I’ll end the AUGUST2020CHALLENGE with an announcement. One of the reasons behind the challenge was to increase the number of good news and positive entries into this blog which has served me well in times of adversity.
In February 2021 we’ll be welcoming a new brother or sister for Tom and Lucas. After going through a miscarriage in September last year this is a most excellent turn of events and we’re all very excited to welcome the next addition to our family.
We are very much looking forward to welcoming the newest addition to our family.
Say hello to the as yet unnamed baby Smith.
When you see someone and get a tight feeling in your chest, that’s not a heart attack, it’s love. When I see Fran I get that feeling. Not all the time, but often enough to know what I love her, through and through.
We’ve been together for almost three years. That doesn’t seem too long when I write it down but we have been through a lot in that time. Bought a house, had a baby, decided to start a life together. It’s not been easy but then nothing worth having is easy. And loving someone is loving their flaws and imperfections as well as the good.
She tolerates me when many others wouldn’t. She puts up with my moods and my sulking. She puts up with me being a grumpy old man. I put up with her insecurities and occasional bad moods. I couldn’t imagine my life without her and sometimes I have to pinch myself to be sure I’m not dreaming and that she chose me.
My current relationship can only be described as ‘happy’ and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
As part of the August 2020 blog-a-day challenge I’m going to look back at something I wrote four years ago about ‘family’.
The little man on the left is my nephew. Four years ago he came to visit and I was moved by how kind and loving he was for someone so young and having the issues he has. Jackson was born with cerebral palsy.
He is the cause of the rift between my brother and I. I have written much about the problem I have with the decision my brother made.
[My] brother, the wonderful man who rejected this lovely little boy in favour of an evil woman, and then fell out with his brother (me) because I won’t reject my principles when it comes to family and fatherhood. He’s perhaps the very essence of anti-family.
Four years on and those wounds have yet to heal. Its quite possible that they never will. All I ask is that a man stand up and be a man. A father be a father. But that simple task is quite beyond him. It has caused a great deal of angst within the family.
Fran says I should speak to him, impress upon him how wrong he is in the decision he made. I considered it but he isn’t stupid. He knows. He knows it was wrong to reject a child. He knows it has impacted our parents greatly. He knows they’re upset with him. My Mum tries her best to keep the peach and maintain a relationship with him despite how much she detests his actions. I cannot comprehend his reasons for the rejection of his first born son.
I have gone back over something I wrote in 2016 and understood the irony of it:
Family, your children, your children’s children, your brothers and sisters. You can’t pick them. They might infuriate you. You might sometimes think you cannot stand the sight of them. But they’re family and, maybe it’s duty or obligation, but you stand by your family. You do not abandon them.
But how am I to fix that which cannot be fixed? What is an Al to do?
I love this. Taken in June 2020 on a rainy summers day. We took a trip to Thorp Perrow arboretum. The weather flitted between showers and sunlight hence why Lucas is wearing his rain coat. He loved to explore. He’s a real adventurer.
This photograph is beautifully framed and edited to bring to life the light through the trees. Little Lucas looks to be enjoying tramping and exploring the surroundings.
Oof. This might be long. I come from a big family. Not big as in Victorian England big, but big compared to most modern western families. I’m going to ignore the extended family for this as there is not enough time in the day or the year, for that matter, to cover all. Additionally I’d be sure to forget someone given just how large the clan extends. To give that some context, at my Gran’s funeral many years she was mourned by twelve children, over fifty grandchildren and a dozen great grandchildren. Those numbers have swelled in subsequent years (and that doesn’t consider the paternal side of my family or my stapdad’s family either!). So let’s keep this closer to home.
First there’s Fran and I – we have a child, Lucas. I also have a child from a previous relationship; Thomas. That’s our core. I’ve always been so pleased with how welcoming Fran has been towards Tom. She doesn’t treat him like her own child and he’s not so I wouldn’t expect her to do so, but she’s kind, patient, considerate and interested. I can’t ask for more than that.
