Friday, April 27, 2007

I've a horrible feeling I may be starting to stick in the mud.

We're about to go and spend a weekend camping in a field and eating communally and playing our violas (in the Boff's case), and...I quite seriously contemplated taking along my stove-top cappuccino machine and the camping gas stove so as not to miss out on my daily fix.

This is seriously against any one of my principles and must stop forthwith.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Due date introversion 

A few months ago, I hinted at the frustration and downright hostility I experience when exposed to my mother for more than a few seconds.

I can't explain it, except to say that maybe this is what happens when parents force too much responsibility onto a child too young, and then try to pull age and rank when it suits them. A lot of my irreverence stems from that, I think. It's an attitude that has always stood me in very good stead in almost any situation apart from with my parents.

So about six months ago, when I was still pregnant with Vlad, but before s/he died and was miscarried, my mother rang. There was something about the jaunty way she asked me how I was, all sort of breathless and anticipatory, that proved to me that she knew about the pregnancy despite the fact I had not told her, and that made me instantly see red.

There was a reason I hadn't told her, even more so when it became clear that it would be a far from straightforward pregnancy, even if it progressed, and that is because she always finds a way of making everything about her.

I just knew that if I told her, she'd find a way of owning it, of owning me, and there is nothing more guaranteed to piss me right that somebody presuming to own me. I once chucked someone for exaggeratedly laying claim to me in public. This is also precisely the reason why I find The Boff so wonderful- he lets me be myself without presuming anything, even after our 19-year relationship and three children.

I was bit iffy about marrying him because I was so worried about the wider subtext of marriage versus a committed non-married relationship. In the end, I married him not because I coveted his surname (which I don't use anyway), not because I desperately wanted new spoons and a big party (although I got those anyway), but because I loved and trusted him not to turn into a pig the moment the ring was on my finger. I don't know if he realises what a huge step that was for me, given my family history of marriage; I suspect he does, but maybe not the extent of it.

Anyway, so when my mother rang sounding all breathless, my immediate reaction was white-hot rage, and a searing desire to put the phone down on her. I told her nothing until much later when it was pretty clear the game was over, and that the Boff was organising a half-term break for us to go on straight after the miscarriage. Looking after the chickens was as much as I was prepared to let her do for me.

I didn't understand at the time why I reacted like that, but I've thought about it for the last six months and come to a conclusion, reinforced by something I said in chance earlier: that I would still like a 4th child, but emphatically not 5. I even qualified this statement by saying that I couldn't think of anything worse for me than having five children. I had to stop and think why I felt like that, particularly given my relatively frequent fantasies of having 6, and I realised that the only possible explanation is that by having five children, I would somehow be validating something my parents did- stating publicly that my own childhood was not so bad that I wouldn't want to do it all over again with my own children.

My problem is that I am spending most of time silently, passively rejecting my parents and pretty much everything they did, save for a few lifestyle decisions. How fucked up is that, at the age of 39? I must have one helluvalot of pent-up anger still in there that very rarely sees the light of day. I look in awe at the relatively affectionate way my siblings deal with my parents, and realise that I just don't have that love for them in me. I see that my children love me, and am constantly awe-struck that despite my many parenting mistakes, they should still do so.

I don't believe that age grants rights, that just because you've been around for 30 years longer, then you know more. My father has taken to retreating into the "Well, what do I know" school of debate rather than attempt to win an argument against me. My mother still doggedly pulls the worn-out age card on me, flying in the face of logic and common-sense. She obviously thinks that if she perseveres, she'll win in the end. Not this one, mate: I am implacable.

I can forgive them on an intellectual level, but my relationship with both of them is now so laced with disappointment and hurt that I can't actually be any more than civil with them. Even civil is a struggle at times. I don't hate them. I don't despise them. I just don't trust or honour or acknowledge or obey them in the way they feel they should be. Am I a hideous ingrate, or simply the child they made of me?

I don't know how I ended up here. I was just posting to tell you that Vlad would have been due today and that I might be a little quiet(er) for a few days. I opened my fingers and that all poured out. They are however related: our parenting decisions are inevitably influenced by our own parenting experiences, all mixed up into one multi-generational string soup- you can't unravel it, but you know there are unseen connections in there somewhere. All I can do is apologise for the soup.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Modern curses 

May a dozen over-excited 12 year old girls be upon your house for an entire day and an entire night!

May you decide that camping and spooky tales and marshmallow toasting be a good idea!

May every one of your untameable and indistiguishable guests fall out with at least four others present, and set up such a caterwauling as to make a yellow dog bark!

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's not that I'm trying to gloat, or to make those of you who may still be struggling with sub-zero temperatures and snow, or melting slush, feel bad, but if you need an explanation of where I've been since we got back on Sunday, all you need to know is that one of our farmer neighbours made hay today. (Come on, it's not too often that we can claim summer weather here in South-West England, even in August- please allow me a moment of glory)

Our garden is looking blooming lovely too, considering that the grass was about seventy feet tall on Sunday. I'm well into Operation Plant All Seeds -even the ones that have been hanging around in sub-optimal storage conditions since 1991.

As my friend put it earlier, odds are that those are precisely the ones that will all come up in their inappropriate jumble in the corner of the veg patch, elderly beans and maggoty radish seeds, powdery brassicas and clumpy salads all together. Sod's law on gardening.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The place of the suitcase in family relationships 

So we went to France, to see my parents, for the first time in 18 months. Persephone was there too, also for the first time in a similar number of months. In her case this was due to Stupid Evil Ex having sequestrated her passports since August 2005. In our case, to the lack of money necessary to exit this horrible little island.

It escaped neither my nor Persephone's notice that the only picture that my mother has in her bedroom is one of our brother. Ours is the kind of family to notice petty little things like that. We're not jealous, just resigned.

What was more surprising to see was the suitcase in front of her bedroom door, barring access to all but the tallest and most determined. It was not surprising by its presence, for my mother's ways no longer surprise me, but in the fact that this was the fake Delsey suitcase left with us in Montreal by my father in February 2004 because he was too chicken to attempt to re-enter the EU with counterfeit goods and his high-flying girlfriend.

We were therefore left with this damned suitcase, which we dutifully brought back to the UK from Canada in the summer of 2004. In June 2005, The Boff and I went to California, taking with us the damned suitcase as it was, despite its counterfeitedness, the least offensive of our large capacity pieces of luggage, and we intended to return with summer clothes for the children.

In the end, we bought a large new Samsonite (non-counterfeit) suitcase from a discount mall while we were out there, and left the contraband Delsey with my brother. Who then did the only possible thing to do if you are a thick-skinned 30 year old man with a mother who routinely tries to scare off your girlfriends*, and gave it to our mother to bring back on one of her trips out to see him. The pig.

So my mother was now in possession of our father's and our father's long-time girlfriend's fake suitcase, all the while believing that it was my brother's. She'd been barring the way to her room with it for over a year.

On our first day in France, I naïvely remarked how strange it was that our father's suitcase should end up outside her bedroom door, when we had abandoned it 7000 miles away nearly 2 years previously. She was visibly shaken, for my mother.

The next day, the suitcase had moved away from her door, and she instructed us to return to my father when we went down to see him a few days later.

*Rumour has it that my mother is no longer welcome at my brother's girlfriend's house. Who knows why?

This page is powered by Blogger. 
Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com