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Tag: Family (page 1 of 2)

the wedding

{not mine, obviously}

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My Littlest Brother got himself hitched at the weekend, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a lovely ceremony, with joyful hymns and thousands of bridesmaids. My Monster was there and I managed to completely ignore him. I did so well at it that I was able to forget he was even there.

I felt a tad sorry for my Littlest Brother. Two of his siblings from my Monster’s side didn’t come, neither did any cousins from either side, or aunts, uncles and whatnot. Bereft of family. So it’s nice that he’s wangled himself a ready-made family as the blushing bride is the mother of three boys. One does wonder how he will cope; thirty-four years old and moving from the home he shares with his parents into an established family home, where he’ll have to think about other people, and properly pay bills and stuff. He’s not being eased into it. He’s plonking himself smack, bang into the middle and going for it full throttle.

Exciting times ahead.

I am happy for him. I hope it all works out and they do the right thing by having oodles of babies. But I’m dubious. Oh, so dubious.

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do not stand at my grave and weep

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I love funerals.

Does that make me odd?

It ties in with my love of graveyards and cemeteries, the knowledge that hundreds of bones lie beneath my feet in varying stages of decomposition, inevitably all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, faith, impairment, etc. – becoming nothing more than dust giving life to nature; the one absolute we all share, after birth, is the fact that each and every one of us will die.  There is much joy and happiness to be found at funerals. A celebration of a life well-lived, the love of family and friends, the beautiful memories and the quirky anecdotes. A family united in grief, old and young, close and not-so close, sharing a moment of reflection in honour of the deceased.

My uncle passed away last month, suddenly and unexpectedly, despite his advanced years. Married to my Mumsy’s dearly departed sister and father to my cousins, he was a man I admit I was not close to, and was not particularly fond of. This stemmed, in part, from my own introversion and need for solitude, silence and routine. He was gregarious, blunt, exceedingly opinionated, and – in my childlike observations – very stern. I think that what it boiled down to was a simple personality clash and I didn’t spend enough time with him to get to know and understand him. Plus, he scared the little me completely and utterly, and I don’t think this feeling ever deserted me.

Last week we attended his funeral. It was a beautiful service. I gave hugs and comfort to my littlest nephew and held my Mumsy’s hand.  And although I feel sad, I do not grieve for him. Instead I simply grieve for his children and his grandchildren, for Mumsy and for two of my siblings who were also close to him.

It made me wonder – do we really grieve for other people? Or is our grief selfish? Are we purely grieving for the things we want that we now can’t have?

 

Happy Mother’s Day?

i-cant-believe-it-i-forgot-to-have-children

I am not a mother. This isn’t through choice; it’s just the way life turned out. I still have a few child-bearing years so maybe Fate will bless me with a child one day, but I shan’t hold my breath.

I love my Mummy. She is the world to me. She’s my rock, my role-model, my mentor, my friend, my everything. She’s the one who sticks a plaster on my grazed knee, metaphorically speaking. I love her to the moon and back.

If I never have a baby I will never experience that. Nobody will ever love me to the moon and back. Nobody will run to me when they graze their knee, or their best friend makes them cry. Nobody will make me a homemade card saying, “Best Mummy Ever!” or grill my Yorkshire puddings or pay my nursing home fees. I won’t cry for anybody when they have their first heartbreak or get into uni.

I’ll never be a grandmother.

Mothering Sunday makes me feel inferior. It makes me feel like a failure. I haven’t grown anything in my womb. I haven’t been kicked by my unborn baby. I haven’t cried about not being able to breastfeed or been kept awake all night by a teething baby. When my friends on Facebook start gushing over their day, their *special* day, it makes me feel a little sad. “Oh, look how amazing I am,” they say. “I got this and that and the other thing!”

“Until you’ve had a baby you know nothing, least of all what real unconditional love is,” they say. Ouch. Kick me when I’m feeling down why don’t you. Besides, of course I know what real unconditional love is. I have a Mummy, siblings and nieces and nephews. I have a Husband who has tested my love to its limits. Real unconditional love isn’t limited to a child and its parents.

I think women {and men, let’s not forget those men who aren’t dads} like me should have a *special* day too. I just need to think of a name for it!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the UKian women, and for those who aren’t Mothers, Happy <must think of a name for it/> Day!

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the pregnant YASiL

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Blokey came downstairs and into the kitchen in the early hours of yesterday evening.  I had an email from Bro, he said. YASiL is pregnant, he said.

And so I went into shutdown. I stomped about for a bit, and then I put my happy face on.  But I can’t bear the idea of contacting her (or BiL) and offering my congratulations.  To many (including them), this probably makes me a selfish bitch. But it’s simply my way of coping, a need to have time to reflect and process, to consider the best way to deal with it and find solutions which will stop the happy mask slipping and betraying my true feelings about it.

To put it bluntly, I am gutted.