Tom doesn’t live with us but we see him as often as possible – actually, that’s a lie. He’s 13 this month and has his own life. We see him when he can fit us into his busy schedule, which is not as often as I would like. Here he is yesterday with Lucas. Lucas loves him a lot.
Outside of our little group I have my Mum and step-dad. They’re the glue that tries desperately – and often fails – to hold us all together. I say us all as my Mum was blessed with four sons:
I also have another brother, Josef, who is from my Dad’s second marriage. I’ll write more about Joe another time. I wish he was very much an inclusive part of the family but we live so far away and have such different lives it’s a struggle.
Mike is the main cause of angst within our family. There’s a divide between us and it causes anguish for my parents. I’ve wrote a lot about Mike and our non-relationship in the past. It is a constant source of torment:
We are currently still estranged. I think about him often but I cannot bring myself to set aside my principles for an easy life.
Eton is the first child from my Mum’s second marriage. Half-brothers is such a terrible term. He’s my brother and always has been. Perhaps due to the age difference we don’t see each other often. We have different friends, different interests, different lives – despite sharing a career. He knows I’m there is he needs me.
Ellis is the youngest of us. He has struggled with mental health for the last decade and it’s been tough for all involved. He’s getting better, he’s outgoing, smart, passionate. I have a lot of love for the wee guy. Its sad that he hasn’t developed into the charming, successful, independent man he was destined to be, but that is down to mental health and beyond his control.
Here we are: Eton, Ellis, Byron, Lucas, Al (me), Laura, Mum and Fran.
They say you can choose your friends but not your family. You get what you’re given. Tell me about your family. Do you get on with them?
So angry. Gave Tom £10 to get his mum – the ex – something for her birthday. He spent £5 and kept £5 for himself. Infuriating as there is NOTHING I can do about it. I have no control, no say in his parenting.
I’m at a loss at what to do. He won’t be punished for it. He didn’t even care to apologise.
Spent this morning with my nephew at the park. All the while my brother (his Dad) is commenting on ‘the facebooks’ his support for Boris Johnson and the nasty party. To be expected, really, isn’t it? I wrote recently about still not speaking to my brother. Today that decision was somewhat vindicated. I agonised over responding and chose not to. That was probably the right call for the time being. This happy, smiling eight year old struggles with life. He has cerebral palsy, walks with a frame or gets pushed about in a wheelchair. His mum doesn’t have the time to do everything she could to assist him in getting better. Time is finite and she has a younger child also. The boy needs his Dad.
I wrote about this extensively in 2016 when this situation first developed. It took me some time to figure out how I felt about his actions and I decided I didn’t like them:
“…my brother met a girl. They split up, he met another girl who quickly fell pregnant. He then rekindled his relationship with the first girl who knew about the pregnancy. The baby was born and girlfriend, who had become fiancée by then, made her feelings very well known. She hated that child. She hated everything about him. He was such a beautiful happy little boy too, yet she hated the very air that he breathed.”
“Eventually things got so bad that fiancée stopped brother from seeing his child.”
“Last year this beautiful little boy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Has ever a boy needed his daddy more…?“
The situation has not changed. He still doesn’t have a relationship with his boy. How could he not? Where is his sense of duty, of responsibility? It still makes me angry when I think about it. Would this child’s life be better with his father involved? ‘Probably’ is the answer. But despite all this; despite the resources my brother has access to and despite the needs of the child he refuses to man up and be a father to his child. What a terrible thing to do.
How does he sleep at night?
My brother messaged me last Friday and I have not replied. I can’t bring myself to return his pleasantries and it just feels false. I’m still struggling to reconcile his decision to abandon his child in favour of his woman. Maybe I should give him an opportunity to explain. But I feel as though it doesn’t matter what he has to say. I’m just not interested. I’ve managed years without him in my life. Do I need him in my life now?