When I was a child, I always imagined myself living in the country when I was an adult. Living off the grid in a small cottage in the woods, completely self-sustainable surrounded by beautiful rolling hills and lush green fields and keeping a goat for company.
As it turned out, as an adult that dream hasn’t come to fruition. Instead, I have lived in depressing urban environments, built up slabs of grey where everyone keeps to them themselves and there is a constant undertone of fear and aggression.
Knowing that there is another life out there, devoid of grey, leaves me eager to leave the city. A childhood spent camping all over the UK gives my mind a whole host of romantic templates to hanker after, hundreds of images captured in an enthralled young mind.
My daughter, at seventeen has never experienced rural living and so for her urbanity is all she knows. Apart from a couple of outward bound trips to Wales that she claimed were boring, because there was nothing to do, which really means there was no wi-fi connection or iPads to play with or parties to go to, she is a happy and satisfied city dweller which makes recent events all the more difficult.
As a family, we have been struggling financially of late and things are set to get worse. The worry over finances and providing for our family has had a negative effect on both my partner and I who also has Bipolar Disorder. Therefore, we have tried to problem solve in a hundred different ways. Our only option is to move away. My partner is Scottish and by going home, he will be able to continue working for the family business and our finances will understandably change lowering the stress levels in our lives and reducing the risk of my partner or I relapsing which is becoming a serious concern.
We have known that this may be the only viable option for some time but talking to my daughter about it was not something I looked forward to doing. I knew that she would maintain that I only wanted to leave because I love ‘fields and flowers’ rather than accept the stark and worrying reality that to remain here is going to inevitably cause us to sink into further poverty.
She informed me very forthrightly during the conversation that she will not come, that she is not prepared to leave all her friends, her on/off boyfriend or the only place she knows regardless of our money worries as a family. There was anger too and resentment as she reminded me of how I said I would never move until she was independent and settled.
Missing her boyfriend and peers, missing her home, her familiar haunts, and the only city she has ever known will be tough on her just as getting used to a new country and culture, settling into a new home, making new friends, finding a job or college course will be equally hard. Ideally, I wouldn’t be suggesting this idea but the reality is it’s on the table and needs seriously contemplating.
Family life cannot simply be about one person, it has to be about the whole and this is something as a teenager my daughter is not prepared to entertain right now. Her wishes seem to take precedence in her mind rather than being equal to everyone else’s. She has, as stated above, refused to come with us and legally I cannot make her. Over the last few days, we have spoken at length about the where she would go if she stayed behind and the possibilities are seemingly few. There is her aunt’s who she has stayed with before and gets on well with but there isn’t room for her there or even a bed so that’s not appropriate long term. There are her grandparents but she has been away on holiday with them in the past and they are prone to be controlling, inappropriate and in her grandfathers case abusive so this isn’t really an option either. She has spoken about having a flat of her own and seems quite excited about the idea but without a job or money, not to mention her age this doesn’t seem realistic and is more of a fantasy in my daughters mind I believe than a concrete alternative. Finally, she has spoken about supported accommodation supplied by children and young peoples services (social services) which would essentially meaning putting herself in care. Understandably, I am not keen on that idea either, which is somewhat of an understatement.
I don’t want to leave my daughter behind, neither do I want to remove her from everything she knows but I may not have a choice. I need her to come with me but she won’t. Where this leaves us as a family, I really don’t know.