2 People, a Puppy and a Parcel of Land


Posted by in September's Magazine

Four weeks ago Marianne Wheelaghan’s 25-year-old daughter moved back home, bringing the son- in-law-to-be and the wolf puppy with her.

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So, How is it going?

Well, you’d think twice as many people would mean twice as much help around the house, wouldn’t you? And you’d be right. The new members to the household are really supportive. They help with the shopping and cooking, make great meals, clean up after themselves, and even manage a bit of gardening (not the puppy, obviously, who turns out not to be the devil incarnate but very cute and well behaved). And while the daughter may leave the odd wet towel over the back of an armchair and the son-in-law-to-be still leaves the toilet seat up despite repeated requests not to do so, they’re really easy to live with. On the other hand, it seems, I am not.

After two weeks my daughter spat out the proverbial dummy. I don’t know exactly what caused the outburst, although thinking about it I could have mentioned something about the puppy needing a walk. It was home truths time. She said living with me was as bad as she remembered (bad?). She’d had enough of me telling her what to do. Walking on eggshells was also mentioned, at least once, and finally there was something about me being controlling and bossy. Controlling? Bossy? She didn’t know the meaning of the words!

Even a puppy
When I was growing up my mum had only one rule: you did what you were told. Mum was a refugee from Germany. She came to Scotland at the end of WW2 after being forcibly expelled from her home in Silesia. She left her friends and family behind and arrived with nothing but grim determination and a small blue suitcase. Dad was a welder. She was a trainee nurse. They met at Leith Hospital when she was lancing a boil on his bum, so the story goes.

They fell in love. Got married. Had us kids. Seven girls, two boys. (Someone asked me once if we’d been poor, and, yes, I think we had.) Dad worked seven days a week while Mum cooked and knitted and stitched and cleaned and mended. For us kids there was no doing what you wanted. No spitting dummies. No moving back home with or without partners, or puppies, and no fanciful ideas of building your own house (or doing something like writing. Mum said there was no money to be made from something like that!).

There was a lot of walking on eggshells. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mum dearly but like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland it was her way or the highway. As soon as I could I took the highway. I promised myself if I had children, they would be allowed to do what they wanted. Then I became a mum. Overnight I was responsible (with their father) for one, then two, vulnerable little human beings.

I turned into my mother. Okay, I never chased my children around the table with the sole aim of giving them a skelp. And I didn’t turf them outside to play every day under orders not to return until teatime come rain or shine. Or make them wear hand-me-down clothes that never fitted and caused undying embarrassment and shame. But I did stop my kids doing stupid stuff. Let’s face it, if your child wants to run in front of a car, you don’t say, sure, go ahead. Bossy? Queen of Hearts? Me? Absolutely. But, as my daughter pointed out, she was no longer a child and I had to acknowledge I might have reverted to type since she’d moved in. (Hey, after twenty plus years of being a ‘responsible mum’, its hard to just stop.) The time had come to hang up my apron and put away the bossy boots.

Two more weeks have passed since then. So far so good. And I told you, didn’t I, that the happy couple were purchasing a parcel of land? Well, the sale finally came through. Yay! The daughter and son-in-law-to-be have now started building their own house. Exciting times. It’s hectic, though. Who would have thought two people, a puppy and a parcel of land could make such a difference?

It’s as if before they arrived our life was in sepia and now it’s in glorious Technicolor. Intense but in a good way. And, although it’s taking a wee while to get used to, it’s great not being responsible for anyone else, not even a puppy. You don’t have to worry about whether you’ve made a right or wrong decision on their behalf. Such freedom from guilt is bliss! Be warned though, just because I’ve hung up my apron doesn’t mean I’ve severed the strings. Some ties are binding. Regardless of how old my children are if anyone messes with them or tries to hurt them in any way, make no mistake; it will be off with their heads!

Twitter: @MWheelaghan

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