On the importance of maintaining a close bond with a mother who cares My mother would have made a terrific spy. I was once shipwrecked, or more correctly, stranded, in the Gulf of Mexico. Some friends and I were sailing from Puerto Escondido towards Florida and were caught in the aftermath of a hurricane. Dwarfed by giant waves, we tucked ourselves behind a small island and that afternoon received two broken radio messages. One was from the Mexican emergency services, informing us of our imminent rescue. The other from a coastguard who had spoken to a Mrs Trotter from Belfast, Northern Ireland. Katie was to call home. Immediately. Over and out.
Without fail, she has called me every day since I left home. It wasn't always convenient, nor compelling, but I knew she had my every move - still does - and that is enough for us both to bask in mutual contentment. Others, it seems, are not so lucky and spend a large chunk of their adult years trying to keep their parents at a distance. You see, mother-daughter relations are about as confusing as a white crayon. They can be the source of our deepest love, yet sometimes they hurt us so deeply we want to give up completely.
Certainly when it came to the crucial question of what to wear, my mother and I had our fair share of turbulence. She once showed up at my junior school play wearing a full-length Ghost dress made up of multi layers of chiffon - beads cascading from every fold. She stood out like a traffic light. On one hand, I was proud of her obvious indifference and impenetrable femininity. On the other, I just wanted her to look like a "normal" mum.
At nine, I wasn't ready for different. At that age, the idea of self-expression is frightening. We want to blend into the background because we think it will draw attention away from the irreparable things we torment ourselves with. We want clothing to cloak us in invisibility. It is only much later that we realise that our mothers had it right, and that through them we learn to explore our individuality.
For her part, a daughter gives a mother the opportunity of a clean slate - bringing her face to face with a reflection of herself, forcing her to confront her mistakes and re-evaluate who she is. We are simply our mothers' last chance to make amendments, so go easy. Family, they say, is everything. Our security, our lives, depend on keeping our mothers and fathers (so easy) interested in us. But don't expect perfection. Try not to take what your mother says too personally. So many things in a woman's life are never perfect; our relationship with our mothers need not be one of them.