P’s Mother Changes Her Mind

Text message from P:

My mum phoned to say she has come to terms with me and you and to say she is glad I’m happy and to tell you that you’re lovely.

I don’t know how I feel. ~ It’s been a while since I posted. A lot has happened and is still going on.

  • I’m going to be an uncle and I’m so terribly excited. I was told first, before anyone else from either family. I guessed that my sister was having a girl. When asked, I predicted she’ll be born November 2nd, a few days past her Oct 29th due date.
  • I have exams right now. I haven’t slept a lot. My routine has been: write exam, nap for 2-3 hours after an exam, then all night study, then nap for 2 hours a few hours before an exam, study some more, write exam, repeat.
  • P woke me 1 hour after texting the above. I thought it was 7:30am.
  • I’m going to Melbourne after exams. I’ve never been. I’m so keen.
  • I’ve been running more. I ran a 12km race last month, I’m doing a 14km race soon, and I have the half marathon in August.
  • I’m thinking about joining the armed forces for a career as a medical professional after graduation.

~ With that out of the way, I have no idea how I feel. Writing things out helps me to figure it out, to process. I’m happy that P’s relationship with his mother is better. I feel no closer to his mother. From my perspective, she met me, was nice, then decided she wasn’t comfortable with us, barely spoke to me for the entire 2 months she was here, then changed her mind 3 months later. It feels patronising, like after much consideration, she’s finally condescended to say, “Fine. I approve.” Either that, or like a child, announcing from the top of the stairs that, “I change my mind! We can do what you want. I’ll come play with you.” I wonder if his father had words to her, and said something like, “Stop being stupid because if they have children, you could never meet them.” In my state of fatigue (10 hours over 3 days, not counting that great nap just now), I will say it’s entirely possible. But realistically, I like to think I wouldn’t be so cruel once less sleep-deprived. Besides, I’d want their help with the babies. I know we would be unlikely to get help from my parents. A few months ago, I rang my mum all frustrated because my dad was telling me that I could live my life how I wanted, but his actions contradicted it. Why ask if you can fly back in August and how long you can stay if you’ve already bought tickets?! I not so subtly hinted that 1) I was dating someone and 2) they would probably have objections. My mum said, “Well if he doesn’t share our faith, then I can’t support that. I have to align myself with our faith.” I said I understood. And I do. I can’t and won’t ask her to compromise her beliefs for me like I did for P. Back to P’s mum. After some consideration, I have some thoughts and questions.

  1. What changed her mind about us?
  2. I don’t feel like being friendly to you. Why should I? Also, why, should I?
  3. I want her to say something to me personally, not via P. Apology for being rude by proxy is not acceptable.
  4. What does this mean for the future?
  5. How will changing her mind impact her interaction with me/us?
  6. Can I expect her to be more than polite, maybe solicitous?
  7. I should probably respond to P’s text. It just has a “Read on …” receipt right now. What else should I say aside from, “Ok. Thanks for the text.”? I don’t want to condone her behaviour as it could set a precedent/tone for the rest of my relationship with her.
  8. Re #3: I don’t know if she actually apologised for being a rude cow. Barely talking to someone, like your son’s partner, is rude even if you’re civil.

I feel less confused, but I don’t think I’ve completely nailed down how I feel. I’m hungry. I wish KFC still had that deal of 9 pieces for $9.95 still going. I want to have a workout. I feel so unfit. That actually reflects my inner conflict quite well.

Is It Crying Time Again?

I’m not happy with our relationship. I’ve thought over this past week or two that I might dump P. There’s been a lot going on.

