22 August, 2017

Bittersweet past and present

Family gatherings are always bittersweet. One of my husband’s brothers and family have been back in NZ as their expat stints overseas have ended, though they are only here for a month (as covered by his end of contract provisions) because they are going to reside in the land of my sister-in-law, which is of course more tax-advantageous than staying here to help out with the elderly in-laws. Another brother and family decided to visit for several days to coincide, so three of the four brothers and their families are in the country at the same time, which happens only every 3 years or so. So it is chaotic and complicated and great fun.

One of the complications of course is being the couple who does all the care of the now very frail and vulnerable elderly in-laws and doesn’t have the luxury of choosing where to live based on tax advantages, and of course, there’s the complication of being the couple without children, the ones who didn’t provide the grandchildren. While they’ve been here we’ve celebrated the 18th birthday of the nephew who was born around the time we were trying, and the 16-year-old niece who was three months old at the Christmas when I was still having treatment for my first ectopic pregnancy, and the 13-year-old who was gestating when his mother said blithely to me, “if I miscarry, I don’t care because I can always get pregnant again.”

There are memories everywhere, but the kids aren’t aware of these things, and so it has been nice seeing them again, and chatting with them about books and history and their interests, though we’ve sadly had very little time with them, as time with their grandparents has had to be their priority. I was sad to know that I can’t see my Australian niece play netball, especially when she plays the very same positions that I did, and it was lovely to hear my own piano being played by my nephew, though of course there was pain that I will never hear it played by my own child. After so many years, it’s been a little surprising for some of the memories and emotions to come flooding back, and a little surprising to feel those painful twinges over the things I don’t get to do with my children (and see their parents dismiss the activities so casually), but at least now I know without doubt that I will recover quickly and regain my usual equilibrium in no time at all.


  1. I know the bittersweet feeling too.

    (I can't believe how silly & heartless some people are... I don't care if I misscary..... she was talking about her child!)

  2. Ouch, that sounds like a bittersweet family gathering for sure, so many reminders of sad things. And that person! Who said the thing about not caring if they miscarry! What the heck is WRONG with people? Insensitive on the best day, utterly appalling in my mind. I'm glad you can regain equilibrium faster now, and that you can enjoy the kids, who aren't aware of the turmoil. The piano pain especially got to me. Sending hugs to you.

  3. Yes, what Klara and Jess said.


  4. "We've sadly had very little time with them, as time with their grandparents has had to be their priority." You've reminded me about another childless online friend (from a non-ALI forum) who was recently looking forward to visiting with an adult niece, and was frustrated to find herself far down the list after grandparents & other uncles & aunts (who presumably had cousins for her to visit with too). On the one hand, as someone who is often doing the visiting with aging parents, I understand the dilemma of so many friends & relatives who want to see us too, in a limited amount of time... but as a childless auntie, I understand the desire to spend time and attention on on young nieces & nephews who often have other priorities and perhaps don't understand how much they mean to us and how much we look forward to seeing them. :(

    The SIL who made the crack about miscarriage deserves 20 lashes with a wet noodle, even if the remark was made years ago. Seriously??!!

  5. The piano got me too. We live about a three minutes away from the high school that our children would have attended and around this time of year I can hear the marching band rehearsing in the distance. A subtle yet persistent echo of what should have been no doubt, it always pulls on my heart. Don't know if my children would have played instruments, but I played and still play the flute so I always wonder.

    I think it's not just hard feeling what we feel, but having to feel it amongst a group of people that are unaware and thus insensitive to the experiences we have. Sending you good thoughts as you regain your equilibrium (although I'm sure you already have). XOXO

  6. What the hell kind of a comment is that to make, about miscarrying? I've never heard this actually come out of someone's mouth - she must have been very confident about her ability to conceive! I hope she didn't say that in full knowledge of your own difficulties - monster. Reminds me of when I told a couple of my best friends I had miscarried and one said 'That's good news - it means you can conceive' and the other said bluntly, 'I thought you were infertile?'. Sometimes mothers are clueless, it has to be said.