My mother-in-law said some very ominous words to me a couple of weeks ago.
‘You’ll have to move down here eventually, you know.’
She’s right; I will. John and I currently live on a hill a few minutes’ climb from the farmyard, in a huge, sun-filled house that we built largely ourselves, with a glorious view and fabulous neighbours. We made any amount of rookie mistakes building it, but it is nevertheless a place to which I am passionately attached, and I feel I will only be removed from here by someone who has just wielded heavy-duty bolt-cutters to good effect: severing me from whatever I have defiantly handcuffed myself to AND slugging me unconscious.
Which is a bit of a bugger, because A) we don’t own the house, B) John’s parents are fast approaching their seventies, and C) I always knew I’d married the job along with the chap. I currently do minimal stock handling and tractor cultivation work, as my in-laws are both still working and I’m not often required. In 10 years time: the dynamic will doubtless be different. I have no actual objection to taking on more agricultural work (although I always seem to be pregnant/trying to be pregnant during lambing time (sheep = toxoplasmosis = Eeep) and John will only install me in a tractor if he’s resigned to the anguish caused by my total lacksadaisicality in re: straight lines) but I’m trying to picture myself as a proper, fully-paid-up, working farmer’s wife, and the Venn diagram of the person and the role has only partial overlap.
John would be delighted if I were to return to work, I should add. Any work at all. I am a leetle choosier about what I undertake - which is a bit rich considering that I am sat spending his money while I survey a completely flattened and empty jobs market – and, again, I have been adopting a longer-term view concerning the type of role I might want to be fulfilling in ten year’s time. I have never done Long Term Thinking before, and I can’t help but think that I’m Doing It Rong.
There is a reason for all this looking and considering and cogitating and mulling, and it centers partly on Harry’s absence at school, but also on our current situation, which is a painful and difficult one.
John, you see, does not wish to continue assisted reproduction. And that is putting it gently. He would rather put his hand in a mincer. He has a son he is delighted with, a son he knows we were lucky to get, and now wants a family life that can go forward unshadowed by the caustic stress of repeated, harrowing and inexplicable pregnancy loss, misery, and financial pressure. He’s unhappy, and at the end of his personal road.
But. I want to continue. I, atavistically, want another child. If there is a way to peacefully roll over and surrender forever to this failure of mine – mine, mine - I simply don’t know what it is, or the path in me I must take to find it. I was not, it seems, made to go gently into that good night. For nearly 8 years, this, in differing forms and degrees, has been my struggle. I accept I am perhaps now, to some extent, characterised by it.
So, that, baldly, is where we both are. And our present, fortified, positions form something of an emotional scoured precipice, as you might imagine. Synthesis, real compromise: almost impossible. Either John, or I, must come to terms with their life taking shape quite differently to how they desperately want it to, and the potential for ugliness in word and deed has been strolling frighteningly close.
What can each of us bear? Both to suffer, and to forgo?
There is… dialogue. Counselling. Tomorrow: a short holiday, albeit with a cold-ridden, feverish, barking, just-been-calpol-ed-and-soothed-back-to-fitful-doze (AND generally-going-through-a-tough-developmental-temper-patch) child. And cake, of course. There is always cake.
The city’s manic, but my Love is sane.
He likes the hustle – doesn’t want to move.
My Love’s not only urban, but urbane.
I’d leave tomorrow – gladly pack it in,
but he prefers the lamplight to the stars.
We lie in bed marooned inside the din.
He has to stay in reach of Waterloo.
He has to travel in the outside lane.
I tell him that I’ve grown to like it too.
That’s love. You stack the loss against the gain.
Filed under: Parenting