Tuesday, 25 December 2012
Over the last couple of weeks when I've told people I'm not having the boys for Christmas day I get two questions:
1. Is this your first Christmas without them?
2. How are you feeling about that?
(The second question is asked with a sympathetic head tilt or small frown.)
Yes, it is my first Christmas without them. I'm not sure if that is supposed to make it worse or better. Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm a big fan of the novelty factor, and to be honest, it being the first one actually makes it a bit easier. I've not been sure how I was going to feel or what it was going to be like so I've pretty much sat back and gone with the flow.
Christmas Eve is my favourite night of the year. It feels really magical, watching the kids get so excited, listening to Christmas songs on the radio, all the preparation and anticipation... And yesterday did feel a little odd, not putting the boys to bed and then yelling at them that if Father Christmas won't come if they don't go to sleep.
Instead, we went to the pub, met up with old friends and I got sloshed. Very grown up Christmas.
A few people have said that they would never be able to let their ex have their kids on Christmas. I can understand it, and maybe this makes me a totally crap parent but - I am actually not upset or down about it.
I also don't want to be the kind of single parent who jealously guards Christmas time with the kids. He is their Dad, and he has much right to spend Christmas Day with them as I do.
I've spoken to the boys this morning on the phone, and they're really excited about coming home tomorrow to more presents, and they're excited about Christmas Day with their Dad. Meanwhile I have been thoroughly spoiled by my fabulous boyfriend, and have had a perfectly lazy and relaxed start to the day.
I knew this Christmas was going to be different and I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about it. But so far, it is still just as magical for me. Christmas is about the kids, yes, but it's also about the grown ups. I am embracing my lovely day with my gorgeous partner and entertaining his Mum, something I am really looking forward to. And, as it's ten past twelve, and I don't have to worry about being too responsible, AND the nasty after effects of last nights festivities have totally worn off, I'm going to have a glass of wine.
Merry Christmas to you all!
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
1. New tattoo - done. Twice in fact! One on my back, and another on the inside of my left wrist. I love them both, they make me feel proud and individual and they are such a public celebration of things so personal to me. I just love them.
2. Go Kayaking - I am actually going to do this at the weekend!! Weather permitting. I have a child free day, and my best friend suggested we give it a go. I'm glad I'm going to be going out with her, as she's done it before which will stop me feeling totally and utterly clueless. I'm excited, and scared in equal measure.
3. Pitch a freelance article - well, hmpf. No, this isn't going anywhere. One of the worst side effects of my depression is Writer's Block, which hits me hard and fast. Add to that my total lack of confidence in ANYTHING I do at the moment, and it's a no go really.
4. Sing on a stage - Still working on that one too. Maybe Rock Choir in September? Surely there must be a way.
5. Find a hobby - I'm no closer to this either really, unless you count eating out or watching a lot of movies on DVD.
6. Visit a country I've never been to before - Yes, another one done! I went to Germany with the kids and one of my friends and her family and it was fabulous. One for another blogpost.
7. Drink more - nooo, although my new tablets mean I can't drink wine so I am drinking a lot of Coke and Appletiser in the evenings. Does that count?
8. Walk from Bishopstoke to Winchester like I used to with Dad - This is so easy to do, WHY haven't I organised it yet? I must.
9. Read a classic novel - Having softened myself up by watching the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth is luscious) I am about to start the book today. Wish me luck.
10. Lose three stone - HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
11. See a Shakespeare play - No, and again, this can't be that hard! I will organise something. I must.
12. Take the kids to the Isle of Wight - I was talking about this at work today. I am very very determined that we are going to do this. I have no idea when or how to pay for it.
