Archive for February, 2010

Wake Up In-Laws!


Dear Mother and Father in Law:

You are lovely.  You’ve welcomed me into your family and you give your 6th grandchild a lot of love and affection.  But why the HELL can you not buy her some things every now and then?  For her first Christmas, you gave us £40 in cash in a card for her ON CHRISTMAS DAY.  You couldn’t even give it to us ahead of time so we could actually buy something and have it for her to open!  She may have only been 6 months old at the time, but she still loved presents and opening them.  Cold hard cash is not quite so fun.  Other than Christmas and, so far, 1 birthday, you’ve never bought her anything.  Wait, I take that back.  You scrounged around Wilkinson’s to buy her a £1 colouring book to have at your house.  Yes, I forget, that’s all she needs, isn’t it?

You know that we don’t have much money.  You know what she likes to do, what her favourite shows are, what her favourite toys are.  You just went out this weekend and spent several hundred pounds on a new telly for your kitchen.  A gorgeous, flat-screen number.  Seriously, couldn’t you maybe have taken some of that money and bought a few things for your youngest, and potentially, last grandchild?  You know how much she loves Duplo and you now know how much it costs because I have told you.  Couldn’t you just take it upon yourself to drive to Toys R Us to buy her one of the sets that would just make her day? 

My family aren’t here.  They are very far away yet when we visit them or when they visit us, they bring gifts and things to make their granddaughter happy.  I’m not overly materialistic and I don’t think that our daughter should have too much but really, would it kill you to just buy her something FOR THE HELL OF IT.  It doesn’t have to be a holiday or special occasion to give someone something but apparently you think it does.  It’s not fair to deprive her of things just because you can’t be bothered.  I know you love her but think for a minute about buying her one or two things just because you can.  You are also aware of how keen we are for her to do something like Tumble Tots.  Couldn’t you possibly offer to pay for one or two sessions of it so that she can try it?  You know we can’t afford it yet it would be nothing for you.  I’d just really like, for once, for your grandchild to be spoiled by you.  That’s what grandparents are for, isn’t it??

Sincerely,

Your Disgruntled Daughter-in-Law

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Last year, this year, every year

We are here again and I hate it.  I hate coming here and I hate having to bring my children.  Maybe it’s because I’m looking at it through visiting-the-in-laws-tinted glasses, but it is a dump.  It wasn’t always this way.  The grand, many-roomed houses along the river front, facing Liverpool’s World Heritage skyline would once have been desirable places to live.  Now they are either split into numerous poky flats or derelict; stucco peeling, gardens unloved, windows bare and broken, fences uprooted and replaced with chicken wire.  The ferry no longer runs and the once bustling shoreline is deserted, save for piles of dangerous jetsam and a boat, slowly sinking into the mud. 

The pub is abandoned, surrounded by piles of rubble and tangled wire, windows shuttered with metal sheeting.  The monumental iron-red sandstone wall is crumbling and has been patched with cheap orange brick, like an ugly rash.  And litter, everywhere you look, piles of litter, dirty plastic bags blowing like tumbleweed in the cold, February wind. 

There are green spaces, gaps between the houses, open areas devoid of people but liberally strewn with dog shit.  Patches of bare tarmac amongst the grass are scars of places where children used to play.  The swings and slides have been removed, people are scared of teenagers congregating, but do they have anywhere else to go?  

The stained glass window in the Church says ‘God is Love’.  It is partially obscured by wire mesh, as if people can’t be trusted to respect a place of worship.  It is a sight that never fails to depress me.

Some houses are neat and tidy, cared for, but the overwhelming impression is of a town that’s given up.  Without the ferry, they have no purpose and cut off by the dual carriage way they’ve been forgotten.  Shipping magnates no longer stroll along the waterfront, the prosperous and wealthy have moved elsewhere.  There is no reason to go here, except to visit my children’s grandparents.  I wish we didn’t have to come, but we do.  This week, for the first time, the seven year old said “Why is it so dirty, Mummy?”  I didn’t have an answer.

This post was written for the Sleep is for the Weak writing workshop which asked, what were you doing this time last year?

Missing: One Mojo

Have you seen my mojo?

I know I had it at one time or other but now it is long gone and I truly have no idea how to find it. I thought perhaps that it could be buried under the layers of jumpers and coats and scarves but it doesn’t seem to be there. Or perhaps it would be found beneath the pyjamas and duvets required at this time of year but that is not the case. I’ve spent hours lying awake at night, searching through my brain to see if it has got lost in one corner or another, but I couldn’t find it.

Has it gone forever?

