Jane Gor­don

Age un­known Mother, grand­mother and 24/7 child­min­der

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - MUM AND ME -

It wasn’t that I for­got Bry­ony’s birth­day – I could never for­get such a mo­men­tous date. Not just be­cause it co­in­cided with one of the great­est Wim­ble­don men’s fi­nals ever (when Björn Borg de­feated John McEn­roe 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-7, 8-6) or even be­cause Bry­ony chose to ar­rive on my own mother’s birth­day (her best present ever). No, I could never for­get Bry­ony’s birth­day be­cause it was the day I first be­came a mother and the best day of my life thus far.

But this year I not only com­mit­ted the car­di­nal sin of ne­glect­ing to send her a card and a glam­orous gift to ar­rive on the day it­self (we had ar­ranged a fam­ily cel­e­bra­tion for the fol­low­ing Satur­day), I also failed to make con­tact with her at all: no birth­day mes­sage on Face­book, no text lit­tered with emo­jis, not even a greet­ing on the ‘Fam­ily’ WhatsApp group Bry­ony set up.

Need­less to say the day did not end with­out any sort of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween us, be­cause from about 2.30pm that af­ter­noon on­wards, I re­ceived a num­ber of in­creas­ingly bit­ing mes­sages from my daugh­ter. Start­ing with a sham­ing text just say­ing ‘Happy Birth­day Bry­ony!?’ and cul­mi­nat­ing, just be­fore mid­night, in a call on my mo­bile on which she sim­ply stated, ‘Thank you for not even both­er­ing to ring me on my birth­day, Mum. Good­night.’

My neg­li­gent be­hav­iour is partly linked to the fact that I don’t want to be­come one of those par­ents who end­lessly bother their adult offspring to the point where they be­gin to dread your calls. But it also has a lot to do with the way in which com­mu­ni­ca­tion has been de­val­ued by so­cial me­dia. I didn’t feel the need to call my daugh­ter be­cause I had watched her on In­sta­gram, seen her Twit­ter feed and knew that she was hav­ing a fran­ti­cally busy birth­day. Not a par­tic­u­larly good ex­cuse, I know, but believe me I have learnt my les­son. Next year, I will en­sure that we have a one-to-one – prefer­ably face-to-face (rather than Facetime) – talk about that spe­cial day in her life when she came into, and trans­formed, mine.

I could never for­get Bry­ony’s birth­day be­cause it was the best day of my life thus far

Jane re­solves to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter and Bry­ony is in a for­giv­ing mood

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