How did I mark Mother’s Day? With a dream about putting mine in a home | Zoe Williams

There is usually a bit of space between International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, which means we don’t have to run straight from the swill of empowerment platitudes into the tooth-aching blancmange of filial adoration. I try to avoid the first and keep the second as an opportunity to guilt-trip my children and eat cheese with my mother, defiantly asking no questions at any point in March about the female or maternal condition.

This year IWD and Mother’s Day abutted each other in the same week. While I laboured in my waking hours to ignore them and concentrate on guilt and cheese, my subconscious didn’t get off so lightly.

I had a dream on the eve of Mother’s Day. I was at a big table with a frilly, white cloth. Sundry family elders were there, but also Polly Toynbee. They were all telling me and my sister not to put our mum in a home, while we went: “Relax! She’ll be fine – she likes care homes.”

Surfacing to consciousness, I managed to wake myself up properly with laughter. How basic can you get? It’s like having a dream on Christmas Eve in which Father Christmas tells you not to eat too much, and you say: “Don’t sweat it, Santa. I’ll need something to soak up the too many drinks I’m scheduling.”

Four hours later, I was recounting all this to my mother and my sister at my mother’s table. There was no napery, nor aunts and uncles, but otherwise it was a close approximation of what had passed in the night. She said: “You actually did put me in a home. I wish I’d known Polly Toynbee could stop you – I’d have tweeted her.”

This much is true – a couple of months ago, we arranged a fortnight’s respite in a place that was much more like a landlocked cruise ship than a home. This distinction seemed important in the moment: “That wasn’t a home – it was more of a mini-break. Plus, my esteemed colleague couldn’t have stopped me: her function in the dream was more what the Jungians would call a golden shadow, the ideal person whom I wish I was more like.”

“Yeah, and she thinks you shouldn’t have put me in a home!”

“It was a mini-break!”

Zoe Williams is a Guardian columnist

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