Thursday, October 08, 2015

October already

I've had a lot of time at home recently and I've been so lucky that, until this week, the weather's been beautiful. And then today, again, the rain stopped and I got out into the garden to do the rest of the jobs that were on my to do list - things to keep myself busy.

It's been wonderful to have this time. I am trying hard to practise gratefulness and live in the moment. So today, after 'chopping' some things in the garden, I took some time to sit down with a mug of tea and a magazine outside in the sun. In the shade it was chilly but the sun still has some strength and I basked in its rays. In the field, behind the house, I can hear the starlings; they gather this time of year after feasting on the Rowan berries and sit in groups and on the electric wires and 'chirrup' softly. It's a beautiful noise, gentle and low, like they're whispering 'sweet nothings' to each other. I remember the noise from childhood, I can't remember where I would have been, maybe my granny's garden, but it sooths me and makes me grateful to be alive.

I sit for a while and listen to their music. I drink the cold water that I have as well as my tea, it tastes cold and clean and fresh and I am so very grateful to be drinking it now, when it's hot and I have the head space to appreciate it.

I am keeping busy but time has slowed a little. I'm trying to make the most of it and be thankful. It seems to be working.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Honestly, you couldn't make this stuff up!

'Jonathan has a new girlfriend' Says Tall Girl to Mum, making conversation 'she comes from Catalonia' she continues
'Oh' says Mum 'What colour is she?'
'What?' I shout dismayed
'Well I'm not sure where Catalonia is' Mum replied without flinching

When we're home I recount the tale to Small Sprog who is disgusted with grannies apparent racism. He's not the only one!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What Luverly Curls!

Small Sprog has been off school - he does a good 'dying duck' act and I'm never sure how ill he really is! Anyway, after 4 days off with a weekend in between I decide enough's enough and make a doctors appointment for him. In the car he suddenly looks a lot better- after a short talk - can you actually look ill because I've blagged my way into a same day appointment- we arrive.

We are 3 minutes late so the automatic, germ infested, self signer- inner directs us to a human being on reception- a very nice older lady - who can book us in. "Name?" She enquired "Small Sprog" I say as suddenly she looks up from her screen and sees him for the first time; "Ooo what lovely hair" she exclaims "people would die for those curls!" He shuffles a bit and looks at his feet as she continues " If only my hair was like that"

We walk into the waiting room and sit down. Small Sprog hates the waiting room. He hates the doctors and has a mortal fear of needles and health related implements. He fidgets uncomfortably.

For once the room is not packed with bodies, just a few older ladies who all seem to know each other. They home in on Small Sprog...

"Ooo 'asn't 'e got luverly 'air" says one

"Beautiful" says another

"So much off it" interjects the third

"And so curly"

They talk about him like he's not in the room as Small Sprog gets smaller and smaller, shrinking into his seat. "Can we go now?" he stage whispers whilst smiling politely at them. He learned to smile sweetly at a very young age- it always works wonders and invariably gets him out of most sticky situations- unfortunately a grin at this instant wasn't one of those situations!

"And what luverly teeth!" One of them continues

"Ooo 'e's lucky 'e is!"

" 'e reminds me of that pop star"

"Oh yes " says the other "Marc somebody?"

"Bowland" I say helpfully

"That's the one, spitting image ..."

Oh no, I think to myself, please don't try to hug him or pet him or anything because I think he will just combust!

"Such lovely weather we're having" I interject, trying to divert their attention.

"Oh yes" they all nod as the doctor appears at the waiting room door. He rockets out of his seat so fast it's hard to catch him- I don't think he's ever been so keen to see a doctor in his whole life!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Knickers or no knickers? Definitely knickers is the answer!

I went to see Mum in hospital today. I have to say she's looking much brighter and the anaesthetic seems to be almost out of her system. Last Friday watching her was quite disturbing. It was as though someone kept pressing the 'standby' button on a remote control somewhere; every now and then she'd 'power down' for a few seconds, close her eyes and seemingly go to sleep, then wake again with very little idea of what had just been said. She was on Morphine too, which possibly didn't help and something was making her sick.

Roll forward a few days and she's much more like herself. They have her out of bed now and she's sitting in a chair with her legs up. This, to me, looks much like the position she is in in bed but there you go, I'm no nurse, and it's given her something to think about.

As I approach she says she didn't know I was coming - she had forgotten - and she looked as if she didn't have her bottom teeth in. In fact I'm sure of it, though she did have some lipstick remains. She was wearing a fairly short nightie and had an icepack on her knee.