  1. P told his parents about our relationship about 3-4 weeks ago. It was the first serious one for both of us. But he’s 17 years older than I am. His parents are visiting from the UK, living with P, and originally planned on staying for 3 months. A couple weeks ago on Dec 30, the morning after flying back from halfway across the world and before a shift, I met them. His mother was initially lovely. However, the day after and since then, she has barely said anything to me. P talked to her the night after we met, and she said that I seemed “sweet” but she was worried that I would dump him because I’m that much younger than him. She also wants him to find (I presume) a much more age-appropriate female to marry and produce children. Ouch. We’ve agreed that it’s not me specifically, but she’s not used to the idea. Personally, I think I have a banging ass. And his dad is totally cool and lovely.
  2. Family Stress #1. The day after I met them, a water pipe burst in his house and flooded the washroom. P was out at the time and they didn’t know where the stopcock was to turn off the water. They spent 5 hours waiting for the plumber. The cat was frightened of the plumber. Everything was wet. (I can understand if his mother wasn’t very chatty that evening, but the no conversation thing has continued past that.)
  3. Family Stress #2. I got his mother a massive bouquet that included eucalyptus and lilies. I didn’t know lilies were toxic for cats and their kidneys. So initially, they tried to keep P’s cat separate from the flowers. But then the day after the plumber, P noticed that a bunch of the leaves were eaten. So a trip to the emergency vet ($900 for one night) and 4 days at the vet ($600) made up the rest of that hellish week.
  4. Family Stress #3. This past week on Wednesday night, his parents went away to the wine region to stay with one of P’s uni mates who’s moved here with her husband and children to work and live. I dropped by after work to sleep over. At about 10pm, he got a call from the UK to say that his best friend’s mother had died. P’s parents are good friends with them as well so they were all devastated. Although this is the weekend, they don’t know whether to stay and miss the funeral of their best friend, or go home, miss half of their holiday and have P pay another $1500.

So amidst all this emotional turmoil, why would I ever consider breaking up with P? That would make me a bitch. It would be a really really cruel thing to do.

There have been a number of things going on that have made me wonder why we’re together and if this will last. I do love P. I really do. But there are deal breakers and if nothing is going to change, then we’re just wasting time and emotional energy. It would be better to end it now than waste time and be even more shattered when we break up later. So what reasons do I have?

  1. Children. P has remained steadfast in casual conversation that he likes children, and he’ll work on them. He’s lovely with O&M, the two boys of one of his good mates. But he will regularly say that children are awful between 2-5 years of age as they have no self-control. Uhh…ride it out. They don’t know any better. They’re children
  2. Digs and pot shots. I dare say P ridicules Christianity. He is an atheist and that’s fine. But I don’t make broad sweeping generalisations about them and then brush it off by saying, “Oh, you’re not really an atheist anyway anymore.” Actually I resent that sentiment. I have pretty much sacrificed my faith when I stopped praying, going to church and serving. But you don’t get to judge my faith. And who makes their partner look bad in front of their mates in social situations?? What the hell. On occasion, he has said that maybe I should stay home and study as he didn’t want to get in the way of my degree when I’ve suggested coming over close to exams and mid-semesters. But what happened there was not ok. I don’t know if it’s teasing, but I’m not laughing. I don’t give it back as good as I get because although I talk like a confident bitch, I’m not in real life. I’m a mild milksop in real life.
  3. I’m bored. I like doing couple-y things like cooking dinner, sitting on the couch watching TV and going out to eat. But there has to be more to a relationship, to life than that surely. I can’t imagine doing only that in 5 years time.
  4. His stoicism. Show some goddamn EMOTION would you?? Other than happy, tired, horny, mildly sad, and mildly annoyed! FUCK!!!!!!
  5. His attitude to our relationship during this stressful time. It’s crap. You know, I was expecting tears when P got that call that his quasi-second-mother-slash-aunt-or-whatever had unexpectedly died. (…not that unexpectedly at 88 years old). But I don’t want to hear that you had a cry on your own. I was right here with you on the couch when you got the call, I was right there in your arms after in the silence. What am I, if not in some way emotional support?? And I get that you want to avoid awkward silence between your mother and me, but we’re adults here, we can deal. But when I get there, within minutes P says, “Ok, we can go!” Or tonight, when I dropped him after paella with his mates K&M at their house, it was a peck on the lips and, “I’ll see you tomorrow… maybe.” I feel marginalised. 

