Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sorry to cast a blight on your day but I’m rather miserable. Maybe you should stop reading now. My troubles are nothing, I know, compared to many people’s; but it doesn’t really help to cheer me up when I contemplate that lots of people are considerably more miserable. My gloom is all based round my children, who are such kind, affectionate, deserving young folk. I mean, I know I’m their mum. But they really are lovely.
Our son-in-law is still not at work. In fact, he’s hardly been at work for about eighteen months. He’s been on every medication known to man, had various types of counselling, tried fish oil, St John’s Wort, homeopathy and so on.
Daughter 2 is going out with an actor, a relationship that has lasted over four years. It’s not that we don’t like him: as far as we know him (and we don’t feel we know him that well) we like him all right. It’s just that he’s not around much. Either he’s working around the country in some minor role in some minor production or he’s unemployed and living with his parents in the Midlands of England. If he did by some fluke become successful, he’d still never be around much, by the nature of the work.
She’s an architect and in normal circumstances could get work in London, where he really needs to be based for work (except that he can’t earn enough money to afford London rents - Catch 22…). But then even if he could, he would frequently not be there because of work - Catch 23. With the recent downturn in the building trade this wouldn’t be a good time for her to change firms and she doesn’t particularly want to live in London anyway. We certainly don’t want her to be so far away. At the moment, he’s just arrived here to stay with us while he takes part in a musical in the Festival Fringe, so they’ll see a bit of each other for a month or so, but then what? She’s 27 now. Time to know where she is, in my opinion. Not that she complains. She's too nice.
And our son has left home for his first job at a hospital in Dumfries, a couple of hours away. He’s there for a year and then in Glasgow (not so far) for a year, so of course he won’t be home to live again. He does know where he is and I don’t like this either. He’s such a jolly, helpful, cuddly, funny chap and he’s gone.
Now, I know that things could be worse. We like our son-in-law and he has many good qualities. We’re very lucky to have had Daughter 2 with us so long; also our son. And two hours isn’t that long a journey. But there’s no use people saying these things because I know them and I’m still miserable. Children leave home; it’s natural; I’ll get used to it; they’re all healthy; we can visit; we’re lucky to have such great kids; and so on. Yes, yes, yes. I don’t want to be reasoned with; I want things to be different. It doesn’t help the sadness when friends give good reasons why I shouldn’t be sad.
I remind myself of the poet Philip Larkin. In one of his letters he was replying to a friend who had experienced various disasters – ill health, redundancy, divorce – and he recounted his griefs - maybe a corn on his foot, a hole in his shirt and a piece of mouldy cheese in his fridge. He then added that he knew his problems were trivial compared to hers but, he added, “mine are happening to me”.
So I’ve been making myself even more fed-up by doing destructive gardening – my very unfavourite kind. We’ve been in this house for 19 years and my herbaceous plants have become a bit jungly – lily-of-the-valley being the most rampant of all (why did I ever plant it?) – so I’ve been wrecking my already wrecked back by digging huge clumps of things out. I’m hot, muddy, scratched and not finished by a long way. My garden looks a mess (well, bits of it). And I’ve hardly touched the even-more-rampant ivy which I foolishly planted to hide the ugly garden wall. Wall? What wall? Take my advice: never plant ivy.
The cats are nice, though. Furry. They're happy enough.