Thursday, 2 August 2012
"Depression is humiliating. It turns intelligent, kind people into zombies who can’t wash a dish or change their socks. It affects the ability to think clearly, to feel anything, to ascribe value to your children, your lifelong passions, your relative good fortune. It scoops out your normal healthy ability to cope with bad days and bad news, and replaces it with an unrecognizable sludge that finds no pleasure, no delight, no point in anything outside of bed. You alienate your friends because you can’t comport yourself socially, you risk your job because you can’t concentrate, you live in moderate squalor because you have no energy to stand up, let alone take out the garbage. You become pathetic and you know it. And you have no capacity to stop the downward plunge. You have no perspective, no emotional reserves, no faith that it will get better. So you feel guilty and ashamed of your inability to deal with life like a regular human, which exacerbates the depression and the isolation. If you’ve never been depressed, thank your lucky stars and back off the folks who take a pill so they can make eye contact with the grocery store cashier. No one on earth would choose the nightmare of depression over an averagely turbulent normal life.
It’s not an incapacity to cope with day to day living in the modern world. It’s an incapacity to function. At all. If you and your loved ones have been spared, every blessing to you. If depression has taken root in you or your loved ones, every blessing to you, too. No one chooses it. No one deserves it. It runs in families, it ruins families. You cannot imagine what it takes to feign normalcy, to show up to work, to make a dentist appointment, to pay bills, to walk your dog, to return library books on time, to keep enough toilet paper on hand, when you are exerting most of your capacity on trying not to kill yourself. Depression is real. Just because you’ve never had it doesn’t make it imaginary. Compassion is also real. And a depressed person may cling desperately to it until they are out of the woods and they may remember your compassion for the rest of their lives as a force greater than their depression. Have a heart. Judge not lest ye be judged."
Saturday, 28 July 2012
I have just got back from taking the boys on holiday for five nights to Germany. We stayed on a fantastically family friendly farm, with one of my friends and her partner and children. By the third day, I was reduced to tears by the constant misbehaviour of my eldest son. Later that night, over a glass (or several) of wine, I confessed to my friend that quite frankly, I wanted to hand him over to his father. It killed me to admit it, I don't think I could ACTUALLY go through with it, but I'm exhausted. Bone bloody tired, and he is wearing what little there is left of my fighting spirit away. I cried again, when she said "I get it - we've always thought it was because he was over excited, or tired etc. But this is your life, every day." The fact that finally, someone whose judgement I really trusted, who spoke honestly to me, said to me: "Yes, your life is really fucking hard. It's not normal, or ordinary, and you are not making a fuss. It's hard," just made me break down.
The end of the week improved a small bit, then we're back at home and I have one, maybe two days of respite before his behaviour flares again. Then my youngest, probably feeling attention starved, plays up too. On top of this, today I spent the best part of £100 on shoes for both of them. That means I need to spend £30 less on food for three weeks to cover the extra expense. I'm only spending £50 max at the moment anyway.
Meanwhile, my ex tells me he has booked a holiday. So far he hasn't responded to my question about whether he now has enough annual leave to cover the rest of the school holidays. Did I mention that while we were away, he forgot we'd gone? He didn't know his own children had left the country. Jesus wept.
So today, in a bloody fury, I pummelled my hand into my kitchen cupboard, and broke down in frustrated tears at what feels like an endless bloody battle at the moment. I know that my mental state is not as steady as it was. I know that my depression makes everything seem harder than it actually is. I know that crying about it isn't going to make it any different. I know that my poor little six year old boy is struggling with his emotions, learning to adapt to one parent and testing his boundaries. But what I want to know is: Will it ever get any bloody easier?
Wednesday, 11 July 2012
Today I had a classic case of my worlds clashing together, in a way that when I try to explain to people they don't really understand why it makes me so anxious. Today was a huge event at work, in which I've been a central point in planning, organising and pulling off. I had to be at the office at 8am, and I knew I wouldn't get out of there before 4pm. This is my third event at work in three weeks. Meanwhile I also have to do all the other stuff I usually do, and facilitate a re-brand. Does that sound like a lot? Maybe it doesn't, maybe I'm horribly underachieving but the last six months have been exhausting, terrifying, exciting, challenging and a huge learning curve for me. All in 25 hours a week. And all this culminated in today, this final event of the year.
