When the thought really doesn’t count

Chutney. That says it all.

My last relationship was nice while it lasted. Which I suppose is a good thing. But maybe I wasn’t really honest with myself about feelings I had along the way because I was so desperate for it to work and not have to ‘go back on the shelf’. The relationship finished 16 months ago, ended by me, and although we live in the same area, I rarely see him.

During the relationship, I liked to buy little things for the man. Nothing extravagant, but just little things which I knew he liked. Those words are important. For example, for his birthday, I had a picture printed of a number of photos we had taken on our first (and only) trip together. 

I didn’t do this because I expected something in return. I did it because I liked thinking of him and I wanted him to know that.

For Christmas, he was coming to join me and my 3 children on the evening of Christmas Day after his 12-hour shift had finished. It was a very big thing for me as it was the first time he had stayed here whilst the children were here. (We had actually spent very few entire nights together because of the children always being here, but had managed a couple of nights when they were away on holiday).

I had already given him his Christmas presents a couple of days before so that he would have something to open on Christmas morning before starting work at 6am.

Let’s just say that I wasn’t given a present when he arrived at the house. He came empty-handed. Nothing for me, nothing for the children, nothing to drink, no tin of biscuits or box of chocolates. I didn’t think toooo much of it because I was happy to see him, but the next day I felt a little unloved.

But not to worry, because a week later (yes, an entire week after Christmas) he turned up with 2 boxes of mince pies (which were leftovers from the homeless shelter where he volunteered – which were initially donations from a local company) and a box of chutneys which he had picked up from the local Christmas market.

I don’t disrespect chutney. But I also don’t eat chutney: never have and probably never will because it is too acidic for me. It did not show that he had given any thought to the only present he had ever bought me. I’m not even sure what the thought did show. I don’t think there was thought.

And for that reason, (not completely that reason, but it lead to the spiralling of thoughts which got me there) me and the man were no more. It really was that swift: I finished the relationship a week later.

What have I learnt from this post: if I (ever) date again, I would like someone to show that they actually know what I do (and don’t) like. Chutney: that says it all. 

 

Having a rant: their father

Setting the scene: lived as a single mum with 3 children for 8.5 years; children initially saw their father overnight once a week and every other weekend; time spent with him dwindled and now they see him for a maximum of 8 hours a fortnight – no overnight.

Nine days ago it was my youngest’s birthday (P). Thanks to her older sister (L), she didn’t receive a card which was addressed to her sister (L) rather than her (P). Because her father had mixed up the two birthdays (no excuses: one in May, one in July and the youngest’s middle name is May). Even though I believe that he had actually forgotten and it was only the prompt of a photo of a birthday cake which made him realise something was going on.

We rarely communicate any more by the way. Not because I chose it to be that way, but because he stopped replying to my texts and communicates directly with the chidlren.

I give credit to the older sister (L) at this stage because she was the bigger person: she put her sister’s feelings first when I was prepared to let him show himself as the selfish twat that he is. Immensely proud of her.

They have not seen their father for two weeks. He changed the visit day to today (Sunday) when it is normally Saturday, which means that he doesn’t see the youngest because she has gone to a party. No mention, of course, that he could pick her up when she’s finished and spend the rest of the day with her. I suggested to her that he might offer to come and take her out in the week as he hasn’t seen her for two weeks and didn’t see her for her birthday. We both laughed at the suggestion. I must also note here that he was actually away for a short break with his wife when it was the birthday. (The wife deserves at least one other post).

He was due to arrive at 10.30 (a novelty, as I usually drive part of the journey to drop them off), but there is a big show on in the county and he was stuck in traffic and consequently 30 minutes late. Also, 10.30 is half way through the morning – obviously no desire to get up and see the children he hasn’t spent time with for two weeks.

Middle child had spent an hour trying to decide what to wear so that he didn’t make a sarcastic comment about her outfit. Just an example of their relationship.

I’m now waiting to hear that my daughter will be dropped back early so that him and son can go and watch the football. If this happens (it often does), she will have spent about 3.5 hours with him.

