Friday, April 20, 2012

Farewell and Thanks Otousan and Okaasan

Hisashiburi everyone - it has been a very long time since I've posted anything, and today's a bit of a special day to do so. T-chan's parents have just left Adelaide, and are right at this very moment flying somewhere along the east coast of Australia, heading north back to Japan. It's been an amazing 8 weeks that they've been here, and it's been a huge help for T-chan and I. And I'm sure we'll only truly realise that tomorrow when that help's not there.

Last night was a quiet night of celebration. A family bbq was a fitting way to end their trip, and especially good given how wonderfully warm this Adelaide Autumn has been. Shame I was almost completely out-of-it through work (don't get me started on how hard I've been working this week).

Now as a quick Japanese lesson, mothers are referred by their children (among other things) in Japan as Okaasan, and fathers Otousan. That's what T-chan (and I) call her parents. Grandmothers are called Obaachan, and grandfathers Ojiichan. Hopefully that helps with the rest of the post.

T-chan's parents came down to help out when L-kun was born (nearly 5 years ago) and this time they took even more time to come to Australia... something that was not easy for them to do (leaving their beloved cat home alone with only a daily visit from relatives. In the middle of what has been a quite cold "spring" in Sapporo.
Otousan and Okaasan with L-kun in mid-2007.

And now, 8 weeks later, they're making their way back - back to a life NOT filled with nappies, crying or washing clothes and cloths with incredible regularity. And for all that, it was an afternoon filled with sadness...and I know from long experience just how deep these emotions can run in the Japanese heart. In the hearts of fathers and mothers the world over.

 They will also be returning to a life without the constant amazement of watching a new-born grow and develop... missing the moments that make parenting (and grand-parenting) so worthwhile. The smiles, the gurgling giggles, the holding of fingers in miniature hands, even the sudden eruption of hilarious loud noises from something so small and innocent (see previous comments about nappies).  There has indeed been much happiness and joy to share (as well as tiredness and sleeplessness).

Farewells are always difficult for T-chan and her family. Even though she's been living in Australia just short of 10 years, she has always (and will always) have a very close and special bond with her family, and her home town of Sapporo. It's been a source of strength and resilience for her, but also a source of strain to be separated from her family. Thus these moments are always especially charged with emotion. I'm sure the same goes for her parents. International marriages are in many ways the same as any other marriage... and filled with joys and sadness. However, it's moments like today that you realise the differences.

And that's not to forget that not everything is revolving around our daughter, C-chan... our son, L-kun has also had a big day. He has always had a particularly strong attachment to Obaachan (grandmother), and she's been a constant source of fun and excitement for him these past 8 weeks too. On the way home, he said to me quietly, "Daddy, I already miss Obaachan and Ojiichan..." That was it. He was quiet after that.

So as we saw off T-chan's parents, we knew that today marked another big chapter in our lives, as we once again looked forward to waking the next day - in a much less busy house - with a lot less comfort and yes, support. We know that it will be a big change for us... and we know just how much they helped us over this last two months. We also know how much this trip has taken out of them... and that their travelling days are drawing to an end. I suspect they're quite relieved our plan is to stop at two... but you never can tell...

Otousan, Okaasan,.... arigatou! Till we meet again in Sapporo, soon. We promise that C-chan will still have plenty of nappies to help with when we come. 

Now... when I get time, I might try to fill in the gaps since the last post... as there's much to tell, and much to explore in terms of both parenting and our time around Adelaide.... plus countless bits and pieces that have been left hanging through lack of spare time on the computer. That's the plan however...