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Slightly uneasy that my family is everything

(20 Posts)
NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 08-Oct-20 08:52:20

I don't mean it in a bad way - right now I feel like I get all the fulfillment I need from them.

I have a wonderful fiancée (I proposed a few weeks into lockdown when I realised that being stuck together in a slightly pokey house all the time wasn't affecting our happiness at all.) SD10, SD6 & DD1.5.

I moved in four years ago. She'd kicked her ex out a year before. My ten year relationship with my ex had ended a couple of years before - very amicably. I'd realised a wanted a family (very late) - she wanted the family life she'd dreamed of with her ex but he wasn't able to give.

It's all worked brilliantly. Excellent relationship with my SDs (who live with us 12 days out of 14) from day 1 really. They love their little sister and both had separately asked when we would have a baby (actually when my partner was already pregnant but before we'd told them!)

My partner is, very genuinely, my best friend too. We're a little different but our differences have enriched each other. We both enjoy the family time, and when we now and again get childcare we party hard - together.

It's all great. But it's also all I have.

As a single guy before, I went out a lot drinking with a couple of friends. I've had to more or less leave those friendships. They were just too drinking-based. My SDs dad is an alcoholic and I felt I owed it to them to de-normalize not just drinking but having a grumpy hungover person being distant from them in the morning. And honestly I don't miss it much - it was filling a hole in my life that has been filled by something better. This wasn't a pressure from my partner by the way, although I know she appreciates it. It was just important to me.

I'm an immigrant (from the UK, now living in Scandinavia) so my social circles were small and select to begin with. I have a great relationship with my parents but they're far away (they also emigrated - in a warmer direction than me!)

Since baby came along it's just a two person job really. We suspect the eldest SD has mild SEN, which she's being evaluated for. SD6 is a big personality - lively, brash, absolutely hilarious, and consequently a little exhausting. And the little one seeks anything slightly dangerous or destructive with that endearing instinct that toddlers have. I don't really have the head space for anything outside the home and my job.

I've been feeling sad recently about not seeing my parents. We should have had a big holiday there in the summer, and they should have visited here twice since the pandemic started. They should have been here at Christmas. I can tell my mum is really devastated by missing her granddaughter grow up. I'm struggling with that too.

My partner has a bigger social circle, obviously, as well as family nearby. I have no envy over this, and like her friends, but I feel like she doesn't go out as often as she should. Fair enough, somehow after lockdown and the stresses of a little baby and all that we're still in the honeymoon phase after four years.

I don't know if it's all the corona stuff, and family situation, but I'm starting to get a little anxious that in a few years when the kids are more independent I'll be a burden socially. I don't feel I have an opportunity to get a social life or hobby at the moment. She'd give me that opportunity, but right now my heart wouldn't be in it anyway. It's been getting me down.

I don't even know what I'm asking. Does anyone else have it all at home and still feel anxious that there should be more? I've had friend's parents that lead such insular and limited lives after their kids left home because they had nothing else. I guess I'm stressing that that'll be me. I just don't have a drive for more right now because it all feels like 'enough' right here at home.

OP’s posts: |
TrollTheRespawnJeremy Thu 08-Oct-20 09:13:13

I think it's really important for you to have a hobby and a chance to connect with different people.
You never mentioned if you worked or not?
Obviously with Covid, a lot of clubs/workshops are on hold. But do you have any interests? Book nerd? Cycling? Climbing? History? What are you into?

You sound like a great supportive parent and partner. I'm sure your partner would love for you to invest a little time in yourself. It can only be beneficial to your relationship with her and the kids; it would be lovely to be able to share your interests with them sometimes.

Goingdooolally Thu 08-Oct-20 09:15:08

I agree with @TrollTheRespawnJeremy and wanted to add I think you sound lovely!

User166777 Thu 08-Oct-20 09:28:35

I've been in your position, my family was everything in my life. I worked in a minimum wage, low stress job so my energies were to them...., it was unsustainable for me. I felt it was unhealthy. I stopped growing as a person and I was just seen as the roles I had in the family.

Evening classes was what I started with, then I did a considerable amount of counselling.... Then I looked to retrain in my career and started volunteering at an organisation I was interested in. I gained a couple of good friends and a lot of acquaintances to pass the time of day with. I started hillwalking, meet-ups with that.... I started reading again and going to live music events. I am happier than I have ever been now . My family is still my absolute priority , just not everything. It was hard to navigate it all at times but worth it. This year has paused everything but I'm still seeing friends and groups over zoom and I don't know how I would have got through this year without it.

I know things are difficult at the moment with Covid, but there are hobbies you can look into to start things off. My husband started carpentry and woodworking, cycling and walking with his extra time as well.... I don't know what your interests are, but you are more than just a family member.

gurneyhalleck Thu 08-Oct-20 09:49:08

This sounds like you are going to wake up one day at 50 to no friends and no interests.

