When Marty’s ex had gone overseas, Josie the oldest had been put into boarding school. From everything we were told she was happy there. Jenni,Marty’s youngest daughter was 8 when Simon was born. She was really unhappy living with her grandparents, a move that was made without consultation with Marty. When we were seeing a lawyer about the house, we talked to her about both girls. Marty wanted to know his rights in this situation and he wanted to do his best for them.
We signed the papers for the house when I was in the annex and Marty saw the lawyer about that and again talked about what he could do. The lawyer said that since she had been abandoned by her mother there was no reason why we couldn’t seek custody of Jenni especially since she was so unhappy. Josie could wait the lawyer said until the term finished.
When Simon was about six weeks, Marty went and picked up Jenni for the weekend from school. This was the usual arrangement. The only difference was, he picked her up at lunch time. He told her he had a surprise for her.
He took her straight to a psychologist who specialised in child custody. She talked to Jenni for a long time. And then she talked to Marty. Her advise was simple. Take Jenni home with him and keep her. She also advised him to keep her away from her mother when she returned from overseas. I found this advise to be quite shocking.
Marty brought her home to us and said, would you like to come and live with us. She burst into tears and said, no body wants me. And Marty gave her hug and said, We want you. I almost cried, I felt so sorry for her. She was very happy to say yes.
Marty rang her grandparents. They weren’t very happy but the following week they dropped of her things. Jenni started Merivale School on the Monday. She already knew the Abplanalp kids and they would all walk to school together. Her and Deborah became best buddies. They were in the same class and she settled into school relatively easy.
Home was a little different. We were still going up to the hospital every evening so I could see Suzanne. There was no sign of the plaster coming off and her release from hospital appeared to be delayed. My mother had come to visit around this time. I don’t remember much about it except she was there to meet her new grandson.
My parenting skills were minimal. My only experience was with Suzanne who didn’t really provide me with much grounding on the subject of growing girls. Most parents grow into the role and learn as their children grow that best way to deal with things. I didn’t have this luxury. I had an eight year old, who was missing her mother and all she wanted was to get her family back together. She loved Simon, she just thought it would be better if I went away and her mother moved in when she got back.
It wasn’t all bad though. Her mother was coming back to New Zealand, She said she was worried about how her mother would look. When Marty asked why she said that her mother had a new face, it had been pulled up from her chin. It was so funny but I suppose that is how a child imagines a facelift.
The other problem was what to feed her. Marty had gone from vegetarian to carnivore almost over night. But Jenni had been a vegetarian all her life. She didn’t want to eat meat and we made the only decision possible, there was no way we were going to force her.. Fortunately unlike her sister or cousins, she ate dairy which made it so much easier.
My life had changed so much. Just few weeks had gone by and I gone from being a mother of one very dependent child to a mother of 3, a newborn, a stepdaughter and a child in hospital.
I was also battling post natal depression. Fortunately, it wasn’t as bad as it was with Suzanne. I was far to busy to take much notice, but it was there all right.
I was determined though to have a happy family, it didn’t happen over night but it did happen eventually, for most of the time anyway.
© Barbara Hart 2014