The mother is pleased to be involved and enjoys time with her grandchildren. However, these mothers can occasionally feel unappreciated by daughters who are prone to occasionally take advantage. It’s got to the point where I’m nervous to tell her if I’ve booked to go away.

“In previous societies and generations, this is what would have been called a family! “It happens less often now, but at the healthy end of the scale, if the daughter is working, having her mother looking after her children is a lovely way of organising childcare and can work fantastically well.” Naomi, 65, has looked after her seven-year-old grandson - whom she adores - while her daughter works, since he was born. I do feel she takes me for granted.” Another potential flash point in this type of relationship is if the mother starts to take over and the daughter, feeling guilty, worries she can’t impose her own parenting values.

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The maternal-filial bond comes in many colours, after all. This relationship can be unnerving to others, especially when mother and daughter swap clothes, prompting the dubious compliment: “You look like sisters!

” This mother remains gleefully involved in aspects of her daughter’s life from which most of us kindly shield our parents.

They go clubbing and shopping together, and every gruesome relationship detail is candidly discussed (even, on occasion, witnessed). Wendy Bristow, a London-based psychotherapist, says: “It’s not particularly healthy to try and be your daughter’s best friend, or to treat your mother as your soul mate.

It suggests you haven’t accomplished the psychological task of separation, which is a crucial part of growing up.

Surely no one is as frank as my mother, whose comments on my poor housekeeping (“Don’t tidy up for me, Anna, I’m used to it - some people live how they live! Or as critical (“The boys need a haircut - their hair is a disgrace! In short, no one loves me in quite the way she does.

No one is as sweetly appreciative of me and my children.“We do deeply love each other but it has been a distant, difficult relationship. ’ She’d chat for 40 minutes about herself, then ask how I was.I’d say ‘I’ve hurt my knee’ and she’d reply, ‘oh yes, my knees hurt!’ Now I can be honest with her, our relationship has improved.And I know she’s very proud of me.” This is the Dawn French/Billie version of the mother-daughter bond.“But we have to live nearby.” Pairs like these would be lost without each other, even if they sometimes drive each other to distraction.