Thursday, December 29, 2011

As days become years

As Beloved peeled off to bed, I went out for a walk. Like so many evenings capping days that drag on, circling around the screen, files, briefings and other bureacratic occuclutter. Evenings that fail their promise of something to make the day seem worthwhile. Worth more than merely paying the bills.

We are tired. Everything makes sense. But that doesn't change the wait each day for the third part of life, the one where you are adults with your own agency living your own life, to engage, even if just for an hour.

I told an older relative, with a comfortable looking nuclear family life in Surrey, England, that we are thinking of getting someone in the bungalow out the back, perhaps an au pair. It sits empty, unvisited, and we thought if there was a boarder who could babysit from time-to-time we might be able to do things like go out on occasional dates.

...Beloved and I, to be clear!

And anyway (as Bear says when you pause in a conversation with her) they replied that it sounded like I was pining for the past, going on dates and all that; better to adjust to life as it is now. And not for the first time in recent months I found another person's helpful view of my stage in life almost suicidally depressing. And realised that even a happy-looking twee family in Surrey can be the post-script to some compromise that forever consigned some romantic notion like, well, romance, or affection, to a cold little graveyard in the far corner of the park.

Perhaps going out together is not important to those people. Perhaps all of it became less important. But in the words of a Black Crowes number I've been messing around with a bit on my old, scarred, nylon-string:

She don't know no lover,
No man I've ever seen,
To her that ain't nothin',
But to me it is, it is everything.

I walked along the ridge above Merri Creek, where the street lights are infrequent and muffled by dominating trees. It was dark, quiet. Now and then a house was fantastically lit with Christmas lights. A lone skateboarder peeled off into a driveway. A couple of dogs murmered unconvincingly.

All my closest slept. No war threatened them, no fire or floods approached our suburb. There was food in the cupboard. These things are all good and I am thankful. But we only live once, and if we spend our days apart, grinding our faces into computer screens in giant hives, then at some point surely we need more.


Deborah said...

It took me 5 years to get used to having my elder daughter, and then 5 years again to get used to having my. Younger daughters, and the huge change in our lifestyle. Fortunately, there's only three years between them, so the total calendar time for the adjustment was only 8 years...

What you need is a handy babysitter. Is there a teenager in your street who would be happy to come in some evenings? Not necessarily a cheap solution, I know, but possibly a viable one.

Yes, the casualness of our lives is gone, and it won't be back for a few years yet. But the children are now integrated into our lives, and that makes quite a difference. It took quite an effort in the early years, but it has been much easier for the last three years or so (since ur younger girls were 7).

And coming out the other side.... I love going places with my daughters, and sharing experiences with them. I had a fabulous day out at a cooking school with my eldest recently, something that my partner would never do with me. Swings and roundabouts.

I promise you: it gets easier, and better, as the years go on.

cristy said...

I think an au pair is a fabulous idea!
Will get in touch when we're back in Melb from Xmas. It would be lovely for the kids to meet.

Mindy said...

Definitely find a reliable babysitter, if an au pair isn't available or practical. Do spend time remembering why you fell in love with each other, it is worth it when things are grinding you down.

Penthe said...

Yes, exactly.

The Accidental Housewife said...

We considered an au pair, but we both hate the idea of having an extra someone in our home. We have very good friends with an au pair, and the extra person seemed to create more distance between them, not less. They couldn't relax fully in their own home, no more nooki on the couch during nap time!

My youngest is an atrocious sleeper, so I'm too cautious to leave her even for an evening. I wouldn't want to inflict her on anyone, or have her suffer the confusion. So we date at home. Computers off, candles on, dinner with the kids but then late grown up desserts. It works for us. Maybe an idea?

The Accidental Housewife said...

An update... the "very good friends with an au pair" are currently living apart, as last week he tried to sleep with the au pair while she was in hospital, having just given birth to their third baby. So I guess it didn't really work out for them. N.B, NOTHING is implied about your and beloved relationship by this comment, but it does highlight the difficulties of bringing another outside person into what is essentially one of the most intimate of groupings, the nuclear family.

Armagny said...

Wow. Oh. Dear. The timing is particularly sad (not that the timing could ever be great for that sort of thing).