Almost daily diary!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Always expect the unexpected!

Always expect the unexpected, especially at this time of year. There is something very annoying about New Year, and it's not just the way that the TV programmes are the same every single year for eternity, though that goes some way to explaining it, no its more than that. It is expectation.

Two years ago I had a friend and her family around for a meal, but ended up walking the streets with her, close to midnight, listening to her marriage problems. I expected an uncomplicated evening with food and friendship but got very cold and missed saying Happy New Year to my children.

This year I will miss them too, they are with their dad having a party at the nit children's house. Who'd have thought my lovely children would be out partying all night at barely 14 and 10 whilst I am in bed blogging and having a virtual blog party by myself?!

I've enjoyed visiting you all tonight and leaving my best wishes. I didn't bring the lump of coal because it was making a mess of my keyboard, however I would have loved to have partied with you all and maybe had a drink or two of something nice and sparkly over at yours. However, things are never as you expect and so tonight I think I'll just toddle off and have an almost early night.

See you all next year (at least I'll wake up without a hangover in 2011!)

HAPPY 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Looking back, looking forward...

Last Christmas was not one of the best in the world, it was the culmination of a whole year of living in the same house but apart. It was hard, a strain, but it happened none the less and we all survived it. A whole year ago. I keep getting flash backs of it. My world was much smaller then and I spent a lot of time in my room. I can remember wondering, where I would be and what I would be doing at Christmas and New Year the following year, for these are our markers in time. And all of a sudden, here I am, here we are.

Are we nearly 'there' yet? Well almost, not quite but almost. The next three months will be a challenge but I have plans and I can see them more clearly now. 

Two years ago, when I suddenly knew what had to be done, it seemed such a massive task. There are 2 things that I remember from back then. The first is the feeling of being immersed in my work one day therefore forgetting about the massive thing I was about to do, and then coming out of work and the whole enormity of it hitting me, almost physically, with a stomach wrenching terror. The second thing is Small Sprogs smile. 

He always smiled, and I imagined how, once I started to put my plans into motion, his smile might disappear forever. I still worry about his smile... 

However I have faired well so far, fingers crossed. We are very very lucky. I followed my plan, and it's worked out better than I could have imagined. And as for Small Sprog, he couldn't wait for Christmas, he bounced with excitement and he is still smiling, a lot.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas 'grateful' list

Things I am enjoying about this time of year:

Icicles and the fun of watching them grow!

The biggest window on the advent calendar, I can still feel the excitement and anticipation of wanting to see what's inside as if I was small again.

Looking back at the good things that have happened this year.

The luxury and good fortune of pottering in the kitchen, making Christmas food that we don't really need but is fun to make.

Turkish Delight, the box of it beckoning from the side table in the sitting room! Small Sprog has some now, he is lying prostrate on the fur throw on the old sofa, Turkish Delight held high, before liking off all the icing sugar and then devouring it. Decadence indeed!

Feeling the stress of work wash slowly away.

Close friends and loved ones, spending happy times together. There's nothing like joint celebrations to bring everyone together. I loved my present wrapping evening with my girl friends, which turned into a very late night!

Watching Small Sprog on his home made sledge whizz dangerously about screaming, or is it me screaming?

Planning! There's nothing like having a project and a list!

The hope that this time of year brings, not just for what is under the tree but for the coming year ahead.

The excitement of children. My lovely children, sometimes I feel as though my heart will burst. At others I feel the normal things like 'Oh for goodness sake!'

Not being at work. Waking in the morning with out having to set the alarm.

The bliss of sitting in bed, radio on and a large cup of steaming tea on the bedside table.

Simple pleasures all. I am content and making the most of the next 48 hours before my children go away...
Merry Christmas
I know this time of year can be sometimes far from perfect, take heart in
 the fact that things never stay the same forever.

