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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Climb every mountain

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.

Most, if not all, of my happiest memories as a child usually feature me in a tree. I was still climbing trees at 14 and 15, even if on some occasions it was simply because it was the best place to have a crafty fag. I really loved climbing, I loved being in the trees and experiencing the height. My best friend and I would climb anything we could – holidays to Wales and day trips to the Dorset coast saw us scaling craggy cliffs and caves in shorts and t-shirts. We loved it.

Because, other than reading, I have struggled through most of my adult life to find something I really enjoy, I decided when coming up with a hobby idea to go right back to my childhood and climbing was the obvious choice.

The main problem with that, is I’m a damn sight heavier than I was at 15, so I think trees are pretty much out. Most people suggested that Calshot would be the nearest place with a climbing wall.

However, a quick Google later and I discovered this place. I sent an enquiry through the website and they have been very helpful and encouraging – acknowledging that I’d confessed to being a complete beginner, and mentioning that their beginners courses would be filled with sociable folk who will all be in the same boat.

So, on the 7th April, I’m hoping to begin my wall climbing adventure. A three session beginners course is just under £50. I'm really hoping that the fact I have to pay for it means I won’t wimp out and not go when the big day arrives.

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.

I am really excited though. Even if I’m bloody terrible at it (and I probably will be) it’s nice to break out of my usual routine and challenge myself. Cant remember the last time I did that for fun…

Monday, 27 February 2012

Depression, revisited

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.

Everything starts to irritate me. Things that normally I could shrug off, or laugh about, make me furious. The kids, (Goddess love them), make me crazy. I shout and get cross at them and really expect far too much of them.

Then the sadness sets in – I get sad because I’m being unreasonable with the children but I can’t seem to stop it. I feel guilty because I can’t bring myself to go anywhere with them, and if I do, then I feel guilty because I was cross and ruined it for them, or because I didn’t enjoy it.

I start to think that the world is a horrible place, and what’s the point, really? This can be kicked off by something as small as a couple of people not giving way on the road when they should, or today, a guy who didn’t use his indicators once in a three mile journey on local roads. He was also really slow. But, Christ, if everyone is like that, just so freaking oblivious to other people, who just don’t do what they should do, then what’s the freaking point? The world’s just full of horrible, money grabbing, selfish people.

See that sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? But honest to God, the lack of indication on a roundabout can set off that train of thought, and send me into a spiral.

I come home, put the kids in the bath, and sit on my bed with my throat aching with tears I can’t bloody cry. They just won’t come. I WANT to cry, because I think that might make it all feel a bit better, but no.

The radio goes off in the morning and I lay there, and every song reminds me of the bad times in my life: my sister dying, my husband leaving. Or I lay there thinking that I’m a really bad person, because I don’t want to get out of bed today.

I do the school run, and compare myself to all the other mums, and find myself lacking. My shoes aren’t right, you know. Oh, that mum met up with that one over the weekend did they? How come I never get invited? Oh yeah, it must be because they know what I’m like, really.

I go to work, and what the hell is the point in that? My job is never going to be finished, and it’s never going to be good enough. I’ll just be back doing the same thing again tomorrow. Why? Really, WHY?

I come home, and I can’t face the kids, I just can’t. So I tell them to watch TV while I hide in the kitchen, and my throat is aching again, but what can I do?

They go to bed, and I realise I haven’t read with them, or practised spellings or sums, bloody hell, I can’t even look after them. I really AM a terrible mum. They’re going to grow up and remember all this like a black cloud over their childhood. They deserve better.

I’m so tired, the TV doesn’t hold my attention, so I go to bed. Sleep is a gorgeous release, until I snap awake at 4am, and the fear grips me that I’ll feel this way forever, and end up alone because of it.

And the whole pattern starts again the next day.

That’s how depression is for me.

I used to believe that depression was an excuse, a weakness. Now I know it’s a horrible, debilitating ILLNESS which comes into your life uninvited and tramples all over it, a self feeding monster. It shouldn’t be trivialised, it shouldn’t be seen as something that happens to other people. It needs to be recognised as an illness, so people with it can know it CAN be treated, to prevent that 4am fear.

