Sunday, 4 April 2010
Time passing rather too slowly
Dr P's second daughter, J1, aka SD2 or the Wicked Step Daughter, is now here, with her two children, and they are visiting us daily. Having previously stated they would never stay here again, she is staying elsewhere. Last February, after much agonising, and counselling, I wrote to her, in an attempt to improve our relationship. Her response to my letter was hostile, blamed me for all the problems, and did not address any of the issues I had raised.
Last year, when they made their annual visit from USA, it was awkward and unpleasant, but this year I wanted to be more in control and to do things on my terms.Dr P and I had briefly discussed her visit, and I said that they were welcome to come over for dinner, etcetera. I heard Dr P discuss all this with his eldest daughter SD1, who said 'Look, they just don't get on,' and Dr P told her that I 'was prepared to call it quits.' Not quite how I would describe it, but I think the message must have been passed on.
So we smiled, kissed and talked, and it was arranged that J1, SD1 and her son B2 would come for dinner. My second daughter also arrived, and took off to do her racing photography for the rest of the day, returning just in time for dinner and staying overnight. I prepared fish, potato, green, and tomato salads, followed by pavlova and berries, and had made baba ghanouj, and an orange and almond cake. I did my best to be friendly, interested and calm.
Dinner went quite well, ably assisted by my daughter, who chattered away about the mutually fascinating subjects of horses and riding. The next day J1 came over again with her two children, who had just flown in from Perth. They stayed a couple of hours. I'm afraid my tolerance level is being tested as they are such hard work. We have to make all the conversational running, and, as with SD1, there is never any reciprocity of conversation nor any interest in subjects unassociated with themselves. They returned in the afternoon to see old family friends, and stayed for dinner. This morning they came over again, but I cunningly went out to buy some more food, and did not exactly hurry home. They all need quality time together, unencumbered with the Wicked Step Mother. They came back for dinner, but this time they brought take-away for us all.
As my outlets for personal whinging are limited, I am letting off some steam here. I have smiled, been courteous and considerate, and have stayed calm, but it is SUCH hard work. It is unfair and imprudent to be critical of them to Dr P, who is doing his best, asking lots of questions about their lives, and then forgetting the answers, so he constantly repeats the questions. Every conversational gambit seems to reach an immediate dead end. He is trying to talk to the children, but they too are hard work, and probably are bored. They all mumble, so he has to keep repeating his questions to them! Now that I have heard several times a day about their lives, her job, their future plans, the children's education and achievements, I too am bored. Dr P has noted my efforts to be pleasant and hospitable.
J1 has taken absolutely no notice of any of the concerns I raised in my letter. Some of these things may sound quite trivial, but they concern my position in the home, my relationship with her father, and it is hard to see such actions as unintentional or accidental. At each meal she has taken my usual seat at the dinner table. Such seemingly petty actions are hard to counter. Either she is totally oblivious or, more likely, she is doing it to make it look as though I have no place in her father's home. I cannot like or respect her, or trust her, and I am very ready to be critical of her, but nonetheless try to temper my reactions with reason.
It is her total lack of empathy that I find quite incomprehensible, and indeed somewhat reprehensible. It must be very evident to her that her father's memory has deteriorated seriously, and that he is very feeble. Yet she never comments to me or asks anything about his condition, let alone express concern for me and whether I can cope. Because, if I can't cope, neither can Dr P. I just don't understand this.
They will be here in the morning, and probably in the afternoon as well - maybe for dinner again. Then they are going to the coast with her mother to join SD3, before coming back for another couple of days and celebrating B1's 21st birthday. One day at a time. They say all things pass.