My Mum agreed to meet me at quarter to eight at mine and take the boys to various people for the day. I left for work at quarter to eight. My Mum is quite famous for not understanding why I get so stressed by my children. Last week, on my birthday, she told me the reason my kids get carried away and are so loud and hyped is because I'm 'harrassed' all the time. I frequently get told that when SHE has them, SHE just TELLS them, and they KNOW.
At half eight, as I ran from a marquee to the main hall, carrying chairs, umbrellas, and with seven people asking me questions, my mobile rang. Mum couldn't remember where she was supposed to be taking eldest, and he'd played her up so she was late and she was really sorry but she'd had to tell eldest off quite badly because he was just a NIGHTMARE.
(I had my phone clenched to my ear by my shoulder as I poured squash for 200 children.)
I asked the question: "Mum, what would you like me to do about this now?"
Her: "Nothing, I'm just telling you."
Later that afternoon when I picked the boys up (the event went really well by the way, I feel vaguely proud) it turns out she'd told everyone; Mums in the playground, my childminder, that my eldest had been a nightmare and that's why she was late.
Thanks Mum. I am now the working mother who is too busy to deal with her children, who are so bad even their own grandmother won't look after them.
What I find hard about being a working Mum is that the good scales are never even. Either it's working at work, or it's working at home. Sometimes it's failing at both. But I never feel like it's both working.
Monday, 11 June 2012
Since I graduated from Uni I've put a lot of pressure on myself to get a career off the ground. Then my husband left, and since then I have really been trying to just keep all the balls in the air until some nameless date in the future when I'll feel like it's all come together. I always seem to spend my life waiting for something, and not really appreciating the 'now'.
I've spoken to some of my friends about this, and it seems to be a common problem. As the generation raised to believe we can have everything, we are rarely actually satisfied.
At the moment, my life is pretty good: I have my kids, my home, my health, a job that fits in around my kids and my new relationship is bringing me a lot of happiness. So why do I still keep finding myself feeling so stressed?
I think the problem is that I'm not good at dividing my life equally, and so I feel like I'm short on everything. The weeks seem to disappear: I can get to Friday and realise I haven't heard my eldest read, or practised his spellings with him. I will, however, check my work emails when I get home, only an hour after leaving the office!
So I need to redress the balance. This week, I'm going to attempt some changes:
1. I am not going to check my work emails from home, or do any extra work at home.
2. I am going to put a restriction on screen time for the kids, so I don't rely on the TV to entertain them from getting home till bedtime - we waste too much time in front of screens in this family!
3. I am going to have at least half an hour to myself each day, without the TV or laptop on: I can waste a whole evening on Mumsnet, Facebook and Twitter, and then realise that I've done nothing...
4. I am going to use my time more effectively, try and keep on top of the housework etc, so I don't feel like I have a mountain to climb at the end of the week.
I'll check back in at the end of the week, and let you know if I feel a bit more focused on the important stuff, and less stressed!
Thursday, 7 June 2012
I've always been a romantic - growing up watching eighties movies and reading Sweet Valley High books made me think I'd marry my teenage sweetheart. Unfortunately, I was so desperate for this to happen I managed to hook up with quite a few weirdos in the meantime. But then I did really fall in love and had a healthy happy relationship for ten years. And no, I didn't think it would end how it did and I'm still pretty sad about it, but I don't regret it. I married for love, and I don't think that's something I need to apologise for.
Anyway, I've made quite a lot of noise over the last eighteen months about how I WILL NEVER GET MARRIED AGAIN, EVER. I spent frequent Sunday mornings laughing at Steve Wright's Love Songs show, and in particular making up cruel alternate endings for the people who left dedications. A bit like this:
Radio: "Dear Steve, please will you tell my wife Doris that I lurve her more than anyfink, she is my world. Thanks, Dave."
Me: "Ha! Dave is SO cheating on Doris with Marge from the Co-op. Just sayin'. He is trying to throw her off the scent. Bastard."
I also now watch eighties movies and make snarky remarks about "That's right, you've discovered eyeliner and stopped wearing your hair in a ponytail, now he will DEFINITELY LOVE YOU FOREVER!!! Or until College you dozy high school girl, you!"
