Jane is re­gret­ful, while Bry­ony is full of surprises

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - CONTENTS -

It is weeks since Bry­ony last asked me if I could have Edie to stay and it’s be­gin­ning to worry me be­cause she starts big school next month ( good heav­ens how time flies!). I know this mile­stone in Edie’s life is weigh­ing heav­ily on Bry­ony, as she tries to bal­ance pre­cious time with her daugh­ter with meet­ing the daunt­ing dead­line for her new book. But, en­tirely self­ishly, it is also dis­turb­ing me be­cause the days when my grand­daugh­ter could spend whole weeks stay­ing with me are over and – more than ever – I am re­gret­ting my move from Lon­don.

Edie’s bedroom in my cot­tage – too far away for a school-night sleep­over – is empty; the toy box is shut, the blinds are pulled down and the only oc­cu­pants of the bed (apart from the oc­ca­sional visit from Catty) are a pile of dolls.

Edie was just a baby when I moved from my home in Bat­tersea – nip­ping-in dis­tance from Bry­ony – to my seem­ingly idyl­lic lit­tle house in Ox­ford­shire, and one of the main mo­ti­va­tions be­hind my re­lo­ca­tion was the idea of giv­ing my grand­daugh­ter some­where she could run free in the coun­try­side close to her cousins. I fan­ci­fully imag­ined all three of my grown-up chil­dren, with part­ners and friends, de­scend­ing on me most week­ends to en­joy Sun­day lunches, long coun­try walks and qual­ity fam­ily time.

In re­al­ity, of course, mov­ing away was never go­ing to bring my chil­dren closer to me. I now think that I would be a much more sup­port­ive mother – and grand­mother – if I was still liv­ing down the road (or a bus ride away) from Bry­ony, Naomi and Ru­fus.

And this gen­eral feel­ing of hav­ing let my chil­dren down is ex­ac­er­bated by the thought of Bry­ony tak­ing Edie for her first day at big school. Be­cause I re­alise that back in 1984 – when Bry­ony took her first steps into full-time ed­u­ca­tion – my own mother (who lived 10 min­utes away from me) was a daily source of sup­port when I most needed it. Re­grets? I have more than a few…

I now think that I would be a more sup­port­ive mother if I was still liv­ing down the road

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