Christmas really was OK and quite chilling, even though most of it was spent chopping vegetables, laying tables and washing up, as FP does the cooking, or trailing round the sales with either his or my various children. Then I had a day back at work before J2 went off with FH and I left J1 and A* and went to Hampshire. Apart from one day visiting some charming elderly relatives whom I haven’t seen since my Mum’s funeral, I spent 2 days virtually totally in bed and the other days in Winchester and Chichester, including little sojourns into their cathedrals to light candles and say my prayers. On New Year’s Eve I went for a lovely meal to a pub in Ovington. The pub is very old world in a tiny village by the river Itchen. I also had a meal in the Bat and ball in Hambledon which is the home of English cricket apparently. I read a philosophy book about the art of travel by Alan de Botain, who also featured in the Telegraph colour supplement as he is doing a TV programme, and another book on readers’ stories about travel hell and heaven experiences. The rest of the time I slept and read the papers covering the tsunami disaster.
My four days escape were not without incident. J1’s ‘having a few friends round’ on New Year’s eve turned in to a party for about 30 and I had a hysterical A* on the phone to me at 4am complaining about revellers in her bed. I got home yesterday and it was not really tidied up – you know, opening a cupboard to find a half full can of lager, the vodka bottle stashed behind the microwave in the kitchen, a bit of damage, a reasonable but not altogether thorough attempt to hoover etc. A* and J1 are at loggerheads over this with her screaming at full fever pitch in front of all his friends (and I heard her on the telephone) that J1 has ruined family life by not talking to dad. I found out yesterday, not from her, that she is now going to live with her dad when she comes back at Easter. I find it very painful. I find myself mentally and physically putting A* in a little box at a discreet distance, because it just all hurts too much. My gut feeling s are, why am I bothering? But of course, rationally and logically she has every right to live with her dad. The country estate is more glamorous. I am getting my female Sikh student doctor lodger, albeit term time only and albeit to raise money for her maintenance at university. I feel that my very best efforts to keep them together as a family unit are failing miserably and I’m not shouting or being especially horrid – I just can’t keep them together anymore and I thought it was the right thing to do. Anyway, I rationalised with myself when I was all upset yesterday, hearing this and down on my hands and knees cleaning floors and other party detritus, I just have to be as loving as I can be by still paying what I agreed in maintenance and keeping up my email/ phone contact. This is the horrid, horrid fall out from a separation I didn’t seek.
I think I got upset the night before I went away because FH failed to come at the agreed time to pick up J2 and the dog as it wasn’t convenient – he came 2 hours later. He also made arrangements to take J2 out for the day without asking me on the Tuesday. Unless you want to sink into madness with the sense of the loss of control, I have no other choice but to focus on what I want and look ahead. I’ve tried to make some resolutions that are about limited forward planning – mainly practical stuff about maintaining the house – which will help if I eventually decide to rent it out. I did also try and tackle FH. He shouts and swears – I clam up and get tearful as you know I do – and then an hour later he capitulates and apologises, but there seems to be no real learning from each incident and I now feel he is never going to move from Luton as until Gill comes over he needs the consolation of his family.
Anyway, I did have a nice break. I did take time out to reflect. I’ve told FP I don’t want to go on holiday to a villa in Portugal as it is expensive and boring. I recover quicker from setbacks all the time.
If the dinner invitation is still on I could do Saturday 15th or Sunday 29th. Can we do lunch or is dinner the only option?
Did you make any New Year resolutions?