When I was 19, and two-thirds of the way through my university degree, I decided to move to London. Just like that. My mum and dad – in all likelihood freaking out at the prospect of their dumb-arse only kid moving 14,000km away from home despite having never even loaded a dishwasher on her own – supported me, on the understanding that I’d come back in six months and finish uni. Yeah, yeah, I said, whatever, and six months later rang my mum to say I was staying in London to become a Buddhist and work full-time in HMV. She read me the fucking riot act, and I came home on the next available flight. Six months after that, with a fucking useful Bachelor of Arts in my back pocket (sarcasm intended) I moved back to London, where I stayed for the next eight years, or thereabouts, until Ben was born.
It was only after Ben was born in the Royal London Hospital, and I took him home to a one-bedroom basement flat below a family of 11 insomniacs, that I realised it was time to come home. I missed Perth, but most of all, I missed my mummy. Once I became a mum, I needed my own mum, mainly because I was still a dumb-arse only kid who couldn’t load a dishwasher on her own. I needed a grown-up on board, and so – 10 years ago – I came home, to my mummy and daddy.
My mum and dad are away at the moment – they’ve gone on some bullshit tour of the boring parts of America (WASHINGTON? I ask you) and won’t be home for another couple of weeks. I’ll be honest, I’m struggling. They left a week ago; after I got back from dropping them at the airport I turned to Paul with a look of panic and said BUT WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS? And he was like, what sort of something? And I’m, like, ANYTHING! What if my nan or grandad get sick? What if an unexplained bill arrives? What if something breaks? What if the lawn suddenly goes brown? What if we get moths? What if the kids need new underwear? What if I need new underwear? WHO WILL BUY OUR SOCKS? And Paul was, like, shit, yeah, you’re right, we’re not grown-up enough to be in charge! Where are the grown-ups? We need someone grown-upper! (Paul is 43. I’m 38. We’re still waiting for adulthood to kick in.)
My mum is my responsible adult. She’s my go-to girl for advice, information and, yes, underwear. If I’ve got a problem, yo, she’ll solve it. She’ll also tell me straight if I look like shit, or if I’ve got fat, or if I need a better bra (or a bra, full stop). She’s on call 24-7, no questions asked. Like that time when my key snapped off in the door lock at 2 in the morning, and she came and rescued me in her dressing gown. Or another time – as a single parent – when a migraine floored me, and she drove over, scooped me up and tucked me into my childhood bed, despite the fact that I was 32 and shouldn’t have drunk so much at lunchtime.
The best was shortly after Alice was born, and Frankie was only 18 months old, and Ben was in year two. I’d be lying in bed at 6.30am, listening to babies cry and wondering how the FUCK I was going to get through the morning after 16 minutes’ sleep, when the garage door would go up and my mum would appear, like my guardian fucking angel in an ill-fitting tracksuit.
I tend to take this shit for granted. I’m not sure I’ve ever really said thank you. But after a week without her – a week when grown-up shit’s gone down (of which more later) – I’ve fucking missed her. I’m in charge of taking my nan to the shops, and she gets shitty if you’re, like, 12 seconds late, and starts ringing your phone, which you can’t answer ‘cos you’re driving really fucking fast to pick up your nan, who doesn’t answer the door cos she’s inside ringing you on the fucking phone. I’m in charge of paying my nan’s leccy bill and having this conversation: “This arrived! It’s a bill! What are we going to do!” “Give it to me, I’ll pay it for you on the internet.” “On the internet! Ee Tommy, she said she’ll pay it on the internet, do you have to use our internet, because we’ve forgotten the password and the Optus bastards won’t let us check wor emails, the bastards.”
The good part, of course, is that my mum and dad will be home in a fortnight. I’ve made hair appointments and waxing appointments and pub appointments in anticipation. I can’t fucking wait. I’m aware that this makes me spectacularly and incredibly lucky. Some mums aren’t around. It breaks my hardened heart to even type that. I don’t know what I’d do without my mum, and if you’re doing this without yours, then I don’t know how you do it. I wish you didn’t have to do it without your mum. You’re welcome to share my mum – she’s amazing, with enough love and strength and cake for the whole fucking lot of you. Happy Mother’s Day my mum. I love you. And thank you.
You can come home now.