As you can see, I am a barrel of laughs to have around. Friends swarm to me on Valentine's Day - honest.
But look, this is all a front. I still believe that you really can meet someone and love them forever. Like in 'Up'. And I'm in that daft just started a new relationship thing, where I think about him all the time, and want to talk to him about everything. I'd love to think that I will feel that way forever, and maybe I will this time. See, even having my heart trampled on hasn't dimmed my romantic hopes.
Friday, 1 June 2012
2. Mum, Yes I was upset the other night when you called, I don't actually have a cold. But I still don't want to talk to you about it.
3. Kids, I love you so much. But I cannot WAIT for you to go to your Dad's for a week so that I can catch my breath and tidy the house.
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
A service and MOT on my car last weekend landed me with a bill of over £500. Thank god for credit cards. But I'm painfully aware that the car, my plans for the garden, and my trip to Germany later this year are hanging heavy over me. I've done some maths and while I can afford these things, I need to be pretty careful with my cash and a bit more sensible when it comes to my shopping habits.
I have a pretty bad relationship with money: My parents are keen savers, and as such we were never given pocket money, or allowed to spend our birthday money on fripperies. I'm sure their plan was to make us appreciate the value of things: Actually all that seems to have happened is that now I'm at last in control of my own finances I have a "I want it; I'll have it" attitude. I've had REAL financial troubles in the past though, and I'm keen not to repeat those. I hope I'm getting to a point of balance.
I hate to turn this into a "Why single parents have it so tough" post, but I do feel the weight of financial responsibility pretty heavily. A colleague at work yesterday told me how her husband had paid off her credit card for her. HA! What a fantasy life that would be!
It's not so much the money - it's the fact I have no one to share the burden with. I believe that's one of the toughest things about being a single parent: I have no one to cry over it all with at the end of a day when I've cancelled the direct debit for the gas so I can pay for the electric (NB - It's not that bad really, not yet anyway).
As part of my economy drive, I'm back to meal planning, shopping online, voucher hunting and generally being thrifty. More veggie meals, more home baking instead of buying snacks and I may even begin darning our socks.
(I have no idea how sock darning is thrifty. Or even how you do it.)
Monday, 30 April 2012
I love this. You can get a whole book of these on Amazon - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Darth-Vader-Star-Wars-Chronicle/dp/145210655X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335795566&sr=8-1 I hope my ex-husband doesn't read my blog, because I sooo know what we're getting him for fathers' day now!!
Saturday, 21 April 2012
Sunday, 8 April 2012
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
- I want to fall in love again, properly and completely and a bit scarily.
- I want to be loved again, properly and completely and a bit scarily.
- I want me and my children to stay healthy.
- I want to travel.
- I want to learn about stargazing.
- I want to be able to change a spark plug (Do cars still have spark plugs?)
- I want to not have to worry about money - I don't mind being thrifty, or saving but I don't want to be plagued by money worries.
- I want next door's kids and dogs to shut the hell up.
- I want to walk the Brecons again.
- I want to see my grandchildren.
- I want to feel safe.
- I want to always be able to remember all the words to "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams.
- I want to not always be thinking about food, or calories.
- I want to live in France for a bit, and have a push bike with a basket on the front for me to put my baguette from the bakery in.
- I want my life to be filled with family and friends and laughter and hugs.
- And beer.
Saturday, 31 March 2012
You did stupid things, like putting tippex on your fingernails and lighting it, and playing about with candles ALL THE TIME, with that incredible arrogant belief that all teenagers have: That bad things happen to other people.
You did stupid things, like putting tippex on your fingernails and lighting it, and playing about with candles ALL THE TIME, with that incredible arrogant belief that all teenagers have: That bad things happen to other people.
You lied. All. The. Bloody. Time.
Is eldest still in his room? I wonder how he’s feeling.
I hope they help you to be patient, and more than anything, I hope that they make you laugh, and stop you from crying in frustration and feeling like you’ve failed the kids.
You haven’t failed them, they’re just figuring out who they are, like you had to. And you didn’t turn out so bad.
