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Self-indulgent post of the rant-y kind. Feel free to skip.

Posted on: April 22, 2012

Sorry. You probably won’t find this very interesting. But I need to vent.

Tonight I am sad and angry. Today was Neave’s birthday party. It was nice. But it didn’t all go to plan. Tonight as I tucked Tiernan into bed, I had to explain to him why his cousins, who we believed to be coming to the party with Tom’s brother (G), didn’t turn up. I had to explain why we may never see them again.

A family feud (I can’t believe I’m typing these words, it seems so cliché), has been brewing for about four years now, and it has finally all come to a head. Our relationship with G and his wife, M, has been rocky during this time. We had suspicions that M was trying to distance G from his family, but none of us really wanted it to be true. However, it now seems almost certain that this is the case. Not only that, she has just about succeeded in breaking down their relationship altogether.

Today it all came out, over a two-year-old’s birthday party. They refused to come, because we aren’t to be trusted near their children. We do crazy things like discipline our children in a calm, reasonable manner instead of yelling at them and humiliating them publicly. We teach them the correct names for their private parts and don’t shame them when they are (age-appropriately) curious about their own, and other’s. We have concerns about our children watching violent TV-shows. We accept that children all do things like pinch, bite and hit, until they learn appropriate ways to express themselves (note I say accept, not condone).

But all of this is nothing. These are merely the petty, nit-picky excuses for the way they ignore and avoid us. All of it has been a ploy to create a rift between Tom’s brother and his family, and M has chosen to bully our son to achieve this end. Since he was 18 months old, she has been blaming him for teaching his cousin, who is 7 months younger, bad habits. She accuses him of traumatising H, claiming he is not himself for 6-8 weeks after contact with Tiernan. I know my son is not perfect. (Have you read this post?) He can be extremely difficult to manage. But, when it comes down to it, his behaviour, while intense and sometimes disagreeable, is normal. Age-appropriate and completely normal. For her to claim he has such an influence over H is simply ridiculous – they are lucky if they see each other four times a year.

There is so much that I am hurt by in all of this. I am sad to see Tom so distraught at possibly losing his brother. He actually cried today. I know how devastated I would be if someone tried to take my sister from me, break down our relationship and destroy the bond we share. To make matters worse, G doesn’t appear to be putting up much of a fight. He’s letting it all happen; apparently not at all concerned about the people he is turning away from.

I am deeply hurt that people I once believed to be good friends, who I have helped in times of need, who I have defended, whose children I have loved and cared for, can turn around and treat my family in this way. To tell us we are untrustworthy and to be so unforgivingly judgemental about our parenting practices. I wouldn’t dare assume that the way I do things is the only way, the ‘best’ way. I just do my best. I don’t agree with everything they do, but I don’t go around creating huge dramas about our differences. I live and let live. I never once expected not to be given the same respect, especially from family members.

I feel dreadful for Tom’s parents. They have been dragged into this mess, forced to take sides, and have had to side with us because, really, there is no other logical alternative. I can’t imagine how much this must hurt them. By taking our side, they are facing the very real possibility that they will be excluded from their grandchildren’s lives from now on.

But the worst part? Having to explain to Tiernan why, for the moment, he won’t be seeing H, W or C. I told him it was because we had been arguing with their Mum and Dad, and that we are all a bit upset about it. I told him that, hopefully, we will be able to fix the problem so that he can play with H (his favourite cousin, the closest in age) again soon. That none of it was his fault, or H, W or C’s fault. That H still loves him and wants to play with him as soon as he can. That he doesn’t have to be upset with his Uncle and Aunty if he doesn’t want to be… he can still love them.

But at this point I had to stop. I wanted to say that they still love him. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Because I don’t believe it’s true. How can they? How can they do this to a child they love? How can they bully him, blame him, shame him, but still claim they love him? They don’t. Right now I am finding this the hardest thing to accept. My innocent, beautiful child – who doesn’t know the things they have been saying about him, who just wants to play and be loved – loves them still. Whole-heartedly and unconditionally. I will never tell him not to. But nor will I argue if he one day decides it’s not worth his while.

The best I can hope for at this point is that we will be able to patch things up enough for the children to continue to see each other. But I don’t expect to ever trust G and M again. It will never be the same. They have hurt us all too much.

So yeah, that’s the situation. I promise I’ll let go of it now. But this is how I work through my feelings about things, by writing and sharing them. Thank you for listening, if you did. I’ll write nice things about Neave and her little birthday party soon.

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2 Responses to "Self-indulgent post of the rant-y kind. Feel free to skip."

I’m sorry to hear about all of this. Family feuds are awful. My mother in law is VERY critical of me, and every time we see them she watches me and Adrian like a hawk. If he so much as dries a dish or changes a nappy, there will be a very public “intervention” (when I am not around, but the rest of the family is) as to how and why Adrian would do a thing. It was my job and I was clearly failing at it. It makes me not want to se them, and to restrict their access to our children. This is bad, and of course I don’t follow through. So I can totally understand how upsetting it is to be critisized by those close to you. Hang in there. I hope you find a solution.

Thanks Eliza. Wow, what strange values your mother in law has! Could she be jealous that you live in a time when husbands pitch in, when she didn’t? Just speculating. It’s just so unfair on the kids when adults behave this way. I just don’t understand it. I hope you also find a workable solution.

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