I am gutted because for the next howevermanymonths (I know not, I’ve refrained from asking Blokey about the finer details because I’m not ready to hear them) all I’m going to hear is baby talk. Baby this, baby that, baby here, baby there.  No visit to MiLs will be complete without beaming I’m going to be a grandmother at last! remarks, and to me they’ll feel like snide digs.  I’m the DiL who gave life through a kidney, but who hasn’t proven her womanhood through the conception of a continuing bloodline. I’ll have to look at scan pictures and bite my tongue when my baby names are bandied about as potential possibilities. Through it all I’ll have to smile and be interested, whilst my heart breaks and my head screams in frustration.

Extended family members will pity me and come out with stupid comments about how my time will come, or similar. I’ll just smile.

I hate her. Right now, I hate her. I hate her for having the one thing right now that I desperately want.  I hate her because she’ll be a perfect mother, to a perfect baby and she’ll spend all her time with her perfect yummy-mummy friends and their perfect children.

And it’s ridiculous because of course I love her.  I love both of them to bits. And I know that I will embrace this baby with all the love that a non-genetically related auntie can muster.  I will be the most amazing auntie that this baby ever has, showering him or her with love and goodies and memories …

But right now I don’t feel like celebrating, and I reserve the right to feel this way whilst my head sorts itself out.

Forgive me if I spend the rest of my days pondering, Why me? What did I do that was so tragically terrible in a past life?

bah, humbug.

christmas

I LOVE Christmas, but this doesn’t stop me from whining about it.  In no particular order these are the Top 5 things which truly annoy, baffle, frustrate and irk me …

1. Happy Holidays!

Um, nope. I think you’ll find it’s Happy Christmas! A holiday is something I go on when I travel to a place that isn’t my home and do some sightseeing. Christmas is something completely different to that scenario. I think it’s an Americanism because it’s also said at Thanksgiving, Easter and Hallowe’en and over here we only really celebrate one of those.

[Edited to add: I’m wrong; it’s only said as a way to incorporate all religious festivals at this time of year. It is still an Americanism though and it still irks me. *grin*]

When the entire English-speaking population of the world has succumbed to Happy Holidays! America will rub its hands in glee and know they have finally become Masters of the Universe.

2. The Round Robin*

We all get at least one every year stuffed inside a card, and they can be summed up in the following ways:

i.  I’m friends with you on Facebook and haven’t missed a single one of your status updates. Why are you sending me this?

ii. I haven’t seen you since 1652. Why do you think I care about what little Cyril did when the bird pooped on his head?

iii. Gosh, my family is so inferior to yours. Excuse me whilst I go and do something tragic/amazing (so that my family have something to write about next year.)

(*with apologies to anyone who sent me one this year)

3. Family

Christmas can bring out the worst in people. It’s also a time of year when some have to bite their tongue and just go with the flow to avoid those terrible arguments, which will have repercussions well into the first eleven or-so months of the new year. Christmas should be about family, but only if you have a family or indeed, a family that you want to spend time with.

I’m a tongue-biter, go with the flow kind of gal.

My BiL has spent every Christmas Eve and the following Christmas Day at my MiLs since the year my FiL so tragically passed away.  He got married this year and obviously wants to spend the night/day with his new wife, who in turn wants to spend the day with her parents because a) she always has and b) her grandmother is very poorly this year. When MiL Dearest heard about this she threw a Very Big Fit.

Christmas is for the family! she said. My boys should be spending it with me! she said.

She’d been invited to spend the day with my YASiLs family and we were going to spend the night before with her and have breakfast.  I was looking forward to us then heading home and cooking my Blokey a fabulous Christmas dinner, with all the proverbial trimmings.

It’s not to be.

It is probably never to be.

I am destined to a life of Christmas Day boredom with my MiL on an annual basis.  We’ve agreed to staying with her for Christmas dinner but I put my foot down about staying into the evening for tea. No! I said.

It isn’t so much that we have to spend it with her; it’s the assumption that we will spend it with her and the blatant disregard of the fact that both I and YASiL have our own families too and we might one day want to spend time with them on the actual day itself.

I must try harder to get pregnant in 2014; a baby is the only thing that will stop this malarkey. Yes, my baby will just be for Christmas. Yes, I expect I am destined to be childless. It will be my punishment for some minor misdemeanor I don’t remember committing.

4. Festive Charity Givers

There are people all around the world who need help every single day, not just for/at Christmas. Hidden amongst the adverts for food, alcohol and toys (both grow’d up and for children) are the pitiful visual representations of crying children, freezing homeless folk, blind cats and diseased reindeer.

Give to charity! they scream. We want your money! they beg.

I don’t have an issue with giving to charity. I do have an issue with people who only give to charity at this time of year and who shout it from the rooftops so that everybody knows. I assume I’m supposed to give them a Big Thumbs Up? I don’t.

