Our life inter-state was good, although it didn’t feel like it at the time. It was good but predominately hard.
We bought an apartment after having our first child, Layla and moved in a day after I was out of hospital with her. He went back to the work that day too as the labor had been 3 days and I had been in hospital for 5 days after the hemorrhage, his paternity leave for a week was used.
We got married on a beautiful beach , on a hot February day ,with his family and our 4 month old baby, Layla. He asked me if I wanted my parents there that day, and I replied with a “no.” It was too complicated for me, I wanted this day untainted, perfect and memorable not awkward and difficult.
We struggled in the confines a very small apartment with the baby in our room. Michael had big dreams, he was climbing the corporate ladder so to speak, he was a manager for a large company, and started traveling a lot for work, Chile, China, Europe ect.
I was part of a mother’s group , one the hospital had put me in contact with. It was a life line for me really, we only met once a week but sometimes they were the only adult conversations I had during my day as a stay at home mum with a trying new born, Layla.I was the youngest mother there and struggled to forge meaningful relationships but week after week I went to keep trying, to stay connected to make friends.Eventually after a year of going I felt I was really part of something, I wasn’t alone and I had friends who were mothers too.
We bought a modest size block of land on a hill in an lower socioeconomic suburb said ‘to improve shortly”, by the real estate agent, 2 kilometers from the beach. My husband, Michael, changed jobs and started working for a College as a Manager there.
We Rented for two years in a neighboring suburb while we built our new home. We had another beautiful baby , Ella and bought a puppy. I was home every day with a two year old toddler, Layla and a new born, Ella, with severe colic. Interesting times to say the least , looking back now, she screamed for 4 months and then we put her on formula as the pediatrician determined she was most likely dairy intolerant. She stopped screaming and I was happy once again.
We moved into our new home, had no money left but had green lawn and a brick 4 bedroom house near the beach, we were blessed. Michael kept working , changed jobs 4 or so more times, kept earning more and seeing less of us. I had to do it all, chop the wood in the driving winter rain for the pot belly fire place, mow the grass in summer with a baby strapped to my back and get the oldest to Kinder-garden and then later Pre-primary with a baby , puppy and house to run.
One of the down sides of being a young parent by choice is that you don’t have grandparents for you children who are retired yet. So we saw his parents Bianca and Peter, but they were both still working. We met for social occasions had wonderful meals together and then went home. His mom, Bianca, took the toddler to a gym class once a week which was something I couldn’t do for her and that was special time together for them. I was grateful for this.
I was told by my doctor I had high cholesterol due to my inability to actually exercise with a baby and toddler so Michael,got me a gym contract with a great creche facility and I got fit and had a break from the children.
A few years went by and we decided to have our third child, Emily. She was perfect, healthy and beautiful, didn’t sleep much like her sisters and also later said to have mild dairy intolerance like her sisters. So breastfeeding stopped once again and prescription Neocate formula was introduced once again.
I tried hard to re-build the relationship with my mother Rebecka, and then eventually my father as well. During these years , 10 in fact, I talked on the phone to her most days, and she came to visit a few times alone to see the kids. We went to America for Michael’s work and we flew her over by herself in her school holidays to look after our now three children. The relationship was good but far from perfect. Rebecka my mother, was still angry with me for reporting my father to police all those years ago for child abuse against my cousin.
She would call me sometimes at 5pm, while I had a crying baby strapped to my chest in a ‘baby bjorn’, a toddler and a 5 year old fighting on the floor and dinner on the go. She would tell me about him, my father, she said how he was struggling sometimes after the crime he had committed, she would tell me the police had been over, checked his cars and the house.
She made me mad some times, like she wanted me to feel guilty, it was like acid on me.She told me how she had found out about the abuse of her niece. That my uncle, Robert, ,Sienna’s father had confronted my father at the house to question him about what his daughter had told them happened to her, my father had denied every thing. That afternoon when she came home from school where she taught, my father confessed and told her what he had done to Sienna, how he had been abusing her. He had felt cornered, trapped by other adults now knowing and he knew he needed to tell her , his wife Rebecka, he had no option.
