“Sure look, I’ll be down all weekend-“
“OK so, pet, looking forward to it…”
“Great stuff, see you later-“
“Bye for a while-“
“Ah, right so, bye for a while…”
“Can’t wait to see you…”
“Yeah, see you soon-“
“Better let you go back to work…”
“Not long left, anyway…”
“No, you’re right there-“
“And you’ll be on the road before you know it…”
“Haha, fingers crossed, sure-“
“Safe travels, tonight…”
“Ah yeah, be grand-“
“And don’t leave it too late…”
“Drive down tomorrow if you’re tired…”
“I’ll be grand, sure-“
“I know, I know, I shouldn’t worry, but…”
“It’s no bother, really-“
“Text me when you’re on the way…”
“I will, I will-“
“Good lad, that’ll do…”
“I better go back in-“
“Oh God, of course…”
“See you later-“
“Alright, sweetheart, can’t wait to see you…”
“Bye for a while-“
“Bye for a while, love you…”
“Love you too-“
“See you later, then”
“Love you, bye-bye…”
“Bye, bye-bye, bye…”
The call ends.
“Bye, bye…” Mammy says, holding the phone in front of her to see the call details have been replaced by the default menu screen once more.
She sighs as she looks around the kitchen, trying to remember what she had been doing before her activities were interrupted, albeit pleasantly. She tries to remember but she’s distracted by the news: her son is coming home tonight. “It’ll be nice,” Mammy thinks, with a smile, “nice to have him around…” Mammy looks around again. The place could do with a tidy. Is the dishwasher empty? Are those pots on the counter clean or dirty? As Mammy paces the house, she spots little things here and there that need doing. The chimneys haven’t been cleaned in months, dusting and hoovering is required all around the house, the front garden is overgrown with weeds and she can’t bend as well as she once could… Taking a notepad and jotting down bullet points, Mammy scribbles down a to-do list and ends up with a list the length of the page. How on earth will those jobs be done before he arrives home?
Mammy feels overwhelmed. Surely, her son knows that it’s a home and not a guest house. She shouldn’t feel this pressure to make the place presentable. More importantly, she can’t remember the last time he visited, let alone spent the weekend at home. She hesitates. That’s life, of course. She was that age once and she knows what it’s like; living away from home, working full-time, experiencing all the highs and lows of independent living. Her son is well-able for it, Mammy is certain of that. But it’s nice when he can take a weekend and come home, all the same. No matter how rarely that happens. Not that Mammy would ever want to put pressure on her son to come home. Not at all. That’s why she’s happy that he’s made the plans for this weekend by himself.
“He’s a good lad… always has been a good lad… of course, I did a great job raising him,” Mammy reminds herself. All the details of his life are little memories for her. From the hours spent in labour to bring him into the world, to weeks without a solid night’s sleep because he’d wake up crying in the small hours, to rushing to the doctor at the smallest signs of ill health, to changing all the messy nappies, walks in the buggy, watching his first steps, getting him brand new toys and books, listening to his first words, sending him off to playschool to make new friends, buying his school supplies months in advance, helping him with his homework every evening, signing him up for clubs and activities that he showed an interest in, holding his hand during visits to the doctor and sometimes the hospital, lunches and dinners made for him, cups and dishes cleaned up after him, lifts to and from wherever he needed to go, sometimes even with a car load of his friends, clothes bought for him, his clothes washed, dried and ironed for him, and God only knows how many other things she did for him and sacrifices she made for him along the way and all these years later, he thinks – HE THINKS – he can spare a weekend of his time to see his own and only mother…
“The little shit!” Mammy thinks, fuming.
To think, she put all that time and effort into a child who grew up to barely lift a phone to call her to say hello. “The ungrateful little shit!” Mammy repeats as she paces the house, genuinely annoyed that she feels some special preparation is needed for her adult son now that he’s decided to visit, to grace his own mother with his very presence! Well, she certainly won’t be doing any of it… Mammy grins as she has an epiphany. “Just like that!” she says as she struts back to the kitchen and pops the kettle on. None of it will be done today. Oh no. She has help on the way. After all, there’s a debt of work and effort that could be called in. Sure, she’d be a fool to leave a virtually bottomless resource like that unused.
“Not my to-do list,” Mammy grins, sipping her tea, “it’s his to-do list…”