This week, Jane and Bry­ony both wel­come an im­por­tant man back into their lives

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - MUM AND ME -

Jane Gor­don Age un­known Mother, grand­mother and 24/7 child­min­der

No sooner have I re­cov­ered from a few days in the role of overindul­gent grand­mother (Edie is back home now Mummy has re­hired the per­fect Manny) than I find my­self switch­ing into full-on devoted mother mode when my son de­cides to aban­don his flat­share in Hack­ney for a week and com­mute to work from my cot­tage.

This is a rare visit, prompted, I think, partly by a need to spend some time with the dog, and partly out of pity for poor old lonely ‘Ma’. We are both thrilled to see him – Zorro show­ing Ru­fus the kind of phys­i­cal af­fec­tion I haven’t been al­lowed to give him since he was seven (he’s 24 now), while I con­cen­trate on his phys­i­cal well­be­ing – cook­ing him break­fast, send­ing him off to work with a home-made packed lunch, do­ing his wash­ing and even iron­ing his shirts (some­thing I have never done for an­other man un­less you count Harry).

By day two I re­alise that, ac­tu­ally, there is lit­tle dif­fer­ence be­tween my ap­proach to car­ing for Edie than there is in the way I treat my grown-up son. The only rea­son I don’t warm his PJs on the ra­di­a­tor each night – as I do with my grand­daugh­ter’s – is that (ap­par­ently) he doesn’t wear them.

I know this is wrong be­cause I would never treat his two sis­ters in quite such a Step­ford-Mother fash­ion.

On one of our dog talks, I tell Belle about the way in which I am fawn­ing over my son, and she con­fesses she is ex­actly the same with her male rather than her fe­male chil­dren. Her the­ory is, we do this be­cause we know that women are stronger than men and, as a re­sult, we in­fan­tilise our grown-up sons but treat our grown-up daugh­ters as our equals.

I am not sure she is right, but by the last day of his stay, I am fuss­ing over my son so much, I am be­gin­ning to ir­ri­tate my­self, never mind him. In fact, I think, as I pack him back off to Hack­ney with a bag filled with crisp clean clothes, per­haps my slav­ish be­hav­iour dur­ing his vis­its is ac­tu­ally the rea­son that they are so rare.

Bry­ony Gor­don 36 Mar­ried to very pa­tient hus­band Harry, and mother to Edie, three

The Per­fect Manny, as he shall hence­forth be known, has agreed to be­come our per­fect manny. I feel just like I did back in 2011 when I met Harry and it be­came clear that he ac­tu­ally wanted to be with me over all the other girls. I’ve never told you this story be­fore, be­cause it em­bar­rasses Harry, but when we first started go­ing out, there was… now, how can I put this del­i­cately? An is­sue. Harry was sin­gle but dat­ing, so to speak, and one evening, while we were drink­ing and snog­ging in his gar­den, the phone rang. It was about 11.30pm, and Harry looked rather flus­tered. The phone kept ring­ing. Even­tu­ally, he picked it up. At which point his face turned white. He went in­side and mum­bled into his Black­Berry. Three min­utes later, he re­turned. ‘I’m re­ally sorry,’ he said, ‘ but you’re go­ing to have to leave.’ I tried to process what he had just said. ‘I beg your par­don?’ ‘ You’re go­ing to have to leave. There’s this girl, this woman, re­ally, and we had a thing a month or so ago, be­fore I met you, just a few dates and stuff, but she’s just called up in tears and told me she is on her way round and, and, and…’ ‘ Wow,’ I said, pick­ing up my things and mak­ing for the door. ‘It’s not how it sounds,’ he said. ‘ What­ever it sounds like, I don’t want to hear it.’ I slammed the front door and went to a girl­friend’s flat round the cor­ner. In the morn­ing, I woke to a stream of apolo­getic texts from Harry, and a des­per­ate in­vi­ta­tion to go to din­ner with him that night. I said yes, if only to give him both bar­rels. At din­ner, he asked if I’d give him a sec­ond chance. Him and the other girl weren’t a thing any more, she was drunk, had lost her wal­let… I didn’t care, as long as he’d picked me. A grown-up ap­proach? Maybe not. But some­times, when it comes to men – and man­nies – be­ing a grown-up is the last thing you need to be.

We in­fan­tilise our grown-up sons, but treat our grown-up daugh­ters as our equals Some­times, when it comes to men – and man­nies – be­ing a grown-up is the last thing you need to be

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