I give a lot of slack. I try not to rock the boat. But this has gone on long enough. We need to talk about things. I rang another one of P’s good mates, and she was a great listener. She actually helped me figure out that last point about feeling insecure and encouraged me to give him a little more slack and wait and think as it’s a particularly rough time right now. Ok, I can do that. It would be really awful of me to bring up another difficult conversation while there’s been a death in the family. I can wait. But it has to be said.

I do think I’m going to cry during that conversation. I don’t think he will. I don’t want to cry, I don’t look pretty when I cry. No one does. I’ve already run through how I’d react if he dumped me. I haven’t thought about it the way where I’d be dumping him though.

I need to go for a workout.

Hindsight

They say hindsight is 20/20, perfect vision. Sometimes, I reflect on where my life could have gone differently. If I had gotten that hospital job like I wanted to badly, I might not have learned as much as I have about different pharmacy business models or seen the types of leadership approaches in action. This year, I debated whether to stay with my current course or to cut my losses (financially, time-wise, emotionally), apply to a different dental school, and start again. But despite the many daydreams and fan-fiction stories I’ve read, you can’t go back in time.

Really, if you could go back and change how you responded, you wouldn’t be the same person. You wouldn’t have learned the lessons you did, and the people around you would be shaped differently.

I went back to visit my old high school when I first came back home. It was great. A lot of the teachers recognised me. I got a hug from my old mentor. Maybe he’s getting soft in his old age, he was always a bit gruff and scary in high school. Before then, I’d always felt such mortification at recalling my high school experience and actions. It was impossible to give myself any slack. But going back this year, I finally gained some perspective when I saw those students and my teachers. As teachers, they were limited in what they could say and do. They had certain roles to play. I must have been painfully awkward.

But it’s ok now. It’s a bit pathetic, but I think I can finally stop beating myself up over some of the unbelievably stupid things I said and did.

~

And then today, a week later, I saw J. We went to elementary school together. We were good mates then, I suppose. I remember one year, there was a mime club. I had so much fun doing that with him. Then we both left for different private schools in Year 7. He went to an elitist school for the academically bright. I went to a French immersion school, elitist because they spoke French for nearly everything and all its students thought themselves the shit, myself included. We met sporadically over the years, and it wasn’t unpleasant or anything.

Now, J’s dad is an optician and owns a glasses shop. Our family has gone there for years to get our glasses, contacts and sunglasses. Today, J was in the shop. I knew that he’d applied to med school, hadn’t been accepted and had taken it hard. In my mind, I presumed he’d re-applied and gotten in. He was always so intelligent from all reports.

At first, I thought he was hanging around, visiting his Dad. Then it clicked that he was working. I pulled off my hat and was straightening my hair when he came out from the back. I didn’t recognise him. I dare say he’s become quite attractive. Mum said hello. He was rather stand-offish, to the point where I wasn’t even sure it was him. I waited till he left the front of the shop and asked Mum if that was, in fact, J. She replied in the affirmative. My first reaction was, “How rude.” But on some consideration, I thought it was a bit weird and sad actually, that he couldn’t interact normally with someone from his childhood.

When I was attending the French immersion school, I had my head up my ass and acted like I didn’t know friends from elementary school. But I like to think I pulled it out at some point.

On the drive home, Mum explained that there was tension in the family. The grandmother only likes J and blatantly favours him. She doesn’t get on with J’s father, and vice versa. J’s sister resents the favouritism, and said, “That’s why J didn’t get into med school.” (?too coddled, so no competitive edge?) Anyway, lots of friction. Oh, and the grandmother talks crazy shit to family friends. Hilarious and sad at the same time.

It sucks that he has such a massive chip on his shoulder. I’ll cut J some slack when I go pick up my new glasses. It’s Christmas. And he’s an old childhood friend. Besides, he’s really easy on the eyes now, so it’s not too hard. Poor J.

