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My Very Own Stockholm Syndrome

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- The continuing trials of an accidental mother. Week 17 -

The jet-settery continued. Four days after my New York trip, my 12-year-old son and I were on a weekend jaunt to Stockholm to celebrate his godmother, B's 40th. We, B and I, met at acting college a zillion years ago and have never lost touch despite the accumulation of children, partners, distance and time.

B is a full time working mother with three young children and a loving, supportive partner. Theirs is an enviable life. They are happy together and enjoy a high standard of living. Swedish society takes motherhood seriously and lessens the struggle with incredibly affordable childcare, free and accessible public transport, after school clubs etc.

Still... balancing work, life, family and love is tricky. In common with most women the world over, B runs the home and organises the children's schedules. She has completely (and willingly) submerged her 'self' in family life and as one would expect, has little time for her own pursuits of individualist pleasure.

During this short visit I was re-acquainted with the never-ending demands made on mothers, the feeding, dressing, washing, noses to be wiped, teeth brushed, shoes laced, the unceasing questions, negotiating, constant corralling, such that days merge, time fuses and another wrinkle is born.

It occurred to me that once ensconced in the state of motherhood women are prone to suffer the Stockholm syndrome, devotedly held captive 24/7 by the needs of our charges.

Suddenly I realised my freedom or what I considered to be freedom, (i.e. the ability to read a book at leisure, go the shops unburdened, have a lap free coffee or an uninterrupted telephone conversation, or god forbid a shadow of a social life), - would be severally curtailed and my brain most probably scrambled by tiredness.

Gone the days when I would be able to wonder how or what to do with my vast amounts of time or waltz off into Soho till the wee small hours. Even my son was aware of the oncoming Tsunami of change and that this visit could well be one of the last holidays the pair of us take together.

Meanwhile we had come to celebrate B. The scene; a Stockholm suburb, B's partner's band set up in the front room as the house filled with friends and family. Music blared, bubbles poured forth and a re-acquaintence with forgotten tales of Silver Dancing Shoes...

My son the only teenager present, flitted between the adults and children unsure where to put himself. Then a most unusual thing happened. Toward the end of the party having managed to coax him up to dance he forwent his teenage self consciousness and cut loose - dancing not only with the birthday girl but also with the most embarrassing person in the world ever, yours truly.

Yep, we, mother and son ended up dancing to amongst other songs, Nelly's 'It's getting hot in here,'. And on we danced and we danced on until after 2am in the morning.

"This is love", I thought. "This is what it is all about, mother, son, not forgetting the Interloper... Worth ever nose wipe, every grey hair."

TO BE CONTINUED

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