Every now and then, I am massively tempted to start a column using the words “It is a truth universally acknowledged…” I always stop myself though, as the first rule of being a female writer in the 21st century is to never reference Jane Austen or Germaine Greer. One throwaway comment could land you with a lifetime of “Oooh, I bet you love Mr. Darcy, don’t you?” or “Ooooh, I bet you love tasting menstrual blood, don’t you?” and neither of those ideas are particularly appealing to me.
I will say one thing though: It is a truth universally acknowledged that having your parents visit as an adult, makes you regress to the mentality of a child.
Despite the fact that I live in the musical theatre capital of the world, strangely, my parents have never visited me in London. My mum and sister have, but that was back in the precarious stages of my living situation, when everyone was regarding my move to England as a strop rather than a long-term decision. My dad has also, but that was to pursue his career as a bit part actor, rather than to make any hasty judgements on what I’m doing with my twenties.
Last weekend, almost a year after I first moved to London from my native Cork, my parents visited me. Yes. Both of them.
I love my parents. Not just theoretically, either. I love them for who they are. They’re attractive and kooky, like a two person Zooey Deschanel. They’ve also never attempted to sway me from my pseudo- bohemian writer aspirations, which I’m eternally grateful for. This I can’t seem to remember in the run-up to their arrival though. All I can seem to remember is that THEY ARE MY PARENTS, AND THEY ARE HERE TO JUDGE ME.
I begin seeing my life through a different lens: judging myself long before anybody else gets the chance to. My hair is too shaggy (they’ll think I’m homeless) my hips are too round (they’ll think I’m pregnant). My clothes are too old, my job is too boring. It’s not enough to judge myself, however. The judgement becomes a mushroom cloud around me. My boyfriend is too English.
“Look, I don’t want you to be nervous.”
“I’m not nervous.”
“Good! I don’t want you to be.”
“That’s great, because I’m not.”