Connected to this is those people who come into the office (or wherever) and say, Oh, I’m not giving out Christmas cards this year. I’m just going to give the money I would have spent to charity.’They rarely tell you which charity though.  I think most of them are just a bunch of tight-fisted Scrooge’s. The same applies to people who just send an ecard at Christmas. What’s the point in that? I can’t put it on my non-existent mantlepiece, can I? I’d much rather people were honest and just said, Look, I really can’t be arsed to spend an afternoon writing out Christmas cards and then spend oodles of money on stamps so they get to the right person at the right time. I have much more respect for honesty.

5. Santa Fuck!ng Claus

Who IS he? When I was a child we didn’t have Santa Claus.  We had Father Christmas. Father Christmas is jolly and huggable and just lovely. Santa Claus sounds strict and like some creepy uncle who you don’t really want to see, but have to.  He probably has a scratchy beard, quite unlike the fluffy cotton-wool one worn by Father Christmas.

Santa Claus is an Americanism (and this isn’t an America-bashing post, honest) which found its way to America courtesy of the Dutch and (much later) Coca-Cola. Father Christmas was originally part (as Father Winter) of the Midwinter festivities celebrated in Europe a very long time ago. In recent years Santa has started infiltrating the British Isles, emblazoning his name upon wrapping paper, cards and gift tags and sneakily permeating our quaint little media so that his name can be shouted through the airwaves.

I wish he’d just fuck off. I don’t mind ‘Santa Claus’ when uttered by an American (they know no better) or as a character in a (n American) film, poem or book. But when I hear a native of this fair land saying Santa Claus it quite gets my goat.

When the entire English-speaking population of the world has succumbed to Santa Claus America will rub its hands in glee and know they have finally become Masters of the Universe.

Just call me Mrs Scrooge.

Happy Christmas!

An open letter to my Monster

A broken doll, symbol of a broken child

(I will be sending this in the post)

I have a little girl in my head.  Her memories are sad.  Her daddy left her and after he left her he did things which no daddy should do, ever.  He’s rude and nasty about her mummy, lots.  He wants her to call another woman ‘mummy’ and when she talks about ‘mummy’ at home her own mummy cries.  He manically jumps around on the front lawn for some reason which the little girl forgets.  Sometimes he rings up but the little girl doesn’t want to talk to him, and he just wants to argue with mummy.   When the little girl doesn’t want to go and stay with him, he makes her and she’s ill. Silly, stupid daddy.

Daddy has two new daughters.  He lives with them and he loves them.  He knows them better than he knows his old daughter, even at that young age.  The little girl vents her anger over this by stealing from her new sisters.  Her mummy makes her take the toy back and maybe nobody else ever has to know.

The little girl rarely has new stuff.  She knows her daddy doesn’t like giving up his hard earned cash to support his children.  But it’s cool because another slightly older little girl has a daddy who lives in Singapore and he sends clothes which eventually become second-hand clothes for the little girl. 

Our little heroine gradually stops seeing her daddy when he moves a fair distance away.  She doesn’t seem particularly bothered.  I think that by this point she has little love left for her daddy; when mummy gives her money to buy presents for daddy she’s much happier spending it on sweeties. 

Visiting daddy becomes a chore.  The little girl would far rather be at home with her mummy and her friends. And for some reason the visits become less frequent anyway.  Perhaps daddy has little love left for her now too.  Any love she had for him flutters away; he’s a stranger to her now.  It’s pretty obvious the love he has for his other daughters is much stronger because he takes them to exotic places in foreign lands and he lives with them and plays with them. 

He begrudges her maternal grandparents paying for holidays to Pontins once a year.

One day he rings up and says he’s popping in for a visit. The little girl is a teenager now and she desperately doesn’t want him to come whilst she’s alone in the house, but he does and she hates every moment of it.

She doesn’t see him again until she’s forced to at a wedding. 

She tries to be a daughter to him but it’s hard work … they have nothing in common.  They’re simply two strangers trying too hard to be something they’re not.

The little girl only invites her daddy to her wedding because she doesn’t want to deal with the fallout that will inevitably come from not inviting him. 

One day the little girl did something amazing.  People (even strangers) sent her beautiful messages, cards and flowers for doing something amazing.  The little girl’s daddy just posted a short message on her Facebook page.  No flowers, no card … just a short message, an after-thought. 

Daddy has never known when to bite his tongue.  This has partly been his downfall.  When he forgets to bite his tongue he comes across as bitter and twisted.  She blocks him from Fb.

And from her life.

The little girl is happy now and tucks the sad memories away.

But she knows what he did.

I know what you did.

I know why [name retracted] doesn’t let you see her children.

I know what you did to me.

And this is my response to the message you sent Big Brother, with your written word in bold.

Enjoy.

I am somewhat upset by the fact that you and your siblings appear to have cast me in the role of the villain.

We didn’t intentionally.  You act (and continue to act) in such a way that we have no choice but to cast you as the villain.  My childhood memories are genuinely sad.  My only real memory from before you left us (you DID leave us) is of wearing a red and white nightie and needing you and mum to help me be sick in the bathroom.  My memories of the following years consist of hearing you make evil comments about my beautiful mum to us and making her cry, whether it be on the phone or in person. 

