning, by my Lord and Master.
I do so very much love having him home. Can you tell? (Insert demented, ironic, exhausted, happy emoji!).
Tonight then. A frittata of feta and petis pois for one as the child and his girlfriend are taking themselves into the village for a meal. The shuffling of the conservatory furniture to entertain myself before an inflammation-busting magnesium bath and a pedicure so my feet are fit for a dalliance in sandals tomorrow night.
Then some quiet. Candlelight quiet. For clarity and calm. For setting resentment aside and reframing the chaos as the joy of mothering someone I adore. Someone who is finding the rigour of returning home as challenging as I am, and who surely has his very own lists of outrages inflicted upon his person by me. She who reminds him what to do thirty three times of a day and mithers about things he truly struggles to care about.
It is hard. Mothering (and son-ning) doesn’t get any easier and when there aren’t other family members to dilute or rationalise our reactions, it seems personal instead of just the stuff of life. The reality of living in close quarters, with a chasm of chaos between us, and no-one to point out what matters and what doesn’t the cause of friction we will both be ready to laugh about only when it is time for him to move out again!
I love him so much. But we are both still growing up, and away, and together. And that is I suppose what parenting is.
It’s only taken me the best part of twenty years to understand.