Tales from Bu­dapest a mother-and-daugh­ter bond­ing week­end

A mother and daugh­ter trip for two pro­vided L Louise Chunn and her soon-to-be-wed d daugh­ter with a won­der­ful chance to chat

Woman & Home - - Editor’s Letter -

It was no huge sur­prise to me when my 28-year-old daugh­ter Alice told me that she was en­gaged. She had been with her boyfriend, Ja­son, for three years and had be­gun to talk en­thu­si­as­ti­cally about chil­dren in the fu­ture. As her twice-mar­ried mother, I wres­tled with the pos­si­bil­ity that her de­sire to marry fairly young might be traced back to my sep­a­ra­tion from her father when she was barely a tod­dler. Had I made her yearn for per­ma­nence and to set­tle down? It cer­tainly made me think about the role of “moth­ers of brides”. In pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions and other cul­tures, daugh­ters were tan­ta­mount to prop­erty, passed over to the groom’s fam­ily to sup­port and pro­vide for. My fem­i­nist daugh­ter, whose wed­ding is be­ing mostly funded by her and her fi­ancé, would be of­fended by any such pa­tri­ar­chal non­sense. Yet I find my­self want­ing to be the Wise Old Woman, im­part­ing some­thing of time­less value about the state of mar­riage. Couldn’t we use­fully con­struct a means of pass­ing on what mod­ern women should know as they ap­proach this im­por­tant step in their lives?

Alice jumped at the chance of some mother-daugh­ter time. Be­fore she started see­ing Ja­son, we’d gone on a sa­fari to Kenya and spent our down­time talk­ing about re­la­tion­ships.

You might say that would be a gos­sip-fest, but ac­tu­ally it was a pretty acute anal­y­sis of the im­per­cep­ti­ble fac­tors that draw peo­ple to­gether, and then bust them apart. What I had in mind now was stage two: the chance for Alice to ask me what­ever she wanted about my ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing mar­ried – and for me to come up with some sage ad­vice, rather than es­cape the scru­tiny with dis­tracted dish­washer-pack­ing. >>

as alice and i share a yen for travel, we de­cided to ryanair-it to bu­dapest for our break. When you want to talk se­ri­ously, it’s a much bet­ter idea to be tak­ing a walk, side by side, or shar­ing a cof­fee or meal than eye­balling each other in ha­bit­ual sur­round­ings, such as the fam­ily kitchen. We roared off only days af­ter Christ­mas for two nights at the Corinthia bu­dapest ho­tel. hav­ing just won three awards in­clud­ing the lux­ury his­tor­i­cal ho­tel 2017 in east­ern europe at the World lux­ury ho­tel awards, this re­ally very grand ho­tel matched our high stan­dards and threw in warm ser­vice, great mas­sages in their top-notch spa, a su­perla­tive break­fast buf­fet and a cen­tral lo­ca­tion.

Best of Bu­dapest

ex­cited by the for­eign­ness of hun­gary’s cap­i­tal, we took a while to work up to the mar­riage ques­tions as we pounded the pave­ments, stop­ping for reg­u­lar hot choco­lates. both his­tory grad­u­ates, we chose to hang out in mu­se­ums and churches rather than the shop­ping streets. de­scribed by a friend as one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary mu­se­ums any­where, the house of ter­ror was the old hQ of both the nazis at the end of the sec­ond World War, and the se­cret po­lice dur­ing hun­gary’s Com­mu­nist era. Chill­ing doesn’t be­gin to de­scribe it, though i know from alice that my fas­ci­na­tion with to­tal­i­tar­ian fas­cism isn’t for every­one.

more typ­i­cal tourist fare was our trip to the szechenyi hot baths com­plex, packed with peo­ple of all ages and girths. i loved watch­ing bikini-clad alice de­light in the sen­sual plea­sures of a sunny win­ter af­ter­noon spent soak­ing in ther­mal wa­ter. i had won­dered whether her ap­proach­ing mar­riage might make me feel a lit­tle old and spent, but so far it sim­ply makes me feel proud and happy.

our mar­riage talks sprang up or­gan­i­cally. one of the best was while din­ing in the at­mo­spheric Cen­tral Café, seated slap-bang next to a hun­gar­ian jazz trio. over the schmaltzy vi­olins we talked the im­por­tance of talk­ing, and lis­ten­ing, to your hus­band. don’t say things are fine if they’re not. Find a way, sen­si­tively, to keep the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing, even if some­times you have to bite your tongue.

A strong bond

my ap­proach to life is less planned than alice’s, and that’s not just be­cause i’m 61. i think her way may make the idea of mar­riage eas­ier — but i do feel that if you set goals that are too high you may risk feel­ing de­feated when life veers out of your di­rect con­trol.

some of our best times in bu­dapest were tucked up in bed watch­ing movies. Fun­nily, we picked ap­pro­pri­ately: a thriller called Un­for­get­table in which the psy­chotic ex-wife tries to spoil the wed­ding of her hus­band’s new wife; and a com­edy The Med­dler in which wid­owed su­san saran­don is driv­ing her daugh­ter mad by muscling in on her screen­writer life­style. even these be­came part of the mes­sage: the char­ac­ters who held onto some­thing of their own in­di­vid­u­al­ity were the hero­ines. We haven’t al­ways been this hi close lose

– in her teens alice seemed to float far away from the fam­ily and me – but these days we feel tightly con­nected. per­haps that was the key thing i had to tell her: even when she is mar­ried, she will still be my daugh­ter and i will still very much want to be with her. and we plan to spend a week­end ev­ery year trav­el­ling some­where new to­gether. Just don’t tell our hus­bands.

 Louise Chunn is the founder of ther­apy plat­form well­do­ing.org

“Even when she is mar­ried she will still be my daugh­ter”

“Alice and I share a yen for travel”


Louise and alice ex­plor­ing Bu­dapest; be­low, mother and daugh­ter in Lon­don in 1992

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