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


For the last week or so, I've felt depression nipping at my heels, watching me around corners and just generally rearing its ugly head.

I first sought help for my depression last year, six months after my husband and I split, and not long after I was told I was being made redundant. The day I accepted I needed help, the clutch went on my car and I had to get the train to work, with a reluctant three year old in tow. I sat at my desk once I'd dropped him at nursery, and burst into tears when someone asked "How are you?"

I made an appointment, and went to the doctors. It took me a week to get an appointment, and by the time I was actually on my way to see her, I felt a lot more upbeat - my car was fixed, at least. I was actually afraid I'd just grin like a loon and say "Why yes, I think I'm depressed, ho ho ho!"

Actually the conversation went more like this:

>In I stroll, mahoosive smile on my face, stupidly nervous and scared<
Dr : "Hello, come in."
Me: "Oh, thank you. >ahem<"
Dr: "So what seems to be the problem?"
Me: "Well, I'm probably being pathetic, but basically, I've lost my job >voice breaks< and my husband's left >seriously wobbly now< and I don't really like my children very much."

Full on wailing.

She had to give me tissues. I NEVER cry, especially not in front of people I don't know. I kept trying to stop crying, because I was embarrassed, but that just made me cry even more.

My doctor told me she wasn't surprised I was finding things tough, and referred to an amazing service called iTalk, where I had CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) for seven weeks over the phone, and then ten weeks of face to face sessions before I felt that I could fly solo. I'm due to meet with my therapist next month and talk about how I'm using the strategies I've learnt at therapy, and generally how I'm feeling. Then, if I'm ready, I will be fully discharged.

I will undoubtedly talk more about my depression and those strategies I learnt in other blog posts - but this one is just about how, after a good two months of feeling on top of the bloody world, Im having a wobble.

What therapy taught me is to identify why I'm feeling this way: Well, I recently ended a relationship, and I'm still waiting to find out what's happening with my job as of next year, so that's probably attributing to it, even if, I largely feel positive about these things.

But what I've been feeling over the last week, is a sense of not belonging. I met up with old friends last weekend, which was great. It was so good to see people, see how they're getting on. But almost all of them don't have children, and are fully enjoying the benefits of being single and having a disposable income (remember those, parent readers?)

I couldn't help feeling on the outskirts of them - I was convinced that they were sure that because I had been married, and had kids, we had no common ground. Which made me really sad, because actually I'm a lot more than an ex wife and a mother. I'm also someone who likes to sing, and talk politics, and debate and argue and laugh, a lot. But somehow, it was a bit awkward. Probably because of my pre-conceived assumption that they would be awkward with me.

See, that's something I had to get past in therapy - (stay with me here, this gets a bit complicated) That I assume I know what people think of me, I assume that people are judging me, and I assume that they will always find me lacking. Therefore I automatically become a bit shy, a bit awkward, and don't know how to talk to people. I either behave like a bit of a bitch and make nasty (but on the whole, vaguely amusing) comments or I just get tongue tied, and can't really think of anything to say. My whole head literally fills with "Oooh, I bet she's thinking you're looking fat. And I bet he thinks you're boring and ugly. And THEY don't even want to talk to you cause they've got NO idea what to say to you cause your life is so SUBURBAN."

In therapy, I was told to challenge those automatic thoughts, which I've actually got quite good at. But I haven't practised it in a huge social situation before, with people who have known me for 15 years. It was really, really hard, and I came away feeling sad and pathetic.

So then I spent some time with people I know with kids. Wow, they're all really very married aren't they? And, pretty much all of them have money, and cars, and nice clothes. So, I came away thinking they were pitying me, and again, didn't really know what to say to me.

In the end, today I went to see my parents - HA! Yeah, I love them a whole bunch, but that's really not home anymore.

So here I am, at the end of a really rough week, and I'm going to put the kids to bed in a minute, and then have a bath, a hot chocolate, and watch a DVD like I do every other night. And I'm feeling a bit lonely, and sad. I'm not sure where I fit anymore. I'm too single for the committeds, I'm too committed for the singles.