This is far from the case. Our marriage had hit the rocks some months before I left [village of my childhood]. I won’t go into detail since I do not wish to cause any further friction but I can assure you that your mother was far from the innocent party in the breakup.

It doesn’t matter what you say now about my mum.  She will always be the woman you let get away.  She will always be your ‘what if …?’ I am more than willing to hear what you have to say about my mum; I know that she will tell me the truth if I ask her.  This is simply a continuation of what you did back when we were little; make vitriolic comments to turn us against her.  It’s too late, John.  Whatever you say, whatever you now decide to throw at us, she is our mum and our dad all rolled into one.  She’s been the brunt of our anger (you can see the scars on her hands, caused as much by you as they were by me) and an emotional (and occasionally physical) punch bag for all four of us.  She’s the person who cared so much – and so unconditionally – that she couldn’t stop loving us even when we were so vile to her.  You caused our anger (and all of us are angry with you) but she was the person we took it out on.  You don’t know us at all.  She knows each of us inside out and upside down. Whatever you think she did, it’s not something you can now use as an excuse for walking out on us (and you DID walk out on us.)

Things became so intolerable that either your mother or I would have left anyway.

My mum would never have left us.

As far as I was concerned I never left you or the others.

But as far as we’re concerned you DID leave us. We were children, thinking as children. And now we are adults who still think as children, because we will always be the children in this [non-]relationship.

I just left a house where so much unhappiness was caused and was developing even further.

This is from your perspective.  My unhappiness didn’t materialise until you left, much of that unhappiness caused by how you acted after you went.

If you recall you and the others came regularly to see me and we went on holidays together.

Yes.

This continued until your mother told me you no longer wished to come.

You make it sound like she made the decision.  She didn’t.  Your children have always been fully functioning thinkers with their own decision-making capabilities. You should be proud of that.

Surely this cannot be thought of deserting you?

You’re thinking as an adult.  Again, we’re thinking as children. And you DID desert us. 

Most of the money I earned ended up in [village of my childhood] and we lived almost entirely on [name retracted]’s money.

You obviously had a very poorly-paid job, because we lived on hand-me-downs.  We never had anything new and Christmas presents from mum often appeared in January.  You bought me an expensive Sindy swimming pool one year.  Anyhoo, this is a moot point.  You had four children and you left them and because of this they spent years living below the breadline in poverty. You still had to provide for them but in my memory you did this begrudgingly with the least possible amount you could get away with, and you were very quick to stop the maintenance when we each turned seventeen.  Did you think we stopped existing at that age?  Did we stop needing anything?  Food?  Clothing?  It all magically appears at that age? You may not (in your eyes) have deserted us physically, but letting us down financially is one way to desert your children.

In view of the above I’m sure you can understand why I feel let down by my children and their lack of contact with me.

Actually, no … there is nothing you have written which suggests your children let you down.  We haven’t let you down. You are not a child; stop acting like a petulant spoilt brat.  As an adult you made a decision and that decision had far-reaching consequences.  Each of the decisions you had to make based on that initial decision have had consequences. I can’t speak for the others, but my lack of contact with you is to do with the fact that I have nothing to say to you.  I don’t know you.  I certainly don’t love you.  If it’s any consolation I don’t hate you either.  I just feel nothing really, but a teeny smidgeon of dislike and an occasional dollop of sympathy.  You’re a bloke who gave me some ridiculously annoying genes and who tried to be a dad, but failed.  That’s all you are to me. That’s all you’ve been for a very long time. I do pity you though and however much I loved my nana I know that her mental health issues must have affected you deeply; it’s the only reason I can think of for you being the way you are.  Yes, we’ve all seen that letter you wrote to Auntie [name retracted] when you were twelve.

Frankly I’m at the stage that I feel it would be easier to have no contact whatsoever.

Hallelujah. The day that I blocked you from my Facebook – and thus my life – created a feeling of blessed relief in my very core. I have suggested that Big Brother do the same.

Anyrate [sic] give my love to [name retracted] and the girls and tell them I wish them every success in the future.

That’s a lovely way to guilt-trip Big Brother. You don’t deserve to see those girls. They don’t need your vitriol in their beautiful young lives.

Love from your dad who has NEVER stopped loving and caring about you. xx

But who’s never really shown it, not properly. A dad who loved us would have known what was best for us as children and wouldn’t have caused so much angst and friction.

ps Sorry about all the “I’s” but it was difficult to avoid.

Why was it difficult? Why couldn’t you just put yourself in Big Brother’s shoes and see the world from his perspective. 

Your response could have been,

Hey Kids,

I’m genuinely sorry I was such a crap dad.  I can understand why you think I deserted you and why you all find it so difficult to love me, or even care about me.  I did some ridiculously stupid things and uttered some awful words, but I was hurting too and missed you all.  I’d like to make up for it now by offering you this massive apology.  I know the past can’t be erased, but I’d like to try and form some sort of meaningful relationship with you.