 May all your hopes come true.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Another email from Mum

It has been hazardous pavement wise in Cheltenham. Mum likes to walk the dog regularly, though I'm sure the ancient animal would prefer to stay at home! Anyway, here is Mums solution to slippery, accident inducing pavements; dog walking....inside! Here is her description:

'Not walked Jassy, don't want a broken leg for Christmas so ...........don't laugh !  I put her on her lead and walk 50 circuits round the bungalow, through the lounge, down the hall, through the kitchen and into the dining room . After 25 circuits I let her out in the garden and she dutifully does a poo and a wee and then we continue on our way. She is very good. She must have some exercise or her muscle tone in her back legs will deteriorate....she has to be helped in to the car now. And it's also good for me too! ! It takes just over 20 mins! ! 

I screamed with laughter at the thought, and the mental picture, of them both doing circuits of the house on the inside! It's only an average sized Bungalow. Whatever next?!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It must be nearly Christmas!

Tall Girl came home from school on the bus tonight. She has been at her Dads over the last few nights, so I was really looking forward to seeing her. She knocked on the door, rather than using her key, so I galloped down the hall, towards the door, in a rather undignified and excitable fashion! (I have to admit to being quite excited about Christmas this year) I opened the door with a big grin and saw... A grumpy Teenager!

All my hopes were dashed, words spilled out of her mouth and tears fell from her eyes. "My breathing's bad, I feel sick- I went to the nurse and she wouldn't send me home - told me to have a drink- and a net ball hit me on the head- it really hurt-and I felt all shivery - didn't eat my dinner..." etc etc etc and this is all before crossing the threshold! I sigh. My hypochondriac daughter. There was I thinking all was right with the world.

I let her in and feel her brow, no temperature. I sit her down and give her a drink and something to eat. We talk. She tells it all to me over again, but more coherently. I listen and nod. She worries a lot. She worries about worrying. These symptoms, apart from a netball landing on her head, are a regular occurrence when she is in this state of mind and the more she worries the worse the symptoms get. Even the school nurse is getting wise to her, which is thankful because I used to get a lot of calls to go and pick her up when there was nothing really wrong.

We talk about more ranging subjects. I sit a large packet of Tortilla chips beside her and she digs in. The worry subsides, the symptoms go. She is herself again, for now. I breath a sigh of relief.

She talks about spending New Year with her Dad, and how they have so much to do, he may not be able to take her to her regular physio appointment. She needs to attend her regular appointment. 'I'm really looking forward to New Year' She says, calmer now. And as I listen to these words I am telling myself that that does not mean she is not looking forward to Christmas with me. Does it? It is just words. I hope. I know that she is stressing about Christmas and how it will be different this year. She is the negative to my positive. I feel drained.

Small Sprog, on the other hand is a boy. He is not yet a teen and things seem very simple in comparison. Tonight he has a friend home from school. I have just been into the sitting room to see what they're up to. They have the bowl of 'obligatory' Christmas nuts and the implement to crack them with the carpet. All over the carpet. They are shelling them. Everywhere! I think I may need to hoover later! Is it the technicalities of nut cracking that make it such an interesting pastime for small boys or are men just obsessed with their nuts?!

Anyway, I'm off to let the cat out before he shreds the front door. Give me strength to keep it together for the festive season. Please!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday night is curry night!

Friday night is curry night!

A Christmas outing with the girls. We are friends, brought together only by the fact that we gave birth within the same 2 months. That was 14 years ago.

We are diverse; medical, educational, artistic, scientific, all brought together by chance, yet women with so much in common. Our talk ranges over many subjects, children, men, work, men, holidays, men! We discuss what happens when you Google 'Thermos lunch box' and how parental controls are for kids not to protect the parents, though that would have been useful in this case! We pick up snippets of conversation from those around us. The men in the next booth are discussing 'Mankinis'! We take a look, trying to be discrete. We cannot imagine any of them owning such a garment (there are some amongst us who need a blow by blow account of what one actually is!) There is much giggling. It is good for the soul.

