Archive for the 'Single parenting' Category

Mother Appeaser bids her disciples adieu…for now!

This blog may receive the record for being the shortest in existence ever but for various reasons, I’ve decided that things have run their very short course and I will be closing it down in the next few days.  May I thank the merry  band of readers who I have gained along the way.  When I blog again (it’s a filthy habit, I know I’ll be back lol!) I’ll find you and you’ll find me, I’m sure.  Life has shown me that the important people in your life are ever present in the most unexpected and wonderful ways.

The past week has been chaotic, catalytic and cathartic.  In that order.  I have had three huge realisations – nay epiphanies – bang bang bang, one after the other.  The net result is that despite my father’s continuing health problems and uncertainty over where I will be living once my flat tenancy expires, I feel a new life is beginning for me right now.  I’ve hit the emotional ‘reset’ button and am finally ready to begin moving forward and living my life again.  I shall now commence with a wonderfully indulgent ramble as to why this is.  If you’re interested feel free to read on.  But if not, mwah mwah, and see you soon…maybe ;o) Times are a-changin.

So back to it.  The cause of these epiphanies?  First up I’ve felt increasingly unfulfilled in my career of late.  I’ve felt trapped because I have a killer flexible working arrangement in a job that pays well but is ultimately not as challenging as it could be.  I’ve got bored and probably a bit disillusioned.  I started writing this blog as a way to try and spice things up and re-engage with the topic of knowledge management but I’ve realised that’s not enough and hasn’t had the desired effect as I largely rarely write about KM!

Whether it is coincidence or whether it is me making my own luck I do not know, but after sharing my discontent with my boss and discussing future hopes,  I have within the space of three little but HUGE days been given some tremendous opportunities to develop myself and work on projects that I never dreamed possible. 

I also have found myself an incredible and wonderful mentor.  In our initial conversations she has energised me, inspired me, shown an amazing confidence in me that has startled me and so is rebuilding and increasing my confidence hugely.   

I of course am now having a huge ‘oh shit’ moment but that’s good.  It shows you are stretching yourself and challenging yourself.  So I want the time back I was spending on this blog to spend part of which on my personal development.  And on really relaxing more away from the laptop screen in the evenings.

Second up the civility and politeness with ex husband is now paying dividends.  We’ve hit a sweet spot I didn’t think was possible.  Negotiations over holidays and changes to contact dates have gone swimmingly by email.  Collection and drop offs have become a breeze.  I would like to take a moment to thank myself for giving myself permission to be friendly with him.  It doesn’t mean I’m compromising my values or inner feelings towards him.  It just means that we’re building a positive ‘working relationship’ for our daughter.

I smiled earlier.  A friend was asking whether the finalising of the divorce, which is imminent in 2 months, will lift a weight from my mind.  He is convinced it will have a big impact.  I disagree.  I can’t deny there will certainly be a sense of relief but it won’t be a ground shaking me running around the flat in victory laps with my t-shirt over my head kind of relief! 

I’ve hit a positive equilibrium with my ex husband.  I suddenly realised when chatting to superwoman (aka my mum) this morning that my ex husband, the divorce, his partner – that they’ve not entered my head once over the past few weeks.  Why?  They have no reason to!  Yes it was stressful earlier in the year with the threats and counter threats of court action.  But that’s passed and the divorce is now just bits of paper flitting backwards and forwards between solicitors who are making pernickety edits to wording in a vain effort to screw us both for a last few quid before it all ends. 

Now it’s just paperwork and process.  There’s nothing more to agree or disagree over.  Pieces of paper will be filed and then another piece of paper will arrive which says Decree Absolute.  What changes though?  Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  For me the divorce was finalised and ‘over’ when I decided to stop behaving like a prat, rise above the childish behaviour of my ex husband and adopt a calm approach to dealing with him. 

At the end of the day the only thing that piece of paper will do is (a) empty my bank account when I pay my solicitors bill and (b) refill my bank account with equity so I can buy a house for me and my beautiful little munchkin.  So writing about ex husband, the divorce, his new partner and all things related on this blog is no longer needed.  That stuff?  It’s very last year, dahling. 

Third up I’ve accepted that I am single again.  I’ve spent a few weeks in denial, wondering how I would cope.  I was left reeling when my relationship with ex boyfriend fell apart.  I never thought I’d meet someone I connected with so hugely.  Once I realised this I let the brakes off in a way I didn’t think possible following the pain of my marriage break up.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think the man I fell so deep and hard in love with, would leave my life.  I really thought that was it. A new and unexpected beginning.  We were making dreams and schemes and I felt sure that we could become a happily family, me, he and munchkin. 