I know that I broke you all.  I know that I stomped on your little hearts until the pain was too great.  I’m sorry I threw the fact you didn’t come to my wedding in your face by making you have to look at that photo in the hall every time you visited, you know – the one with [name retracted] and [name retracted] as bridesmaids. I’m sorry I insisted on bringing [name retracted] to the hospital when the only person you really wanted there was your mummy.  I can do nothing but apologise for using you as pawns in the game of my life.  You deserved better.  There didn’t need to be a custody battle, I realise that now.  You were obviously always going to stay with your mum.  I just wanted to hurt her.

I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you when you were growing up.  I’m sorry I wasn’t there whilst you were running away to London, pulling knives on each other, screaming at your mum because of all the pain I caused, surviving abusive relationships, taking overdoses, being diagnosed with depression, sleeping around whilst searching for love, hurling china items at dining room walls, breaking bones, breaking hearts, falling in love, falling out of love, watching your husband nearly die …  I’m sorry that the neighbours had to step in and sort things out when your mum couldn’t cope with the emotional outbursts; it should have been me sorting it out.

I’m sorry I missed your graduation ceremonies.  I’m sorry that in pushing you all away I’ve missed out on seeing my grandchildren develop and grow.  I’m sorry that I didn’t love you in the way that I should have loved you.

I’m an idiot.  I put you through hell and then I just gave up on you.  I should have tried harder to stay in contact.  I was your dad, after all.

I’d like to be your dad again.  I’d like that chance.  But I do understand it may not be possible.

Dad x

But it should have been,

Hey Kids,

I’m sorry.

Dad x

Instead you wrote a self-pitying car crash of a message which once again proves that you just don’t ‘get it’.  It’s not all about you.  It’s about all of us.

Sorry – it’s one simple little word and it’s a word you have NEVER said.  You think it doesn’t apply to you, but it does.  Everybody you’ve ever pushed away (your children, your ex-wife, your step-daughter(/s), your sister, your brother, all of us) deserves to hear you say that one simple little word and we all reserve the right to hear it and then walk away.  Because if you haven’t said it yet, you’ll never say it and if you do say it now it’s just an empty, hollow word with no meaning. 

You only have yourself to blame for how the world turned out for you.  You could have righted the wrongs, but you chose not to.  We became who we are because of you and for that we can be thankful.  We are the strong, independent, successful, kind, family-orientated children of a beautifully amazing woman who has more good in her little finger than you can imagine. We value and cherish each other because of what we’ve had to endure as children and young adults.  If you hadn’t have deserted us (which you DID do) we wouldn’t be this close and this in love with each other. 

So perhaps deserting us (which you DID do) was the best thing you ever did.

I am sorry.  I am sorry that I lost my daddy when I was a little girl.  I grieve for that daddy sometimes.  The daddy who came later is one I can’t forgive and I’m sorry for that too because it’s not that daddy’s head which gets fucked up over it, it’s MY head which gets fucked up over it.

You have no idea of the pain you’ve caused us and I don’t think you’ll ever ‘get it’.

You are a Monster. 

You have to live with that, the Monster deep inside you.  We don’t, not anymore.

I’m sorry.

(In my first year at uni I saw a counsellor and we talked about you a lot. He suggested that I write you a letter to get all my feelings into the open.  I never did because I didn’t want to hurt you [oh enough, my belly hurts from laughing] but I don’t think you can be hurt because you only hear what you want to hear, and see what you want to see. So, it’s twenty years too late, but this is my letter to you. It’s been good to finally get it out. And I take back what I said about not hating you … I think I do hate you, but only a little bit. Mostly I still just feel nothing towards you. It may interest you to know that I am like you in many respects. Unlike you however, I have learnt to bite my tongue and choose my battles wisely. My battles with you are over; the war is over and neither of us have won.)

Wedding Season

I don’t really understand weddings.  In the past people quietly wed in their local parish church or the registry office, with a couple of family members or close friends (or none, as was common) as witnesses.  They didn’t tend to spend oodles of money on outdoing their best friends or ensuring the entire venue was jam-packed with flowers (which incidentally, seem to wither and die very quickly.)

This isn’t to say that our wedding wasn’t extravagent.  It was, for us.  If we remove the hire of the venue and the deliciously scrummy food they provided for a sit-down meal for thirteen adults and four children, and an evening buffet for eighty guests, my dress was the single most expensive item of the day.  I wore it once and I can never wear it again (because it won’t fit … plus it needs a damn good clean.  I was a dirty bride.)  I often look back and think how daft that was.  I didn’t even look good in it.

