Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dad's First Mid-Life Crisis

So from reading my last post, The other Side of the Sand Dune, one gets a pretty good idea of how most of my childhood played out. My mum and I compare notes since I have grown up but for the most part, I never knew when each blow up was happening, when they were reconciling etc but I did live in the constant fear of the big 'D'. I was terrified of my parents getting divorced. I can't even tell you what it was I was scared of, I suppose it was just the radical difference or change our lives would undertake and transform into something I dreamt would be nothing short of horrific and all for this bony, wrinkly plastic excuse of a woman. I remember watching Mrs Doubtfire as a child and asking my Mum if she and Dad were going to get a divorce. I thought it was pretty safe as she would assume that the movie had sparked the idea and not raise any other alarms but she knew me better than that and I tried to brush it off as "Just asking" but I never did get an answer from her and that always worried me.

When I was 11 years old I began to see how real my nightmare was. My mum, brother and I moved off the farm in December. Dad hyped town up to be the most incredible place with close and easy access to movies, malls and our friends. We weren't interested. We'd been brought up on a farm and didn't care for retail entertainment. We loved our bikes, mud, long walks on the farm, our dogs and the home we'd been brought up in. Of course he tried the 'best of both worlds' card too but let’s be honest - kids battle to see the bright side when everything they've ever known being severed limb by limb.

We moved into a nice-enough house in town, close to school - far from home. The unusual sounds of traffic and police cars prevented most of our nights from sleep but the fact that Dad came and visited twice a week made things pleasant but I imagine hard for my Mum. I remember also being a little confused at the fact that he slept over these nights but it was what it was and it was unpleasant but do-able. My brother and I bonded very strongly with my mum at this time - I believe, with retrospect, it was inevitable - we leaned on each other for support and that became a wonderful thing.

January came around and it was my brother, Kyle's 8th birthday. My mother put in extra amounts of her already unbeatable quantity of planning to try and compensate for some of the disruption he had recently experienced in his life. We were having a pool party, friends were abundant, family was helping out in the kitchen, kids having a ball in the pool, Dad arrives and tells mum he’s marrying Sam….KA BOOM!!!! Yes, right in the middle of the party is when Dad believed that this was the moment he’d been waiting for to drop the bomb. My poor mother – they hadn’t told us yet, of course but my Gran put my Mum to bed that afternoon and of course we knew something was up and my compulsive fear overcame my body as I had more than a good idea of what this had to do with. Kyle and I were supposed to go to my Dad that weekend but Kyle went home with a friend at the last minute and with my Mum just asking to be left alone – I didn’t have the desire to go out to the farm so I asked if I could go home with my grandparents. Begrudgingly my father agreed but he was not happy.

Being at my grandparents house – I was always content and comfortable but my Gran was clearly upset and tearful. She and I never knew the boundaries that age put on most people. We were almost identical apart from this difference and she had always spoken to and treated me like an adult from a young age. I nagged her and my Grandpa to tell me what was wrong but she didn’t want to because my Mum had said to put it off until tomorrow so that I could have “one more happy day”. She eventually gave in and told my Grandfather to tell me. His words were, “Dad’s going to marry Sam what-his-name” and My Gran said her surname for him. Of course this news was devastating for my grandparents as they had taken Dad in and treated him like their own son however I am ashamed to say I wasn’t. I felt indifferent to it – I was numb. I knew I had to show some kind of upset behaviour or they would know something was off but I don’t think I put much effort into it. It was almost as if it was a relief to have this filthy stain hanging on the line for all the family to see at last.

From that point until Dad’s announcement – I have no memory. My parents had been seeing a psychologist who my father managed to convince that my mother had psychological problems over the neurotic renditions she was dreaming up of what my father was up to. The psychologist agreed and began to focus on these enormous problems of Mums...that is until the affair all came out in the open again. My mum continued seeing the psychologist after we had heard the marriage announcement to get her through the difficult time. All of a sudden, the wedding was stalled and Dad announced that he was going skiing in Austria. A trip like this cost an elaborate amount of money – the kind of money that we really didn’t have but he insisted. He backed his decision up with, “I need space I need to get clarity on all this – the psychologist said I had to.” Strange how people defend these actions when no one is attacking them…of course the psychologist hadn’t suggested it. When Mum asked him if he had he said, “Do you really think that’s what I would suggest for him at this time? Leave Jenna at home with the kids – you really need to get away. Come on!” Dad is a very stubborn person, a trait that I have in fact inherited, and once his mind is made up – there is no changing it. He was just young enough to squeeze into a Contiki tour with his friends. This time has become affectionately known in our family as Dad’s first Mid-life Crisis.


  1. Parents can be such children sometimes! My second wife left me to run off with a younger man when our daughters were small. So I raised my daughters on my own for many years, I'm sure it was a bizarre experience for my daughters to have to deal with their mother's succession of weird boyfriends and after 18 years their mother hasn't changed. My girls just seem to take it in stride, but I'm sure it must be hurtful to them.

    It's funny--I was just looking at your blog yesterday to make sure you hadn't posted and I just missed it. My Google Reader let's me know when the blogs I follow have a new posting. Then, voila, you commented on my blog last night and their was your post! Glad to see you back with your story. You tell it well.

  2. Hey, look at it this way Happy, it could have been an Hawaiian shirt and a Harley Davidson motorcycle instead?!

    God's punishment for woman, at eating from the forbidden garden was NOT that immortality was taken away, it was of only having ONE choice of being to love, the MALE human being!!!

    But if it's ANY consolation, in their older years, ALL men who do this ALWAYS regret their past actions and the women ALWAYS have the last laugh, albeit a damaged one!

    Not a toughie LURKING you Happy...a GRRRREAT blog!

    Cordially (If Not Entirely Sober!),
    High Chief Mucky Muck of

    Burb's Buck & Buntline Inn (B3)

    2nd Official Tate-LaBianca Murders Blog (TLB2)

    Home of the Bucky Award for the Best Blogging Bloggers in Webland!

  3. Hey, I can relate to a lot of what's in this blog. Really enjoyed reading this.

  4. Interesting... I wished for as long as I could remember that my parents would get divorced. My father has had a perpetual mid life crisis, or rather he just refuses to grow up, and he is in his mid 50's. Oh yeah, after I was out of the house and on my own for years my parents did eventually divorce. Now the idiots want to retire together (or my mother is chasing my father to Myrtle Beach... whichever, same difference).

  5. Hi, I have an award for you on my site.
    See the bottom of the post "The Way It Is" to pick it up. Congrats!