Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Well, hallelujah, I’ve finished the marking and can rejoin the civilized world. The poor souls who sat the exams will have to wait till mid-August for the results but I hope that they’re currently enjoying the summer.

Life has been not uneventful in other ways in the Life household. Our son-in-law is still pretty unwell, with only intermittent good spells, which is a huge worry. Daughter 1’s work contract ends in July and there has been nothing to apply for in her field, archivism. This doesn’t help, though doubtless something will come along in due course. Daughter 2’s singer/actor boyfriend came up to stay for the weekend; he has hardly worked this year. You’d think that at least one of our daughters’ significant others would work regularly; but not at the moment. I do wish he would just give up this acting idea and get a proper job!

Just before he became Daughter 2’s boyfriend, or at least before they’d come out as an item, he was our son’s university flatmate for a year (though he’s older than our son). Our son has a lovely voice and he and the chap in question used to be in a university light opera group together. One evening, I remember, after a show that they were both in, I gave them a lift back to the flat, and the future boyfriend said that he was about to go to a theatre school in New York. I remember saying something like, “Oh, how exciting!”

Now, I suppose he might reasonably have thought that I meant this. In a way, I maybe did, in a well-if-that’s-what-you-want-to-do-but-fortunately-it-has-nothing-to-do-with-me sort of way, but really I was just giving a conventional reply. I certainly didn’t mean that it was exciting, desirable or in any way remotely a good thing for the boyfriend of one of my daughters. I have definite double standards here.

What would I have said if I’d known about this burgeoning romance?

“Oh, that doesn’t sound like much of a plan.”

“Well, don’t think that you’re going out with our daughter, then.”

“You do realise that we think salaries are a good idea, do you?”

“How are you ever going to get a mortgage?”

No, I don’t suppose I’d have said any of these things. But ah, the satisfaction of imagination.

More and more I feel like the mamma in some Victorian novel: “And pray, how do you propose to support a wife and family?”

Meantime it’s June. Though the weather is currently not all that summery, little birds are tearing around the garden with beakfuls of unmentionable squashy things, the garden is blossoming - isn't this ceanothus a zinging blue? - and the summer holidays are in sight. One foot after the other, Isabelle, and keep on breathing in and out.


  1. The ceanothus is stunning! Interesting post today -- so many of us have brought the kids up to "do what they love" and they've done just that -- no matter that it won't pay the bills. And I smiled at your imaginary conversation -- I always have that awkward moment when I ask someone what they're majoring in and they tell me some field that only a very small percentage can actually make a living doing. (Ok, isn't is so sad that I should have such awkward sentences to YOU???) Anyway...in the meantime...we need more kids to go into math and science. It's quite the dilemma....

  2. I can understamd - theatre school - exciting yes! But not for someone who becomes your daughter's boyfriend!! It's true we never stop worrying about our children - even when they are no longer children. I do help your son-in-law gets the help he needs and they can move on.

    Thanks for your lovely comment on my last entry. It's when I come across something like that photo that makes me realise the hard work was worth it and still is!

  3. The problem is that the kids do what they want no matter what we say. I hope your son in law is feeling better soon. We have dealt with depression with our daughter and it's very exhausting for everyone. Thankfully, she is doing well now so there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.

  4. I know how you feel Isabelle. Really once our children have grown, the most we can hope for, is that we can like the person they choose for a mate!
    We are not exactly thrilled with our SIL, but try to always bear in mind he is our grandson's father, & he loves him.
    Depression can be so debilitating.

  5. Meggie's comment is so true - and so far I've been lucky - No 1 son has an absolute pearl of a wife - couldn't have picked better myself. Must admit it was a bit scary six years ago when he and his future wife started going out together and almost the first thing they did together was make a baby! But six years on they've done some fabulous work in their careers, personal lives and have two delightful boys.
    Sometimes though, you just wish you could wave a magic wand!

  6. How is the schooling in New York going? The more of a ne'er-do-well the young whelp is, the better it is that he gets on an airplane and heads off across the Atlantic. Perhaps we should pass a hat around and get him some tickets?

    Your response to him was polite and appropriate under the circumstances. If you'd known he was going to date your daughter, you might have said something a bit more probing - I liked the various examples you cited - but you can't second guess the past.

    I admire your innate sense of discretion and politeness. Those qualities will go a long way toward making it possible for your daughter to talk to you about this situation and vice versa.

  7. It's funny how we always think we could do a better job of choosing mates for our children than they themselves could. Liz has a gem of a husband, and the funny thing is we had no hand in choosing him!. She managed that all by herself....
    Even though my F-I-L was responsible for introducing us, he was appalled when we decided to get married. A little summer dalliance was one thing, marriage, at such a young age, was quite another.
    Everyone knew the Irish were a bunch of drunken,lazy no-goodniks. But their son, fortunately has a mind of his own...
    Hope your two become
    --rich and famous, and
    --get the help needed to live life fully.
    now can you relax for the summer? If so, enjoy it!

  8. I am glad to hear the marking is finished, as it means that we're likely to hear more from you.

    I'm sorry to hear about your son-in-law. I find it difficult to deal with depression. I hope this website will be of use to you, beyondblue.

    From the site: "beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related substance misuse disorders in Australia."

  9. The ceanothus is a breathtaking blue! I love it and would love to find a spot in my garden! :) I read your post and thought to myself about my daughters...dating and boyfriends...ahh!!! :) Good luck! I'm glad it's almost summer break here.

  10. There was quite a discussion of depression last night at book group (we just read "The Stone Diaries"). One person related the story of a friend of a friend who finally underwent electro-shock therapy because none of the medications made any difference. Apparently it helped, but it seems a little extreme and sci-fi to me. Hopefully now you'll get to enjoy some summer. It must be impossible not to worry about your girls and their futures. I do love your flowers.

  11. UH OH that post made me nervous...next week I am starting Library school to become an archivist too! EEEEEKKKKKK

  12. Isabelle, without your e-mail, I'll comment here to answer your questions!;-) (It brings me back here to read all your VERY interesting comments though! You have a great crowd of admirers!) Jill lives in Pennsylvania, and Bethlehem is in PA also. I laughed at your other comments -- I'm having great frustration now at starting a lot of projects. And not being able to stay home and finish them. I'm tired of working, but feel guilty complaining about it, 'cause it's a good job. (Besides, I don't live somewhere exciting like you do -- not much here to distract me!) And nine grandchildren? Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to hope for? I've realized now I should have had more than two children to increase my chances! ;-)

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