I would feel uneasy too. You have pinned everything onto your family. You either end up a total homebody or you become that +1 for your wife all her friends get annoyed by. The one who gets bought to everything.

Totally echo the advice re hobbies, clubs etc. Find some friends who you can hang out with without getting drunk. If they are good people hang onto them! Dropping out of friendships out of nowhere is bad. We've all been there but it's a cold thing to do. Guessing the 'appreciated it' bit means you got less hassle at home.

Marriage should compliment your life, not be its sole focus

NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 08-Oct-20 09:49:44

@TrollTheRespawnJeremy

Well I live in Denmark where cycling is a 'primary mode of transportation' rather than a hobby - we even deliver our kids to school in the those cargo bikes instead of a car! I'm a big reader but that's a personal thing rather than a hobby to share I guess.

@User166777

One plus is that my job is a good, skilled one with a lovely company with great people. It actually had a very active social scene before the pandemic so I guess that'll start up again. There are definitely people there I 'click' with so I think the whole Work From Home thing has added to this feeling I guess?

I think maybe I'll find it easier to progress when the toddler is a little older? Obviously I wasn't there for the 'baby stage' with the other two (youngest SD was a bit over 2 when I moved in) so I still have a kind of sense of wonder with each little stage of progression - I don't want to miss any of it. I've done all the nights since my partner stopped breastfeeding at 7 months (by choice.) She's my hobby right now and while I know that has to change - it's ok at this early stage right?

I also try and be mindful that while I give so much energy to the baby, I need to make sure the bigger girls don't feel like they've become 'less' to me now I have my own daughter, so I try and make sure I use time on them too.

I think this'll be easier when the toddler gets a little bigger.

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NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 08-Oct-20 09:54:27

gurneyhalleck

This sounds like you are going to wake up one day at 50 to no friends and no interests.

I would feel uneasy too. You have pinned everything onto your family. You either end up a total homebody or you become that +1 for your wife all her friends get annoyed by. The one who gets bought to everything.

Totally echo the advice re hobbies, clubs etc. Find some friends who you can hang out with without getting drunk. If they are good people hang onto them! Dropping out of friendships out of nowhere is bad. We've all been there but it's a cold thing to do. Guessing the 'appreciated it' bit means you got less hassle at home.

Marriage should compliment your life, not be its sole focus

I didn't just 'drop out' - I was honest about why I wasn't coming out. If it was the kind of drinking that ended around 10pm, fine, but it wasn't. They knew it wasn't really working as well. I'm still in touch with them.

I really didn't get any hassle when I went out!

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Seriouslymole Thu 08-Oct-20 09:55:36

Once the toddler starts the tantrum-phase you'll be less inclined to view her as a hobby and more as an adversary!

WFH is hideous for a lot of people, especially if, as for many, work and social-life are interdependent.

I'm really missing things like my running club and choir and church. It's been very odd not having other things to focus on outside of the home other than work (and again still in the home). CV has done funny things to all of us.

Hopefully you'll be able to be back at work soon.

corythatwas Thu 08-Oct-20 09:56:07

If you're living in Scandinavia you might think about how the different pace of life might affect how you go about it.

Being family orientated isn't usually a problem over there, but it does sound like you need to expand a little bit. I also found (immigrant the other way, from Scandinavia to the UK) that having a circle of friends locally helped me to help my children socially.

Scandinavians tend to do lots of outdoors activities, which might be helpful for Covid. Could you find a local group that does either outdoor sports or wildlife or heritage? Whatever you'd feel you might enjoy. In a way, being in Scandinavia might be quite helpful there if you're trying to keep of the booze, as these kind of activities don't tend to end up in the pub over there.

Evening classes may well be opening up too.

NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 08-Oct-20 10:10:52

Once the toddler starts the tantrum-phase you'll be less inclined to view her as a hobby and more as an adversary!

She's started! She doesn't get sad, she gets angry. The daycare described her as a warrior. Which despite the difficulties I was very pleased about. SD6 was still firmly in the tantrum phase when I moved in so I know what it's like!

@corythatwas

Yes, it's a very family focused culture & the lack of 'after work pub culture' is a plus for that - although it's not an effort to stay off the booze (I only drank when I was out anyway, still do - just go out a lot less!) My drinking buddies were fellow English immigrants. My previous best friend was a Dane and our sessions were far more sensible. Unfortunately (for me) he joined the Danish Refugee Council and is currently settled in Myanmar trying to improve the quality of life for people over there. I miss him.

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Windmillwhirl Thu 08-Oct-20 10:12:50

The obvious strategy is to enrich your life with personal hobbies and interests, as already stated.

