Tomorrow I am going to visit ‘the family.’ Not just my parents but my grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins. The last time I saw them was just before I moved to France 6 years ago. I did the ‘goodbye tour’ thinking it might be the last time I would see some of my grandparents – they are in their late 80’s/early 90’s – but miraculously they are all still here.
This is going to take me ‘off air’ for a couple of weeks, as I will be travelling the length and breadth of the UK, doing my best impression of a girl who is coping on her own! When they saw me last I was happy with my ex, cradling a baby and off to live in a beautiful farmhouse in France, full of hope for the future. I come back to them now, by ‘their standards’ a failure – no husband, no job and a living in rented accomodation. I know I will have to spend the entire trip justifying my ‘alternative’ lifestyle. I can even imagine the questions now:
· Have you found another man yet? – yes and no. I do have someone at the moment, but I have been briefed by mother not to tell the grandparents as they ‘couldn’t deal with the age difference’ (he is 18 years older than me).
· So you are living on state benefit (raised eyebrows, tut, tut). You used to have such a good career…it is such a shame – I did work for 2 years in a crèche, but by the time I had paid out for school dinners, childcare and my taxes I was 30 euros a month worse off than when I wasn’t working – no excuse I know, but I hardly ever saw my son, the job was tough, the hours were crazy and the pay was dire. My contract came to an end in November and I am ‘living off the state’ until I can sit a Teaching exam in September. If I pass, I will do one year’s teacher training and then, hopefully, be able to get a job that pays more than the minimum wage – it’s a long shot but I have got to give it a try.
· What are you going to do about getting your half of the house? (my ex is still living in it and doesn’t want to sell) – absolutely nothing for the time being as my son’s happiness is paramount and if I take my ex to court, all hell will break loose, and neither Sonny nor I are strong enough for that yet.
The worst part will be having to answer these questions over and over again, without being impolite or jumping down anyone’s throat. Two weeks of being happy, smiley and engaging is going to be a killer, so if I am a bit ‘crotchety’ when I get back, you know why!
That aside, Sonny will have a lot of fun with his cousins and I will be able to update my underwear in M&S and gorge myself on Indian takeaways – bliss!