When navel gazing is a luxury most don't have - Janet Christie's Mum's the Word
After a 13-plus mile walk through the capital on our latest leg of the John Muir Way, Country Girl and I arrive back at the homestead and the door swings open as Youngest Child greets us on the doorstep: “You did it!”
Aw, unusual, but a nice welcome, I think as I walk into the kitchen to put on the kettle. We’re parched, I’m slightly tender in the smallest toe region, but we’re happy with our progress.
“Only around 100 miles to go,” says Country Girl, with Helensburgh in her sights.
Wait. Youngest Child has done all the dishes, tidied up. I survey the mugs and plates sparkling in the sunlight, a vision of a happy home where everything’s under control.
Next thing she’s standing right in front of me, not scrolling her phone or looking like she’s been watching the news. Just standing, smiling at me, making eye contact, looking pleased with herself. Hmmm.
I’d brace myself but I’m feeling all of the 13.7 miles - maybe she’s just missed me?
“Mum.” She pauses and gives me full beam attention.
That’s three red flags in under a minute: the welcome, the dishes, the engagement with the mothership. Something’s afoot.
“Guess what,” she says.
I attempt neutral.
“Yeah you went pale and your eyes went wide,” she tells me later. Note to self - my ‘neutral’ needs more work.
“Oooh, I don’t think I CAN guess. Is it something good?” I say aiming for a glass half full, laws of attraction, manifesting good things, upbeat tone.
Another pause while a posse of negative images canter through my mind in a nanosecond and I shudder to a halt at ‘I don’t know if I’m strong enough for this parenting thing but there’s no way out and meanwhile the world’s in a mess so I’ll just freeze right now’. I wait.
“I’ve had my belly button pierced. Again. Yay!” she says and smiles.
Relief floods through me and I slump into a chair.
“Oh that’s lovely. Well done,” I say.
“Wasn’t sure whether to go gem or stud, but went for gem,” she says.
“Lovely,” I say, throwing in a cursory, “Make sure you don’t let it get infected this time!”
“Course.” She looks at me. “What?”
“Nothing. Just realising how lucky I am. Small problems. How lucky we are. When, you know…”