The phone rings this morning. At 7:45am. It is my mother, who has already left some messages about ‘seeing me when I’m in town’. This doesn’t mean she will meet up with me in the city. Nor does it mean we will meet up halfway. It means it that I go to her end of town, for that is my proper, daughterly duty.
Me: Hi mum.
Her: Hi B. Where are you? On your way to work?
Me: No. I’m at Mung’s – he lives near the city, I don’t have to leave until 8:30 to get to work.
Her: [sighing] Oh.
[I hold the pause.] Her: How was band practice?
Me: [In shock. She has never asked me this before. And now I have to lie, because it was cancelled at the last minute, suddenly making mother/daughter quality time an option. She must never know.] It was good. Just quiet – we’re trying to learn new songs.
Her: [As if I hadn’t spoken.] Well do you know if your brother’s arriving?
Me: No. He would had to have left London on Wednesday – he’s not coming.
Her: [Sounding like she’s glad she only had three children – if she’d had more they would probably have also turned out to be evil little treacherous no-shows.] Oh.
Me: Yeah so it sounds like he’s taken that job in India.
[This is where the guilt begins to tighten around my psyche.] Her: So. It doesn’t look like I’m going to see you.
Me: No, well I’ve only got six days in Melbourne. I’m working every day…
Her: Have you seen Dad?
Me: Yeah – we had lunch on Monday. In The City.
Her: Oh. Well. What about tonight? Dinner?
Me: I have to go to a work dinner…
Her: [Sounding like I’m personally pounding the nails that are pinning her to the martyred cross of motherhood] Oh. Right. Well, have a good trip home.
Me: Der. Good on you Mum. I’ll give you a call on the weekend.
Her: Well I go to yoga at 11:30 tomorrow morning, so try to call before that.
[Meaning: I bet you’ll be hungover to hell when you wake up the night after your ‘work dinner’ and have to clog the basin with vomit upon getting out of bed. That wouldn’t have happened if you had caught up with me.] Me: [Trying to sound chirpy and failing – she’s begun to drag me down to where she is, like some giant deep sea squid.] Yeah OK. I’ll call then. Maybe you’ll have recovered from your slump….
Her: [Pathetically.] I just want to see you…
Me: Yeah, well, I said I’d call. I’ll call. I’ll be staying right near you. God!
And that’s how my day began. Even Mung and Rachel’s screaming baby was a blissful addition to my morning after the thumbscrew torture of the I’m-so-diappointed-in-you-but-will-never-actually-say-so thwarted mother. Gah. If my BROTHER had not decided against VISITING, and my SISTER wasn’t ODD all the maternal hope for family INTERACTION wouldn’t be pinned on ME.