Showing posts with label Divorce. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Divorce. Show all posts

Monday, 11 March 2013

The Family Script

My maternal grandmother was a redoubtable woman.  An Edwardian nursery governess, she spent her 20's and early 30's living in exclusive hotels in the North of England, where she ruled her nursery with a rod of iron.  She didn't marry until she was 33 but nevertheless she and my grandfather (having by now emigrated to Canada where he had a farm) produced a large brood of their own; my mother and her four brothers.  Needless to say, they were all brought up in accordance with her strict views on child rearing.  Her voice can still be heard echoing down the generations.

Granny didn't believe in celebrating Mother's Day, seeing it (wrongly as it happens - Mothering Sunday has a long and venerable tradition) as a recent and purely commercial innovation.  My own mother, being strongly influenced by her upbringing, was also not inclined to make an occasion of it and I, in my turn, although delighted with the handmade offerings of my sons when they were very young, paid scant attention to the occasion.

It wasn't until my marriage broke down and I realised too late that Mother's Day fell on a Sunday the boys were to spend with their father.  I didn't see the need to change this arrangement and fight my corner, the family script being so deeply ingrained, and spent the day alone, feeling lost and displaced, missing my sons on a day that focuses so strongly on the mother/child relationship.  It was during that long, painful day that I began to think again about Mother's Day and to accept that it did matter to me, that I did want my children to think of me on this special day and from then on I have carefully nurtured it in my own family.

Yesterday, it was a special joy to spend the day with my youngest son, down from University especially to be with me on Mother's Day, and to speak to my two older sons who couldn't join us this year but made special efforts to phone (they so rarely do - is this a boy thing?).  In  this family now, every Mother's Day will always be a special day.

I am rewriting the family script.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

"It's coming near Christmas..."

"It's coming near Christmas, they're cuttin down trees
They're puttin up reindeer and singing songs of joy and peace".

Joni Mitchell 



There's always magic in the air at Christmas.  I love to think of people through the ages celebrating the winter solstice in one way or another, from the ancient pagan tradition to our more recent Christian era.  Despite the commercialisation, it is a wonderful occasion to have a family get-together, share a feast, the warmth of our homes and the giving and receiving of gifts.  I cannot think of a better way to distract us all from what can be a rather depressing and miserable time of year, the short days and often dank weather.  I love the sense of anticipation and goodwill, the lights going up on trees in houses and gardens, the bustle of Christmas markets and the smells of the Christmas cooking wafting through the house. 


And yet, increasingly as time passes, there is such a complex layer of emotions simmering away beneath the surface and I think this is particularly the case where marriages have broken down and families have been fractured and reconstituted.  More than anything, I miss my small sons and their joy and excitement at this time of year, the carol concerts and nativity plays that used to fill my days, whilst at the same time I look forward to seeing the grown-up versions of two of my three sons and spending some time with them; the youngest, sadly, having decided not to join us this year.  My partner, too, misses the family Christmases he shared with his own children when they were an intact family and from which he is now excluded, even as we prepare for them to come and visit on Christmas Eve,  knowing that they will be leaving early on Christmas morning to spend the rest of the holiday with their own mother and her new husband.  


And, of course, this is the first Christmas without my mother.  Bittersweet.


Life is full of challenges and changes, adjustments and adaptations, the weft and the warp. Christmas puts our lives under a microscope and exposes the flaws as well as the beauty of what we create.  It is a time of joy as well as sadness, but this Christmas I hope, mostly joy.

 

Monday, 11 August 2008

Now (and then)

Staying in the moment is one of life's hardest lessons and one I wish I could have learned better a long time ago.

When I met my ex-husband, I was always thinking about the next step - moving from dating to being in a relationship, then living together, eventually getting married, buying a house, having a baby, then another baby and then another, buying and selling more houses, always searching for the dream, without realising that I had it all the time. Sadly for me, the dream turned into a nightmare and the road ultimately led to separation, divorce, the break-up of my family and massive financial insecurity.