Most of the time I deal with all of the bullshit that he brings to the situation, and I’ve learnt to no longer let it get to me. Life is too short. But sometimes, like today, it pisses me off. We have three AMAZING children (yes, we’re all baised when it comes to our children, but they are good kids) and he doesn’t want to spend time with them. He wonders why they don’t want to reply to his messages. He promised the youngest birthday money (both of the other two refer to it as guilt money when they found out how much) but then didn’t deliver for nearly a week because he’d (allegedly) put in the wrong account number.

He is missing out on their life and they are not making happy memories with him. All of the good memories that they make are with me (and yes, they will have some not-so-good memories with me too – we’re not perfect!!). They preferred a week away in a cottage in the middle of a forest in mid-Wales with me and the dogs, to a week away with him in a villa in Spain. How much does that say??

Just to finish. I have never slagged the man off to the children and I have never tried to dissuade them from seeing him. I have always tried to make them see that he loves them and that he wants to spend time with them. But I’m working with less and less proof these days. As they grow into intelligent and observant young adults, they see just what sort of a person he is, and they are starting to feel all of the kind of emotions I felt which lead to me leaving him. I no longer sing his praises (although I probably never went that far!!) but I also no longer try to turn his bullshit into a positive. I tell it like it is, because I don’t want them to grow up thinking that the way he behaves is normal and acceptable.

What have I learnt whilst writing this post? Well, I’ve learnt that I’m a lot calmer now just from typing. That my children grow up knowing who they can depend on and that I will always put them first. And, that those happy memories will continue to grow.

My perfect start to the day

Five years ago, my perfect start to the day (I’m talking week-end here) looked a little different to what it does now. It would probably have been when my three children were staying at their dad’s and would have meant that I could stay in bed with a cup of tea, have my breakfast in bed and just take the day at a very slow pace. The curtains would probably have been closed and I wouldn’t have a clue what the world was looking like. I may even have been hungover.

My children no longer stay at their dad’s and haven’t for two years now. But they are all getting older and like to sleep in the mornings. Sometimes, however, my greyhound doesn’t like to sleep past 6.30am and sometimes, like today, my mind wakes me up at 6 o’clock thinking about a presentation I have to give next week.

So my perfect morning today looks like this: I’m sat in my living room with a lovely, strong and hot cup of tea; greyhound is heavy breathing over on the other sofa; my curtains are open and I can see a beautiful blue sky; despite the doors being closed, I can still hear bird song because the rest of the house is so still; and I can see a part of my developing garden: herbs, strawberry plants (not quite there, but hopefully will bear fruit), clematis, jasmine, a new patio and the fence panels I (lovingly) painted. It makes it all feel like it’s going to be a good day.

My point of the post is this: I have turned the negative of getting up early into a positive by sitting and appreciating the world around me. It is calming my mind. It is putting my head in a good space for the day. Sometimes, life is so busy that we forget to stop and ‘just be’.

What is your perfect start to the day?

Loneliness

So I’m currently feeling my cyclical period of loneliness. (I’m not actually sure what the cycle is, whether it’s attached to hormones, whether it’s just one of those things, whether it is something which happens when I have a little more thinking time to deal with.)

Background: split up from the husband in 2010 after being together for 14 years and married for 9 of those. Since 2010 I’ve had two what-can-technically-be-called-relationships: one of three months (6 years ago), and one of eight months (15 months ago). My family lives a 30-minute drive away and that suits me, most of the time. And I live with my 3 children: 2 teenagers and 1 almost-teenager.

Yesterday the feeling crept up on me and made me crave adult company.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel loneliness like I imagine somebody does who is housebound and receives no visitors. Or somebody whose life-long partner has died and they are faced with the world on their own for the first time in what may feel like forever.

Having the two relationships since the ex-husband, plus other ‘dalliances’ in the earlier days of being single, I have realised that I missed out on quite a lot while I was married. I was not married to somebody who I really shared a lot with. He wasn’t a particularly caring man – not with me nor the children. There was plenty wrong with the marriage, (but I’m sure that’s for another time). But having met ‘nice’ men since then (for nice read interesting, passionate, considerate, open-minded, non-judgemental etc.), I know how quickly time can pass just talking, sharing life stories, discussing the day and being honest about emotions.

