I’ve just read a short blog which Max wrote about her son and the lack of contact she has with him...she makes no secret of the problems she has, so I don’t think she’ll much mind me mentioning it.
We have nine children between the two of us...some are his and some are mine and we had a son of our own and an adopted daughter...all those children. They are all adult...there is only one who hasn’t children of his own by choice...some have been married twice...most have Grandchildren of their own...and a couple of the Grandchildren have children.
And who do we have contact with...Teresa and Reuben. The others sort of flit in and out of our lives...we catch glimpses of their photos when there is a wedding...we read Facebook to see what the Grandchildren are doing...sometimes...not often...Christmas will bring an unexpected card from one or more of the adult children.
There was a time when I chose presents carefully for birthdays and Christmas...I’d wrap them and bedeck them with ribbons and send them away. And receive no mention of that gift afterwards...no thankyou it was lovely...no whatever made you think I’d like that...nothing. So, I stopped.
Our Christmas card list was long...I’d chose a card to suit the person...a religious body recieved a card with angels or a Nativity scene...other’s had a happy Robin or a silly cartoon Santa...not now though. I’ve cut down so drastically that my list is about ten people.
We wanted to be involved I suppose with our children’s and grandchildren’s lives...we had a sort of vision of the Walton’s in the back of our minds, of family gatherings and so on...of everyone getting along and being happy. It didn’t happen. Most of our collective children don’t speak to each other...except at weddings and funerals.
Much has to do with us and the people we have become...our children find us difficult, I do know that...they think we’re quite mad to live in a leaky cottage miles away from anywhere...I think they’d rather Himself pottered about in a green house and watched the television and wore old man’s slippers and funny jumpers that don’t quite fit. I think they tend to look askance at me with my long skirts and scarlet Doc Martins and my strong views on eating dead animals and a penchant for prowling around graveyards...and we are strict. We won’t tolerate poor manners or racist comments or homophobia...and we say so. Children who don’t say please and thankyou are firmly prompted...and do you remember The Child? She’d lean over the table eating with her fingers and I was so appalled by her when we went out that I wouldn’t sit at the same table.
So....we don’t have much contact. What do we do...either we become the soft cuddly Grandparents who wear slippers with Velcro fastenings and are glued to Coronation Street and feed the Grandchildren with unsuitable sweets and fizzy pop and don’t care if they bounce on the beds...or we stay as we are. With strong views and opinions and lives beyond soaps on television...while we remain the same, the likelihood of any further contact with our children and Grandchildren is suspect.
It could be said we’ve produced people who are their own persons...they don’t need us now. They’ve made their own way and live their own lives and have grown away from us...which was probably our objective in the first place.
I, personally, had a rosy idea of the future when I birthed my babies...my future was the Walton’s. All those children descending on us for special occasions...everyone gathered together and getting along famously and drinking and eating and sharing the washing up and going out for bracing walks and all the rest.
But life throws up daughters-in-law you simply can’t stand and Grandchildren who are allowed to be rude and careless in their manners and you have to grit your teeth and carry on or simply throw your hands in the air and give up entirely.
We’ve opted out. It is simply too distressing for us to see a teenage grandchild posing on Facebook...we can’t be doing with the sheer amount of stress involved in trying to keep everyone on speaking terms with everyone else...we can no longer allow our own personal standards of what constitutes good behaviour to slide away because a child eats her supper with her hands and isn’t corrected.
Is it us being bloody minded because we’ll stick to our own acceptable form of behaviour...perhaps we ought to not mind when a simple ‘thankyou’ for a small gift is not forthcoming...maybe we fret too much over the lack of a birthday greeting...perhaps we should become old and grey and compliant...and potter about and not much care.