This is very self indulgent. I'm assuming a lot, and feeling a bit (read: a LOT) sorry for myself. Reading it back, helps me realise that I'm being OTT, black and white, making assumptions - all those things I am trying not to be, thanks to my CBT. In fact, I can already see that I need to cut myself some slack.

Hey, if you read this, you were just part of a CBT exercise. Cool, huh? :)

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Memory lane

I was organising my blogs last night, the equivalent of a blog spring clean if you will, and found this. It was really nice to read it again, and refresh my memory. Made me a bit wistful, a bit sad, and a bit proud of how far I've come:

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

12 things in 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 Winchester along the river again, like I used to with Dad.

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 Isle of Wight. It’s madness they haven’t been already!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Why my parents amaze me...

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.”

Two weeks later I was crying in their living room as I had to tell them that my marriage was over.

Growing up, my parents never hid their opinion of single mums. As a young child, I definitely assumed that single mums were “bad”. Divorce was not the norm, and somehow women without their children’s Dad were somehow less than we were.

As an arrogant teenager I would challenge my parents’ views. Conversations would go like this:

Me: “so-and-so’s mum is really cool. We were talking about X and she said Y”

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.”

Hard would definitely be my word of choice – quick to judge, and with no thought as to what may have happened for so-and-so’s mum to become single. Not that one reason is really more worthy than another. I struggle to believe anyone becomes a single parent for the larks.

My Dad’s attitude, when challenged about why they never mentioned the fathers who left these families, just the mothers, was: “Well she picked him, didn’t she? What does it say about her?”

With these memories ringing in my ears, I had to tell my parents that it was over – that I had become what they had never wanted for me: A single mum, working full time.

I was shaking when I walked into their lounge.

My Dad tried to get me into marriage counselling, was furious at the ex-husband. He was neglecting his responsibilities apparently. I tried, in vain, to explain that this was an equal split. My Dad was horribly biased. Naturally, it was all ex-husband’s fault, I was blameless. He still sees things that way, and I never stop correcting him, to no avail.

Mum, who had always seemed to delight in other people’s misery, turned to “It’s no one else’s business, is it? It’s just one of those things.”

How times change. How my parents must love me, to take such an about face on their frightening right wing views. They have their faults, but I can do nothing but love and admire them for their support. This is unconditional love – something I had never felt I had from them. I was so wrong. I only hope that when my kids challenge my core beliefs, I can be as strong as they are.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Apologies for my absence..

Yes, sorry - I've been ill. And busy at work, combined with illness and the kids means I like to sleep from about 7.30pm to 7am. Little time for blogging.

Today I got to venture back into my comfort zone for a bit. Someone came to me about a news story at work, and I had to grab my camera, dash off and meet people I didn't know, and then find out all about them. I also got to advise some students about how to write a press release.

It's been ages since I got to think about whether something was newsworthy, or how your third paragraph should always be a quote. I walked back to my office and caught myself planning my opening para. I felt that excitement at what words to use, how to best structure a sentence. Advising the students felt fantastic (I like nothing better than to be seen as knowledgeable).

A couple of weeks ago I indulged in some wine (as I often do) and wrote a list of 12 things for 2012, because it's too late for me to do 30 things before I'm 30. Number 3 on the list is to pitch a freelance article, and get it published.

I've been published before, I've been told I have the makings of a good journalist, so it's about time I took hold of my destiny and stopped wimping out. Which is exactly what I am doing - I'm so scared my stuff isn't good enough, I daren't even try.

But today I remembered that I love it. And sometimes you have to do something just because you love it, not because it's taking you anywhere.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Baking... and other half term madness

Every time a school holiday rolls around, I think "Hmmm, we should do some baking."

I have no idea why this idea occurs to me every time. I don't have any happy memories of baking with my mother. Mainly she would scream at me that I was sifting the flour wrong, or sigh about the mess, and generally the whole thing was a stressful experience. By the age of about 10, I realised the most sensible option was to read a Sweet Valley High book in my room and come down when things smelt nice for taste testing. It was an effective strategy.