It seems you have a lovely foundation with your relationship, but making a relationship your everything leaves you very vulnerable.

You are aware of this issue as it stands, so take positive steps to overcome it and the associated fears. You will feel much better for it.

User166777 Thu 08-Oct-20 10:19:04

Your little one is just a baby, and that does take a lot of time, and your step daughters need time as well..... I'm currently at the other end of the spectrum, I had children quite young and they are close to adulthood .... Although I have found this stage equally as stressful it does mean I have more time for myself.

But one evening a week for you to pursue something outside your family wouldn't be a bad idea. If you see your roles in life as husband/father/employee....life gets grey very fast. Maybe encourage your fiance to do the same. I spent a long time listening to everyone else's experiences when they were outside the family, I loved it when I started to be able to bring my own experiences into the conversation.. . I honestly think my children started to be more interested in me and respectful of me when I started to have my own life. That's the stuff they mention to people, not that I was there at their beck and call for over 15 years.

SingingSands Thu 08-Oct-20 10:22:31

I think the current COVID situation throws everything up in the air doesn't it? Normally we would all be able to drop in on an interesting event, try new sports, classes and clubs.

Would it be possible to reach out to your local community and ask other dads if they were up for company? I've seen it work in my local community, it started as a mental health post on the local community Facebook page. There is now a club of local Dads who meet up - not for alcohol, just company. You could start a project (building something?) and ask for volunteers to help? I remember a bunch of dads getting together to build tree swings in our local woods when I was a young girl.

What I'm saying is reach out. Others will connect.

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Thu 08-Oct-20 10:23:45

Do they have book clubs in Denmark? For a bookworm that'd be a go-to for me.

I also go to readings/signings of authors or researchers that I like and have a few casual friendships from people who are in the same circles.

Yes cycling is a mode of transport, but if it's something you enjoy doing is there opportunities for trail biking or whatever it is that floats your boat?

If your work are all WFH there's a chance a lot of them feel cut off too. If there's anyone you particularly got on with at work, why not ask them if they want to grab a coffee?

monkeyonthetable Thu 08-Oct-20 10:26:54

OP, please buy the book Feel The Fear by Susan Jeffers. It is a little bit old fashioned but it deals specifically with this issue and has some brilliant ways of solving this problem. If you don't want to buy it, PM me and I'll send you the basic info. It's a bit long to explain so I wont go into an essay on here, but it's incredibly simple to do and positively life-changing.

Carouselfish Thu 08-Oct-20 10:30:32

I think you're worrying because it's an anxious time anyway with covid but also because when things go well there's that sense perhaps of not deserving it and that something is bound to go wrong. I'd say that your daughter and children taking all your headspace is natural right now and that it won't last forever. There'll be room for you to be you a bit later and there's nothing wrong with focussing your energies on them before they become more independent. That said, perhaps you could incorporate family/child time with a new hobby and meeting new people? Any skills you could share with others? Even tutoring in English perhaps?

ravenmum Thu 08-Oct-20 10:31:04

I don't feel I have an opportunity to get a social life or hobby at the moment. She'd give me that opportunity, but right now my heart wouldn't be in it anyway. It's been getting me down.
Do you mean Covid is putting you off, is that why your heart wouldn't be in it?

The problem you describe is so common among expats. All you can do, I think, is make the effort to go out and do stuff. But that is hard at the moment. I normally go jogging, a choir and an expat meetup, but things have been restricted with Covid and it is rather miserable.

RaininSummer Thu 08-Oct-20 10:31:27

I agree that you sound lovely. I don't think it's a massive problem right now but you are right to identify it and start to think about future proofing your life as social connections become more important the older you get and it would be nice for your wife too, I expect, if you can bring some social interest to the marriage to rather than just the people she knows. Covid really hasn't helped but I wonder if you can find a new interest to do once a week or do

Alexandernevermind Thu 08-Oct-20 10:38:57

I think it sounds like a lovely set up, and to me very relatable. We are an outdoorsy family - which is easier now the children are older. Our hobbies are family hobbies, our evenings out are as a family. Our true friends are mostly extended family. We are all different but I wonder if we spend too much time looking at other people's social media and see lads nights out, girls nights out and wonder if we should be doing that, when actually what some of us love most of all is family time.

NewLevelsOfTiredness Thu 08-Oct-20 10:45:02

My partner, by the way, does Samba dancing - a member of a club that does festivals etc. This has taken a back seat with the baby but I'll be encouraging strongly that she goes back to it. She got a lot of joy from it. I got a lot of joy watching her do it!
I actually gave the drumming side of it a go and it was fun - and the social side fantastic but it seems to be missing the point somewhat to piggyback on her hobby - I absolutely won't be doing that!

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