At about 6pm this evening the last thing I felt like doing was going out and socialising. I was all for curling up exhausted in a heap. But I made the effort and it was such a tonic.

The company of women. You can't beat it. I am raising a glass to 'The Sisterhood'. I am happy.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Too much, too soon?

Too much perhaps, forgetting myself, thinking that everything was all right, that we were out of the woods. And for me it is all right, yet for Tall Girl...

"Christmas won't be the same this year" She said to me, her beautiful brown eyes filling with tears.

What could I say? No it will not be the same and thank goodness for that?! No I could not say that. Is it her teenage state of mind? I cried through vast amounts of mine! In a way I hope it is, it relieves me of the huge weight of responsibility.

I told her we will have a fine Christmas, I told her that we are forging new traditions and making happy memories that we will keep until, God willing, she grows up and no longer wants to come home for Christmas. I told her to focus on all that we have to be grateful for, there is much to consider; rather than thinking of all that has been lost.

Can she do that? Is it too big a concept for her at 14 years of age?

It's OK for me I guess. I was unhappy with the situation, my marriage, but it was their normality, their ontological security. I know that their father hates Christmas, but they don't really understand this, it has not crossed their path. When we were living as a unit I was the one making the memories, protecting them from the negative as much as I could. Perhaps it worked. They have different memories to mine.

I look at my lovely daughter, I worry about how I have changed her life, their lives, in a whirl wind. Though I am 'out of the woods' for them it is different. They still return to the family home to visit their father. For me it is over. I am glad never to cross the threshold of my old house, my old life, again. But they do it every 2 weeks. It is hard for me to understand how that effects them, no matter how much I try.

My beautiful son has written Christmas cards already and bought some very thoughtful presents, with no help from me at all. My lovely daughter has wavered in shops. No matter how I try to persuade her, she has not written one card, despite receiving several. I am hoping she has not inherited her fathers dislike of all things festive!

I will try to make our Christmas special. I am doing all the things I have always done. I hope the continuity will be a comfort and not a reminder? For me all is well. For Tall Girl? My heart hopes so.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The here and now

Before was like mud, dull and sodden, cold and without beauty.
There was a shadow, a presence of unsaid disgruntledness.
We scooted around it, the children and me, we still sang our songs, and baked our treats, we still opened calendars and oozed excitement, yet there was always a moment when I was reminded that we were
too noisy,
too soon,
too much.

That was then.

Now it is real.
It is sharing and excitement and planning.
It is whispering gifts and hiding packages.
It is singing loudly without need for closed doors.
It is counting and longing and looking ahead.
Not just to a brighter Christmas but to a more vibrant future.
It is making the most of the moment, playing the Christmas CD too loudly and knowing no one will say it is too soon,
too noisy,
too much.

Friday, December 03, 2010


Saying goodnight to Small Sprog tonight we chatted about friendship and what a great thing it is.
"You cannot be my friend though" He said to me
"Oh" I said a little hurt "I'd like to be"
"Well you can't be" He said "Because you're a loved one" He was so matter a fact.

I am more than content with that though, 'A Loved One'. Who could ask for more?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

How long to cook the cat!

I received an e mail from Mum this week: ''How long to cook the cat?''!

I thought and thought. Could it be a conundrum? Had I sent an email with a spelling mistake which she was pulling me up on? Did she think the stray that we feed sometimes was worth eating if it should expire? It's as skinny as a stick insect, not much to get ones teeth into should one be so inclined! Cat instead of Turkey this Christmas? Surely not. Had she, I seriously wondered, lost her marbles?

I emailed back ''I have no idea!'' Perhaps it was some sort of 'Knock Knock who's there' joke and a witty reply would follow on soon.

Later her reply did pop into my inbox:
''FIMO silly! I made a cat with Fimo, I thought you would remember how long and at what temperature it needed to be cooked''

As it happens I do remember, around 130 degrees for 30 mins. If only I could mind read too!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Harry Potter

Small Sprog attended a Harry Potter screening at the weekend. He was delighted, and to top it all he had to go 'in character'. He likes dressing up.