So today I decided that as I don't want to have to go out anywhere due to midnight wakings because of a certain toddler climbing into my bed and snoring in my ear for a few hours, we would bake. Carrot cake muffins and welsh griddle cakes, both Weight Watchers recipes so I can feel a bit less guilty.

No more than ten seconds in and DS1 has dropped a bag of flour and DS2 is proceeding to try and spoon it back into the bag. I managed to bite my tongue the first time round. I set DS1 the challenge of grating the carrots, but that swiftly proved to be "too hard" (i.e. takes a bit more effort than waving a spoon at the sugar) and whining ensued, so I took that over. More flour spillage.

"Put the bowl on the floor and then sift the flour into the bowl DS1."

"Okay Mummy."

"NO! Not like that!! You're doing it wrong!!"

Eeek. The metamorphosis into my mother is clearly almost complete.

An hour, another bag of flour, several eggs and a stack of washing up as tall as I am later, we have the muffins. They're... interesting looking. They taste OK though. DS2 ate half of one and then wandered off. Thankfully they freeze well apparently, so ten of them are currently wedged between low fat sausages and a weight watchers garlic baguette.

The welsh griddle cakes are more of a success, because the kids walked away as soon as I started singing about us all doing the washing up together, so I got to do those myself. In fact, they're so tasty I've had to put them in a tupperware box on top of a cupboard so I don't scoff the lot...

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

The best bits

There are a few really good benefits for me being a single parent.

Financially I’m better off and because I have control of my money, I can budget effectively and I don’t have to ask anyone’s opinion or permission before I book a holiday.

I have considerably less washing and ironing to do than I used to.

I can cook pretty much whatever I like for tea – including fish and pasta as much as I like (Ex-Husband was really not a fan), or even just soup and fancy bread if me and the kids fancy it.

I don’t have a living room full of wires and consoles, or have to fall asleep to Xbox war noises, or watch really, really dull films about gangsters or ones with people losing limbs and things.

Essentially, I largely get to please myself.

But above all, my absolute favourite thing is the weekends when he has the kids.

I love my children. They’re great fun, and I love taking them out at weekends (swimming lessons not included) or sitting in and building Lego houses.

But… I LOVE being able to stay in bed on a Saturday morning instead of having to leave the house at quarter to nine for martial arts. I love being able to sit and read my book in silence, and actually finish a whole chapter without being interrupted. I love being able to watch grown up telly in the day time. I love meeting my childless friends at the pub for a quick half on a Sunday afternoon. I love being able to just walk out of the house, and not have to organise two other little people.

I know there’s a danger of becoming a martyr parent, and that’s not what I am at all. I made the choice to have my family, and I really love it. But I acknowledge how lucky I am, to be one of the women whose kids’ Dad wants to see them, and the freedom that gives me every so often.

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

Incredibly trite things I wish someone had already invented

1. Nail varnish which sticks to the nails, but not the skin. Lo - amazing instant nails!
2. Calorie free chocolate cake.
3. Calorie free cheese.
4. High calorie burning massage.
5. A magic sober up drink which works instantly.
6. A money tree.

Please feel free to add your own, invisible followers...

Monday, 13 February 2012

Soft play, and how times change

Before I had kids, soft play seemed like the most amazing thing, like EVER.

Slides, ball pits and crawly tunnels big enough for adults to play in. How much fun is that?

Then I had kids. I became too old overnight to find the curly wurly slide entertaining, and instead harboured dreams of sipping cappucinos while the children merrily exhausted themselves.

With my first born, trips to soft play were summarised in feelings of guilt and shame, and fear, as I ran round after a slap happy toddler who seemed set on being "that child". When he was small, I was always afraid to leave him in case "bigger boys came", so I would traipse around after him.

Give or take a few years, and he is one of the "bigger boys". Oh the shame.

