Took my almost-sixteen-year-old daughter – the youngest – laptop shopping at the weekend. We took a friend of hers, and saw a fun, British romcom as well.
I avoid these now, even more than ever. But they wanted me to come.
I guess I could say I am a cynic, always was. The formulaic nature of these always made me mutter into my popcorn, “yeah, right!” But I also secretly liked the fluff. It mirrored my own love story so often. And the British take is usually fun, with quirky characters and the kind of humour I understand.
Just don’t tell anyone! (Embarrassed, shushhhhh…..)
But now it all just makes me tearful. I didn’t let loose with any, but boy, I sure felt a few quivers of the old bottom lip! What do you do when you want to just jump up in the middle and scream, “yeah, that’s bloody marvellous, but what about when he starts fucking your friend after more than twenty years of this wonderful love story?!!! What about that, huh? Make a damn movie about that shit! One that doesn’t make the whore the ‘love of his life’ and them as ‘just being with the wrong people/misunderstood/sexless/unappreciated.’ I dare ya!”
Anyway, what with that, and a friend’s mother dying (cancer) over the weekend, and I was at his house when he was fielding calls, etc, it was probably a bit of an emotional time. Daughter and I got talking on the way home, after we had dropped her friend home. It was the first time I have talked to her since the actual, “I’m sorry guys, I’m leaving your father and I need to tell you why,” speech around four or five years ago. We left the door open for them to talk to us, and there has been the odd small thing, but really all three of the kids haven’t delved any further into the whats, wheres and whys. I thought it best not to use them as sounding boards, but to be honest and leave it open ended, they could always ask either one of us whatever they liked. We both made that abundantly clear. I asked if she had shared any of how we are, and what happened with her friends. She said, she has, with a couple of close friends. They are sad for her, and supportive, mostly. But twice she has found friends have made the kind of comment that goes, “well, that’s no surprise, your Dad is an arsehole!” She said she thought he was an arsehole at first, too. Was very pissed off with him. But as time has gone by, she can see that he made an awful series of choices, and then realised he had screwed up and tried to fix them. He’s her Dad, and when someone dissed him, she was mad! I felt for that poor wee mite. Then I turned to her and I said, “for me, one of the saddest parts is that you don’t know how great, how in love, and how connected and special we were for those first twenty plus years, this has been going on so long, and you are so young, you haven’t ever seen what a good relationship looks like at home.” She quickly said, “oh, no Mum, I remember, you guys were awesome, I remember how you used to always touch, always look at each other with such softness and kindness, how you seemed to be kind of the same person, or at least so on the same page, you guys were ‘better’ than all my friends’ parents. Don’t worry, it hasn’t put me off guys, but I will be really careful to make sure I pick a good one.” I quietly said, “yes, I know what you mean, my parents’ situation did all of that to me, and I also thought really long and hard about giving my heart to someone to take care of, the awful part is, you can truly think you’ve got it right, but they can still explode your world, sorry to shatter your ideas about knowing someone’s character, darling.” She nodded, and said she knows, she knows that Dad is a good guy, but he fucked up – and she’s sorry. I just apologised to her for making it all seem so much harder than it should be. She said that’s a good thing, not a bad one.
She is as wise as I was at fifteen. Why wasn’t that enough?
That broke what is left of this heart. I thought she didn’t know about “fabulous us.” Bless her.
And the continuum of the damages done just stretches on and on…..