'Dad's taken my washing' she stated
'You said he didn't know how to work the machine' I replied. (How could a man of 81 who is pretty handy at mending most things not be able to work a washing machine?)
'Well I think he did'
'I'll have a look' - she had forgotten that I offered to take her washing home with me- 'Here it is' I say, brandishing a clear plastic bag containing another nighty 'is that it?'
'Oh yes' she says proudly 'I'm still not wearing any knickers!'
'Well, mum, they are very short nightie's and I really think you should wear some' I say, having been facing her -  chair to chair for a while!
'We're all girls in here you know' she shouts blithely, as I insist 'I still think you should start wearing knickers'
In contrast I am wearing, what I hope is, a stern look!

Please can I grow old gracefully Lord?!

Monday, September 14, 2015


How long should I expect my mother to 'mother'? Am I being unreasonable? I mean, should mothers give up when you get married, have children, buy your own house? I don't know the answer.

Having been though counselling as part of my year long counselling course she has been the topic of a few sessions - apparently that's common, we mothers are tricky beings who mess up their kids lives, some of us even unintentionally.

So I am wiser than I was this time last year. I know why I feel abandoned when she doesn't listen, dismisses what's going on in my life, can only see things from her point of view and when she seems to be the centre of her own universe. Funny that last one; as an only child I thought that was my perogative! 

I rang her tonight. I have something big and not at all good going on in my life ( thankfully not health related - more work orientated) which I've not told her yet as I wanted to see her face to face to tell her but seeing as I've also had food poisoning, so I'm feeling pretty rubbish and haven't made it over for a visit I decided not to tell her on the phone. But she asks a question to which I had to answer " I think it's better if I tell you when I see you" - it was water off a ducks back, she picked nothing up - like she didn't really hear ( I wanted some small concern at least- if she'd pushed me I'd have told her anyway as I'm so upset about it) and she continued to regale me with tales of woe about getting to grips with her new phone! It's all about her I thought - unfairly perhaps?

She's booked in for a knee replacement on Thursday, which has been postponed several times, I know she's in a state about going in to hospital but as it's been on the cards for so long now it's made her wish it was all over and that seems to be a good thing as 'getting it over with' is superseding the panic about dying in hospital! I wanted to see her before she went in but in case I'm contagious ( could be a bug) she's cancelled my visit.

Over the months I've tried to reassure her about the op, I've done my best, I've given advice - adamantly rejected, and tried to suggest how to relax -'don't tell me what to do' responses. So I'm definitely done with mothering her! But is it so wrong to want her to ask about me, care about me and see I have stuff going on too? For goodness sake we all have 'stuff' going on! And even though I know why I feel abandoned when she doesn't listen to what I say, it still hurts and I'm left with that feeling for a long time.

And even as I write this I remember no one is immortal ...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


"What would happen if this finger was cut off?" Says Tall Girl pointing to her wedding ring finger. I give her the sort of look I would have given Small Sprog if he had asked me the same question - which, to be honest, would have been more likely!
"Or your whole arm?"  (I roll my eyes out loud!)  "How would people tell you're engaged?"

She's referring to my recent 'news'. I was romantically proposed to 2 weeks ago under the stars in Portugal. I have a ring on my finger - I can hardly believe it and I'm ridiculously excited. The children - we have 5 between us - are all happy and seem to have already formed good bonds between each other. I could not ask for more. 

In my head it's been on the cards for a while and he - shall we call him Big A - says he's been going to ask for ages but couldn't quite get up the courage. I have to say, before we traveled at the beginning of August, I had the thought that if he didn't ask me this week then he'd never ask me! So I didn't have to think about it when it happened I had already made up my mind. There was a point in recent times when I couldn't imagine giving up my independence for anyone but now, I have barely given it a second thought.

There are some things that feel 'just right' when you come across them in life and since we met it has felt this way. We have loads of plans to make but nothing is clear yet. This weekend the children  (can you call them that when they are all over 15 - more than 3 are adults?!) and us are having a planning meeting. This could well be dangerous! In the end I'd marry him in Asda car park tomorrow - there is no need for anything big but it could easily get out of hand...Watch this space!

What's your news from the summer?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In which Small Sprog goes dress shopping

'I'm meeting friends' he says nonchalantly 'can you give me a lift to town - we're going dress shopping' he throws in as he wanders off up the hall.
'Hang on a minute' I call as he disappears ' you don't like shopping - and' I suddenly thought ' I've never seen you in a dress!' though to be honest, nothing would shock me with that boy!

