You went home, back to Yorkshire just this morning and already the house is a tip. Yes, I know you’re shaking your head in your hands and laughing that ‘if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry’ titter, where you pretend it’s no big deal. But I know—it’s the 31-year-old daughter equivalent of tipping the Lego bucket on the floor the moment the doorbell rings when you’re expecting visitors.
Sorry about that.
The truth is: I lied. I’ve lied a lot this week. Just as, years ago, when I said ‘I promise’ to put things back where they came from as soon as I finish using them, I lied when I told you when I’d last mopped the kitchen floor. I lied when I said that from now on I’d attack the ironing pile ’little and often.’
But it’s ok, I know you lied too, when you replied ‘I know you will, love’. You see, we have an understanding you and me, you pour your heart and soul into bailing me out of whatever domestic mess I’ve gotten myself into, and I promise to watch how you rescue me, so that I can help myself in the future. I’m fully aware that you are keeping to your end of the bargain… and that I am making sure the domestic mess is a different one every time so that technically – I am too!
Sorry about that too.
You need to know a bit about life in our house when you’re here, to understand why we all cry on the way to work/school on the day that you leave to go back home:
- You listen to everyone; you never forget to ask how someone’s day was.
- You always make people drinks/sandwiches/snacks even though it’s not your job.
- You never shout.
- You welcome everyone.
- You always read another story.
- You never roll your eyes.
- You act as though you’re seeing something cool happen for the very first time, be it ‘watch how fast I can run!’ or ‘Look at my drawing Grandma!’
- You find total amazement in everything the children do.
- But children, don’t be fooled, you have my back 110%
- You never dob me in to Dad (I don’t think).
Living a long ways from you is so hard, especially when life is busy and we could do with settling down with a brew for an hour, to put the world to rights and then continue with our day. A nearly 700 mile round trip makes that pretty tricky. But thank you for never making me feel bad about that – I know the distance is technically my fault, but you never complain.
Thank you for making me laugh until my sides hurt, with stories of calamity, where you’re laughing so much none of us can understand a word. And for the times you don’t mean to be funny at all – texting my sister to tell her she’d left her phone on the sofa, texting my landline, phoning me from your handbag: giving me the confidence to laugh at myself and share the chaos of my life without any shame or inadequacy.
We laugh a lot together, you and me.
The lessons I take from you will stay with me always (some of them haunt me daily, I’ll admit it!) and although I don’t tell you enough—you’re my hero. The little smiley Yorkshire hero with a penchant for ironing socks and the ability to make a meal out of the most meager of ingredients and make it taste Michelin star quality.
Even if you are ‘past caring’ at the time.
But the one thing that worries me is when does this all pass on to me? When do I become the mum who knows how to attack any stain on a garment of clothing? When will I feel the baby’s forehead and know what temperature she is without a thermometer? When will I be able to make everything all better with a hug, a brew and a chocolate digestive?
My hopes for my children are endless, but many of them centre around the same things: safety, happiness, love. All of those things you’ve given to us without condition, without prejudice and without looking for anything in return.
When you come to stay, the house is spotless, the wardrobes are full and the children angelic and content; I might appear just slightly less harassed and a tad less grumpy, but I promise you, inside I am singing. And I feel 17 again – totally under your wing, invincible and carefree.
For that I’m always grateful.
My promise to you is not that I’ll be perfect—we all made our peace with that many moons ago—but that I’ll always try my best: to listen, to love, to laugh, to help, to never be afraid to say ‘I can’t’ but to know that doesn’t necessarily mean ‘I won’t try’.
With a lot of love always,
Your daughter (the naughty, messy, gobby, dramatic one) x