Now, I know that there are many factors that affect these types of things. I have been pregnant and had a baby in the past year. I am a larger size now than when I started and my body feels different to me. There is no sign of the weight disappearing. In my head I am one thing, in the mirror another. I am tired every evening and every morning there is a baby looking for attention. We do have our own room back, which I thought would help but nothing has changed.

I love my husband so much. He works hard to look after me and our baby, and he has made all my dreams come true. I want to be able to find my mojo for him. He has the patience of a saint and does not bother me or hassle me and understands that I don’t want to. I know that he wants to.

I feel like a switch has been turned off inside of me. I don’t think about sex, I don’t want sex. I love a cuddle and cannot sleep unless I am curled up around him but that is as far as it goes.

Thinking back, this isn’t really linked to the baby. Things were this way, my mojo was M.I.A. before the baby, before we got married. When we were first together everything in this area was fantastic. Then I had to have a number of operations which made things difficult and other health problems got in the way. Things perked up a little after we were married, I relaxed and we started trying to make a baby. Unfortunately for my husband it worked first time so he only got one month of trying before everything stopped again. I just didn’t want to anymore.

I worry that the only reason that I got over my problem was because the urge to have a baby was enough to make me sort it out and do it. Now, I have my baby and although I plan on having a second I am wanting to wait a while. But that is not fair on my husband. Special occasions worry me, it is Valentines Day, should we do it? A birthday, an anniversary, all of these have me worrying for days.

He is convinced that it will come back. I love his optimism but at the same time I want him to acknowledge that there is a problem, that perhaps this will never get fixed. Will he stay forever if I never sort this out?

I hate talking about it, I am a prude I guess. I get embarrassed talking to my husband which is stupid. I hate it when friends talk about sex, I have never done that. What am I so afraid of? Why am I like this now? What can I do to make it better?

I would do anything for him, why can’t I just do this?

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My Grandparents’ Secret

I wrote a post on my blog about my Grandad recently. But I didn’t write about my other Grandad: my Dad’s father.
 
I didn’t know him that well, I was nine when he died. He wasn’t very old when he passed away but years of ill health made him seem elderly. I can recall he had a shock of white hair and a walking stick. He didn’t say much.
 
After he died, my Grandma came to stay with us a lot. She lived 250 miles away and was lonely. She always got on well with her daughter-in-law, my Mum. During her stays with us she told Mum some things she hadn’t told anyone.
 
My Grandparents were married shortly before the Second World War. Grandpa served in the War, I don’t know what he did but he was away from home a lot like most men of his generation. During the War and afterwards their children were born.
 
Grandpa’s family were wealthy (I don’t know where the money ended up, not on our side of the family!) and apparently it was considered that he’d married beneath him. According to my Grandma the War changed him. Once returning from the War, he had a number of affairs which she knew about. Then he fell in love with another woman. A few weeks before my Dad was born, Grandpa told my Grandma he was leaving her. Devastating for her and even more shocking in 1950 than now.
 
Grandma was desperate. She already had young children. She’d never worked because most women of her generation didn’t. She was a housewife and Grandpa earnt the money. It was a very traditional household.
 
The family were religious. Grandma did the only thing she felt she could do. She told senior members of their Church about my Grandpa’s affair and how he was planning to leave her. Shortly after this he was taken to one side and told he must end his affair and be loyal to his wife for the rest of his life. I’m not sure what the threat was, maybe it was public humiliation or excommunication of some sort. Whatever it was, Grandma’s tactic worked. Grandpa left his mistress and stayed with his wife.
 
For the next 35 years my Grandparents stayed together in an unhappy marriage. And Grandpa sulked for the rest of his life. He hardly ever said a word to anyone. His ill health was probably brought on by years of unhappiness.
 
I feel sorry for my Grandma, she spent most of her life with a man she knew didn’t love her. I can understand why she did what she did. Being a single mum these days is hard enough, to have done it in the early fifties would have been extremely difficult. The social stigma would have been intolerable. And Grandma would have struggled to support herself. She’d had a limited education. She’d been groomed to be someone’s wife, never to work or be independent.
 
I feel sorry for my Grandpa too. Clearly the marriage wasn’t meant to work out. But in those days marriages were expected to last for life. He’d made a mistake and he’d fallen in love with someone else. Not ideal. But he was only human. He suffered for it. Both of my Grandparents suffered.
 
How different times were then and how lucky that these days women have a few more choices. It’s never easy when a family breaks down but at least we’re more accepting of it now. And there’s a bit more help.
 
I don’t know why my Mum told me this story. I don’t think she’s told many people. She didn’t tell my Dad because Grandma didn’t want him to know. My parents aren’t together any more. And my Dad still doesn’t know the truth behind his parents’ marriage. This is why I chose to publish this post here.
 

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