Another C Word: Condoms

I was talking to a friend of mine over in Adelaide. In the course of our conversation, J started teasing me about the age difference between myself and P. I said that in 5 years, it wouldn’t be as bad. J was surprised that I was thinking that far ahead. Apparently last time we spoke, I gave the impression that I was unhappy and thus, going to break up with P. And glancing over my posts, yes, there’s doubt, and in healthy amounts too. Why do I stay? There’s a few different reasons.

Foremost, I know P loves me. P can be very considerate. One example of that is the insistence on safe sex. We’ve never had sex without a condom. I’ve asked and tried to cajole P into no condoms to no avail. I’ve teased, I’ve begged, I’ve coaxed and I’ve wheedled. Despite my attempts, P has steadfastly refused. I’m not that desperate for it to be bare. I can be a bit …obsessive though. Last night, when things were starting to get heated, P told me very unexpectedly that some test results had come back; P is completely clear of all STIs including HIV. I teased back, “…Ok. Considering some of the things we’ve done, I should hope so.” With a slight grin, P said that if I wanted, we could do things without a condom. And we did.

I hadn’t really thought about it till then, but I am glad and thankful that P resisted and waited till we knew for sure. It’s a reality that people have STIs unknowingly or otherwise. There are people who don’t know how to have safe sex, or worse still, know and choose to disregard that knowledge.

I have a confession and I don’t really care if it reflects badly on my parents. My parents chose to keep my siblings and I out of the sexual education classes when it came time. I can respect that they wanted to protect us from sexual things before it had to happen, that they had their morals and stuck to them. And it’s true, I think children are exposed to things of a sexual nature far earlier than reasonable. My parents did try to have the talk with me, but I knew what was coming and pretended I was au fait with it all, you know, Mum being a nurse and all.

So you can imagine why just once, the very first time without a condom and suddenly, the realisation struck me,

“Oh. That’s why no one wants to wear a condom.”

It also helped me understand how, without any sexual education, someone might come to hypothesise that extra-attentive cleansing and washing might prevent pregnancy. Gosh I’m glad I went and read up on my own.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, be safe. Condoms aren’t the end of the world, even though they taste funny. In fact, they make things a little easier in terms of clean up. But when you’re with someone and have absolute confidence and evidence that they’re clean, having that reassurance makes what follows that much better. I guess that could be one possible point of differentiation between fucking and doing something that goes beyond sex.

Without a Leg to Stand On

When a relationship is new… actually, back up. When you first start seeing someone, before it’s labelled anything at all, you’re on best behaviour. You do your best to look good. I mean things like paying extra to get your hair trimmed/styled so it’s decent even though you’re not due for another 2 weeks, you use the exfoliating scrub, and you make sure it’s clean not just under the nails but your bellybutton too. But once this whatever-it-is becomes something, you get more confident and you start to relax. This might evidence itself in a few different ways.

  1. Physical appearance. You might notice your hair is a bit flat or that you don’t have on the scent you know they like. You aren’t going to rush home and fix it because this isn’t a big deal. This state of “not giving a crap” isn’t a bad thing. It’s hardly pragmatic to try and always look perfect. Frankly, it’d be exhausting.
  2. Actions. You might deny that your body has the capability of producing farts. Well, pull out the beans and pull up the sheets for a dutch-oven because you’re going to let one rip eventually. I’m joking. Because those are gross. Mind you, it took me just under 1.5 years before I felt comfortable doing a #2 at P’s house. I did it while P took a shower, flushed 3 times, sprayed air freshener, flushed again, and then ran back to the couch.
  3. What you say. Again, this can be a good thing. No one wants someone who agrees with them on everything. Jeez that would be a boring conversation. But once you’re comfortable enough to call someone on their crap, that’s tricky.

After P&I went for dinner with my work mates, we were chatting before we got into our cars. P said, “I don’t know how much [LS] is doing, if any. I’m not seeing much get done.” I didn’t say anything. I seethed and kept it inside. Ok, it’s true, I haven’t been nearly as focussed or productive as I need to be. But you know what, I’d prefer that you didn’t make me look bad in front of my work friends. I went back into P’s to pick something up and made to leave. P had originally said probably no sleepover that night, which is fair enough. I honestly didn’t mind. But then he asked,

P: Aren’t you staying?

me: No.

