Following my sister-in-law's "truth in blogging" movement, I have to come clean. Everything is NOT paradise here in the Japan countryside. Its been a very stressful week (and we knew it would be). On Sunday we drove 5 hours to Nagoya where Tomoe's parents live. A full week would be our longest stay at their house ever.
Now, before you get the cliche images of "hell with the in-laws", know that I personally am (for the most part) able to handle them without any stress. Her dad seems to hate silence, so is always trying to find something to talk about even when I just want to sit there quietly, but he has good intentions and I really like him, so I can handle it. Her mom is going through some rough times of her own, increasingly showing signs of alzhimers. She has a peculiar way of expressing herself, complaining about most everything, even if she doesn't have anything against it. I am fine with this, as the negativity is hardly ever aimed at me, but it stresses Tomoe to no end. A stressed Tomoe, of course, leads to a stressed Kevin.
Before Mona was born Tomoe was talking about going to Nagoya for two months before and after the birth. I was very much against it, knowing how she gets when she even spends and hour talking to her mom on the phone. I couldn't even imagine her spending two months with her mom, let alone with a new-born baby. Oh, how right I was.
Tomoe's parents are both in their 70s and taking care of their granddaughter (Tomoe's niece, 9 years old). It adds to the stress to see the niece struggle with life there. Aside from no one to run and play with, dealing with her gradma is tough on her. She is very noticably introverted when grandma is around, due to constant scolding and negtivity, but when Tomoe or I are alone with her, she is active and talkative and smiles a lot.
We have long assumed that one day we will be taking over as her leagal guardians, originally thinking it would be when either Tomoe's mother or father dies, but after this last week I told Tomoe's father that we are ready for/want her anytime/as soon as possible. It stresses me to see her living there amongst the clutter and suppressed life, but there is also the issue of her father, who lives nearby and she stays with on the weekends. If she were to come live with us here, she would be happier in all regards except that her father is so far away. He would also be upset, I think. Then there is the grandma. I am not sure, but it seems that the one thing that keeps her going is taking care of her granddaughter. Given her worsening illness, I wonder what would happen if we were to take the girl away.
Still, I believe that it is in the girl's best interest to get out of the situation, as does her grandfather and Tomoe. What is the best thing to do here? It causes Tomoe stress and causes me sadness. She has her whole life ahead of her, and I want it to be the best it can be, but I don't want to ruin her father or grandmother's hope for living.