As I said at the beginning our home was in a decidedly queer neighborhood and the local school had a particularly high rate of students with gay parents. Our children felt safe and confident and never showed any signs of stress regarding our family structure. We were active with the PTA, Carol and Liz frequently heard comments from other mothers along the lines of "how lucky they were" to have so much family under one roof. Of course it goes without saying, our life isn't all rose petals and daisies.
When the economy took a downturn Brian and Liz both lost their professional careers but were able to find replacement jobs. We felt extremely fortunate compared to those around us as we were not as burdoned with financial troubles as our peers. We had also managed to put away a sizeable chunk of change despite our relatively young age through our mutual appreciation of a minimalist lifestyle that can appear austere at times.
Brian soon got a job offer that was far too good to pass up even in a good economy. After many shed tears he left to persue that career and came back every other weekend. He soon brought word that he could get work for Liz as well if she wanted. I reassessed my career and the family decided it was time for a change. We found a beautiful house to call our home and made purchase. Brian, Liz and Carol moved into our new home with the three youngest while I and David (now in his freshman year of highschool) stayed behind to "close up shop and sell the house.
David was vehemently opposed to moving, he was afraid of losing all his friends and the prospect of having to make new ones. up until the rest of the family moved out it was frequently a cause of distress and outbursts. It was during the summer that we packed everything into a large U-Haul and our cars and moved almost everything in one go. David and I returned home in our car and prepared for the first week back to school and to sell the house. The first night back left me feeling a deep sense of being hollow. We ate in silence which was uncomfortably loud.
David quickly realized how much he missed his family and came around to the thought of moving away from his friends. We managed to sell the house and we made fast retreat back to our family. It's now been almost a three years since we've moved
Our children are amazingly brilliant and brave. They are proud of the family they live in and have no waver or hesistation when they introduce us as "these are my dads Brian and John" or "this is my other mom Liz". I attribute this to our open communication and frank discussion, and having spent a very good portion of their lives around "alternative non-nuclear families". The typical teen behaviors of inclusion and exclusion and clique formation are decidedly not how our kids "roll". David was furious that his new school here did not have a GSA club and formed one despite the flak he caught for it.
I should also mention that our household is devoutly buddhist. We practice the teachings of the Buddha sincerely and devotedly. We place strong value in the teaching to question all things we are told. To never accept something simply on the basis of authority. To investigate and reason on it of our own accord into the matter, to look objectively at all sides and to determine whether what we are told is true or not. I am sure this too plays a role in our children's apparent down-to-earth and accepting nature, along with giving david the strength to "buck the trend" and start the GSA which is going strong in his school.
All of this brings me to the crux of the matter that brings me here today. Our children grew up not only in an open and accepting household, but neighborhood and social structure. I am beginning to fear that this move was not for the best as it has caused much stress to our family. Once word got around that our family wasn't "normal" in the neigborhood many parents would let their kids come over to our house. Which is a complete reversal where there were pratically always neighbor kids overanytime we weren't having family dinner time. A few of the parents have even gone so far as to prohibit their kids from playing with ours. We are practically ignored and only painfully acknowledged at the monthly neighborhood parties. And what was a great source of reward and joy working with the PTA back home is now a source of scorn and contempt.
We feel like social outcasts. And I personally feel childish for beginning to believe that the world had changed for the better.
Our family is at an impasse. We have had a few explosive arguments and what used to bring about genuine progress and forward momentum in our family (the family meetings) is falling apart into contemptuous displays lacking any civility that we once had. David is graduating this year and has confided in me that he intends to move out and in his own words "go back home" I asked him why he didn't think of this as "home" with his family he just shook his head and said "look at us."
I feel as though we're being torn apart and there's nothing I can do to stop it. The logical reasoning side of me sees all of this as a result of the external societal pressures on us culminating as all this infighting. My suggestion, met with approval of Carol, to move ourselves back home is met with contempt from Liz and Brian as it would require they give up their new careers which are really starting to pick up momentum. I left my job on excellent terms and the owner would take me back in a heartbeat, along with our savings a move back would not prove financially ruinous.
We have tried counselling but it proved to be fruitless as we spent more time trying to educate the counsellors about our dynamic and how our family works than they did helping us work through it.
I'm at my wit's end. To me the situation is apparent.
Our family is falling apart. David only ever eats along in his room and he doesn't even eat what the family eats. He makes his own dinner and breakfast and locks himself in his room in the basement, and the second youngest frequently joins him (David is EXTREMELY protective of him). Our daughter has gone from a dress wearing blonde haird fashionista wanna-be to a black dyed hair, black eye shadow, goth fiend who only owns black clothes and underwear. (not that I'm judging it's her choice but it's a dramatic change for only three years of time)
I mean you only have to look at our deep freeze to see the difference. Where we once stocked up on steaks and hamburger and whole turkeys and chickens it's now filled to the brim with frozen dinners.
I'm not the only one saddened by our degradation, all of us parents obviously are as we all care for our family. But the strife is coming from the contrasting personal pride and prejudices and scornful feelings that were once resolved by communication now left to fester under the surface to rot our family from the inside out.
I don't know if any of you who read this far can have any hope of helping us. but it did help to relieve the pressure to vent. I just don't know what to do any more. Where I used to frequently turn down requests to stay late at work so I could get home to the family, I now frequently find myself sitting at my desk at work in a dark office staring out the window into oblivian.... only coming snapping back to reality when the cleaning crew knocks on my office door "hasta luego... lights?"