… when you’ll be away because you prioritise questionably.
Step one: Use your Dad to soften the blow. Ask him how mad/disappointed she’ll be if you’re out of town. Make sure you name drop a girl they like. As much as he’ll respond with his own unstated disappointment, it will help ease the pain. He will laugh, then be helpful.
Step two: Set a time and date. In the long run, it’s less important that you commit to the time than it is the date. Your Mum will just appreciate the effort and the attention. She tried to keep you alive, despite your most sincere efforts, for your whole life. It’s only fair.
Step three: Sleep in. When your alarm goes off at 6.30 on a Sunday, smash snooze until well past sunrise. You’ll roll out of bed and tell her, by text message, that you’ll be late because you’re so wonderfully domestic. Washing, dishes, vacuuming are perfect excuses here. Everyone appreciates a good clean.
Step four: Buy a good present on the way. Being late is only an issue if they already don’t respect you. Even if this is the case, make sure you arrive with a good gift. This will help assuage the never-mentioned emotional pain of watching your child make grand plans that are easily deflatable.
Step five: Walk the dog. Present your mother with the gift – after the staff in the store have struggled to find it. This is the sign of a thoughtful present. Find a spare change of clothes in the house somewhere – a sibling’s room if you have to – and take the dog out for a run in the midday Sunday sun.
Step six: Watch helplessly as the dog struggles to socialise with another floof that looks just like her.
Step seven: Eat lunch without complaining. This is helpful when both parents are busy and stressed and have to – have to – fulfil generic white tastes. Fish and chips is fine, I guess, by the beach. Less fine at the dinner table, with your brother making a call to reclaim the fish for which he was overcharged.
Step eight: Watch helplessly as you struggle to socialise with your Mum’s longtime friends. This is a trying period and some relationships have already crumbled but she really is doing your best. For a long time, you thought they were standoffish people, almost hostile.
Step nine: Realise they’re not. Accept their relationship to your parents. Be kind and inquisitive but don’t take it personally when they don’t overshare. I want my life in writing. I guess they don’t.
Step ten: Tell her you love her as you leave. It’s true and only your ego has stopped you from doing it until now. If you can’t leave because you’re still at home, move out. This will solve 85% of your relationship issues with your parents. Bills get between people.
Step eleven: Answer her phone call a few hours later after you meet a friend to discuss his engagement parties. You didn’t go the first time but you have to go the second time. You still don’t understand why he’s having two parties, but he’s not paying for them. He was mad. Still is. Doesn’t make you feel bad for it though.
Step twelve: Tell your Mum you love when you hang up. She will be concerned for you, describe some of your choices as ‘dumb shit’ and mean it and you will struggle to disagree.
By now, the sun will have set and her birthday grown a day closer. You hope, next weekend, she will enjoy Veuve with a strawberry but you bought the rosé because it came in a fancier box so that may be too sweet. You hope she thinks of you.