This week I sat in a podcast studio and cried about my son. “I just miss him so much,” I said haltingly, voice breaking, cheeks wet, in that way you do when you’re trying to speak while not sobbing. Oddly enough, my son was sitting opposite me at the time. He’s 20 and he was interviewing me (weird I know) for a special episode of my No Filter podcast and we were talking about parenting.
He wrote a chapter about what it was like to grow up with me as a mother for my book, Work Strife Balance because I thought it would be more interesting to hear about my weaknesses and strengths as a mother from him rather than me giving my version of events.
It made bracing reading for me. Like having a performance review from your child who is now an adult. In public. I was both elated and mortified by what he wrote but it was his lived experience and as painful as some of it was to read, I’ve never shied away from honesty in our relationship so why not.
Listen: In the interest of honesty, Luca confronted me about some of my downfalls as a parent. Post continues after audio.
On my book tour, many interviewers marvelled at how brave I’d been to hand over a chapter to him but they had clearly not yet written a book because if they had they would have high-fived me on my ability to delegate. As any author will tell you, one chapter you out-source is one less chapter you must write. Happy day. If he’d revealed me to be a secret crack-smoking Donald Trump supporter it still would have been one less chapter for me to write and thus, totally worth it.
When people told me it was their favourite chapter in the book, I reflexively beamed and said thank you until I realised that their favourite chapter in the book was the one written by someone else but I created that someone, literally grew him inside my body and so I am entitled to claim full credit for anything he does and everything he is and so I do.
People have always been interested in our relationship, my firstborn and me. We’re close. Not creepy close, we don’t have matching tattoos or anything, but he is among my closest friends and has been since he was very young. We’ve always had a real Edwina and Saffy relationship (Absolutely Fabulous – google it) where our roles are reversed. He’s a Virgo, quite introverted and insufferably responsible, punctual and organised. My relationship to organisation, punctuality and general responsibility could best be described by the term “garbage fire”. I own that. And I’m sure he’s the way he is out of necessity. I have some guilt about that but not a lot.