On Living Together
At the end of October, just 12 weeks after our first face to face meeting, and coincidentally, 2 weeks after the children and I had moved into Papakura so that they might attend high school in the next school year, David moved from the middle of Auckland, to come live with us. February, to June 1994 were some of the most wretched months of my life! I had started a new job, as a Special-Needs Teacher, working with 2 special-needs students, at the Intermediate school for 2 days a week, and for the other 3 days of the week, I worked at a school for Special-Needs children, who ranged from pre-school to college age. I was trying to provide a stable environment for my teenagers, so that they could enjoy and excel in their college years – and maintain a good, loving relationship with an adult male, as well as deal with a new career, after years of being a stay-at-home mother and home-schooling parent. It was extremely stressful and I knew that it was taking a huge toll on my physical health, but this was the way it had been since, forever, so I just, ‘got on with the job.’
For nine months we rubbed along as a family where every member was at a transitional stage in their lives. Children darting here and there for brass band, school, theatre, sports, dates, specialist classes, parades, trips away with classes, with the band, with friends etc… David seemed to adjust to living with our manic household. The kids all had house duties, as part of the organisation of our home. I never checked them. They already knew how house-life worked, they’d learned out on the farm. David & I worked full-time, paid bills, he drove them places and I cooked dinner 5 nights a week. They received $10 each a week and they did all the cleaning & laundry.
Rare weekends when we were all free from comitments, David would take us out to Kawakawa Bay, where we’d go fishing! During the summer, I always travelled with David to his Cricket matches. He played for Weymouth, but they sometimes had to travel out of the city to play the other teams. Some times the kids would come with us: all three of them, most times they were involved with their own interests!
During this time, I was also coming to terms with the vast changes that were occurring in my psycho-logical and physical being, as peri-menopause set in. (The prelude to a womans’ life-change.)
So, I had children going every which way, and a seemingly adult relationship to nurture along. (Most men are kind of funny when it comes to dealing with children who are not their own, they either ignore them – want them to go away, or they beat them.)
I’m afraid that because of his inexperience, David wanted me to send them away, and that just made me really angry with him! He was to learn that my children had MORE value, than he did, at that early stage in our relationship. I was not about to shop them in favour of himself. He wanted the children to stop wanting so much money, stop eating so much food, stop using so much electricity, stop wanting lifts to band practise 2 miles away, etc…etc…etc and I had to deal with all this on top of all the other stuff. My view was, “we are a unit: Love me, Love my Kids, …and that was that!” He got the message and backed down.
I was being “talked at,” and told what to do, by all these ‘experts’ who lived in my house, yet three of them did not have paid work, and the other, didn’t have children. I was trying hard to keep our heads above water, financially. Just to put food on the table, pay the rent, and have enough to provide extras for the kids.I was so busy that I hadn’t realised my son was having difficulties at college. Oh, not with the school work so much, but with fitting in with some of the other boys. He was being bullied basically, and having to physically fight for his survival during school hours. (I only found this out a couple of years later, but at the time, no-one had said a thing. Everything came to a head when I, as the only person in the parent/guardianship position, was called to account by my son, over something about which I had not been informed.
I knew, however, that whatever was wrong: it was going to be my fault!
ToBeContinued – Emmi