My mother said ”he was a good person now, rehabilitated after all these years, he went to church , read his bible a lot and was different’. She disclosed details about his mental state prior to and after the abuse of Sienna, my cousin. She said ‘he was depressed prior to the crime he committed, he was heavily into pornography online as well, almost addicted really’. He had recently been made redundant, lost his job, and his mother had passed away.
I knew he had always had issues with online pornography growing up any way, I had often found it on the home computer when I went to research some thing. They often fought over it.
I tried hard to pick up the phone and call him some times, it was confronting because we had never actually spoken about what he did, about the crime he had committed. I wanted to mend things with him but it was very hard for me to do that with him. Eventually as the years went by they both came over on holiday to see us. My husband ,Michael , my mother ,Rebecka and I discussed how things would work with him, we told her he could never even for one minute be left alone in a room with the kids. She always reassured us that she would be vigilant, that she would protect them and watch them at all times. We never went out as a couple when they stayed as I want not comfortable with that, I wanted to always keep an eye on him myself to protect my babies in case he had not changed.
This arrangement went on for 10 years while we lived inter-state, they both came over maybe only 3 times in total and we as parents were always watching our children with him. I attended a child protection course and learnt all the things I needed to teach my children to prevent any type of abuse ever taking place. We role played at home a lot and I bought books for them to read as toddlers about their bodies and secrets.
I flew inter-state on a few occasions by myself to try and re-build my relationship with my parents.
After 10 years away we decided to sell our house and move back to live near my parents across the country . I felt comfortable that my father was not a prominent threat to my children and that we a family could live there. We still agreed that he would never be left alone with our children.I or my mother would always be with them. It took 8 months to sell our house, the nicest house in a poor suburb.
We packed our house up into a shipping container ourselves, loaded our car and drove across the country with our three kids aged 8,6 and 3 and the dog.
We arrived 10 days later. A place I knew well, having lived there for 5 years before and Michael did too having lived there for 3 years also. It kinda felt like home again for me. We enrolled the kids into a primary school and moved in with my parents while Michael looked for a job. I stayed home with our three year old, Emily, and tried to establish new friendships with other moms, joined a play group and spent time with her. Michael was at home, my parents house looking for work and my father working 3 days or so as a consultant. I was always with our youngest daughter.
I joined my parents church, and went every Sunday with them, I sat next to my father and listened to sermon after sermon. The kids loved the Sunday school and I felt it was good for all of us.Michael, didn’t come, he believes in God but isn’t religious as such.
After 4 months he found a job and we moved out, into a rental apartment in a flash suburb 20 minutes away. We saw them often still, every second weekend at least and some times they would baby sit the kids for us so we could go out. During this time my mother, Rebecka, always reassured us that she was always with them, that she would never leave him alone with our kids.
Our youngest started kinder-garden at 4 years old, a few days a week and during that time I spent a lot of time with my father, I would stop in and visit him when he was home and we would often go for coffee together. I felt close to him again, like I was his daughter after all these apart. I was 34 now and I felt like I had good parents in my life once again. After a year we bought a house , a house in need of a serious renovation, a sizable renovation which we didn’t quite foresee. Our lease on our rental was up and we needed to fix up the inside of the house before we could live in it.
A modest double brick home on acreage, in the bush.We were so excited, we had our own home once again and it was going to be beautiful . My mother urged us to move in with them again, put all our belongings in the garage and stay with them while we renovated our new house. We did, and for 4 long months we fixed up our little home ourselves. While all three girls were at the same school full time now I painted the whole inside of the house. We ripped out the kitchen, a shower and all the old carpets throughout the whole house.It was tough tough work, but we really enjoyed it. On weekends with had the kids with us playing in the surrounding bush land on the property while we worked as a team, Michael and I, turning the house into our home. We re-built the kitchen with my father helping us.Yes we installed our own IKEA kitchen and laundry.
From September to December we worked until it was ready to live in. And 2 days before Christmas we moved in with boxes and put up a tree.
Life went on, we were happy. We had finally settled in to our new state and our roots were down. We saw my parents on the odd weekend for a meal, and that was it. They were both still working full time and had started their own house renovation, re-doing the kitchen and bathrooms and downstairs flooring.
But then in February our horror story started to unfold.