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Leah McLaren, with her great-grandmother, Cecil McLaughlin, and her mother, Cecily Ross.

Leah McLaren splits her time between Toronto and London, where she has a home with her partner, Robert Yates, their nine-month-old son,Solomon, and her stepson Jack, 5. Her mother, Cecily Ross, also a writer, lives in Creemore, Ont., with her second (and final) husband. This is a typical Skype call between them:

Me: Hi Mum, it's me.

Mum: Hello dear. Oh! Wait. Okay, now I can see you. Can you see me?

Me: You need to click on the video. It's the button with the camera on it.

Mum: Okay, wait a sec … cuts out.

Me: No Mum, that's the sound. I can't hear you any more.

Mum: Oh! Okay. How's this? Is this better?.

Me: Perfect.

Mum: How's Rob?

Me: He's great.

Mum: I wanted to ask, have you spoken to your sister? I can't get a straight answer out of her about Christmas.

Me: That's because it's May. Nobody wants to talk about Christmas in May.

Mum: Well, I do. And I'll need to know pretty soon since we'll have to figure out cars and who's picking who up at the airport.

Me: Okay, Mum I'll let you know as soon as I know.

Slightly tense pause.

Mum: How's my grandson? Can I see him?

Me: Sure, he's right here.

Lifts baby to the screen.

Mum: Oooh, there he is. Oooda widda boodum tootsum wootsom. Hello Solly, it's your Granny Cessie here. Do you remember me? Look! He's trying to kiss the screen! He misses me.

Me: He does the same thing with my phone.

Mum: I think he knows my voice.

Me: Maybe. He's pretty smart.

Mum: Of course he's smart. And sooo beeeeoootiful, aren't you Solly? It's funny I don't see you in him at all.

Baby crawls away.

Me: Listen, Mum, I need to ask you something. Do you have any regrets about the way you raised me? Anything you would have done differently?

Mum: Why?

Me: It's for this piece I'm doing for The Globe. For Mother's Day.

Mum: And they want to know about my regrets? Why would they want to know that? Who cares? You turned out brilliantly.

Me: So you don't have any regrets?

Mum: Of course I have regrets, everyone has regrets, but I am not going to go there, do you understand me?

Me: Okay, relax. No regrets then?

Mum: Actually there is one thing. I wish I'd given you piano lessons. But we moved too much to have a piano.

Me: Really? That's your big regret?

Mum: You were so musical. And I think it would have so nice if you'd kept that up. Then you could have an interest, you know, outside of work. A hobby.

Me: I have a hobby.

Mum: You do?

Me: Occasionally I drink wine with my friends.

Mum: That's not a hobby, that's just social life. There's a difference.

Me: Listen, there's another question. What piece of advice would you give to me in raising my son?

Mum: Hmm. I think you should bring him home for visits as often as possible.

Me: That's not advice.

Mum: Wait, I've got it! Teach him to cook.

Me: Really?

Mum: Yes, it's very important. Before he goes to university, teach him some basic dishes so he doesn't end up one of those men who can't cook. In this day and age, every man should cook.

Me: And what about women?

Mum: That goes without saying.

Me: But Rob can't cook.

Mum: I know. That's unfortunate. But he has a great job. And as long as he does the dishes. He does the dishes, doesn't he?

Me: Sometimes.


Mum: So do you think you and Rob will ever get married? You know, for the baby?

Me: I don't, Mum. Maybe. I'll let you know.

Mum: You could just do something small. A weekend lunch. We could fly over in the fall. Best to keep it simple. You know, for a second wedding. I wore a grey skirt suit and red high heels to my second wedding.

Me: I know, Mum, I was there.

Mum: Oh yes, of course you were dear.

Me: Okay I've got to go. Love you.

Mum: Love you too. Give the baby a kiss from me.

Me: Bye.


Me: What?

Mum: Let me know about Christmas.