Bairbre Power: 'How Take That helped heal old wounds with my daughter'
How often do I get to have a mother and daughter date night? Not often. True, you will see us together doing perfunctory things like the grocery shopping, walking the dog and grabbing a quick dinner together. However, I cannot remember the last time we plotted a night in our diary to go out, get all dressed up, high heels, the lot. Just the two of us with lots to chat about over dinner while the mobile phones stayed in our handbags.
And of course we did exactly what married couples do when they go out on dates... we talked about the children! Well, in this case, it was the recovering dog and who was taking Romy to her next vet's appointment.
But last Monday, there was another agenda afoot. We had music on our minds and I was processing a healthy dose of mother's guilt. We were off to see Take That at the 3Arena. The last time, I committed the biggest faux paux - I kept my daughter standing outside the office on a Friday night while I finished off something pressing. By the time I exited on to Talbot Street to catch a train to Belfast from Connolly Station, it had just left and I was left looking at its final carriage pulling away down the platform.
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"You see, it wasn't a 5pm train, it was the 4.50pm," the disgusted schoolgirl told me with angry tears in her eyes. We had two hours to kill until the next train and by the time we finally got to the arena in Belfast, the band were halfway through their set and had sung many of the schoolgirl's favourite songs.
Ten years later, this time around, I invited my daughter to go see them again - Take That are now a threesome minus Robbie and Jason - and I didn't have to ask twice. I must say, it is very, very satisfying finally assuaging your guilt after all these years to go back and correct the wrong. Years on, we were doing it the adult 'posh' way with dinner first at a club in the venue and then a short walk to our seats.
My daughter was in such good form, she didn't even comment on how I left her standing outside the office, again. "You were early," I volunteered with a cheeky grin but, of course, she wasn't. I was up to my old tricks again. Always five minutes late. I swear, I'll be late for my own funeral.
It was interesting how, by formalising our night out, almost elevating it to a new level, the mood was different and we were definitely making an effort to enjoy time out together. We were not taking each other for granted. Kicking mundane to touch had worked.
"We really should do this more often," I suggested as we left the arena, and over after-dinner drinks, we plotted musical possibilities. We smiled like a pair of auld ones, nodding across at each other as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner, Matthew, were besieged for girls looking for selfies. They were spotted when the lights went up and the girls went racing across when they recognised an Instagram opportunity.
It's interesting how parents and children can share such common ground and then our tastes on other things differ wildly. Take That was common ground. I listened to the Mancunians when, as a new mum, they were always on the radio in the car. The only blip in an otherwise perfect night out was of my own making. I chose to go to the loo at the wrong time.
"You missed your favourite song," my daughter told me when I got back to my seat. I didn't tell her that I'd actually caught 'Back For Good' and had been dancing like a mad woman at the back. If she had seen me, she would have been mortified. Middle-aged mothers can be such a source of embarrassment.
On reflection, I think we might just have tapped into new territory for quality time together. Talk before and after, enjoy the music in between. Music festivals are a no-go. I mean who wants to be seen with their mother even if she was at Live Aid in 1985 and saw Freddy Mercury perform 'Radio GaGa', but that's worth a column in itself.
In the meantime, I might try and coax my daughter on a date night to go to The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac in Dublin. She's never seen them in concert, but she'll know every one of their hits from the womb. Sometimes mums know the best music after all.