Later it transpires that he's meeting two girls from his group of friends. 'But you hate shopping' whine Tall Girl and myself churlishly in the car on the way into town, 'you never go shopping with us' - our voices all hurt.
He smiles his winning smile and waltzes off into Broadmead without a care in the world.

Give it half an hour, I think to myself, and he'll be calling up for a lift home again. But no; three hours later I get a call, can you come and pick us all up and can the girls come back to our house.

By Sunday he was complaining that his arms ached. 'What have you been doing?' I asked suspiciously.
'I carried all the bags' he bleated. Oh bless him, so chivalrous.
It turns out he spent the whole three hours in Primark - I think he needs a medal for that alone - and some of that was in the bra department. He goes on to recite to me how womens bra sizes work - how he thought I had got through my life not knowing this is anyones guess but I play along and off he goes with the whole messy business.. 'Well they start at triple A and then go to double A and then just A and...' His sister walks through the door..
'That's batteries isn't it?'! she asks
Sometimes I just have to keep calm and carry on!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Just a normal Monday in suburbia!

So, we are sitting at the dinner table, we are half way through our meal and the previous conversation has come to a natural end when Small Sprog pipes up 'Can I have a duckling?' Tall Girl and I cast a glance towards each other and, gently spluttering, I try not decorate the dining table with the meatballs which I am suddenly unable to swallow! I remind him that only last week he wanted a puffer fish; I sent him away to do research. After that he wanted a bearded dragon - this was a definite 'no' as I had a sudden vision of it scampering across my bed in the middle of the night; then he wanted a gecko -these are cute but I reminded him that the cat would probably eat it as much as look at it and so we came to an impasse.

Right now we are all in the sitting room; Small Sprog is shooting things on his Xbox (sound turned down, phew), Tall Girl is making the final touches to her Art coursework. We have worked our way through some musical greats on youtube - things that I am surprised they know all the words to - and whilst singing along, very loudly, Small Sprog breaks off on occasion to shout at an alien or two. I wonder if this is normal? I have to admit that, despite the noise, I'd rather we were all in one room than dispersed in separate rooms on different screens.

Small Sprog had a panic attack last week. It brought back horrible memories (probably for both of us) and though I am not one for praying, I think I may have sent out a little wish that it was a one off and not the onset of his full on anxiety.

I think our weekend went well towards putting an end to his distress. We spent Friday night with my partner and his 2 youngest. The children, actually I should say young people, (and I cross my fingers whilst writing this) get along like they've known each other for years, they didn't really need us adults around!

I'm still not sure how the last year has worked - I feel like it's too good to be true and that it will all be taken from me in a moment and that that moment is only around the corner. Weird how we sometimes can't let ourselves be happy - do you do that too?

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

School holidays - sometimes things don't change...

...which is lovely and reassuring.

We decided not to go anywhere in the holidays, partly because Small Sprog won't fly and partly because I don't have any spare cash! I'm glad we didn't go anywhere in the uk - which would have been our only option - as the weather's been rubbish. So here we are at home, and although not very exciting it has been like going back years.

Tall Girl and I used to cook and bake together in the long school holidays. They always felt long back then because I was with them all the time and often their dad worked for a good bit of it, so it was me and them - comfy and easy together.

So yesterday, when I baked the second sticky toffee pudding of the week, a vivid memory came to mind of cooking, all those years ago, with Tall Girl when she wasn't so tall. I distinctly remember her standing on a small stool, siring the pan of hot, sticky caramel on the stove top, a little cautious because she's scared of hot things - it only feels like yesterday. And now, today, we cooked together - it's hard to admit but she is taller than me and she bakes a mean scone! It felt restorative, happy, comfortable, right and so good I want to cry. I'm so very grateful to have her still here with me, she has grown beautiful and we rub along well together.

We have shared so much. We are close. I have always thought that from the day she was born it was like an invisible bit of elastic held us together. She never got lost, she was too scared to venture very far, and sometimes I found this hard. I am older now and maybe wiser and I treasure every moment - perhaps it is because I can see the end? So when we were looking at baby photos the other night together, I realised that I don't think I loved her enough when she was little. I had post natal depression but I'm not sure it was all to do with that - I was not a natural mother. I loved her, very much but I was too busy and maybe not entirely happy. But now, especially now, I am getting to know her as an adult. I like what I have met, a different person to what I expected to come out of that small and scared little thing and I love her with all my heart.

So do I have enough love for another few children in the mix? If things go to plan - and who knows? - there will be another 3 in the mix, albeit one who is too old to live at home.