But regardless, our wedding (and honeymoon) came to no more than a few (five-ish) thousand pounds, with the majority being the dress and the venue/food.  I liked my wedding for its simplicity.  A small intimate ceremony, followed by a small intimate dinner and later on an evening of joviality with disco and expensive bar.  I handmade our ceremony invitations,our favours and the table place-cards and I semi-handmade our guestbook.  We could have spent less but at the time we I wanted a fairly posh venue that was easy to get to for all our guests (a Marriott along one of the busiest roads in England).  Looking back I think I’d be happy to opt for a local village hall now. But then I wanted to show that I had some class …

So, last weekend BiL tied the knot with YASiL.  And it was beautiful.  The venue was rural and divine, the sun was shining, the food was tasty, the guests were plentiful, I stuttered through my reading (and have vowed to NEVER read again in front of nearly one hundred folk, most of whom I don’t know) and then got tipsy on sparkling wine (Australian).  My MiL only goofed up once –

MiL: (to Blokey) You’ve scrubbed up really nicely today; you looked awful at the last wedding we went to!
KatieF: Um, you do know the last wedding we all went to together was our wedding don’t you?
MiL: Yes, yes I do.
KatieF: *gasp* … that’s not very nice!
MiL: But true.

KatieF: Whatever … (in her head)

– and it was a truly wonderful day, which ended with fireworks.  They spent so much money on the wedding day that they requested financial help towards their (expensive South American) honeymoon as a gift.  I was a bit mean and said to Blokey that I didn’t want to give them money.  My understanding was that they’d had to pay up front for the honeymoon, so in effect giving them money is just enabling their lifestyle once they return and begin to enjoy newly-wedded bliss.  We gave them a present instead, which was vaguely linked to the Hen party in Paris but involves a trip to London.  I’m also creating two more gifts for them; I’d like to give them things they can look back on, memories of the day which they can share with other people.  I just think it’s more personal, especially from immediate family.  I do realise that they’re not me and won’t necessarily appreciate these little things I’m doing, but it just seems so much nicer than money.

If I were getting married now and not then, the only things I’d keep the same is the ceremony venue – partly because it’s my local registry office so the cheapest option, but also because it’s a quaint old building in a beautiful garden – and the maker/flavour of the cake, but a different style of cake.  I’d have a dress from Monsoon, some seasonal – but wild – flowers, I wouldn’t invite The Man just because I didn’t want to cause conflict, and I’d put together a buffet myself for my nearest and dearest and insist on people taking lots of pictures (not of me) instead of paying for a photographer (I’ve just realised that the photographer was the second biggest expense of our day; not sure how I could have forgotten that …)

I just think that with weddings we put on so much show to keep other people happy.  The day is gone by in such a blur and as a bride you rarely get to sample the delights of it.  It should be a simple day which reflects the love you share with another person.

I am the Wedding Humbug.

But no, the wedding was beautiful.  And my wedding was beautiful.  And all weddings are beautiful.  I just think we’ve lost the meaning behind the charade of putting on an event.

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Tales of my MiL

MotherInLaw

You have met my MiL before. She’s the woman who attracts bitterness and negative thoughts.  She oozes food from her pores and embraces arguments with people who are merely doing their jobs.  Her way is the Right Way (and please, don’t forget it).  She sits atop a goldmine, yet cuddles her bag with a ferocious glare when it’s time to pay the restaurant bill.  She has no friends and never does anything.

Moan.

[her]

Grumble.

[her]

Whinge.

[her]

Biting of tongue.

[me]

When we saw her yesterday she didn’t disappoint. She rarely disappoints.

Yesterday’s offering to the gods of Oh, woe is me came courtesy of the impending marriage of BiL and YASiL.

I don’t understand, she seethed, why we have nothing to do with the wedding.

Eh?

Blokey is going to be an usher.  I’ve been asked to do a reading [whoa, where’s my comfort zone?].  What more does she want?  I later said to Blokey that if she wanted more input into the wedding perhaps she should have had a daughter. Or maybe offered to donate some of the money which just sits gathering dust in her many bank accounts.

When Blokey and I married, BiL was Best Man.  We had a small, family only, intimate ceremony so it made sense.  BiL and YASiL are inviting one hundred guests to the ceremony/wedding breakfast and BiL has asked his best friend of many (many – since school) years to be his Best Man. This wasn’t an issue for us.  Blokey doesn’t like talking in front of lots of people (the speech) and he didn’t want to have to organise a stag do (he’s not very good at coming up with ideas, coupled with our life of not really knowing how Our Kidney is going to behave) and well … he just didn’t really care.  But I think this is the MAJOR issue for my MiL.

She has this ‘thing’ about family.  Blokey doesn’t have a big family and those that do exist don’t see each other very much.  There are a lot of oldies (aunts and uncles of my beloved FiL for the most part), most of whom I’ve never met, and Blokey and BiL probably haven’t seen them since they were nippers in short trousers.  She insisted that BiL and YASiL sent them invitations and then made sure they received them.

Who does she think she is?

She’s having an outfit made for the wedding.  It’s costing her five hundred smackeroonies and a little part of me hopes that it’s truly horrendous (because I am the evil DiL.)

Nearly every year since Blokey and I have been together we’ve spent New Year’s Day with my MiL (and my FiL before his untimely death … why, oh why and please come back and all that jazz). When we get into routines with my MiL (and a routine is established after a thing has been done once) she expects it’s going to happen.  She doesn’t ask, she simply assumes.  I have worked hard to break many routines (I’m struggling with the trips to CigaretteTown in Belgium, but I WILL get there) and this year I am (we are) breaking the New Year one.  We’re going to London, to stay in a fancyish hotel near Buckingham Palace.  We know that she’s going to grumble and we’re actually scared to tell her.