(Unless you're reading this in a prison somewhere. Then maybe you did).
Friday, 30 March 2012
Wednesday, 21 March 2012
Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Sunday, 11 March 2012
Friday, 9 March 2012
Tuesday, 6 March 2012
and the same level as their original role following maternity or paternity
The bank will offer returning parents a part-time role equivalent to at
least two and a half days a week in a bid to help their employees balance
the demands of family life with their career development. Under UK
employment law there is no obligation on employers to provide part-time
work although every parent is entitled to request it.
Sunday, 4 March 2012
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Friday, 2 March 2012
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Number 5 on my list of 12 things to do was to get a hobby. As I said in my original post, I’ve been considering rock climbing.
I’ve also struggled to fit it in around the kids – had to ask Mum to babysit, which prompted the question of Why, which prompted a “What do you want to do that for, then?” conversation. Can you hear me rolling my eyes? Fairly sure my mother could.
Monday, 27 February 2012
Usually, it creeps in. I notice that I’m struggling to laugh at things I’d normally find funny, or that I want to be alone a bit more. I start to sleep more, I can’t seem to get interested in TV. I recognise that I become listless and I can’t focus on anything – even things that would normally have me totally gripped. I eat more, and I make bad choices about what I am eating – I just want chocolate, because I know it’ll give me a quick high. And I can’t have just one bar, I have to have ten.
I also want to link to this amazing blog post about depression, in case anyone wants to read anything else about it.
Sunday, 26 February 2012
Saturday, 25 February 2012
I have a lot of things to blog about today. So brace yourselves.
1. Tomorrow is results day. (I think - there's been some dissention - it might be the 16th instead) I finally find out what the last four years have amounted to in academic stakes. It's touch and go - either a low first or a high 2:1. People keep telling me that either way it's a fantastic grade, especially when you consider I'm not your average student. The truth is though, I want that first. Last year it was totally do-able, I got firsts in all my units except one, if I remember correctly. But this year I got a bit lazy, a lot distracted, and stopped pushing myself quite so hard.
I could cut myself some slack. And look at my children and tell myself that I had a lot on this year. But actually that would be complete rubbish. If I had sorted myself out, and worked harder, I wouldn't be feeling quite so anxious now. I only have myself to blame, and there are no excuses. If I do get a 2:1, I will forever think I could have done better.
Or will I? I know I don't care as much about my GCSE grades now as I did then, nor my A-level results. I am prouder of my A-level results: Going back to education was a huge deal for me, and I'm proud of how much harder I worked at evening classes than I did at sixth form. It reminded me that I can do it, that I am relatively bright, and pretty academic.
So this degree... Parts of it were hard. But not as hard as I'd anticipated a degree being, to be fair. Only on a few occasions did I get confused by abstract thinking. I have learnt a lot - especially about politics. And I love the fact that I now understand the British political system and can talk about current affairs with some confidence. My writing is different - neater, sharper and cleaner (although I still love my commas and exclamation marks) and I know how to find sources, case studies and experts.
My degree's given me a job I can do from home - I won't get rich at it, but I enjoy it (most of the time) and feel like one day I will feel like a real freelance journo as opposed to someone playing at it.
- Slight aside - I sent off some more freelance work today, and wonder if I will ever send work away and not feel a bit sick about whether I've got it right or not?
My degree has given me some really great friends - people who I hope I will stay in touch with forever. It's also introduced me to some people who, if I ever see on an interview panel, will make me run screaming from the building.
It has changed me. It's nearly cost me my marriage (although the degree is not solely to blame for that one - we need to spend more time remembering who we are, aside from Mum and Dad, PC and Journo). It's made me review my choices, my expectations and my standards. It's made me feel middle class (horrifying) and a bit clever.
So, I guess whether it's a 2:1 or a first is a bit irrelevant really in the grand scheme of things. Hopefully in five years, I won't care.