On Monday I was with Tall Girl and Gee, my partners eldest, having our nails done as a treat for his birthday! "I thought I'd hate you!" She told me
"I thought you'd hate me too" I said
we laughed together and the nice lady in the nail bar couldn't believe - when my partner and son appeared - that we weren't already a family. Later the youngest turned up - just 15 - with her cousin and so we were 7 for lunch. She was right the nail bar lady- it did feel very much like we were already a family, and a happy one at that.

I'm pretty sure I have enough love left - I am blessed

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Here again so soon?

Tonight I should be writing my 'learning journal' - yep, homework from my counseling course - every week I have to journal about the day, it is, perhaps, the reason why I don't write here very much any more and, like this blog, it shows huge personal growth since September when I started it.

I look back - a bit of a speciality of mine(!) - and realise how far I have come in 12 months - more so since September, but perhaps it all started with the short course I enrolled on last April?

It's been a huge emotional roller coaster of a ride, and though I think I'm through the worst now I often get a little tearful during the sessions and a bit more of me is revealed, raw and hurting, bits I have kept for some time.

Yet we all have these bits and the wonderful journey that I have travelled has helped me recognise and acknowledge them and begin, only just begin, to move on. So although I've been learning about counselling others, I have learnt far more about myself - but that is to be expected from these sorts of courses, or so I've been told.

I look back now with self knowledge that has been hard fought for and wonder if I'd have made different choices if I'd been aware - in the past - of what drives me? But in the same instant I am grateful for constantly moving forward and I have no regrets - how lucky is that?!

So the household carries on in its shambolic fashion; Tall Girl has around 40 days left of her education and has stalled a little. 14 years of hating school; getting her through the last few days is proving a challenge!

Small Sprog is upstairs in his room, on Skype, or something similar, singing to a load of girls from who knows where? I can hear him, his rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody left a lot to be desired! As he screams to a halt somewhere around the Beelzebub bit I shout up the stairs for him to stop before he wakes the baby two doors down - he has a lovely voice but his pub singer impression is not his finest moment. It's taken him 2 hours to do his math homework in all the chaos that is his room, somehow he seems to be doing well at school!

The cat is still with us, in body if not in mind - he has dementia and mostly is quite lost but we do our best and he hangs on determinedly to this life rather than moving on to the next with dignity.

And on we go, rubbing along together, life is good, really very good in fact and time is precious; my babies are not babies anymore but beautiful big bright beings who light up my life and make me a lot of work all at the same time. Here we are, 5 years in, we have found our normality and it's better than I imagined.

Today I am grateful

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Looking forward and not back

The future, such a slippery thing yet, it continues to flow undisturbed through time and with it we flow too, not knowing what it holds. We have hope and dreams, sometimes, and sometimes we are so afraid to voice them, even to ourselves, that we appear to chose unconsciously; or do you believe in fate?

But once the goal is named, how I want to race towards it at full speed; reckless, or so I'm told. But somethings have to wait and in the meantime I worry that the goal may never be reached - apocalyptic scenarios play in my head and separate me from the final point - though that point in itself is a new beginning. I am working towards positive thinking, it doesn't come easy but we are all making plans and slowly, very, very slowly (I hope - for I still cannot write this with entire certainty in case it some how it puts a curse on the future) as we make tentative plans, everything slowly becomes to feel a tiny bit more possible. All it takes is trust and a willingness to be vulnerable.

If things go to plan it may be the escape from suburbia I have always dreamed of since writing here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas Bloggy mates!

I don't think I've ever managed to post on Christmas Day but that's probably got something to do with never having spent Christmas Day alone before!

It was a challenge. At first, a few months ago, I was devastated at the prospect of not being with the children for Christmas. However I have pulled myself together and got over it! I had invites, but decided to 'sit it out' here, just me and the cat. It felt like a sort of a challenge that had to be met.

My best friend wrote to me earlier this week and said I could turn up any time to join her and her huge family Christmas, she knows me well and knew better than I did the potential for negative thoughts to pervade the day.

However, I am proud and pleased to say I have had a wonderful day alone- well almost -the cat left a parcel of vomit under the kitchen table for me - so good of him to share - and then off we went into the day! It's not been very Christmassy but then I have done that twice already this week, once with mum yesterday - usual routine - and also Monday with the children - a new event but felt like Christmas Day and we had a brilliant time. And then yesterday I spent with a new family, how odd life can be.

So now I know why I had be here alone. I had to prove to myself that I could. No negative thoughts have penetrated my internal well being and peace, I needed this, I can do it and it's great. I was going to write that I don't know how I found the strength but perhaps that's not really true. I have been taking a counselling certificate course since September. It has been an amazing journey - a huge emotional rollercoaster, but an extraordinary journey all the same and it has given me the strenght I think, to know myself and to at last be peaceful.

