Tuesday, July 20, 2010


The only vestige of family with any sort of active involvement in our lives has gone. Beloved's sister and her partner have moved back to the town of circling cars (Canberra). We feel alone and Beloved in particular is sad and disappointed.

It was very nice having at least a couple of family members close. Yet something stood in the way, they didn't engage the way we, Beloved in particular, hoped they would. They were fantastic with the kids, when we saw them. But being 15 minutes away this didn't seem very often, and yet I suspect in their view it was more than ample- duty done, slightly older family with kids attended to, back to the fun stuff. I suppose we hoped to be included as fun stuff which, when you're loaded up with kids and chores, I guess is hard to pull off.

The memories of when we did things together, several days at the beach for example, are special. But they are also sad memories because there are so few of them, over a couple of years living just a suburb or so apart.

The days at the beach preceded Mitts' expected birth date by just a few days. They were our support, particularly as this time around we had Bear to consider, and no-one else who could easily take care of her. Yet they also had friends renting a house in the country, out of mobile range, and when the opportunity arose there was no hesitation extending that from a weekend to several nights. Several nights for which we cobbled together a series of emergency contacts and kept our fingers crossed, wracked with stress. They were back just in time for the birth, but in a way the symbolism can't be altered- they easily could have missed it.

That can never be taken back, the symbolism - involving those whose role in his life would be second only to ours- stark and painful.

Yet they've done more than anyone else, so they shouldn't wear the full blanket of our deep disappointment. They came, they helped, babysat, played. Not as much as we'd have liked, and perhaps partly out of obligation, but at least it happened.

There are four families in our constellation. The kids don't really know any of them. Two or three people have built slightly better (than nothing) relationships and are remembered by name, but that's about it. Early experiences travelling around convinced us that there was no Shangri La of loving familial support waiting if we were prepared to move. There are certain individuals (my two mums come to mind) who would probably jump at the chance to spend more time with the kids, but who for various reasons will not be moving closer in the short term. Which is sad, the kids would love to play with them now, it'll be different in 10 years...

Beloved and I returned from London, where I had been working, at the end of 2002. Sometimes I miss London. One of the biggest reasons for not going back would be the effect on the kids' family relationships. We emerge from 3 years of incredibly hard graft and effort, less support than most of our friends, almost no time to ourselves, having dragged the kids around endlessly trying to get those extended family ties up and running. There is only modest gain to show for it.

Sometimes I miss London and can envisage, without much loss, a life built elsewhere.

The kids themselves are fine, we as an immediate, nuclear family are fine, tired but happy. They are so full of energy and joy at the moment, I am just getting over the fact that no-one else in our family constellation wants to share that with them.

I know, swallow a bag of cement and harden up, that's life, not meant to be easy, &c &c &c*... Beloved and I are just taking stock, and feeling quite sad about it all.

(*Love the use of ampersand-c in the old texts I've been reading...)


cristy said...

Family is hard, even when they are pretty good (like mine). I try so hard to have no expectations and to just make the effort to assist the building of relationships, but other stuff does manage to creep in. It's just so personal when it is your kids...

Ann ODyne said...

You have pinpointed a systems failure that everybody who has a second-child encounters: in the middle of the night, a babysitter is needed at very short notice for the sleeping first-child.
It is a gap-in-the-market just screaming to be addressed.

Yrs truly,
Only Child of alienated parents,
(who married another Only Child with laissez faire parents).

Guy said...

Hmm, yes. Will let you know how the London thing goes on this end.

Anonymous said...

It's always family who confuse, disappoint and sadden you the most, isn't it?

I have the opposite problem where my girl sees her immediate family on her Da's side at least a couple times a week. Having left my family and them not having any interest in a mixed race child (at the very least, bunch of nonsensical haters), it was important for all of us, with our dynamic being a bit weird, to expose The Kid to family values.

I feel your pain but you know, at least you got some memories in there and as your children grow up they'll realise you had tried.