P: Well, would you like to stay?

me: No, that’s ok.

P: You can stay if you want, I don’t mind.

me: No thanks. I’m fine.

And I drove off. I talked to my erstwhile supervisor N, who I became friends with even before we stopped working together, who had also been there at the dinner. N rightly pointed out, regardless of whether it was true or not, that P would be unlikely to see me study. Why would you go over to your partner’s house to study? It’s to see them. So I got over myself.

But then, last night, I went to go see Star Trek Into Darkness with P and two of P’s good friends. It was really good and I enjoyed it. Don’t worry, no spoilers. Anyway, when we were picking up tickets and then again in the car ride home, P said something similar to his friends. Again, I didn’t say anything. But what the hell. I’m right here! At mine, P came in to pick up a cake tin I’d borrowed.

P: Will I see you tomorrow?

me: Uh… no? I have study group in the morning remember? And I have to study.

P: Oh. Well, ok, I’ll see you during the week, alright?

I don’t know. What do I have to say or do to give the impression that I do study? I’ve gone upstairs and studied while P watched TV. In fact, last time, P was having a look on dating websites. I didn’t say anything, but P said, “I just like to have a look.” I’ve known P’s had wandering eyes, but so long as it doesn’t go anywhere… This sounds really bad. Other times, P says such lovely and unexpected things. Yesterday morning when we were in the bathroom about to step into the shower, I felt P’s arms wrap around me and heard a murmur of, “To me, you’re perfect.”

I’m confused. Right now, my emotions are wild and I don’t dare follow those thought processes too far. I wish I could be like Spock and better control my emotions; really, that’s just emotional intelligence. It’s not suppression, but acknowledging feelings I have while not being ruled by them.

Can I not have the sniping comments and jabs? I want to say something, to stand up and assert myself. But P’s right. That’s why I’ve kept silent this entire time. In my mind, if I get back on track with my notes and study schedule, then I can say something. Otherwise I don’t have a leg to stand on.

Or am I wrong?

Where’s the Line?

I think western society (very generally speaking) pushes a lot of boundaries. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when it’s to challenge certain inequalities. Sometimes, certain boundaries are better left in place. Normally, I have a healthy respect for existing boundaries, particularly personal ones.

5 or 6 years ago, I had my boundaries pushed quite far. K was the second person I’d ever fooled around with, and certainly possessed a sharp tongue. K would say some truly appalling things, smirk at me and give me an appraising look to see if I’d rise to the bait. And I mean along the lines of, “those stupid fags” and regularly mocking the Asian accent. Interestingly, K never wanted to try full penetrative sex. Rather vehemently, K said, “I’ve been fucked over and I don’t want to do that to anyone else.” Oook…

If you asked me then if I’d ever push someone’s boundaries for the sake of it, I’d immediately answer with a horrified, “No!” But here we are.

Today in lab, we were doing a few different activities. M, who has given a flirty vibe since Day 1, immediately sat next to me and said, “Partners?” (Note: this is a different M to the one who sends unwelcome texts. This M is Australian, not North American.) The activities included testing the ability to discriminate distinct touch, temperatures, taste and proprioception. All very touchy-feely. I thought to myself, “Stuff it.” and went for it. I made sure M kept the blindfold on for the entire 2 hours. I subtly stroked M’s wrist with one hand while using the compass. I intermittently brushed my inner forearm against M’s leg when testing styluses against the skin with different temperatures. I grazed M’s cheek and jaw with my left hand when I held it still and put the different solutions on the tongue. I blatantly flirted by pouring a solution of quinine all over M’s tongue, ducking out of the way, laughing teasingly and rubbing M’s back.

Do I feel guilty? Not really. It was a low-budget lab.

But was that cheating? (vis-a-vis my last post)

Good question. Well… M is cute, there’s no denying that.