A pair of specs with a wand and a scar, I thought, and that should do it. But no. Not for my Small Sprog. I made the mistake of taking him to the local dressing up shop and there he browsed the wigs. There is nothing better for dressing up, than a wig it seems, if you are a Small Sprog. He pulled out a long white wig and beard. Dumbledore. I looked at him. He was animated. I couldn't say no.

I left the shop £10 lighter with a full wig, beard and wand with sound effects! Lovely.

Saturday arrived and he prepared himself. Unfortunately the only cloak we had was red, so he was not a dead ringer for Dunmbledore, more like a festive Old Father Time! Still, he was happy with his 'look' and we all tumbled out of the house at the last minute, as usual, and into the car.

He was having trouble with the mass of material, that was his cloak, as well as his flowing wig and beard, which was almost to his knees. when the wind blew him into the car. Then he needed help with his safety belt. 'I know why girls get all stressy about their hair now' he says in his wisdom as he struggles to free himself of his white tresses.

As we proceed along the road in the car, I notice that he is looking in his lap. I hope he is OK and not wishing he had gone as Harry P. He was looking dejected and not his happy self at all.
'Look!' his sister exclaimed as she saw a cat on the other side of the road.
'I can't see a thing' He replies
'What's the matter Small Sprog?' I ask concerned as I realised he couldn't move his head. I am about to stop the car to see if he is ill.
As it happens it was a technical error!
'My beard is stuck in the safety belt'! He moans as we turn the corner.
We laughed. A lot!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Small Sprogs career plans

I picked up a very serious Small Sprog from school one day this week,
'I'm going to write a book!'
'Really, what sort of book?'
'One that lasts all my life'
'A diary?'
'No, I don't know what the story will be, it will just spill-on-to-the-page as I'm writing it!'
'Gosh!' I say. I wish I could do that.
'Well I've been thinking of my future' he went on 'I thought I ought to have a back up plan, just in case'
'A back up plan?' He is only ten years old.
'Yes, in case my guitar doesn't go well'
'In case you don't make it as Guitar Hero?' I ask
'Yes' He says, earnestly.
'Always good to have a back up plan' I tell him

We get into the car.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A letter from my Mother

My Mother has a love of people younger than herself, and that has translated over the years to her taking in students and 'paying guests'. She loves it, works hard, is worn out by it, but never says no to the company's that ring for accommodation.

They live fairly close to the Racecourse and so sometimes get booked for race weeks. She tries to be discerning. She has learnt from experience that some racegoers are more 'trouble' than others, tumbling in drunk in the early hours of the morning and tripping over the deaf old dog for instance.

So it was with trepidation that she took a last minute booking in the week. She already had one language student in the spare room with the en suite, so the race goer would have to share her bathroom. A lovely man though, she told me. But you never know someone 'till you live with them do you?

The first morning he had used all the towels in the bathroom, she told me indignantly on the phone, despite having his own clean and laundered ones in his room, AND had turned up for breakfast over an hour late. She was incensed! Here is a little of her email from last weekend, a reply to one of mine, enquiring if it was going well after the second day;

You must be joking! 10.35 he came for breakfast! and when I went into the bathroom he had not only used my flannel, but had helped himself to my shampoo and my conditioner ! And my problems didn't end there! (though I'm not sure the poor man can be held directly responsible for this, even though he was a race goer)

I wanted to go into town later, he made me late, and then having got all the way up to the Park and Ride at the race course only to find it wasn't functioning because of the races, I then drove into town. I parked in Winchcombe Street and then found I had no change when I got to the meter. Needed £2.80 I had £1.80! Then remembered I always keep £1 in a little round compartment between the front seats in the car. So...back to the car and with my bottom stuck out in the traffic I delved down to get it. The little round mat which lined the hole slipped up and down went my £1 into another small hole at the bottom and got stuck. I tried and tried to get it out but all to no avail. So off I trot into the Charity shop, they had no change but suggested Ladbrokes. So there I was in a queue with all the punters for the races! Bloody races! At least they had plenty of money!  

