Mum, myself and I
Jane is torn: she wants to support Bryony, but doesn’t want to overstay her welcome. Should she stay or should she go now?
Much as I would like to stay with Bryony permanently – and am almost tempted to put my little cottage on the market – there are a number of reasons why, at some point, I will haveh to go home. The first of these, obviouslyy, is the danger of, well, en-famille- iarity brreeding contempt (particularly with Harry). ThreeT weeks is a long time to be sharing the bathroom, the Q box and the Deliveroo takkeaways with your mother-in-law.
Then, of course, there is the worrying thought that poor Catty – laanguishing home alone, apart from once-a-daay feeds from my ridiculously supportive nieece Harriet – might have turned feral or rung thhe RSPCA to put in an official complaint of negglect (she’s not called Catty for nothing).
While Zorro has becomee part of the family (thanks to Harry’s firrm approach to canine discipline) it isn’tt possible to bring the cat here as a) Ediee is allergic and b) Catty is a country girrl and there are no shrews in south Londonn.
Besides, if I am honest, I am secretly beginning to miss not just Catty,C but also a few of the selfish pleasuress that come with living on your own, such ass lie-ins till 7.30am and having sole charge of thhe remote control (no more dystopian dramass and extraterrestrial thrillers on that dratted Q box).
Plus, on the basis that abbsence really does make the heart grow fondeer, I am starting to have fantasies (now that I canc almost walk unaided) of being able to pushp a trolley round Waitrose again. Beccause although there are dozens of chi-chii shops in Nappy Valley (as this area of townn is known) there are only two supermarketss – Aldi and the Co-op – both of which are justj a little out of my comfort zone.
In fact, the longer I spend in London the more I begin to recognise thet good things about living in Oxfordshiree. One of the very real advantages of couuntry life over city life, for example, isi the lower ratio of scrummy muummies in Lululemon Lycra to dog--walking women-of-a-certain-age, dressedd for comfort rather than effeect in Barbours and Dubarry booots.
If there is a woman over the age of 45 (or over a size 8) in the vicinity I have yet to meet her, and as a result, I am constantly reminded that I am in, er, the autumn of my years in a way that I am not when I’m in Henley. On a good day – on one of our riverside dog talks – Belle and I (oh, how I miss Belle!) often feel we are in the very prime of our lives.
And of course, much as I love being part of Bryony’s family life I know that sometimes she and Harry do need a little space and private time together. While I want to support Bryony now in the way she has supported me since my accident, I worry about crowding her and becoming interfering and irritating (the last thing she needs).
Over supper together one evening, when Harry is out, I mention my concerns and while she sweetly tells me that she would be happy if I were to stay permanently, she concedes that perhaps a live-in mum/ mother-in-law-and-her-dog could become too much of a good thing.
Quite apart from how Harry might feel about my constant presence (since an embarrassing encounter as he was emerging from the shower the other morning, he has taken to wearing a robe that, rather like me, has seen better days), there is also a bit of an issue with Edie. If she wants something she shouldn’t have (or even something she should have, like broccoli) she has learnt that although Mummy will probably say ‘No’ and Daddy will definitely say ‘No’, there is every chance that Annie will say ‘ Yes’.
Bryony and I settle on a compromise in which I will spend two nights a week with her and the rest of the week at home for just as long as is necessary.
This arrangement will, I hope, work for us all and play a part in helping us to get back to happier days for Mum and Me. Bryony is taking a break
One of the advantages of country life is the lower ratio of scrummy mummies in Lululemon