Yet as ever life throws vicious little curve balls that clonk you on the forehead just when you’re not expecting it.  I’ve stumbled around the past few weeks in a daze.  I’ve felt so incredibly alone, with the London life buzzing around me.  I’ve wanted to just wail ‘why me?  Just for once, dammit, could it not have worked out? Don’t I deserve to be happy?’  Perhaps I should have done just that.  I’d have got a seat on the tube for once, at least!  (Sidebar: perhaps we should all embrace our ‘inner nutter’ more?)

With my dad’s illness what I’ve really, really needed is hugs, cuddles, kisses, a warm body to curl up with, fall asleep with, wake up with.  I’ve needed to feel loved, to be loved, to feel affection, to be wrapped up in someones arms and be told ‘it’s all going to be alright’.  I’ve needed that more in the past few weeks since dad has got ill than I have since my marriage broke up.  Instead I’ve come home every night to a cold, empty flat with a diary cleared of arrangements. 

Now the shock that dad’s life may never be the same again if his illness/condition stabilises but cannot be cured (and right now we still don’t know), the practical and rational me is taking over again.  I’ve cancelled my holiday so I can go on their holiday with my parents so they don’t have to cancel theirs as it requires driving and he can no longer drive.  I’m sorting out cabs when they need them and getting a routine in place to ensure they can get to the supermarket and still give the care that is required for my frail grandmother. 

The upshot of being left to sweep up the embers of the divorce proceedings, radically shifting things with my career (which I decided on and discussed with no one – a world first for little miss nervous old me!) and also dealing with dad’s illness, has reminded me I’m a tough little fighter who can cope and does cope on her own.

However it’s also taught me that I need to trust that whoever is in my life won’t run when the going gets tough because I don’t run away from the tough stuff.  I fundamentally believe if two people are meant to be together then they bond together through adversity, facing it together, using it as an opportunity to unite, supporting one another fully.  You don’t run when there’s a problem if you really want to be with someone.  You give.  You receive.  You work at it.  You share the load.  Ex boyfriend and I, for whatever reason, couldn’t.  We unravelled and are now face our challenges apart and alone.  

As I say I accept this now.  Doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.  Doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt.  Doesn’t mean it isn’t going to hurt for a long, long time.  But I’m slowly now getting my breath back, emotionally, as it were.  Inspite of this my little heart has now run for cover and got back in it’s cosy box where it will hide until it’s safe to come out again.  For now there’s just two beady eyes peering out from the corner where the box of the lid hasn’t been put back on quite properly.  That’s ok.  Little heart can peek away whilst it has some R&R.  When it’s ready I know it will nudge the top of the box off and have a proper look around at what’s doing. 

The warm winds of spring and of change are now blowing.  I know from experience that just when I’m not expecting it, something – or someone – good will come my way.  It always does.  Like a rather famous golfer once said, ‘”the more I practice, the luckier I get”.  We make our own fate, after all! 

Love to you all,
x

Raisin’ raisins

They are cheeky little juicy bits of heaven in my book but then I’m dried fruit fiend.  The question today is why does my daughter participate in such rigorous quality control over said raisins?  Does anyone else have this problem?

Is it not enough that they are the finest organic specimens, boxed neatly and colourfully for her delectation?  Does she know something we don’t?  Is there a conspiraisincy?  Or perhaps this is a future wine tasting genius in the making and she’s getting her laughing gear around the closest thing that’s legal for her age?  If so I hope she has more success than her mother.  I taste a ladda wine but I’m no closer to being a genius.  I shall keep plugging (or rather uncorking) away.

Anway I digress.  Back to the question.  Why are half the raisings eaten and half spat out from any given box she is presented with?  I have assessed the specimens on the basis of colour, size, freshness and wrinkliness and can find no answer!  Thoughts on a piece of dried fruit please to this address.

What every parent needs in their toolbox

Emergency Chocolate

This is now in a safe place behind glass in my kitchen.

Nuff said.

Why children and pampering don’t mix

We all need our treats don’t we?  You know, the ones we like to savour and enjoy at a slowly and leisurely pace?  My treat is my hair cut.  I don’t get it done very often now because it’s so expensive.  It seems vain when I could be spending the money on my daughter or squirreling it away to put towards buying us a little home at some point.

However after 6 months of neglect, I was resembling Cousin It and my hair was splitting to worrying levels.  I had a vision in my mind which went something like this: invite mum’s visiting hair dresser over, position bubba with toys in front of me, she can watch mummy and play, I can drink tea and gossip with said hair dresser whilst she cuts and colours away (all for the bargain price of £25 bless her) and I can enjoy my treat in the comfort of my own home without worrying about a babysitter.

