For time is the longest distance between two places.
– Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie
I am sitting in the lounge room with my toddler and we are munching on some sort of crispy Asian snack that we really shouldn’t be eating at this time of day, but that’s okay. There are crumbs on the sofa, a washing load going on in the background and a silence in this house that hasn’t been there for many weeks.
After about 6 weeks of camping out in my house, my parents and grandma finally left this morning. My grandma was only here for some of the time, which meant that she and mum were in the spare room and my dad slept in the lounge room. It was a busy household, with Jared rousing in the night and Jacob running around from the wee hours of the morning. Then there was dad doing his yoga and responding to work emails, mum cooking and cleaning to keep my household up to scratch and grandma helping out here and there, particularly with holding the baby.
If you must know, my parents and I have an interesting relationship, particularly my mum and I. Our parenting styles are a discussion for another day, but we’ve always had that sort of relationship where we’re seething at each other one minute, and the other we’re having teh tarik at a mamak stall together talking about a random article we saw on Facebook.
In truth, we had every right to be mad at each other. I was an absolute hoon as a teenager, breaking out from my typical Asian upbringing and wanting to be some crazy chick with green hair playing bass in a rock band. And I wouldn’t say mum expected perfection, but she set the bar pretty high.
We are very different people – for example, mum always wanted to have a baby girl and I always wanted to have a boy. We both got what we wanted, fortunately. Mum is good at things like organising (households, suitcases, time) while I am better at going with the flow and making things happen at last minute. Mum tenses up under pressure, while pressure is my element.
But as I’ve been growing older, I’ve been finding more and more ways that we are alike. We are both strong and outspoken about certain things; we are set in our ways about some things but luckily are able to compromise about some to the point of minimising conflict. We both like small country towns, good bargains and Irish/German music. Also, we both operate on coffee and can survive with little sleep (though when we crash, we crash and burn).
I think that every time we meet, we come to a better understanding. I appreciate that you now view me as an adult (and as a relatively competent one at that) and that we value respect over our own views and love over the decisions we make. And I do miss you, more than you know, when you’re so far away.
Due to the number of car seats in the back and the fact that our car is too narrow for someone to sit between them, we didn’t get to do too many things here.
Mum, I would have loved to take you to more op shops and maybe even garage sales, not so much to spend money but more so for the joy of the browse. I would have loved to take you to the markets more and cooked more food together, rather than trying and being shooed away because I’m not meant to carry the baby in the kitchen. I wish that you’d been able to relax more on your trip here, but I also appreciate all the work that you did here. I can’t say I’ll be able to keep it up, just as in some ways I can never walk in your footsteps, but I will do the best I can in my own way.
Dad, I would have loved to take you to more pubs and wineries just to have a taste. Thank you for coming to Jacob’s swimming lessons with us and for chasing Jacob and carrying him when he wouldn’t come when called. I promise to keep your vegetable patch alive for as long as possible.
Grandma, if only I’d had more time with you here – I’d have taken you to see the roses at the Veale Gardens and the lavender gardens in Lyndoch. We would have had tea and scones more, and sat in picturesque places just talking about anything. I know you couldn’t get your fill of Jared cuddles, but I do promise that you will see him again.
And if there’s anything more difficult than sending cherished relatives to the airport, it’s explaining to your toddler where they’ve gone and how he won’t see them for a while.
And with Jacob, at 2 and a half, I don’t expect him to understand the concept of time and distance. He doesn’t yet know that he may not see his grandparents and great grandmother for another year or so. This is a conversation we had today (though with some interruptions due to his preoccupation with Lego House building)
Me: Where’s grandmama and grandpa George and great grandma?
Jacob: I don’t know?
Me: Where do you think they went?
Jacob: Grandpa George gone to work…
Me: What about grandmama and great grandma?
Jacob: Maybe outside?
Me: Yes sometimes they’re in the garden. But not today. Today they went in an aeroplane.
Me: Yes, they did.
Jacob: Not on an aeroplane.
Me: They did.
Jacob: They going home?
Me: Yes they went home.
Jacob: Where’s their house?
Me: It’s far away.
Jacob: Far like nanny and grandpa’s house? (which is my in-law’s place in the hills, about 40 minutes away)
Me: Yes, a bit further. Just a bit further.
But the sweet thing is that he does remember them. This year, we bought this particular calendar as we though it was funny – a satirical look at parenting. On the day we put it up, Jacob looked at January’s picture (left) and said “That’s Grandpa George!” (Grandpa George on the right as a comparison). He was pretty close I reckon!
He was initially confused between grandmama and great grandma (they sound quite alike!) but has worked it out since. He occasionally mentions them in his made up stories where they go to the zoo or eat pancakes together.
I don’t know when we’ll all be in the same country again. I checked ticket prices and our next trip to Malaysia may cost us about $3500, argh! But I’m confident that we will go there once again, somewhere in the future and I hope that we can make up for lost time.
Thanks for the memories, mum, dad and grandma! We hope to see you again soon!