How ridiculous are we?

*sigh*

Tomorrow we’ll be spending the gloriously sunny Bank Holiday Monday cooped up inside her cigarette-fragranced, stinky house.  And yes, we are prepared to take bets on how many minutes we’ll be there before she moans.

Ha.

Time for crumpets!

memories of the season

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On Christmas Eve I insisted that my Mumsy took me to the local shopping precinct so we could sing Christmas Carols and welcome the Baby Jesus into the world.  Okay, so it wasn’t so much that I wanted to welcome Baby Jesus into the world, but slightly more about wanting to relive my childhood; I hadn’t been Christmas Carol-ing in the shopping precinct (although I have definitely been since gaining adulthood status) for a fair long while.

It wasn’t as I remembered it.  The Salvation Army band played too slow, the Carols chosen were mundane (what, no Once in David’s Royal City … *sigh*) and the (somewhat limited crowd) sang too high. But it was still a part of Christmas which I miss and a tradition I was only able to indulge in because we spent the day with my family in the Village of Birth.

And thus, the idea of remembering Christmases past was born …

I remember (and this is a jumbled unchronological mess):

  • insisting on singing Happy Birthday to Jesus before letting anyone eat the Christmas cake with its beautiful marzipan nativity scene
  • taking my new toys to church on Christmas morning to show them off
  • that intense excitement which comes from creeping downstairs in the early hours of the morning to see if Father Christmas has filled your pillowcase (we didn’t have stockings) with presents
  • only having stockings when at the home of Man (who is nothing more than a sharer of my genes)
  • accepting the story that Father Christmas was magic and could get through the vent in the pipe (we didn’t have a chimney)
  • the two books that Father Christmas left in my bedroom, although I know not what their titles were (we may not have had stockings but when she could afford it my Mumsy liked to do her best)
  • watching Cliff Richard’s Summer Holiday every Christmas Eve (although it was probably only once)
  • the anticipation of finding out the Christmas Number One!
  • being a shepherd in the nativity play whilst in Middle Infants
  • Sindy’s swimming pool (she loved that pool)
  • excitedly waiting at the window for a glimpse of Van as it came trundling around the end of the road full of Presents (from my auntie and uncle)
  • the year Father Christmas was a little late and came at the beginning of January with little treasures (one of which was a red ruler with my name on it)
  • realising that Christmas had arrived because we’d been to the Candlelit Carol service and Father Christmas had waved to us from his van as he came collecting money for charity (both of which occured mid-December)
  • singing Little Donkey at school
  • having wine with dinner
  • … and Martini after dinner
  • cheese!
  • knowing that I wasn’t imagining the sound of sleigh-bells as I drifted off to sleep
  • taking Cadbury Animal’s to school for the Christmas party/ies
  • being confused by the Nutcracker on the tellybox
  • seeing Babes in the Wood at the theatre
  • pigs in blankets!
  • homemade calendars/cards/presents/decorations
  • leaving a tipple of sherry out for Father Christmas and a glass of milk for Rudolph
  • spending more time poking and prodding my presents in the pillowcase than opening them (I loved the scrunchy sound)
  • putting the home/schoolmade decorations on the tree every year (I wonder if Mumsy still has them)
  • the (seventies) retro decorations which are now all the rage (I expect Mumsy threw them out oodles of years ago)
  • the frustration of not being able to work out how Father Christmas managed to be in all places at once, not only on the night itself, but also in the weeks leading up to the Big Day
  • … but loving visiting him in Woolworth’s
  • … and then seeing him again at Man’s works company party
  • proper advent calendars without chocolate, but with lovely pictures
  • the primary school Christmas Fayre, with all its ridiculous tat
  • the secondary school Christmas Disco, with all its wandering hands
  • writing thank you letters (a tradition which I still try to adhere to if I’m not able to thank someone for their generosity in person; am I the only soul in the world who still writes thank you letters?)

There is a lot I don’t like about Christmas … cinnamon, mulled wine, Christmas cake, mince pies, crowds, wrapping presents, that bloated feeling which comes from uncrontrollable gorging, the fact that it disappears as quickly as it came … but even as an adult I still long for it and the love and magic it brings. One day I hope to teach my children (may I be blessed) the true value of Christmas, how it isn’t about the presents we receive but instead it’s about hope, wonder, magic, family, friendship and imagination, with presents as an extra special and much appreciated bonus.

And now, ever onward … photos I have found …

Christmas1 At the Man’s works company party, 1977.  We all look thrilled to be there, no?

Christmas3 The school nativity play, 1979.  I’m a shepherd, with a tea-towel on my head.

Christmas2 The year my (flowery; see it beside me) pillowcase produced such wonders as talcum powder (with puff) and Victoria Plum, 1982(ish).