This year has been amazing. Most of it, sadly, not documented here but the growth and change have been enormous - the last leg of the journey that I started when I left the family home - metamorphosis complete? No, just a bit more of the exciting journey travelled.

I am so very grateful for the strength to keep forging forwards. I am grateful for the love of close ones. For the amazing opportunities I have had this year and grabbed with both hands - things that this time last year, I had never dreamed of.

And this is why life is such an amazing adventure, you never know what is around the corner, and although it could be good or bad - the best bit is the living. While writing here I looked up a few dates, it was here that I started this road to change. It felt right then and it still feels right now - no matter that the children are with their dad and I am alone, regrets - absolutely none. Prospects -huge. Peace and fulfilment - abundant for now. And a partner - yes of course, who'd have thought it?

Merry Christmas 
Who did you spend yours with?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The definition of 'fit'!

Sitting at the dinner table - our usual place for interesting discussion, I revel in our evenings together, we laugh lots, and as usual Small Sprog was outnumbered by females but valiantly held his own. Tall Girl, who just turned 18 last weekend, is still lamenting the lack of a man in her life. "What's your definition of fit?" she asks me. I presume, correctly, that she is not referring to being able to climb the stairs without getting out of breath and decline to reply because at my age frankly you take whatever comes your way!
"All my friends want someone with big 'abs' she says disparaging!"
"I've got a friend with wonky abs" pipes up Small Sprog Tall Girl and I look at him in surprise, mouths open, and then realise we had both pre-empted his sentence and imagined something other than 'abs'. He realises, tuts, sighs and rolls his eyes.
"Anyway" continues Tall Girl "If he's 'fit' or not, he's got to be ginger!"
"Ginger?" I express my disbelief
"But all I really want" she continues "is a boy who uses the shower often and engages with soap daily"
 Small Sprog, who obviously judges others by his own actions, mutters "That's never gonna happen!" before turning to more interesting things on youtube, whilst I am left agreeing that all that is required is regular washing and, at my age, any colour hair is preferable to none and beards are definitely non negotiable!
Just another evening with teens in suburbia.

Been away a while - good to be back...

Friday, October 03, 2014

I guess it was bound to happen?

So, it's September, no October already and as usual everyone starts to look towards December and Christmas. Mum is usually the first person to mention it, in fact I think she's already into countdown mode, but generally I try to avoid it for as long as possible, particularly as Tall Girl insists on making her birthday a priority (November birthday). But something has been looming, for a while now, always in the back of my mind and usually brushed away instantly but actually, at some point, it was bound to happen.

This will be the 6th Christmas since the break up of the family, it seems even longer than that. The children always chose to be with me at Christmas as their dad 'didn't do Christmas' in fact he tended to go into decline around Tall Girls birthday and surface sometime after Boxing day. I remember, once, bringing the kids home from school on a Friday, before Tall Girls birthday weekend, only to find him in bed and having a panic attack. It's the loneliest time of the year to deal with kids and be jolly when your other half is in a deep depression.

Some of it is probably documented here, the lack of interest in festivities, I'm sure I wrote about it once. And now, it seems like a million miles away.

So, I guess that is how it is for the children, a very, very distant memory. They have forgotten why they always chose to have Christmas here, they have forgotten that it was me who made Christmas for them, they have even forgotten how he has stopped buying a tree recently, even though they are there before and shortly after Christmas.

Tonight, Ex Husband came to pick them up, we had the talk - about Christmas. He has spoken to them and they are willing. For them it makes it fair if they share themselves about - I know that, I get that. Maybe he'll make a big effort. I've thought about this happening a lot. It's selfish if me to always have them, how would I feel if I was him? And besides, he has family who live by the sea, he has taken to going down there over the last few years, the children could have a lovely time being by the sea for the Christmas holidays and with several generations of family too.
"What are your plans?" I asked him as he left with them
"I thought we'd stay at home" he said "I spend so much time travelling around, I'd rather not drive anywhere"
And so we have it. My children will be staying at their fathers this Christmas, who doesn't (but hopefully now does) do Christmas and who is too selfish to think about taking them somewhere to celebrate with family.

As he left Small Sprog said "I don't mind where I spend Christmas, as long as I'm still alive"! I don't know what his plans are for the next few months but I sincerely hope he's still with us! However, after he'd gone, I felt incredibly sad... So easily they turn away, without a thought - that's where the pain lies.