It’s hard to be caught between two long-distance families. It’s hard not only for us, but also for the people we leave behind with each plane ride back to that slippery concept of “home.”
The other night Zsolt, his mother and I were at the kitchen table looking at some stitching she had done. Anna is very creative, and she’s been working on a beautiful pillow case of red flowers. It’s taken her several months to stitch, on and off as she watches television in the evening.
Anyhow, there we were yesterday evening. The dinner had been put away, and we were sitting at the table just talking, which is a bit of a rarity since normally it’s a choice between playing cards, watching a movie, or me escaping to our upstairs bedroom where I can watch some English webseries and chill out. Frankly, I’m not a fan of the movies, and while the games are fun I get tired of them easily,but talking . . . talking is very, very interesting. Even if it’s all in Hungarian.
Anna was telling us about all kinds of things. One was that she had wanted to be an architect, but ended up in banking instead because her parents thought she was too skinny to do the co-op necessary for architecture that took place on a construction site. (She says she could have done it, but her parents worried she could not.) And so she studied accounting instead and ended up working at a bank.
Interesting no? I’m accustom to seeing my mother-in-law as a mother. Cooking, caring, and fussing all the time – that’s what I see. I’ve never met the young woman who had aspired to design buildings and dared to get married in a miniskirt. But I bet we would have gotten along, had we been able to understand one another.
And then she said what somewhat struck an even deeper chord within me. Anna related that back when she had children, (back when she was working 12 hour days at the bank, coming home late at night and only seeing her kids on the weekend – it was communism in Hungary back then, very work-focused rather than family-centric. . . had she been given the choice, I suspect she would have stayed at home more often) – back when she had children, she had wished they’d hurry along and grow up already. And now that she is older with far more time, she kinda wishes the reverse, that they could go back to being kids again.
I guess it’s empty nest and missed opportunities. And it made me feel a little bit frustrated with our own lack of children. We never talk about the baby stuff with Zsolt’s parents. They understand we need to wait before trying. But part of me would love to scoop up all those grandmotherly vibes and pour them over my own kids. I feel as though there’s a circle of life here, and we’re missing an essential loop.
Because really, Zsolt is never going to be four years old again. And, I reckon, instead of wishing him back to childhood, it should be wished that he become one heck of an amazing man, which he is – supportive, loving, caring, and growing; I think that her loneliness is more a result of family being far away, then her children no longer being children. At least, that is my guess.
Of course, I’ve known for a very long time that Anna sees Zsolt as her little boy. It makes all the sense in the world. She’s so full of love, and it’s the sort of thing that needs to be passed forward. But at the same time, I shouldn’t worry about her empty nesting, should I? That’s her journey to navigate. Though it is still a little heartbreaking.
Children grow up, parents step back, and families continue in a way that spreads outward rather than closing back inwards. It’s a theme I’ve written about in this blog, and loads in my fiction – and to be honest, since leaving Canada those many, many years ago for England and therefore taking my first steps ‘outward’, I have been just a little bit heart-broken. Once you step ‘out’ you can’t step back ‘in’.
Kids won’t solve long distance. But that’s not why I want to have children. I simply feel like we’re ready. It’s time. Let’s continue the circle. And not for the grandparents, though they are in my heart too, but because it’s right, and Zsolt & I want it. And frankly, we’ve got a whole lot of love to pass forward as well.
So, I’m counting down. April in Hungary. Then May in Canada. Scans at the hospital in June. If all goes well, then I need to wait three more months before trying. And then we try. And then we see.
And I have no idea what will happen next.