Self

How Lockdown Taught Me To See My Mum Beyond Her Role As Parent

Spending so much time together shifted our mother-daughter dynamic for the better.

Courtesy of the author

While being able to remain at home and having a home to remain in during the coronavirus outbreak is a privilege, it's hard to deny that lockdown has been a challenge. It tore us away from the comforts of everyday life — the joy of sharing a pint with friends or celebrating a birthday with family. Yet for many of us, the experience has also given us the chance to pause and reflect, to take stock of what matters most. In What I Learnt In Lockdown, writers share what this period has meant for them and what lessons they'll take away as we all begin to emerge from our COVID-19 cocoons.

I left Warrington when I was 25 to embark on my great London adventure. I’ve always been close with my family and was sad to say goodbye, but I also couldn’t wait to strike out on my own, discover new things, and get a taste for real independence. If you’d have told me that, five months later, I’d be back in my powdery pink childhood bedroom trying to come to terms with a country-wide lockdown, I would have laughed – and then cried – in your face. I felt so lucky to have parents who welcomed me home but, like countless millennials around the world, I couldn’t help but feel that moving home was a huge step backwards.

Living at home felt a bit like leading a double life. While I easily slipped back into old patterns, relying on my parents for food, laundry, and so on, I also had work to do, taxes to pay, and other glaring responsibilities that reminded me I definitely wasn’t a kid anymore. I was happy to hang out with my parents now and then, but mostly I’d spend time in my room on video calls with friends, trying to maintain some semblance of pre-pandemic life. At times I felt like an angsty teen, getting annoyed with my mum when she tried to help or offer advice on things in my life. Didn’t she know I’d grown up, moved out, and was only back on a temporary basis? I wasn’t a child anymore.

Things started to change, though, when I met someone on Tinder. Immediately, I knew I needed a full debrief and an in-depth dissection of the texts with a friend. But, in lieu of meeting up with a pal over coffee or drinks, I started to open up to the closest person (physically) to me: my mum.

In lieu of meeting up with a pal over coffee or drinks, I started to open up to the closest person (physically) to me: my mum.

My parents met when they were 25, hitting things off at a Christmas party. Their love story is heartwarming and one I love asking about, but it’s certainly a far cry from the modern world of dating apps.

When I lived away from home, I didn’t feel the need to divulge the gory details of dating to my mum. A crush might get a mention if things were looking serious, but that was about it. As a sex and relationships writer, I love nothing more than a juicy chat about great (and god awful) dating experiences, but this didn’t extend to my family dining table.

By week four, I’d shown my mum pictures of my new crush and we’d talked about deal breakers. It turns out being attracted to tall, dark, and painfully sarcastic people may run in the family...

However, as the weeks of lockdown spun into months, I started to realise just how fun it was to spend time with my mum. We cooked together, laughed together, spent evenings with wine and chick flicks. Soon she knew everything that was going on in my life – the parental filters totally vanished. I felt like she started to know me as the adult I’d become rather than the child she held the hand of while crossing the street.

By week four, I’d shown my mum pictures of my new crush and we’d talked about deal breakers. It turns out being attracted to tall, dark, and painfully sarcastic people may run in the family... As one of the best listeners in the world (in my biased opinion), my mum talked me through feeling completely burnt out and she confided in me about her own work stresses that was piling on during COVID-19.

While I’ve always known my mum dedicated so much time and energy to bringing up my brother and me, it took lockdown for me to fully understand who she was outside of that role.

Two months after moving home, I sat on my bedroom floor putting on makeup for my first Zoom date while my mum combed through my wardrobe to pick out a nice top. She talked me through my nerves before I logged onto the call and waited for the full debrief afterwards.

After the last 12 months, I know this Mothers Day will feel slightly different. This year, it feels like I'm celebrating not only a mum, but a friend. While I’ve always known my mum dedicated so much time and energy to bringing up my brother and me, it took lockdown for me to fully understand who she was outside of that role – she’s a great friend and ambitious worker, someone who is always willing to go that extra mile for the people she loves. I now recognise that, in the moments where she was trying to help me or offer advice, it wasn’t because she saw me as a child, it was because she saw me as a grown up, walking the path she once did. She just wanted to pass on her wisdom.

Lockdown was tough for so many reasons but it gave my mum and I the time and space to explore a whole new side to our relationship, and I’m so thankful to have a new best friend in my life.