My mother moved in for a week and now I don’t want her to leave
Are We There Yet? Old-fashioned telly, feminist chats and bottomless pots of soup – I could get used to this.
Ann Ingle and Róisín Ingle: “There’s a definite Atwood-ish vibe off her these days, a Marian Keyesian glow.” Photograph: Dave Meehan
My mother Ann has moved into our house for a week. It’s the best thing that’s happened since we got underfloor heating: babysitting on tap, quality grandmother bonding, incomparable soups on the stove and feck-the-patriarchy chats all day long.
And I haven’t even told you about the old-school telly-watching. My mother is one of those people who still watches television the old-fashioned way, circling “programmes” she wants to watch in TV guides. Sitting down to watch them “in real time”. Not fast-forwarding the ads. It’s like Netflix never happened.
There’s a lot going on with my mother at the moment. She has ghostwritten a book which has just been accepted by a prestigious publisher. And with that deal clinched she is putting the finishing touches to her memoir. She’s sitting opposite me as I write this, looking all Enright-ish – a Booker prize-winning mix of serious, mischievous, knowing and mysterious. It has to be said there’s a definite Atwood-ish vibe off her these days, a Marian Keyesian glow as she breaks for lunch.
Behind her are the balloons and the banner we painted for her celebratory book-deal dinner: “Congrats Nanny!”
To recap: My mother has moved in. (Sing Hosannas!) In addition to being my mother she now appears to also be a Proper Writer. (Hmmm.)
I scan my inner emotional landscape to see what is stirring. I worry that it’s something that begins with green and ends in monster. I’ve written three books, so I shouldn’t feel threatened or one bit envious. But two of those books don’t count because they were just collections of columns I’d already written.
The other one, The Daughterhood, which I wrote with Natasha Fennell, is a handbook for anyone interested in how to maintain or enhance the notoriously fraught daughter-mother relationship. Again: hmmmm.
My mother will be 80 next year. There is no stopping her now. “I keep thinking why I didn’t start doing this years ago,” she says brightly, as she checks this week’s homework for her creative writing group. She has wanted to be a writer since she was a little girl growing up in London during the Blitz. Now she’s living her dream.
We work, laptop facing laptop, small sighs intermittently escaping as we reach for the right words. Am I really jealous of my mother? I think about it seriously for a moment. Well, maybe a bit. But mostly (the relief is enormous) I’m proud.
“It’s not off the ground some of us licked it,” I tell her.
We have her chicken, barley and dumpling stew for dinner. We watch University Challenge, Only Connect and an old episode of The Royle Family – and that’s more conventional telly in a row than I’ve watched in years. I lean my head on her shoulder like I used to do as a kid when we watched Barry Manilow specials on the sofa together back in the day.
I know this much anyway: I don’t want her to leave.
Things to do with children (and your mother) this weekend
Family Musical Workshop Day
The National Concert Hall in Dublin is a hive of family activity this weekend with all sorts of musical shenanigans going on for all ages. The workshops aimed and the very young are booked out but there are still spaces available on the bodhrán and tin whistle workshops – ages 6 and over. No previous experience is necessary, just lots of enthusiasm for the jigs and reels of Irish traditional music.
Where: National Concert Hall, Dublin
When: Saturday February 10th (tin whistle 10.30am and 11.45am, bodhrán 10:45am and noon)
Contact: 01-4170077; nch.ie
Little Folk on Tour
This is a fun-filled exploration of music and movement perfectly suited for your energetic under-sixes. Join Kyle Riley as he leads children and the more energetic adults through a variety of music and dance.
Where: Presentation Arts Centre, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford
When: Saturday February 10th, 2pm
Brown Bag Films Storyboard Workshop
Brown Bag Films director Damien O’Connor, one of the creative minds behind those brilliant animated stories Angela’s Christmas, Anya and After You, will show how a TV series goes from script to screen through storyboards. Suitable for ages 9-11 years.
Where: University Concert Hall, Limerick
When: Saturday February 10th, 10am
Contact: 061-331549; uch.ie