Thirty Three Days

One of themost commonly visited pages on this blog is one I called “The Loneliness of theLong Distance Father” which was at a time shortly after my separation where mykids didn’t really want to have a lot to do with me.  

As withmany things, time alone can cure some of the angst and distress that comes tomost kids when their parents break up.   But whilst the pain eases for the kids perhapsso too does the desire to keep contact with both parents, or maybe it’s justthe classic cats in the cradle stuff, the natural pulling away as you get olderand become more independent.
We built abig house because at the time we entered into the contract we had four of thesix kids we have between us that needed a place to live.   Over the months of waiting for the title tosettle and the house to be built their needs changed and so we have a fourbedroom house occupied by the two of us and the two furkids and in an area nowfar away from where the kids mostly reside.
And that’sOK, the place is there if some time in the future they need it, but there aretimes when I miss knowing what is happening in their lives.   It seems that unless I make a call then wedon’t talk and I am left to watching facebook for updates.
Last week Iasked my two daughters if they would like to set aside one Sunday evening permonth, visit us for dinner and watch a movie.  I was actually hoping that maybe we would justsit around the dinner table and chat and just find out who they were loving orfeuding with, what books they were reading or movies they had seen, any one ofhundreds of mundane day to day things that they do.  One daughter said she heard me but it wouldhave to wait awhile because she’s working a lot of overtime and very busy but Idid find out on Facebook that she enjoyed her day at the Races and her roastdinner at her mothers in the past few days.   Daughter number two has been silent and thatusually means I am in the bad books with her.
It got methinking that if they spent 3 hours one day a month with me that would be atotal of 1 and a half days a year.  If Ilive as long as my father (and I hope it is longer than that) then I have 22years left and that would mean that for the rest of my life I would spend amaximum of 33 days with my kids, half of which I would probably be sleeping.
So if theremainder of my life was equivalent to an hour on a clock for every month thatpasses without seeing them the clock advances another two minutes and we allknow that as you get older time speeds up and the 33 days will rapidly become30 and then 20 and 5, until those last few precious minutes come in a hugerush.
And knowingall that makes me regret the times I didn’t call my own Mum and Dad other thanon the special occasions.   So maybe what goes around…
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Rock of Ages

A week ago Raels and I took our four daughters to see Rock of Ages.  It was our second time and their first and I have to say if you get the chance, do yourself a favour and go and have a good time.    The music is great, the cast fantastic and obviously enjoying themselves and I haven’t laughed so hard for a long time.  It was actually better second time around because I knew what was coming.

Dad Humour

I wonder sometimes whether my kids will ever “get” my sense of humour.  A couple of weeks ago daughter number one told me she had sort of broken up with her new boy friend, at his request.  She then proceeded to tell me that for the next couple of nights after he’d done that he turned up to see her.

“I’m just going with the flow Dad,” she told me.   And so I told her to give me his phone number so I could call him and ask what his intentions were.   She declined of course, but I think she actually believed I would have done it.

The night after I told my youngest daughter in my most earnest voice that it was time that she and I had a discussion about the Birds and the Bees, whereupon she got up and said that she’d be reading a book in her bedroom.   Again I was kidding but sometimes they don’t seem to get it.

A couple of weeks ago I told them that if William Shatner married Fifi Box, she’d be Fifi Shatner-Box.  That one they got, both of them posting it on Facebook.   Last night daughter number two asked me if I’d seen the movie Thirteen and I said “No, but I’ve seen the sequel Fourteen.”    I thought it was hilarious, she just raised her eyebrows.

Will they ever get me?

It’s a long way from the Hills to a cow paddock

It occured to me that I haven’t posted a lot this year about my personal life and what has unfolded do it’s time I gave an update.

At the end of 2009 my lady and I were living [and still are] in a small three bedroom cottage on the side of the hill in Ferntree Gully.    Between us we have six kids, her a boy and a girl, me two boys and two girls, a regular Brady Bunch without the Alice – the three boys are the oldest and the girls the youngest and whilst I say kids they range in age from 17 up to 26.    At the time my lady’s two were living full time with us and my youngest daughter stayed every second weekend.  My second son, having lost his job earlier in the year and having to vacate the place he was renting because he couldn’t pay also needed somewhere to live.

So we sat down and discussed everything with the four who wanted to live with us and said that they were welcome to stay and save for their own place for as long as they liked but we needed to look at extending our place and put on at least a couple of more bedrooms. 

We started visiting display homes to get some ideas about what we could do or what we wanted to do and then made some enquiries with architects about the price of an extension and it turned out that it was going to be cheaper to build a new place from scratch than it was to extend where we are.

The decision then became about finding a block of land to build on and after exhaustive searching around the Gully and around the general vicinity of where we currently are, we came to the conclusion that land was either too expensive in this area or the terrain meant that the site costs were prohibitive.

So after returning from holiday in Narooma in January and after continuing the search for a suitable 5 bedroom home we ended up buying a block of land on a cow paddock in Cranbourne North.   That land was supposed to title in August but as I sit here now in early November we still do not own it but have been told that we will get the title by the end of this month.