… and a most happy new year!

when did you last see your father?

I haven’t seen my Father since the May of 2007. I don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember it was about a month after Blokey’s dad suddenly passed away and it gave me a reason for making an effort and trying to love (or get on with) him.

I did make the effort.

From last week I have chosen to stop making the effort.

If I wanted to define it with a cliché I would express it simply; I woke up and smelt the coffee.

I haven’t had a (loving) relationship with my Father for many (many) years. Oh, I saw him at least once a fortnight from his walking out (I was five and a half) to his moving more than just a few miles down the road (I had just turned ten). At that point he became a man we only saw for a few nights during school holidays, and not even every school holiday.

My memories of my Father are (at best) hazy and sad, a random bunch of nasty, spiteful and bitter things.

A couple of years ago I found out some’Thing’ about my Father which put some of those memories into perspective. This ‘Thing’ explains my seemingly irrational fear of being alone in a house with him as a teenager, it explains why I drew those images on my bookcase as a seven year old and – most importantly – it explains all those disjointed and haphazard one-second snippets of my life which are gradually jigsawing themselves into the fuller picture. But I don’t talk about this. I don’t talk about it with my husband, with my step-sister/s or my brothers. I certainly don’t talk about it with my Mumsy. Why would I want to a) break her heart or b) suffer the humiliation of that look I know will fleetingly cross her face, the look which says, don’t be silly, he’s your dad!

Writing about it here is my way of slowly opening up and it may be all I need. After all, thirty years is a long time to live with memories which my inner-child would rather forget. The conflict which rages inside me is between my subconscious inner-adult and my subconscious inner-child and I can live with the fact that for the most-part they don’t involve me in their bickering; it makes my life easier even if I do have the occasional snippet of memory to put up with.

(I realise this probably makes little sense, but this is my [often neglected] blog and therefore I can write nonsensical stuff if I so wish.)

My Father was a friend of mine on Facebook.

Last week was my birthday. I received cards, presents, text messages, emails, flowers and Fb messages. None of these were from my Father. I knew that he’d been on Fb because he’d left his ridiculously stupid comments on mutual friends statuses. So I wrote a status update to say thanks for all the birthday greetings. This is it:

“Thank you to everyone who’s blessed me with birthday wishes … you are fabulous and lovely people. For those of you who haven’t, shame on you! Particularly YOU … *points*. I’ve been terribly spoilt, because I’m worth it (apparently, sometimes).”

The YOU was half-heartedly aimed at my Father and yes, it was a dig. A mean and nasty (yet humourous and witty) dig at the man who gave me life. Obviously, because we are so very alike, he realised it was meant for him and left the following comment:

“Why does pot,kettle,black spring to mind?”

(Please note that although we are alike in temperament and bitter humour, I do not take after him when it comes to using commas in place of the simple and unique idea of the space-bar.)

Now, he does have a fair point to make. I haven’t sent him a Father’s Day card since Mumsy stopped buying them on our behalf (I was probably still in single digits and sweets are much more appealing than telling a part-time daddy that you love him) and I only send him birthday cards sporadically. I do remember him at Christmas though … I’m not completely heartless.

What hurt more wasn’t the lack of birthday greetings that came my way … it was that he could have been the bigger person and used the opportunity to make a jokey dig back, whilst offering birthday wishes. No, he chose the venomous route revealing himself to the world (or my Fb friendage, anyway) as the mean-spirited and vile man that he is.

I know, I know … I’m an adult, a big girl. I should smile and remain calm, make a jokey comment back, let him know that it’s not a Big Deal. But it is a Big Deal and I’m washing my hands of him (a previous status I wrote involved my Biggest Brother being on the tellybox and me trying to fathom out who he was most like; his Mumsy, his Baby Brother or his littlest son. My Father took offence at this and went on a comment-rampage about how he does have a father too [he also has a sister but as he didn’t remind me of me I didn’t use me as an ‘who is he like?’] and no he wasn’t much like C [my half-brother], who is technically his baby brother being the youngest) and his ridiculous blatherings. He’s had YEARS to become involved with me and my life but he hasn’t. That was his choice, not mine.

He chose to walk out. He chose to slag my Mumsy off to my face when I was nothing but a child. He chose to move further away. He chose to only pay the minimum he could get away with in child maintenance and he chose to stop paying this when each of us turned seventeen, as though we were nothing but a noose around his neck. He chose to secretly take his other-family (step-sisters and half-sibling) on holidays to America and Spain whilst Mumsy had to scrimp and save just to get us into Pontins on the south coast for a week. He chose to be a monster. In our non-relationship he has always been the adult and I have always been the child; all his choices (whether he had to forcibly make them or not) had an impact on me and he should always have been the one who made a bit more effort in recognition of this.

I have chosen to cut him out of my life and it’s the first decision I’ve made regarding my Father which actually makes me happy. I owe him nothing, certainly not a relationship with his only natural daughter.

My Father is not a friend of mine on Facebook any longer.

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