Oh how wrong can you be!!  Within minutes of my hairdresser arriving, munchkin had tipped over her bag and started stealing combs, clips and brushes.  So we put the bag on the table.  I get out her toys.  She plays and my hairdresser starts snipping.  But oh no, the toys are no longer of interest.  Now she wants to pull the grill tray out, push the ignition on the cooker and turn the gas dial around like she’s watched mummy do.  And now she wants to hang off the bar on mummy’s running machine like a naughty monkey.  If I had a pound for the number of times my hairdressed had to stop whilst I removed little miss from getting up to no good I’d be a rich woman.

The piece de la resistance was when the colour went on my hair.  It was supposed to stay in for 20 minutes.  My hair dresser had to leave to collect her kids from school.  Fine, I thought.  I paid and off she went.  Until a certain little person simultaneously did a poo and fell over and bumped her head.  Cue 10 minutes of crying and cuddles and then nappy changing from a mummy who now has a burning patch on her face where some dye desperately needs washing off and a wonky carrier bag on her head as it was the only thing she could find to protect little one from getting any dye on her. 

This all provided 10 minutes extra time for the dye to work its evil magic on my hair.  Iced chocolate the box said (i.e. mid brown).  It’s now veeeeeeery dark brown with almost a plum tinge.  It’ll wash out in due course.  Just like the spilt dye on the carpet when little miss decided to body slam my hairdressers’s legs at one point.

So next time, oh yes next time, will be at mum’s house.  With fingers malone being babysat in the lounge so I can try and enjoy my treat properly.  Bless her.  It is all said with a wry smile.  I wouldn’t change my inquisitive little poppet for the world. 

As for me, well my dull corporate office mousey brown haired girl image is now slightly, well, rock chick! I haven’t looked liks this in YEARS! Now, where’s my ACDC t-shirt and my skinny jeans (that Norovirus related weight loss couldn’t have been more well timed ha ha).

Parenting: I literally love my books

Munchkin and I have a bedtime routine where she picks the books, brings them over and snuggles on my lap with her milk and Pooh Bear, and we read.  Or rather I read, point things out, ask what this or that is and if she’s feeling brave she’ll volunteer the odd word.

For some considerable time now Munchkin has had no greater love than for Pooh Bear.  Pooh is her no. 1 love.  She adores him,  I don’t know when or how this started but one day she just decided that bear was going to get more love and kisses than any other cuddly and boy she doesn’t hold back.  So naturally one of her Pooh books usually features in our nighttime routine. 

Tonight she trumped all pre-existing levels of cuteness and affection towards her object of desire.  We got to the last page of the story, showing a picture of Pooh sat in bed (honey in a pot by his bed, naturally),  Munchkin leant forward, kissed the page and rested her head on it and said “aaaaaah”.  It’s enough that she’s now making connections with what she’s seeing in real life and what she’s seeing on the page.  To see her displaying such love is just beautiful.

Next, she slid off my lap, got another book and hoiked herself onto the arm chair in front of me.  She sat Pooh next to her, opened the book, showed it to him and babbled something incomprehensible.  To me, at least.  It was probably actually quantum physics.  Then she stopped, patted Pooh’s arm, and carried on turning the pages,  showing each to him.

Now I know kids go through the stage of copying what they see adults doing but this just melted my heart completely.  It spoke volumes to me (pardon the unintended book pun).  It suggested more than just copying, but that she understood and enjoyed our routine enough to want to repeat it in her own way with her beloved Pooh.  And in the process she made me a very proud mum indeed.

Cognitive restructuring / Reframing

Since splitting up with boyfriend I have decided to do a bit of a ‘life laundry’.  I’ve decided to focus on what improvements I can make to reduce the things the remain in my life that are any cause of stress.  The biggest issue is my poor relationship and inability to communicate effectively with my ex husband. 

I don’t know whether the strain of work, both my daughter and I being very ill with norovirus recently and the final break up with boyfriend have caused this.  However I’m just tired of fighting with my ex husband.  He continues to do battle with me in every way possible, dragging out the final filing of the consent order settling financial matters with amendment after amendment.  Now the clauses are finally agreed he’s now nit picking over the wording of the clauses. 

Naturally I find it hard to be anything other than cooly civil to him when he collects and drops off our daughter.  Yet continuing to be so angry with him and putting on that cool front, when I’m basically a warm, friendly and forgiving sort, is draining the life out of me.  Its taking huge energy and wearing me out.  I’ve had enough.  I want to rise above it.  So I finally decided to give myself permission to sort this out rather than rail against it.  As I always say to others, if you want more of the same, do more of the same.  If you want something different, change something.  If only I was good at it!

I happened today across a site talking about cognitive restructuring and the damaging thought patterns we get ourselves into.  I’ve been banging on to a friend lately about importance of giving himself permission to let go of some emotional pain he’s feeling.  Yet I don’t seem to be taking my own advice!