We had originally decided to build the Marina 42, a five bedroom, two storey place, by Porter Davis, but in the next few months my lady’s two kids moved out, my number two son moved in and we decided that it was stupid to pursue a five bedroom place when we didn’t need it anymore.   The search continued and we have now settled on a house called the Monaco 36 by Carlisle.

And now we’ve gone from a cow paddock to a full blown housing estate with house popping up like mushrooms and with any luck we’ll start building next month.

The full story is being told on my lady’s blog Destination 3977.  Please drop by and let her know you came from here.

Musical Monday – My Little Girl

It’s been a long time since I did a musical Monday post but having spent yesterday reflecting on what it’s like to be a father I thought I’d post this one for my daughters.

Happy Fathers Day

My Dad died on 14th August 2004, a little over five years ago and that was the catalyst for starting this blog and in so many ways the trigger for most of the changes in my life.  It was the moment when the midlife episode hit leading to an awakening and a realisation that things would never be the same again.   There’s been good and bad since that time for me.  I have changed, in some ways becoming more honest, mainly with myself.  I have learnt where I was weak and in the process I think I have become a better person.   But you know what, hardly a day goes by when I do’t think of my Dad, when I don’t wish that our relationship had been better, that I had taken the time to spend more time with him, that instead of being just father and son, that we had also been mates.

And I sometimes wonder in looking at myself in terms of that relationship, how I might have been a better father to my kids.   I know now that my biggest failure as a person is that I am a master at keping feelings to myself.  Ironically that has been seen as a strength by many work colleagues because they percieve me as someone who is cool calm and collected and always in control.   They don’t realise that sometimes that facade is hiding a little boy who sometimes quakes in hs boots.

That little boy tends to reflect on days like today.   I remember going to the local shopping centre on Saturday mornings and getting a hair cut with Dad and then sprinting along the street to the milk bar for a milkshake.  I remember him sitting on my bad at night smelling of beer and cigarettes and fetching me a glass of water.  I remember the cubby houses we would build out of sheets of masonite he would bring home from work, and the days spent setting up my cowboys and indians and farm yards on the lounge room floor.   I remember playing marbles in the backyard.

After I separated from my then wife and whilst I was living alone in a flat no one came to about two years after Dad died he came to me and sat on my bed.   I know I was more than likely asleep but it was a very vivid dream and I was once again that little boy who got comfort from that nightly visit by his Dad.

I expect to see three of my four kids today.  I fear it’s not because they want to but because they think they should and maybe that is a reflection of the type of father I have been.  My ex did tell me after I left that they kids had discussed things and thought that I was never there when they were growing up.  And it’s true I worked long hours but I never missed an event or any of the many games of sport they played.  I didn’t play cowboys and indians with my sons, nor marbles, nor did we build cubby houses, but we played basketball and built lego towns and I read them stories at night whilst they fell asleep.  Could I have done more?  Undoubtedly.  But I was what I was and that is all I was.

For anyone who is interested I have looked back over the posts on this blog and found some familiar themes in older posts.

Bad Jokes Good Father?
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father
Things I miss
Cats in the Cradle
Parents and the Damage Done
Josie’s Interview Part 2 – A non-sozzled Loz

So if you happen to be lucky enough to still have your Dad, make sure you contact him today and tell him you love him.   Don’t end up with some of the regrets that I have.   And if you happen to be a Dad make sure you also tell your kids how much you love them, that if at times there have been some cats in the cradle moments, that is a weakness most fathers have.   We carry that burden of provider, pre-programmed into us and for some of us it is something we will bear till the end of our days.  If we’re lucky our inevitable midlife episode may give us a shake and awaken us to some of the other possibilities.  Maybe that’s why some of us make far better grandparents than parents.   Perhaps being that little further down the road means that we can choose to live the moment differently.

Aching Tonight

I have spent the weekend shifting the last of my property from the family home – books, comics and fish tank. I had hoped to finish this weekend but there were a few unexpected holdups like a run to the tip to empty a trailer full of rubbish and the lack of electricity at the house which meant I couldn’t keep going last night because it was getting hard to see.

L has rented the house to a work colleague of hers and there were things I wanted to keep so had to move them. I have found out how unfit I am sitting here now, muscles aching, on a weekend when I wasn’t supposed to lift anything because of the stitches in my shoulder [for that story see here] .

I still have a few more boxes of books to collect plus my record collection which will all have to be done next weekend now. I also have a shed full of stuff I haven’t touched for years so I’ll have to do that in the next few weeks too.

I don’t think the fish have been looked after much in the last few months – there were only 11 left alive and the tank water was very cold because the electricity had been cut off a day or so earlier. Three more fish died in the move and I expect that some more may yet succumb to the shock of the move, although they’re all looking reasonably happy at the moment, that is if a fish can look happy. That’s not a criticism of anyone because I know they all would have been stressing about the move. It’s not every day that kids move out of the only home they’ve ever known so I understand why fish weren’t a priority.

