girl, boy, and the mother: an interesting domestic experiment

So in the extended period of time that I’ve taken from doing such things as working on a novel and actively blogging, I’ve had my own mini-drama occurring offline. My mum, now happily retired, has taken to spending increasing amounts of time in Dublin (place of her birth, youth and home to all the extended family), to frolic in the very occasional sun it affords, and to spend more time with me – her errant daughter who decided to live half way across the world.

All very wonderful. Except that this time around she is staying with me and the boyfriend. Not something any of us thought about when she offered her apartment here for us to rent on the cheap. However, we took it in our stride… after all she was only planning to stay here for a month (one week of which would be spent frolicking in the infinitely sunnier south of France). That was before she decided that the apartment needed major renovations. And that she needed to be here to oversee them. And that overseeing them would entail a 9.5 week stay.

Hmm. As I’m sure anyone can understand, my reaction to that phone call was a perfect re-enactment of the scene from any disaster movie in which the hero or heroine looks up at the giant tsunami/cyclone/iceberg and realises they’re about to die.

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Of course when my response to the announcement wasn’t immediate delight, a la popped champagne and balloons, the Guilt Trip happened. We all know the one. Quiet tone of voice, suggestions that the person in question (me) is somewhat ungrateful and on she goes. Suffice to say we sorted it all out and then she arrived in a whirl wind, gaze assessing every visible surface for signs of crumbs or dust. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my mum and we are very close in a Gilmore-Girls-but-not-that-extreme sort of way, but it’s one thing for me to live with her and another for three of us to be cooped up in a small two bedroom apartment which is 0% sound proof. Oh the potential awkwardness!

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Surprisingly, however, it’s been pretty smooth sailing. They get along brilliantly (which I already knew), but seem to both delight in sharing their stories about my crazy antics, tendency for melodrama, and generally embarrassing moments. Delightful. So glad to be the social glue in this experiment.

As it turns out, we are now being booted out of the apartment for two weeks while all of these renovations are happening. Nothing like an enforced holiday! But it will be nice to have a mid-point getaway amid the madness. And more than that it will be nice to escape from (and hopefully be finished with) the in depth discussions about tiles and floorboards and window blinds. All very serious subjects.

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None of those conversations has eclipsed the moment she asked me, in all seriousness, to choose between the various toilets and taps she had on display. What was most aesthetically pleasing? And did those particular taps match that particular toilet? I’ve never been so excited to escape to a Body Pump class in my life. In fact, I can always tell when her brain is in renovation-mode because upon returning home from work there is absolutely no sign of Paul. Invariably he’s hiding in the bedroom or out for a jog. Anything to escape being interrogated for his opinion on matte-black versus glossy-black finish. One day I fully expect to arrive home to him hiding in the closet.

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There are major benefits to the mum element though. Like the fact that the fridge and pantry are always full to bursting, and that in my case, my mum is a brilliant sounding board for work related stress and/or issues. The fact that she’s a compulsive cleaner would be in this category if not for the fact that she frequently laments my lack of domestic inclination.

We’re now a third of the way through the trip, with an extensive break for the next while, and no one has died or been seriously maimed. So that’s a win. Though I do wonder what’s to come on this unique little adventure.

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