I had one of THOSE conversations with my mother a couple of Sundays ago.
It started badly “How are you?” I asked. “I’m fed up!” she said. Nee naw nee naw nee naw – flashing lights, beware beware, danger danger!
It would have been better if I had hung up on her right there and then, because there is only one way a conversation with my mother can go from there… downhill. With me squashed underneath the steamroller. Because that is how it works.
She was bored. It was raining. She couldn’t get to church because the person who gives her a lift was away on holiday. She was knitting acrylic jumpers in lurid colours for unfortunate children overseas. She was listening to audio books. What could she do now? The usual – attack her daughter.
I will spare you the details. But we got onto what I was doing that day – sewing a dress. “Oh Ruth!” She gave a huge disappointed sigh. “But what do you do with all these things you make?” Wear them. “But where do you keep them all?” In the wardrobe. They are all that I have, remember? “But you must make, what, 50 items a year?” More like 25. “Twenty five?! Nobody needs that many new things a year!” I am quite sure that people who shop buy more than that number of items a year. “Of course not! Things must have changed! People don’t need that many things! What do you do with them all? Throw them away?”
An aside: my mother has two double wardrobes and a chest of drawers in her own room plus a double wardrobe in the guest room – all are full of shop-bought clothes. I have one wardrobe. Full stop. It is not full.
I can’t quite recall how I ended this conversation. Badly, probably. FL was looking at me out of one eye, pretending to be asleep. So I woke him up and ranted. He wisely refrained from offering any pearls of wisdom on the subject, because he is a man who owns perhaps 4 pairs of trousers, 5 shirts and 2 thermal vests. His sock collection is somewhat larger, but we all know why that is…
The roots of my rant were along the lines of “Well! How else am I going to spend my time, if it is not doing something I enjoy? And my 25 items a year probably cost a lot less than what she spends on polyester slacks and Hotter shoes! And and and…”
In my heart I know she was just pissed off that it was raining, and I know I am an eternal disappointment to her, no matter what I do. But still it shakes me every time she questions my identity.
25 items a year. Is that excessive?