Saturday, April 22, 2006

Slowing Down

I've been struggling a bit this week, and today, with my mother being here. The fact is, I've noticed that while I've been distracted over the past two years, she's slowed down. Or at least the gap between our energy and fitness levels has increased, due to me getting fitter, and her getting less fit.

So this week I've been torn. I like spending time with her, we don't see each other that often and it is nice to spend some time together. But increasingly I'm feeling like I really have to slow down to accommodate her into my life, and that's taking some doing. In Amsterdam we didn't walk that far or that fast, it was nice and flat, but she was still struggling to keep up. Due to her infuriating habit of wearing wholly unsuitable shoes she's now got a blister which she makes such a fuss about you'd think her foot was falling off. So while we'd planned to go shopping in town and to the rugby today, she's now going on about staying in all day. Not that I can check, as she's not got out of bed yet while I've been up for 2 hours, just waiting. Not going out for a run because I don't know what time she's getting up and I therefore don't know how much time I have, so just waiting.

I don't want to resent spending my holidays with her, but to be honest I like doing my city breaks on my own, in my own way rather than being slowed down or distracted by someone else's feet. In Athens she wore stupid shoes and lost the toenail on her big toe. It's usually less drastic, blisters and the like, but every time, without fail. I just wish it wasn't so all or nothing with her. I don't see her for months, then I'm expected to use my holidays to take her away, or to spend two weeks splitting my time almost exclusively between work and trying to keep her occupied in a town where she doesn't know anyone. If there's one thing I miss about them moving abroad it's the fact that we don't have the sort of relationship where we can pop round and see each other for an hour or two at a time, but lead our separate lives.

When I was a pliable little clone of her it wasn't so bad. She's always kept me very close, trying to fit her interests to what I like to do. It got very claustrophobic from time to time, if I decided I liked something, suddenly "we" did too. Like her sudden enthusiasm for vegetarian food and healthy eating. She may well have liked it before, but she's only started harping on about it since it became part of my life. As though she's not allowed to have interests if they're not something that I have too. (On this subject, the most infuriating question of the past two weeks has been, at regular intervals, "is x good". I keep trying to explain that no one food is "good" or "bad", that they have different qualities and it's about how you combine them as much as anything, what you eat them with, and in what quantities, but there's still the constant question "is this good?" together with the assumption that if I eat it, it must be, even if it's actually my naughty treat).

But now I feel like I'm speeding up, and moving away, and it's something I want to encourage. I don't just want to be a mini-clone of her (whether it's me doing the cloning or her). I want to be an independent person, who can go and do things on her own without constantly requiring maternal approval or handholding. But equally, I feel guilty about leaving her behind, about cutting those apron strings and saying that we want different things now. I want to get the balance right, but I'm still struggling with it.


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