Keeping Mum: A Mother's Day specialPosted on: 09 March 2010 by Mark O'haire
Kate Lawson, author of Keeping Mum, describes her comical relationship with her lastborn in the lead up to Mother’s Day.
Several years ago when I first started dating again after nearly 25 years of marriage, my teenage son was watching Kevin & Perry living it large in Ibiza. For those of you who know the film there is a toe-curling scene in which one of the characters sees the other's parents having noisy raucous sex.
My son didn't want me to watch 'that bit' and I, in passing, said I remembered how embarrassed I was when I first realised my parents were having sex. He paused for an instant and then said, 'It's worse when you realise that one of your parents is having sex.'
And on reflection he's probably right. With divorce rates in the over 50's on the increase more and more of us are heading back into the dating game than ever before. And the last thing you want in your teens is to think your parents might be experiencing any of the things you are. Or be having any of the things that you desperately want.
Your grown up children definitely don't want to know that you're a grown up having grown up relationships
My dating, albeit discreetly, brought home to my son that I might have another role other than cooking his meals and cleaning his room. Until then I was purely a mum, someone that performed the services necessary for his survival. His older brother – long moved out once rang up and said. 'Where have you been? I've rung you four times and you've not been in –' as if I have nothing to do other than wait in for his phone calls.
So how do you tell your grown-up children you're dating again? Well first of all less is more.
First dates are just as nerve-wracking, butterflies and anxieties still all there. But when you're first dipping your toe in the waters keep the details to yourself. Your children don't want to hear a blow-by-blow account of every date, every disaster, every almost but not quite Mr/Mrs Right. That's what friends are for. But it is important to let them know that you are expanding your social life, so that they understand you're not always at their beck and call.
One acquaintance in her late fifties, with a grown up daughter, found it difficult to make her daughter understand that whilst she was happy to baby-sit her grandson once in a while she had no desire to take on childminding full time. Her daughter's assumption was that she had no life and having a toddler would fill her lonely hours and keep her young! The lady in question didn't like to point out that the man from three doors up was doing very nicely on that score.
And when your adult child says how well you look for your age, it's probably a good idea not to say that it’s down to the best sex you've had in years.
While it's fine to mention you had a lovely time at lunch with your new date, 58 mentions in 15 minutes not only gives the game away but your children will also switch off.
What you must do when you’re out for an evening is to reassure your children that you’re safe. Explain that yes you understand that online dating can be dangerous and of course you’ve told someone where you are and who you’re with, just not necessarily them.
Oh and if they’re giving you a funny look you can remind them that you do know the facts of life. We 50's come from an era when sex was fun and for the most part disease free – and now because there is little or no risk of pregnancy we don’t naturally think about using a condom and as a result there is the highest increase in STD's in this age group than any other. So make sure when you are having fun that you do take precautions.
If you think you've found Mr/Mrs Right my advice would be to get him to meet your children as soon as you can arrange it – and not in an 'oh let's have lunch' way unless there are going to be lots of people around to deflect any tension.
Ideally a first meeting should be amongst other people and not for too long. A friend of mine recounted a horrible nerve-wracking Sunday lunch to which she had invited her new boyfriend and her son and daughter. Barely five minutes past the hellos and her son came over all paternal and asked what her new man's intentions were towards his mother.
While you may think that Mr/Mrs Right is the best thing since sliced bread be prepared for your children to be less enthusiastic. There is no guarantee they will like each other, and may well see the other as a threat that upsets the status quo. Don't force the issue, don't force them together and give it time.
So keep your secrets but reassure them that regaining a social life doesn’t mean you've lost your marbles or love them less. Young people think that love and romance and sexual passion is only for the young where as we know that love and desire and the way love makes you feel doesn't change whether you're 15, 55 or 85.
By Kate Lawson
About The Author
Kate Lawson is the author of Keeping Mum a brilliantly funny comedy about what it’s like when you’re mum moves back in with you.
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When Cass’s old school friend Fiona moves back to their sleepy childhood village in Norfolk, Cass knows things won’t stay quiet for long. But if having her raucous friend bossing her around wasn’t enough, her mother Nita announces she’s moving in along with her sexy toyboy Rocco.
Soon, Cass finds herself despairing of her mother's wild nights out, re-organisation of the entire household and worst of all, the sounds of her energetic love life! Since when was it fair for your mum to have a better love life than you? The tables have turned and now Cass’s feels like the parent to her wayward mother.
A choir trip to Cyprus sounds like the perfect escape – that is until Fiona’s boyfriend feels the need to tell Cass a huge secret. Now Cass’s stuck in the middle holding on to a secret so huge she thinks she might burst. ‘Keeping mum’ has never been so hard!
Keeping Mum by Kate Lawson is out now.
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