MUM & ME
The Gordon family pulls together to help Jane
Bryony Gordon 38 Married to a very patient husband Harry, and mother to Edie, five
Iam a bit worried about Mum. In fact, I have realised that I am permanently a bit worried about Mum. She’s there at the back of my mind all the time, whether I am in a meeting or dealing with a tantrum (thrown by either myself or Edie), or at work. This, I suspect, is some sort of karmic payback for my behaviour between the ages of 15 and 37. It might also be a way of preparing me for what is to come with Edie in 10 years’ time. I have always said that if my daughter is even a tenth as badly behaved as me, then she will be on a leash until she is 45.
It’s not, of course, that Mum is out causing merry mischief in the country. Quite the opposite – and that’s the problem. I would like to think about her on the razz in Henley or Marlow with Belle as her wing-woman, perhaps fluttering her eyelashes at some older gentleman across a bar, but the truth is she seems to spend all her evenings with Zorro. When I call she seems hushed and distant. As ever, it’s not what she says – it’s what she doesn’t say. ‘Oh I’m fine, fine!’ is the response to enquiries about her well-being. I wish she’d just come out with it and tell me that she feels rubbish. Life is much easier when you are honest.
I’m so bored of dancing the dance of fineness with her though that eventually I demand she comes and stays with us. ‘Like a sort of family staycation,’ I explain. I’m not sure how relaxing it will be, given that it will mostly involve being jumped on by Edie, and also because
I am a little concerned about introducing Zorro to Katie and Charlotte, the guinea pigs. But, in the words of my mum’s generation,
‘It will be fine.’ It always is, even when it isn’t. And this is what we do. This is family.
Jane Gordon Age unknown Mother, grandmother and 24/7 childminder
There is something comforting about finding myself, albeit temporarily, living as part of a unit again. Life is so much louder in a family home than it is in my cottage. Why, it is so noisy at Bryony’s house that it isn’t possible to hear the dark thoughts in my head, let alone the hum of domestic machinery (which last week had threatened to send me mad).
From dawn till dusk the whole place echoes with the sound of Edie doing what children do (laughing/crying/shouting/ singing) interspersed with Bryony’s responses as she does what mothers do (laughing/crying/shouting/singing). Then of course there are the strange, almost extraterrestrial, squeaks that emanate from the grand-guinea pigs that are, since Zorro and I arrived, confined to their kitchen base for their own safety. The only person in the house who doesn’t raise their voice from time to time is, of course, Harry. True he does converse rather more with the lads (Charlotte and Katie) than he does with his women, but I think that’s probably a reaction to the fact that his wife and his daughter – and right now his mother-in-law too – make so much noise it’s difficult for him to be heard above them.
But the ear-shattering climax to my current stay in London came last Sunday when the extended Gordon clan – Naomi plus fiancé Jerry (still no date, double sigh), Rufus and female ‘friend’, and ex-husband Jack – got together for lunch. There were moments during that meal (Bryony cooked a traditional roast) when the decibel rating was off the scale and, really, it confirmed to me that nothing in life quite matches up to time spent as a family. When a tearful Edie reluctantly went to bed that night, kissing us all in turn, she said what I was thinking. ‘Please can we do this every week?’ The longer I spend in this deafening family the less keen I am on going home. The question is, though, how can I rearrange my life so that weekends like this become the norm and not a novelty?
‘Oh I’m fine!’ is always her response – I wish she’d come out with
It is so noisy at Bryony’s house it isn’t possible to hear the dark thoughts in my head