I love living apart from my mum – except when things go wrong

Coco Khan


‘I had a lovely dream last night,” my mum said to me recently, a wide smile filling her face. “All you grownup kids were there. We were living together. All of us under one roof, with everyone’s partners and kids.”

“Oh,” I replied. “You mean you had a nightmare.”

Perhaps it’s an Asian thing, but if it was up to my mum I would still live at home. I see her most weeks and we speak almost daily, but it’s never enough. Whenever I look for a new flat to rent, she sends me suggestions: all a two-hour commute from work, yet just a five-minute walk from her house. Once, when I wasn’t looking, she saved her address as “home” in my satnav.

“Think of the money you spend on London rents,” she says, forgetting the blazing rows. “You could save it and live with me.”

“Nah, I’d still be broke. I’d have to spend all the saved rent money on therapy.”

While you are young, you need space to grow and to make mistakes. At Mum’s, there was never enough space, with only the futon to sleep on, under the scrutinising eyes of the aunties. I left at 18 and have only had three flat requirements since: cheap rent; close enough to Mum’s for regular visits; far enough that they are not too regular.

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But something happened recently. I fell ill and was home alone. Mum came as soon as she could, but in the grip of sickness I felt her absence. I wished then, intensely, that she lived a little nearer, a stone’s throw away, a “just popped round for a cuppa” distance.

I have no plans to move back in with Mumma Khan, but I’ve come to learn there might be some method to her madness; my next flat will be the closest to her yet. We all need space, yes, but ideally we stay near enough to someone who will help pick up the pieces.