I have the great privilege of loving my mother. Of knowing her, of being somewhat disturbingly similar to her, and of actually liking her.
She had me at 27 which is quite young by modern standards, so she has always had youth on her side. We even started college on the same day, she as a "mature student" and me as an incredibly naive "country girl" moving up to The Big Smoke.
Mid Freshers Week, she called me and asked cheekily, "So, who did you bed last night?" I was 18. That's the kind of relationship we have.
Since my first "boyfriend" when I was 15 (who I only kissed twice because it was so unbearably gross), my mother has always been well acquainted with the events of my love life.
That first conversation between us re: gross kisser boyfriend was a huge turning point. We were on holidays in a dimly lit piano bar and I was wearing nine different shades of blue eye shadow, as was the height of fashion at the time.
I was probably texting incessantly or talking incessantly about the need to text, which must have sparked her interest. Also, I'm pretty sure she had bought me a Bacardi Breezer to loosen me up, so naturally, hammered, I spilled the beans.
I'll never forget how excited she was and how I felt simultaneously mortified and elated by the whole event. It started to feel like I was a grown up.
I had a grown up thing going on and my cool grown up mother was interested. I tossed back the end of that Bacardi Breezer like a pro, and knew that I had made it. I was a woman.
Mother was patient over the following years as I dabbled in different types of young men, bringing them home one by one to see how they fared in my mother's eyes. It seemed there was nothing I could do or anyone I could date who would shake her.
While chaperoning a school disco, she and the other mothers had bets going on which of their daughters would "come up for air" first as we all lined up against the wall kissing our respective boyfs. I believe that at one point, she actually circled the room to make sure that his hands were appropriately positioned on my back, and no lower.
Her sense of humor has never failed to amaze me, and I was never embarrassed by her. Me and Mom were different.
She wasn't boring and strict, and she didn't sit me down to have "talks" that were designed to scare me into celibacy and out of trouble. We were like the goddamn Gilmore Girls.
The biggest fight I remember us having is over a pair of white high heels that I borrowed and stretched out with my enormous hoof feet. In hindsight, they were hideous and she is much better off without them. You're welcome, Mom.
We still borrow each other's clothes now, but with much more attention to the fact that I'm about a foot taller than her and shoes are no longer an option.
There was never anyone that mother hugely disapproved of, bar one. But out of fear of him reading this and knowing exactly who I'm talking about, I'll spare the details for my upcoming anonymous autobiography.
She was generally amused and occasionally bemused, never shying from commenting on their good looks, good manners and good luck -- the sell-by date was usually a year, if not less, so she spared herself from ever becoming attached. They were always "just a phase" which now results in dismissive comments and general disinterest.
"Oh yeah, the one with the hair and the... face. He was... nice..?"
Breakups similarly never seemed to phase her, largely because they never seemed to phase me. Again, bar one (a different one) which required her immediate return from a dinner party because I thought I was going to die I was crying so hard. And that particular one went on and off and on and then off again for approximately a thousand years, so by the time the final curtain went down I think she was pretty bored of the whole saga.
Normally it would just be a slightly teary phone call to inform her that the man-friend would not be joining us for dinner that weekend which would be met with an, "Ah, sweetie. So will you be coming alone then? I'll need to know how much meat to get at the butcher's." Thanks Mom.
She can be harsh, but she always means well. She gives the best advice, and never unprompted -- only when I ask for it.
She has a dark and occasionally inappropriate sense of humor which I love, and am so glad I inherited. In the worst of times, it is so important to be able to see the funny side. And it's 100 percent more fun to laugh than it is to cry.
However, for the past year in New York, I have done the most typical thing of all and become terrible at staying touch. Fortunately, with family, this is something that can be overlooked because they made you and you share blood and they have to love you forever in case they ever need your kidney/a handy slice of lung.
I started to think that my mother's reciprocated lack of contact was perhaps testament to the fact that I am just a rubbish daughter, and the increasing pile of evidence that I was being a rubbish girlfriend wasn't helping this fact.
So, in order to continue on my path of self-destruction, I decided to shut her out of what was going on. No more phone calls divulging the latest boyfriend drama or quippy chats about a silly bickering match we'd had that I'd won. Nada.
I had no idea what I was doing, or how I was getting it all so wrong, and I incredibly stupidly shut out the one person who actually could have helped.
Since I've come back to Ireland for the Christmas break, I have opened that Pandora's box and finally told mother of all the horrible mistakes and questionable life choices I'd made throughout the year, amounting to what I figured made me fit to be burned at the stake.
Over a glass (bottle) of wine (alcohol is a theme here) I gently approached the story from a tentatively teary start to a wobbly weepy finish; how long distance had broken my soul and how I hated myself for how badly I had reacted to the whole stinking lot of it. And all she did was give me a big hug and say, "I am not judging you."
What followed was a lake of wine and much more conversing and advising, all of which was greatly appreciated and incredibly spot on.
I used to always say that because Mom married her first boyfriend she couldn't possibly understand the trials and tribulations of my wreck of a love life, but oh my word, how wrong I was. It turns out living a life is pretty good for giving advice on all matters of such.
What's more, it turns out that watching your baby girl grow up is a spectator's view unlike any other. She will still always know me better than anyone, or any man that I bring home. She will always know what's best for me, and even if I don't agree with her sometimes, at least I'll know that she really does want the best for me and my life.
Throughout the break ups, make ups and everything in between, there has been one constant relationship that has outlasted the rest. Mother knows best.