On another topic entirely, here I am in full on Stay At Home Mum mode. So far, I can say I haven't settled into it too well. I've forgotten how to play, how much cleaning to do and I'm thinking I should make a star chart at some point. I miss the routine of uni - knowing where I was going to be, having a framework to build the week around. At the moment it's too easy to spend all day watching TV cos it keeps everybody quiet and entertained. (Although right now it's Deal or No Deal, GOD the people on this wind me up...)
Freelancing seems to be the worst of both worlds - I'm stressing about deadlines and having to conduct phone interviews while using my foot to gesture for silence to the kids. Plus trying to remember when husband is working a night shift or a late or a day... It feels pressured. I'm not proud to say that I'm fantasising about an office job just to get me out of the house on a regular basis, some adult conversation.
I'm pretty sure I was good at this two or three years ago. I was never going to win Mum of the Year, but I wasn't so tense, so aware of my mistakes. I relaxed into it. Days didn't feel wasted. I know that sounds shocking, but that is how I see it. I'm not working towards something for the first time in a long time, and I'm struggling with the change of pace.
I feel like I'm waiting, holding my breath and just hanging on... until IJ starts school. Until Alex starts playschool. Until we move. Or until I find a job.
Or maybe just until results day.
Friday, 24 February 2012
So, I’m thirty this year.
I’m fine with that.
>This is my mantra<
No honestly, I’m fine with thirty. I’ve got my lovely children, so no biological clock issues for me. I’m not desperately seeking a relationship because I’m quite looking forward to some time on my own. I’m happy in my professional life; so thirty doesn’t seem so daunting.
In fact, this feels like my year. I am really excited about what opportunities are out there for me.
With that in mind, I wrote a list a few weeks ago of 12 things to do in 2012, as I’m out of time to do 30 things before I turn 30. So I thought I’d share it with you, and I’m going to be one of those boring people who blogs about what they experience as they try these 12 things blah blah etc etc.
12 things in 2012
1. Get a new tattoo (I actually knew this would be an easy one, as I’d already booked the appointment when I wrote the list. But it’s so nice to start writing a list and ticking something off straight away!)
2. Go kayaking
3. Pitch a freelance article, and actually get it published.
4. Sing on a stage
5. Find a hobby (At the moment I’m contemplating rock climbing).
6. Visit a country I’ve never been to before.
7. Drink more (juice or water, not alcohol or tea. At the moment I average two cups of tea and one coffee a day. Not enough!)
8. Walk from Bishopstoke to
9. Read a classic novel.
10. Lose three stone.
11. See a Shakespeare play (actually on the stage. Movies don’t count!)
12. Take the kids to the
Thursday, 23 February 2012
I graduated on the 3rd of November 2010, having worked my backside off to get a first class honours degree in Journalism. (Sorry, did that sound smug? I am smug, that first took a lot.) Having gone to the ceremony with my husband, children and Mum, my Dad rang me on my mobile (unheard of!) to congratulate me (also unheard of!) I can remember exactly what he said “Well done, I’m proud of you. You really seem to be on your way – two smashing boys, a degree, a new job and a pretty good marriage. Well done.”
Mum: >Sniff< “Well, she’s a single mother, isn’t she?”
Me: “So? What’s that got to do with anything?”
Mum: “Well… What’s she got to brag about?”
Me: “Argh. You’re so old fashioned. And hard.”
Wednesday, 22 February 2012
Thursday, 16 February 2012
Wednesday, 15 February 2012
There are a few really good benefits for me being a single parent.
That said, I still can’t wait to get them back after a weekend to myself. Because nothing beats a toddler cuddle in bed on a Sunday morning. Or having a valid excuse to watch Spiderman cartoons.
Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Monday, 13 February 2012
Sunday, 12 February 2012
When I moved out of my parents’ house at 17, I had no idea of how to cook. Mum was incapable of letting us doing anything ourselves and making mistakes, so we never really went into the kitchen. I could fry eggs, reheat beans or soup, but had no idea how to cook proper, real food.
Wednesday – Chicken and bacon lasagne (A recipe I found online today that sounds lovely)
Thursday – Weightwatchers quiche recipe with salad
Friday – (We’re off to