With my second born, I had all of the above, but I also had to keep him from dashing into the bigger kids area with his older brother, and getting stuck on a rope ladder, or at the top of the big curly wurly slide.

Today, however, we braved the outside and headed for soft play to meet with friends. For the first time ever, I had an enjoyable soft play experience. No one came out bleeding, vomiting or in tears, and both are now big enough to manage the rope ladders and curly wurly slide unaided.

I got to sit and drink coffee and have a good old catch up. It was one of those afternoons where I felt the rare sensation of "Yes, this is what I thought parenthood would be like."

I also came home and the kids fell straight asleep after tea, meaning I now get to relax with a cup of tea and a biscuit. Win win.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

My love affair... with food.

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.

I was also really, really poor. Essentially, for about two years, I lived off of roll up cigarettes, chicken roll and mayonnaise sandwiches, and soup. Therefore I was a size 10. But horribly unhealthy – I had chilblains, a constant cough, and terrible, terrible skin.

After about a year, my recipe repertoire involved Shepherds Pie, fry ups, stew and things made with sauce from a jar. And that was about it.

I really started learning how to cook when I fell pregnant with my youngest son. We were poor, really dirt poor, and with a little person to feed, and carrying another one (and also unable to treat hunger pangs with a fag) I needed to eat more than chicken roll and mayonnaise sandwiches.

So I started to watch cookery programmes, and adapted recipes to fit our incredibly limited budget. I could make a vegetable curry for about 50p a portion, and we would eat it for a couple of days at a time. Likewise Spaghetti Bolognaise, pasta in sauce dishes, and anything I could make with a value tin of chopped tomatoes. I could make a chicken feed the three of us for four meals. I have never eaten so well, before or since.

Now that I’m a lot more financially comfortable, I can really go to town with recipes. However, I’m also on a diet. I want to lose two stone before my birthday in July. I cannot be fat and thirty.

I have a total love affair with chorizo, which, if I could, I would eat with just about every meal. I haven’t made a chicken pie for a while because I’m on a diet, but just thinking about rolling out that pastry makes me weak at the knees. As soon as this two stone is off, I will be on a baking frenzy, making banana and honey loaf, chocolate fairy cakes and Victoria sponges to take the sight from your eyes.

Oooh, I’m dribbling a tiny bit. Anyway – currently in my slow cooker is a butternut squash, red lentil and chorizo (yum yum yum) stew. It’s making the whole house smell so delicious… I can’t wait till teatime.

Anyway, as this week is half term, and I’m feeling a bit flush, I’m going to try some new recipes. Things the kids can get involved in and will enjoy making with me.

Tuesday – Slow cooker chilli with nachos and tortilla wraps (the kids love it when there’s loads of plates for them to choose from!)

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 London on Friday. I could pretend I won’t have a cake from a fancy London shop…)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

A bit of background and a bit of an intro

I never planned on being a single parent. Do many of us, really? I got married in my early twenties to a man who made me weak at the knees, was educated, quiet and dependable. I walked down that aisle thinking that this was FOREVER. When I gave birth to our son a year and a half later, I was overjoyed. I was beginning to make my perfect family. I was surprised by the arrival of our youngest son nearly two years later.

But not as surprised as I was when I realised that, having worked so hard to get the life we had always planned together, we had somehow become strangers. Somewhere along the way the connection broke, and I couldn’t spend the rest of my life with someone who didn’t love me. The children and I deserved better.

It’s been a long hard road over the last year. I got a full time job, and was made redundant from it six months later. I sought treatment for the subsequent depression I fell into after all my losses. I fought hard to build a new life for me and the children: We moved house, moved schools, I found a new job. Now, at the other end of that long dark tunnel I can look back and be proud that I’ve made a new life for the three of us, and I’m learning to be a little bit kinder to myself.

So, no, I didn’t plan to be a single parent. Yet here I am – and society may find me lacking because of my marital status, but I think it makes me a stronger person. A more forgiving person. I don’t expect handouts, I don’t neglect my children, and I don’t plan on having more kids to get a bigger house. No matter what everyone else thinks of me, I can hold my head up high, independently.