Incidentally I did notice the budgies the girls gave me for my birthday last year were gone. I had dropped them at the house over Christmas and left them there primarily because L had told Erin that she’d get an aviary built for them. Once the move was organised that wasn’t practical of course so they were given to L’s niece. Not really sure why I wasn’t given the option of taking them back. Maybe I got asked, but I don’t remember it happening.

Erin did ask me in to see her new room yesterday morning after I dropped her off. I hope they settle in quickly to the new arrangement. I have offered for them to stay in my spare bedroom any time they wish to but that’s not likely to happen.

Aching Tonight

I have spent the weekend shifting the last of my property from the family home – books, comics and fish tank. I had hoped to finish this weekend but there were a few unexpected holdups like a run to the tip to empty a trailer full of rubbish and the lack of electricity at the house which meant I couldn’t keep going last night because it was getting hard to see.

L has rented the house to a work colleague of hers and there were things I wanted to keep so had to move them. I have found out how unfit I am sitting here now, muscles aching, on a weekend when I wasn’t supposed to lift anything because of the stitches in my shoulder [for that story see here] .

I still have a few more boxes of books to collect plus my record collection which will all have to be done next weekend now. I also have a shed full of stuff I haven’t touched for years so I’ll have to do that in the next few weeks too.

I don’t think the fish have been looked after much in the last few months – there were only 11 left alive and the tank water was very cold because the electricity had been cut off a day or so earlier. Three more fish died in the move and I expect that some more may yet succumb to the shock of the move, although they’re all looking reasonably happy at the moment, that is if a fish can look happy. That’s not a criticism of anyone because I know they all would have been stressing about the move. It’s not every day that kids move out of the only home they’ve ever known so I understand why fish weren’t a priority.

Incidentally I did notice the budgies the girls gave me for my birthday last year were gone. I had dropped them at the house over Christmas and left them there primarily because L had told Erin that she’d get an aviary built for them. Once the move was organised that wasn’t practical of course so they were given to L’s niece. Not really sure why I wasn’t given the option of taking them back. Maybe I got asked, but I don’t remember it happening.

Erin did ask me in to see her new room yesterday morning after I dropped her off. I hope they settle in quickly to the new arrangement. I have offered for them to stay in my spare bedroom any time they wish to but that’s not likely to happen.

The old and wise

From Journal 1 12th March 1986

It’s Funny but when I was a young child I considered my parents to be old and wise. Now when I am a parent I certainly don’t feel old and at times not all that wise. Being a father has made me realise that the twenty or thirty years age difference between most children and parents is not all that great a time.

Already Luke is two years old and Glen over six months and time sems to be marching on ever more quickly. Lyn and Ioften refer to the things Luke used to do as a baby as Glen reaches and passes through the same stages. This is not an attempt to be maudlin and shows no regret because each day brings new joys, but I often wiinder how one can be nostalgic for things that occurred such a short time ago.

Having children has also reinforced that feeling of mortality and the sense that life is short. I lost Pa Joyce when I was 17 years old and I was lucky. Most of the kids I knew had lost grandparents a lot younger than I was at the time and some of them had lost parents as well. If Luke is that lucky that means my parents or Lyn’s parents may die some time in the next 15 years and that does make me sad.

By the same token children give one a certain sense of immortality for as long as they live the memories of their loved ones linger on. I hope Luke and Glen are at least as lucky as I was.

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Postscript
They weren’t. Lyn’s father passed away as a relatively young man of 56 in 1989, six weeks before the birth of my first daughter , my Dad in 2004. Both their grandmothers are still alive, my Mum at 77 years of age and Lyn’s at 74.

The old and wise

From Journal 1 12th March 1986

It’s Funny but when I was a young child I considered my parents to be old and wise. Now when I am a parent I certainly don’t feel old and at times not all that wise. Being a father has made me realise that the twenty or thirty years age difference between most children and parents is not all that great a time.

Already Luke is two years old and Glen over six months and time sems to be marching on ever more quickly. Lyn and Ioften refer to the things Luke used to do as a baby as Glen reaches and passes through the same stages. This is not an attempt to be maudlin and shows no regret because each day brings new joys, but I often wiinder how one can be nostalgic for things that occurred such a short time ago.

Having children has also reinforced that feeling of mortality and the sense that life is short. I lost Pa Joyce when I was 17 years old and I was lucky. Most of the kids I knew had lost grandparents a lot younger than I was at the time and some of them had lost parents as well. If Luke is that lucky that means my parents or Lyn’s parents may die some time in the next 15 years and that does make me sad.

By the same token children give one a certain sense of immortality for as long as they live the memories of their loved ones linger on. I hope Luke and Glen are at least as lucky as I was.

***********************************************************************
Postscript
They weren’t. Lyn’s father passed away as a relatively young man of 56 in 1989, six weeks before the birth of my first daughter , my Dad in 2004. Both their grandmothers are still alive, my Mum at 77 years of age and Lyn’s at 74.

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