Diary of a Widower

Daily entries by a husband, who stayed behind with his two sons

In-laws just don’t get it

WEDNESDAY,  June 2 –  Learn from your forgets, Eamonn pronounced. Sander had a tip of his own: ‘Just stay home for a couple of hours, lie down on the couch and fall asleep.’ The boys are right.  Work can wait for a while. Fall asleep and forget, then wake up and move on. Lights out.

Ah, forgetting. But I can’t. Especially this. Last December the brothers-in-law – solemnly promised that the boys would always be welcome, and that I could count on their support during the summer months.  So, I made plans for next month; but now they’ve let me down, just when I need them the most. Were those offers of help nothing but empty promises?  It certainly feels that way.

This morning they propose that the boys spend a maximum of ten days with their three families, in three different states. A ridiculous itinerary. I am then informed that I’ll have to take my summer vacation a week earlier and fly back to Holland a week earlier than planned so as not to overburden the grandparents. That last point is something I fully understand, but the fact that I’m now expected to come up with a solution on my own is what really hurts.

This means, for one thing, that I can throw away the two return tickets and that I’ll have to buy new tickets. Also, I’ll have to totally revise my schedule at work. But above all, I must face the fact that I’m the one who’s responsible for my children, and no one else. Aunts and uncles can return to their daily routine. Their promises were no more than that. Hollow.

I sleep for an hour and then get up. I know where I stand and I accept the reality of in-laws. I’m angry and disappointed, but I’m also proud, and I decide to avoid a confrontation. I recall my brother-in-law’s words: ‘We’d do better to simply forget the first year and agree that the past year doesn’t count.’ Nonsense. This year counts more than ever and I’m not planning to forget anything.

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