Earlier this week, I was half-listening to an interview on Radio 4 as I dozed in bed, gearing myself up for a visit to my mum later that day. I can't remember who was being interviewed or why, but I was struck by the fact that the interviewee - a woman - was talking about her relationship with her mother. Though she found her mum trying and annoying at times she said, she had made a decision a few years ago to make a concerted effort to have some fun and enjoyment when she was with her, so that in later years she would have some good memories to look back on.
While appreciating the laudable altruism of this woman, even in my somnolent state I knew that I wouldn't be able to (or perhaps didn't want to) focus on the good times with my mum - though in truth, there are plenty to choose from. For, as my good friend Vicky so perceptively commented later that morning while discussing this very issue; perhaps I thrive on being annoyed with my mum.
Perhaps I do. The four days (three nights!) I spent with her, found me in an almost permanent state of wariness, irritation, resentment and teenage-style surliness as I deliberately evaded her usual attempts to elicit praise, admiration, appreciation and thanks. Just as I was due to pack up and come home after my stay, we had one of our 'chats' during which - instead of pandering to her emotions like I used to do - I criticised the 'poor little me' attitude that she carries with her wherever she goes and for the first time ever tried to make her see how - thanks to her own neediness - I had been saddled with the burden and pressure of being her only emotional prop when I was in my teens.
She was hurt and upset of course, but I didn't feel sorry, I was too angry at her for that. Stuck in traffic on the way home, I started to unpack some of my feelings about her. Like all mother-daughter relationships, ours is a complex one, the details of which I must leave until later; but the main thing I realised on that tiresome journey home, was that my mid-life anger had still not fully abated yet and most of it was now directed at my mum.
Once back home, I felt a little guilty, remembering how old she had looked and the effort she had made to try to treat me and the children. But as always, we made our apologies and we are 'friends' again for the moment.
Any more thoughts on this will have to wait as I will be off camping and therefore sans internet for a whole two weeks as of tomorrow. So for now, thankfully, my sole focus will have to be air-beds, foot pumps, portable kettles, tinned food and most importantly of all, wine boxes.