Age unknown Mother, grandmother and 24/7 childminder
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