As the mother of a wannabe teenager, I find that I am spending a lot of time talking to a door, like a slightly younger version of Shirley Valentine.
‘Hello, Door,’ I say to the white, panelled door which leads to my daughter’s lair ‘I come here often, don’t I?’
‘I’m getting up, just give me a minute,’ comes a voice from within.
‘You said that an hour ago,’ I start to push the door handle. She lets forth an outraged shriek
Don’t come in! I’m not dressed!’
I give up and say goodbye to Door, and daughter, who will eventually get out of bed I am sure.
I realise that I have bacon, eggs and mushrooms, and that it is Sunday. A memory of Sundays, pre-motherhood, wafts the scent of cooked bacon and eggs down the years, and I decide to make myself a full English breakfast.
As I sizzle bacon and cut mushrooms ready to tip into the pan, I wonder why I am feeling so put out by her lack of presence on a Sunday morning. I clearly remember myself 10 years ago, wearily patrolling around the park after an adventurous toddler, looking forward to the day when she would no longer bounce on my bed at 5am every morning; no longer need me to be three steps behind her at all times, ready to rescue her from danger. I imagined that I would then rediscover my Self, embrace her growing independence, alongside my own.
Yet as I tip the mushrooms into the pan, and start to poach an egg – just for me! – I realise that there is a toddler-shaped hole in my life. Even though I’ve had years to adjust to her not being a baby any more,returning to my pre-motherhood state is probably impossible. Even if she doesn’t need me to be three steps behind her, ready to protect her from danger, a part of me always will be (although it’s more of a metaphorical state; I can multi task, being there in spirit but bodily cooking myself a luxurious breakfast).
As the toast pops, the bacon is cooked to on and I spoon the poached egg onto my plate. I hear the thunder of t feet on the stairs and realise that I have hit upon a foolproof way to smoke a teenager out of bed.
‘Mmmmm, that looks nice,’ says my daughter, dressed in a onesie and looking like a giant toddler, throwing her arms around my neck. I look up at her. Sigh, and slide the cooked breakfast onto her plate.
‘I’ll join you in a minute. I’m just going to make myself some more.’
My husband is outside.