Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Families and Other Challenges

As he opened the barn door, an icy blast of wind blew us into the vaulted room and the six twenty-some-things seated companionably around the kitchen table, eating, laughing and talking, turned and looked at the newcomers as my son and I joined the group.

It had seemed a good idea at the time, as we talked about how to manage the occasion and planned his menu, for me and my son to come along towards the end of lunch and have a drink with his children and assorted girlfriends, all staying in the area for Easter. In the end, it just seemed to underline our outsider status. Jokes flew around the table as the meal came to an end and coffee was served, but difficult feelings simmered just below the surface as we all skated over thin ice.

I slept badly that night, and woke in tears with the grey dawn, remembering the moment, exactly 24 years ago, when my second son was born at our home in London, his 2 year old brother asleep in the next bedroom, my mother in the bedroom above, my then husband elated at the safe birth of our new son.

Our lives have changed beyond recognition now. My 24 year old son spent the day in Yorkshire with friends, his brother in London with his father and his second wife, as my youngest son and I try to bridge the gulf between the family we were, and the life we have now.


  1. hi marianne, I think these long weekends often result in these awkward situations, people finding themselves thrown together. I can sympathise with the waking up early too. I struggle to wake up during the week but had a couple of mornings unable to get back to sleep at 5am this last weekend. I think we probably are freed to think a little too much about stuff on these occasions. it's good to get back to the routine I think

  2. These meetings with loads of people are probably not the best way of making relationships are they? The newcomers are bound to feel left out. It's a lot easier in ones and twos and on neutral territory like a pub.

  3. Hi Rilly. Feeling better now and you're right, bank holidays are tough and people are thrown together in odd assortments. Thinking too much is never a good idea.

    Elizabeth, that is exactly the conclusion I arrived at and the way to go for a while, I think.

  4. This has a sad sound Marianne! And though I wasn't entirely sure who the people in the barn were (does your ex have a large extended family?), I could sympathise with your plight, and understand how left-out you and your son must have felt.

    My hope is that the other half of your life (ie that one which contains tmintwj - or is it now tps again?) is going well?

    Do let us know.

  5. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough Beatrice. This was the first meeting with the grown up children from my man's marriage and a very uneasy occasion. His split is still relatively new - under two years - and difficult feelings are inevitable. It wasn't the right time or place to get to know them.

  6. Give it time Marianne - and get to know them in ones and twos. You really were at a huge disadvantage being the late arrival at a convivial family lunch - and by being the 'significant other' in their father's life. (Am I right there?)

    Best wishes.

  7. Yes, absolutely right Mountainear - it is the 'significant other' and never an easy role to take. Also spot on about giving it time - I guess I was just feeling over-sensitive, but writing about it helps.


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