My life is very different now, not better nor worse, just different. It is only when devastation is complete that rebirth can begin. I can hope and dream about tomorrow, but for now I have today. And it's enough.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Into the Void

I don't think I really expected to be alone for so long. I am, after all, an intelligent, attractive woman. I think I have a lot to offer. Other people seem to manage it quite well, but it just hasn't happened for me. There have been skirmishes. I have scars.

Of course it's not easy, coming from the back of the pack, trailing damage and baggage, and it probably doesn't help that I live in the back of beyond, in established couple territory. The price you pay for being in the catchment area of a good state school. Not that they are all living happily ever after, but with house prices being sky high, and the astronomical cost of divorce for those with good careers, most of them have too much to lose to cut and run. But that's fine. Marriage and family are the glue in society.

I did wonder, when it all fell apart, if I should hot tail back to London and take my chance there and if it had been just me, there would have been no question. So I stayed but time passes, children grow up and leave home, my youngest son will leave school within the next three years. What then? I have made a life for myself here, I have some good friends whom I cherish, a job I enjoy that fits in with my family commitments.

Do I step into the void, older, perhaps wiser. Alone?

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Pink Bag

I still think I am going to Lille next week - can it really be next week? It seemed so much more appealing when it was next month. This is beginning to seem real. So, I went shopping yesterday in the nearby market town which contains just one shop selling travel bags. Not a lot of choice there then. But choice makes me come out in a cold sweat, so perhaps that's just as well.

I found a lovely dark pink Kipling bag and despite the scary price tag, I had to have it, even though it cost nearly as much as my Eurostar ticket. It's so perfect and just the right size for a weekend away. The alternative would have been my 15 year old son's black school kit bag, complete with visible name tape. Not perhaps quite the image I'm looking for as I try to open my world up a little.

Today was spent washing, ironing and packing - not for me though but for my son. The reason I can get away for a couple of days just before the end of term is that he is going to CCF camp with a group from his school, so I get to holiday, too. Even if I don't go away when he does, and I rarely do, it still feels like a holiday as it's so unusual for me not to do the Mum thing. My oldest son turns 25 soon and I feel as though I've been doing this for ever, although it changes all the time. Now I usually go out and about without any children on me at all, but once I couldn't move without all three boys, often protesting vociferously. Who else was going to look after them? Even when I was married, my husband was in the City and had a mistress and was rarely home. No, I didn't know about the mistress until far, far too late. Silly me.

So being a single mum was always the way it was, I just don't have the illusion that I have a husband and that my sons have a father. My ex-husband came down from London tonight to take our son out for supper, because that is what he thinks being a good Dad is all about, and sporting fundraising posters for his local church in the back windows of his smart new car - good for the caring image. I handed him the leaflet about ASD which the doctor my son and I saw last week gave to me. A sort of potted version of the problems that my son and I face every day.  


He always made me feel that I had failed as a mother, that I just couldn't cope as well as other mothers. That it was all my fault. 

Monday, 26 February 2007

Fish

A fragment of conversation overheard in the swimming pool this morning; two middle aged ladies, tidily coiffed heads held high above the water, discussing their holiday plans as we ploughed up and down the lengths.

"And then we're going to Lake Garda ... then on to Verona ..."

Middle aged + middle class + married = affluent 

Middle aged + middle class + abandoned = broke


So what do you do when you have been left holding the children (in my case, three of them, all boys) with no husband and no disposable income to speak of?  How do you keep your end up, or should you just sink under the water and quietly disappear, leaving only a small ripple? I don't know quite where I belong anymore, where I fit in.


He left 10 years ago, my husband, although he had been absent for a very long time. We went through the motions. And I am just beginning to resurface and look cautiously around me, watching out for the sharks and the power boats. I'm not a strong swimmer.


So, I'm going to Lille for two days and a night. On my own, by myself, just me.  I'm really looking forward to it.  In fact, making the booking has given me a huge lift and I go around with a big smile on my face and a quiet sense of achievement.  I have a life, I have plans.  Actually, it doesn't really matter whether I get there or not, or even if I enjoy it when I do. What really, really matters to me is having a plan, something to look forward to.  

Small steps.