Thursday, September 23, 2010

Breaking Sad

'Something's gotta give.'

So Beloved declared last night, as we found ourselves half-seriously considering a suggestion that we move to Cairns. She'd caught up with a friend who lives there, having moved from Brunei after her Aussie pilot husband explained that cheating was just part of the pilot lifestyle and shrugged.

The friend had offered to babysit, all the time, as she loves kids but is over the relationship game for a while, and frankly that's the best offer we've got on the table.

I've been a bit perkier lately, since starting a new job in which I'm well over my head but at least feel stimulated and surrounded by what seem to be *touch wood* nice people. I still talk to my father, though despite the great 'offence' he took last year, where I 'got him wrong' and mistook his words for criticism, he has since made several nasty attacks on my career (a topic I don't even discuss with him any more) and dug up his intense dislike of music with the suggestion that if I encourage it in the kids they'll wake up in a gutter somewhere with a needle hanging from their arms.

I'm attempting to keep him at arm's length without cutting him off completely, and the idea of counselling to find ways to deal with this is becoming attractive.

But Beloved is also disappointed. Her parents keep making excuses to find other things to do on their weekends, watch aeroplanes or dig garden beds or other priorities. They are choosing not to be a meaningful part of the kids' lives, and I think we are both still struggling with this.

My birth mum used to talk of moving to Melbourne. She has a great bond with Bear, and makes a great effort when we visit. If she came up, even for a couple of years, she could be part of their lives, and ours. But I know for a range of reasons this is improbable.

I think being wandering, independent types we probably underestimated the amount we would want family. Now we have kids, and see other families where everyone gathers around and is involved, even families where everyone is interstate where the effort, and enthusiasm, is on another level. I think also because they banged on for years about how much they'd like grandkids, we never imagined Beloved's mum choosing to potter in her Canberra house weekend after weekend, instead of spending the mortgage-free largess on a few 1 hour plane tickets to Melbourne. Or my mum choosing to stay in Bundaberg when my dad refused to come down for Christmas.

So. Why don't we move to them? Well, in the case of my birth family, in Hobart, I would have too much guilt, it could wreck the already uncertain relationship with my parents in Bundaberg. Unfortunate, as I get the sense we would get some support there. Parents in Bundaberg- my mum would try, but you don't have to read back far on this blog to get a sense of the ongoing poison that drips from my dad. Despite hints of caring and reflection coming through in recent times, as he works through the darkness of chemo. That might work well for years, only to have him tell Bear she needs to lose weight when she's 9 or something similarly in-character, whereupon I would probably do something that would risk my incarceration.

Beloved's dad and stepmum make a pretty good effort, when we're there, but apart from my concern that their love of money, expensive aeroplanes, cars and the like might rub off, they live in the middle of nowhere near a small, sad, violent town. Beloved enjoyed growing up there, but the ball might bounce differently next time around. And Canberra, her mum, sister, other family? I probably could have been tempted, but the ongoing mediocrity of interest shown by her mum has not only put that option to bed, but is slowly but surely pushing Beloved further and further away.

Perhaps, as it is for me and my dad, what was previously tolerable now just looks unpleasant in the light cast by small children.

We work, relentlessly. She works about 4 and a half days and gets paid for 3. Late night phone conferences are frequent. There are no breaks. We go out maybe 3 times a year together. Time with the kids is lovely, there is never enough. It is lost standing on crowded trains that are stuck, yet again, at Clifton Hill. We get up, we process the day, we flop into the couch, we sleep. Day after day, week after week.

I know you might say what people always say, what we already know, that we just need to get over it, stop expecting more from family, adjust. I know. We want to. It just isn't easy, the disappointment clings on hard.

Last night I watched a show about kids who are selectively mute. A granddad was taking so much time out to be with his granddaughter, taking her boating, chatting to her, patiently trying things until one day she speaks into a phone and leaves him a message. His eyes watered. So did mine. At him, his devotion and care.

So. Cairns? Adelaide? Volunteers Abroad on a small island? The UK?

Or just hang in there and hope it gets better, easier, one day...?

Something's got to give.