Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Elephant in the Room

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Our three children organised a lovely week-end away for all of us further up the coast at a very nice home  (airb&b) and we had an awesome time for our 40th wedding anniversary, culminating in a wonderful lunch/cake at a wine farm.  There were 11 of us and although it rained it didn't dampen our spirits.  Until we came to the Saturday night and my family demanded a speech from their dad.  He was very serious about it and, not being good at words, he confined himself to thanking all of them for their thoughtfulness and telling them how proud we are of them all and that we couldn't have wished for better children. I added that when I had posted a picture of their dad playing Scrabble with me on a Saturday night at home - that is what constitutes love (he is not fond of Scrabble) and when there is a picture of the two of us on his boat, likewise they must know that I do this because I know he loves going out on the boat and I steel myself to both drive the trailer and encounter the sea (of which I am very afraid.)  I suggested they extrapolate from these behaviours to their own marriages. My daughter then called upon my oldest son to reply but he was clearly totally unprepared and had nothing to say, so my daughter, bless her, the middle child, told us what wonderful parents we have been and we glossed over his embarrassment.  Was there an elephant in the room?  Does he not think we have been wonderful parents?  Is it because of the unspoken 'situation' with his illegitimate child?  My husband is going to visit his brother on 10th April (this means an airflight up North) and I shall have a chance to speak to my son alone.   Will I do it? I'll let you know.  I thought I might first ask my daughter-in-law how she feels about the whole thing.  She supported my son at the time.  They had been a couple at school, had a few years break,  and then when 'it' all happened, she went with him to London.  They were there for seven years and then returned to South Africa with their newborn daughter. Life quickly gets complicated. At least from my point of view.

Monday, 5 March 2018

The Past Comes Back to Haunt You

Google image - happy family?

This is a risky post for me, but here goes. First, my own past. Perhaps we all become stuck in the moral climate in which we grew up.  The more enlightened are perhaps able to move on.  I salute those that can adapt. In my youth,  becoming pregnant as a teenager was a common occurrence (it was just before the 'pill' became generally available). In England, it was kept as quiet as possible, it was considered a great shame and for the most part, babies were adopted or couples opted for marriages which were usually short-lived.  There was no fashion for single mothers to keep their children and claim government grants. I remember the one girl it happened to when I was at school: naively, I didn't relate her growing stomach to pregnancy. She married the guy and it lasted five years.  When I was eighteen and far away in my first year at University I became pregnant:  it followed a traumatic time and an affair with a married man when I was still at high school.  I fell in love with him the way other teenagers revered pop stars. My parents eventually found out, ended it and I almost immediately left home and chose a University as far away as I could get.  I thought of myself as a seriously flawed person, I had almost broken up a marriage.  I dated two guys and wasn't sure who was the father. My parents were completely confused, but they supported my decision to have the baby adopted. Throughout the pregnancy I was able to hide things under the 'tent' dresses we wore in 1969.  Luckily, the last two months were during the long summer vacation. My mother joined me and we knitted for the baby, I gave  birth and relieved - handed him over to the foster parents until the adoption could take place.  I have never had a single regret, I was totally not at in a place in my life where I could contemplate motherhood and I was not in love. All along, I told myself I was acting as a surrogate for the adoptive parents who were unable to have children of their own.  
At that time, the law was that children could not find out details about their birth mothers. Almost 50 years later I have been happy with my decision. That was before the Facebook generation and other social media.  My son got a girl pregnant when he was 21.  It was a brief relationship of 6 weeks: she had told him she was on the pill.  When he confessed to us, I was so angry - he had told me her mother was a single mom after three marriages and I was wary. He had been bragging about the great salary he was earning in IT and I immediately suspected this girl was out to get him.  So I blurted out my whole story (which incidentally my husband had always known).  
We told my son to disentangle himself from this girl and we sent him to England before the birth.  Nevertheless, he opted to take responsibility and has supported her financially every since.  Now my husband tells me that the girl is now 18 and would like to meet her other family.  I of course, suspect her motives.  Logically, I tell myself I cannot blame the child for her parents' indiscretion - but I have no wish to meet her.  My other children, especially my daughter, can't see the problem.  They would like to meet. What do you think?

Friday, 2 March 2018

Buckets of Love? Not so much

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I have really been enjoying belonging to a ladies' club here in our small town.  We meet once a month, have a speaker and a 'tea' and a bit of a natter.  The club is thirty years old and it's main function is merely to socialise and get to know each other a bit.  As a sideline, we knit for charity and collect groceries/donate money for any poor families that anyone might know in the area.  Plastic buckets containing 'essentials' are made available for anyone to take at the end of the meeting. These are voluntary contributions but it has to be said that our last committee meeting, there was a suggestion that some members don't donate at all to these worthy causes.  There were some strong feelings about this. We pay an annual (very small) membership fee and about $2 per meeting for the tea. I confess that I find myself reluctant to contribute to these buckets because of the name.  Love?  I can feel sorry for anyone who is poor, a victim of circumstance, but if I want to support them it is not through feelings of love, neither do I feel any need to feel guilt because of my own happy circumstances.  Also, I feel that most of us donate privately to our own preferred good causes. This word 'love' is not bandied about easily in my family.  I am sorry to say neither my mother nor father ever told myself or my brother that they loved us.  Well, not out loud.  The British custom is to buy birthday cards with sentimental messages signed 'love mom and dad'.  Similarly, we would reciprocate with cards on our parents' birthdays.  It seems to be a modern trend for everyone to express love very casually on the social media, but not me.  Do you think I should just suck it up and put some money or groceries in the box to keep the peace and satisfy the eagle eyes who are clearly watching? I think not.  Some things are a matter of principle. They just need to change the name. NB I do tell my own kids/grandchildren that I love them (but not all the time).