  1. What was my motivation for doing what I did? To see how far I could push the boundaries and see the results.
  2. Should I have done it? Probably not, but it was pretty fun. Particularly when I saw a certain someone else get a bit jealous and engage in a bit of physical flirting too. J does have a boyfriend, though he’s in Melbourne.
  3. Have I led M on to think that this could be something? I don’t think so, M knew what was going on and played along just the same.

Can bantering that ever so slightly verges on flirting (ok, not at all in this case) be considered crossing the line? In this case, M is happy to give mixed signals and knows the game. I’m never going to get involved beyond lighthearted fun. If both parties have full knowledge of the situation and there are virtually no consequences… is that so bad?

What do you think?

The C Word: Children

My parents always made sure we ate dinner together since we were little. It was a time when everyone at the table had a chance to share what had happened that day. It was probably mundane and dull for them, but those experiences added up to a certain kind of closeness. In a family with four children with 6 years between the oldest and youngest (poor Mum), a variety of personalities, and different activities (again, poor Mum who drove us around!)… it was actually quite nice, looking back. Now, two of my siblings are married, with the third wedding scheduled for this summer.

This wedding and naturally, conjecture as to who would be the first to produce a grandchild has been on my mind of late. I mean, really, with uni on and my dad here, it’s not like I have much to talk about. (Discussion of autonomy in my life with my parents alive is a wholly different post.) So, grandchildren. I posited the first child would come from L&C, whose wedding will be this summer. One sibling is frightened of episiotomies and tearing, and the other has career constraints. I have accepted the opinion that there is no good time to get married and/or have babies.

Something of note was the topic progression at dinner. Mind you, just me and Dad. So, it goes: siblings -> wedding -> married siblings -> grandchildren -> my status as unmarried -> grandchildren (again) -> grandparents -> desired number of grandchildren -> realistic number of grandchildren -> age -> mutagens that affect eggs -> age to have children -> relatives without children -> adoption -> surrogacy -> Bertold Weisner: a scientist who replaced sperm samples with his own and fathered approximately 600 children.

Right. That’s not awkward.

Yes it is.

~

P knows I want children. I love kids. I will readily admit I am clucky. I have some babysitting experience with a range of ages, from barely out of diapers to about year 6. I’d like to think I’ve seen not just the pleasant afternoon visit side of them, but the snotty, wailing, peeing-themselves side too. I know that while I don’t quite have rose-coloured glasses on, there’s still more I have yet to see and experience.

But there aren’t any prerequisites to having babies, aside from introducing an egg to sperm. I mean, just look at all the teenage girls who pop them out easy as anything! Case in point, one girl in my friend R’s graduating year who said,

“Oh, I’m not going to uni, I’m going to have a baby and go on the dole.”

Lovely. I would like to say I do support socialised medicine, I just don’t support entitlement and taking advantage of the system.

Despite my cynicism and frustration, I want kids. I’ve said it to P before. P said, “Why do you want kids? They’re just a prop for you, an accessory.” Paring away the prickles of the question, what are my reasons for having children? I didn’t and don’t actually have an answer.

  • It’s not to give my parents grandchildren (though free babysitting would be nice.)
  • It’s not so that I won’t have to go into a nursing home when I’m grey and wrinkly (though that’s not a guarantee anymore.)
  • It’s not for social acceptance.

What about the reasons do I have? They are small and fragile. Some people would readily interject, “That’s stupid. You’re being selfish. You have unresolved issues.”

But so what? Why can’t my answer be: “because I want to”?  Who ever said you needed approval from a selection panel made up of all and sundry to procreate? This isn’t defending a PhD thesis.

I don’t have original rationale for why I want babies. P doesn’t even want children. It could be a deal-breaker for us. I know P likes children. I mean, hello, if P didn’t, P wouldn’t have a job! But working with children and having children are completely different. This will have to be a discussion, probably spread over multiple occasions. Just having the discussion isn’t enough. There must be logical and pragmatic conclusions.

I wonder if there’s a handbook or something out there. Probably.

Bedtime, ahoy!