So right now I am just missing having somebody to go for a coffee and a natter with. I’m not talking about getting into a relationship, I’m really not after that. I just mean male company to while away a couple of hours. It’s a different sort of companionship to being with a female friend.

I’m back to work and study tomorrow…so I’m sure the problem will right itself very soon….

When in need of a laugh….

There have been times lately when I’ve really needed something to lift my mood. Sometimes I haven’t even realised it, until I clicked through to one of the profiles I follow on Instagram and then spent a while (far too long a while when I’m trying to be productive) laughing my way through clips. The profile? @ThisMorning and any of the clips with @Schofe and @hollywilloughby or @alisonhammond55. I defy anyone to listen to Alison’s laugh and not feel their mood lift (it also helps that she reminds me of one of my oldest friends).

The other mood lifter is the recently discovered podcast of Chris and Rosie Ramsay ‘Sh**gged Married Annoyed’. Pure class and results in me having a very smiley-faced dog walk. And probably a number of people wondering wtf I’m smiling at!

Growing green fingers

If someone had told me a year ago that I would actually care about what happens in my garden, let alone be actively planning how it can develop, I’d have laughed in their face and probably told them where to get off! But now it gives me increasing pleasure and I find myself chuckling away as I walk the dogs whilst gawping into people’s gardens, admiring what they have, sometimes even being able to recognise a plant that I have…or that I wish I could have. Who’d have thought?!

I think I will credit this new-found love to my lovely Aldi check-out lady, who was complaining last summer about how she needed to sort out the weeds in her garden (the rude part of my brain can easily find some sort of innuendo in that phrase). I immediately thought that she was a bit mad, but that then triggered something in my brain which made me actually go and look at my garden and realise what a mess it was.

Fast forward to today. Since July last year, I have: cleared the bottom fifth of my garden which was completely covered in things (aka plants, shrubs, herbs, roses); had a falling-down shed removed; painted and put up a new shed; painted many, many fence panels; planted many, many plants; mowed the lawn many, many times. And, surprisingly, nothing has died. Yet.

Maybe this is what middle age is all about. Or maybe it’s one of the ways that I’m finding to help calm my brain when it’s going into stress/anxiety/meltdown phases. And on top of all of this, as well as being proud of myself, my children are proud of me and of the garden. It’s got to mean something when my 15-year old son tells me it looks amazing!

Be still my bleeding hearts….


Status

I married in 2001, when I was 26. It wasn’t a particularly joyous occasion; I think now that I may have chosen to get married abroad because I didn’t want people to actually witness me making such a monumental mistake. However, it happened and it led to me ticking the ‘married’ section on forms, drop-down sections etc. until 2010, when I decided I couldn’t be seen as part of that couple any more.

In actual fact, I was still married for another 2 years, but completely and utterly considered myself as only-officially-married-on-paper. Now though, I tick the ‘divorced’ box. I know some people who see the fact that they are divorced as being a failure, but I can honestly say I’ve not once regretted the decision to call time on a very controlling and unhappy relationship. Anyway, I digress. My pondering is really about what those different boxes mean to us all. Does our status define us, or do we define others by how they decide to ‘label’ themselves?

Would it make a difference in my foggy little brain if I actually ticked the single box rather than the divorced? Does it make a difference when you’re filling out details for an insurance quote? Or for a bank account? (I think you have to complete that for an account – maybe I’m wrong). What about for a job interview? What difference does it really make? If we’re being technical, I’m divorced and single. I’m not divorced and desperate. I’m not single and slutty. I’m me….sometimes up, sometimes down but regularly going round and round. I’m happy to be divorced; I’m not always happy to be single. But then I think about all of the freedom that I would miss if I were no longer single, and that is enough of a jolt to make me appreciate everything I have.

So. Status. How about ‘currently content with life’?

Thoughts??