After a good bit of navel gazing I’ve realised that continuing to be so frosty with my ex husband it is my way of showing him that I will not ever forgive him for the way he treated me during our break up whilst I was pregnant.  I’ve got myself into a negative, destructive thought and behaviour pattern which goes something like, ‘if I’m polite to him then he’ll think he’s off the hook, that I’ve forgiven him, that somehow he’s got away with treating me like that and got off scott free’. 

This is clearly a breathtakingly dumb ass attitude now that finally, for whatever reason (and who knows why we have these epiphanies when we do) I’m able to take a step back.  No, I probably won’t ever forgive him for the way he treated me and risked my baby’s life by putting me under such unnecessarily cruel stress.  I now realise I can retain that lack of forgiveness and still move on and develop a positive relationship with him, on my side at least.

In conjunction with thinking this I was also pondering that if I let go of that thought process, what it would feel like to no longer have that tension when he collects and delivers my daughter?  The words and sentences that sprung to mind were telling:

  • Peaceful
  • Productive for our daughter
  • Laying the past to rest
  • Adult
  • Proud

I was starting to formulate these thoughts on Saturday night.  I did a test run on Sunday when my ex husband dropped my daughter off.  Instead of avoiding his gaze and talking to him through our daughter (i.e. “right, say goodbye to daddy” etc) I smiled at them both when I answered the door.  I asked if she’d been ok, which I don’t normally do.  He said fine.  I said goodbye directly to him and then got munchkin to say goodbye.  Instead of practically shutting the door in his face after those goodbyes I let her wave him off.

I can’t say it felt comfortable and I still had twinges of feeling like I was being a hypocrit.  However I know from previous experience that retraining your thoughts and behaviours takes practice.  It will feel uncomfortable for a while.  Sometimes I may regress but as long as I spot that and put it right asap it’s ok.  I’m not going to be too hard on myself.  I’m going to take it a little step at a time.  Eventually the awkwardness will pass and it will become more natural. 

The best bit though is that I’m doing what comes naturally to me – which is basically being nice.  I always says that being nasty or angry takes up huge amounts of energy but being nice is energising.  At least I’m starting to listen to myself!!

Mummy Blogging – why would you want to share your personal life online?

This was a comment made by a friend recently.  I blogged recently about setting up a single parent network at work and how my sharing information about myself in the email I’ve sent around to try and get members has provided an amazing response.  That’s why you share your personal life online.  Or certainly why I do it.  It’s partly because I want to try and help others.  If I put some of my learning out there then who knows, it might “do someone a turn” as my mum would say. 

Also it’s about building networks, making friends, meeting people in a similar situation.  You can’t do either without giving some information away to build your credibility, to show you are “in” the situation and not someone commenting off the top of your head.

There are risks though.  Anyone blogging about their personal life needs to be aware of the full potential impact of their actions.  I have shared facts, but very limited ones, about my divorce and what led to it, what I did in the aftermath to move on and learn to cope.  That’s perhaps more than I’ve needed to share but it’s an amount that I am comfortable with.  Giving some thought to what your comfort levels are is important.  It can be easy to get caught up in the emotion of a moment and write a post that you’ll later regret.  To that end I generally blog about a week in advance so I have the chance to revisit posts before they go live.  Just in case.

I am also quite ready to keep this blog under wraps from my daughter.  I have no aspirations nor the talent to become an uber blogger and so I don’t think this is unachievable.  Moderated comments also mean I can delete my name if any of my friends who occasionally visit the blog forget about my desire for anonymity and include it in a comment.

It’s also about talking to your nearest and dearest about what they are comfortable with.  My daughter is too young at a wee 19 months to have a ‘right of reply’ to anything I say.  My ex husband too has no knowledge of this and cannot respond to any comments I make either.  So I do limit what I say about them directly to the most minimum of facts I feel 1000% comfortable and confident making due to the fact they are, well, facts!  But also limited to what the minimum is I feel I need in order to tell my story and share my learnings authentically.

Despite my efforts to try and be as thoughtful as I could before doing all of this though, one person I didn’t check in with was my recent ex boyfriend.  I didn’t stop to consider whether he reads blogs, understands them or the varied and colourful motives of their authors.  I didn’t ask if he was comfortable with appearing on the blog in any form.  Inevitably this caused a few stressful conversations which I hold my hands up were totally my fault.  It’s easy to forget that not everyone inhabits the weird, wired and wonderful online world as much as some of us do.

We both sat down and had an honest, frank but direct conversation about what our worries and fears are.  I was defensive at first.  I’m enjoying this so much I didn’t want anything to threaten it.  But he explained he was a private person and didn’t want his metaphoricals pulled down in public as he learnt how to be in a relationship with a single parent.  We quickly agreed some ground rules.  He didn’t want to feature here.  I respect that totally and that won’t change now we’re apart. 

Acknowledgement to  Salvatore Vuono for use of the photo.


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