Tired of turning into a sulky teenager around her mother, Bryony Gordon is considering drastic action
It should have been a momentous occasion, my auntie’s 50th birthday party, but I had to go and ruin it all.
There we were, drinking champagne, when I noticed my mother looking at me through narrowed eyes. ‘Stop slouching,’ she hissed over the tinkle of polite conversation. ‘Stand up straight, for goodness’ sake.’
I scowled and slumped further forward. ‘Shan’t,’ I whispered under my breath. But I could feel my lip beginning to tremble. ‘I’m not a child any more. You can’t tell me what to do.’ I must have yelled the last bit, because suddenly everybody was staring at me. I ran to the loo and burst into tears.
I turn 30 this year. Not that you would know it, judging from my behaviour around my mum. I am aware that sulking is not a good look on anyone over the age of ten, and I wouldn’t dream of screaming at friends or colleagues. Yet, when it comes to my mother, I regress to behaving like a hormonal adolescent: slamming doors, moping and muttering phrases like, ‘I didn’t ask to be born.’
I look at the celebrity mothers and daughters who behave like sisters – Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn, Sharon and Kelly Osbourne – and wonder how they manage it. Surely they, too, find themselves in this situation? By this, I mean the following: I go round for dinner and find she’s cooked fish pie. I say something -annoying, like: ‘You know I don’t like fish pie.’ She snaps: ‘Don’t be so ungrateful!’ And, before you know it, a tiny disagreement has snowballed into
a full-blown catfight and I’m screaming: ‘I hate haddock and I hate you!’
Why? It certainly has nothing to do with hatred. In fact, it’s probably because our love for one another is unconditional and we know that a tiff about haddock isn’t -going to make much difference; if anything, we probably imagine it is proof of it. And I always feel terrible afterwards.
Ten minutes later, I will always send a text: ‘Sorry, Mummy. Love you to infinity and beyond. X.’ But I would like, one day, to be able to hang out with her without wanting to garrotte her (and vice versa, no doubt).
Perhaps it’s down to generational differences. When my mother was my age, she had already given birth to me and was pregnant with my sister. She was married and living in a three-bedroom house. But I have no significant other, show no signs of starting my own family and am so financially unstable that I often have to borrow money from her. Modern society – high house prices, low incomes and, in many cases, no jobs at all – has turned many of us into perpetual teenagers.
As Mothering Sunday approaches, I wonder if the best gift I could give my mum would be to divorce her. That may sound cruel, but perhaps, devoid of mother/daughter ties, all the tension would dissipate, and we, too, could be more like sisters. Then again, she may see her chance to get her own back for all my juvenility, ask for a divorce settlement and take me for the £20 I’m worth. So it may just be better to say: sorry, Mummy. I love you to infinity and beyond, tantrums and all.