This morning I looked at my lovely new shower cap and when I had had a wash I then removed it with my towel and flannel, the small guest towel, a spare towel and what remained of my shampoo and conditioner to our bed room. It's all safe now 'til "HE" is gone.I shall be glad when Monday is here.

PS.Dad has just taken his towel and flannel and his Hair Restorer out of the bathroom ( it's not working!) 

I think she should start a Blog. Maybe I'll suggest it?

(OMG Hair Restorer, I couldn't help giggle, I had no idea he used it! * Titter*)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How it affects the children...

Small Sprog is not so small these days, though he will always be my youngest and closest I guess, in some way. However, despite all his fun and bravado he has deep worries. Just before going to school last Friday he looked worried.
'I don't want to go to Daddys' He states. I am taken aback. He is seeing all his relatives from 'that' side of the family at the weekend and he will have fun.
'Can I stay here and go to Daddys in the morning?' He asks.

I am so tempted, I miss him when he's away, but ...

'Why don't you want to go to Daddys? I ask
'I get nightmares there'
'But you sleep in the room you have had for as long as you can remember, you are safe there'
'But I like it here' He says. I am pleased our new house feels like home, but what should I do?

I give him the biggest hug.

He reassures me that he wants to see daddy, it's just the bed times he doesn't like.

I feel I have let him down by sending him. I have always told him he must be honest and if he doesn't like any family arrangements, then we will sort it out differently. And then, there I am, sending him off to school, knowing that his Dad will pick him up and have him for the weekend.

My head tells me I have to send him. It is too last minute to change. His dad has the overnight bag, wants to see him, etc. etc.

Did I let him down? I hope not.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Poorly sick and ill!

I know, I know, I really shouldn't be here! It's Monday and I have a job. A day off to blog? No, well not really. Just a day to recuperate, in the hope that this horrible tiredness and unwell feeling that I've had of late will go if I rest.

So where do you draw the line, between sciving and being genuinely ill? I mean, I am finding it really hard working more or less full time at the moment and I can't say that I haven't just dreamt of taking a sicky! However, I ache, I am tired and not sleeping well, the glands in my neck are swollen and I have a sore throat. My voice is slightly husky. I guess I could make some money out of that though if it continues!

One little voice in my head is telling me that if I'd gone to work today I'd be fine and would have forgotten all about my aches and ailments. The other little voice is saying that if I keep going at the same flat out rate that I seem to have been going of late, I will be more ill and will need more time off.

I have this little fear now about being ill and not being able to look after my children properly. I guess most single parents feel the same. What if I am too ill to pick them up from school, too ill to cook, too weak to...

Then the other little voice tells me not to be so dramatic. Hypochondriac. Just get on with blogging and feeling sorry for yourself.

Yours pathetically

Do you hear the voices? They are calling!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

14 Today

Happy Birthday Tall Girl, I can't believe you are so grown up. 
You have grown into a beautiful woman before my eyes, in just a blink so it seems. 
You are much loved.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Rant alert!

I do try not to rant on here, and I have a self made rule NEVER to mention my job(s). However, sometimes one just has to let rip!

Perhaps I have been lucky in the past, but up to last September (in my old job, which I still do 2 days a week), when I walked into a classroom first thing in the morning, I was nearly always met with a smile and a sigh of relief. 'I'm so glad you're with me today' was usually the refrain from all the teachers that I worked with. It wasn't just me, any help in a busy classroom is nearly always a bonus, nearly always. 

However this year I am with a different teacher. She checks her clock when I walk in in the morning, even though I have usually come from working with another year group and, timetabled with lessons back to back, means there is not a minute to walk between one class and the next. She gives me children to support and then undermines me by taking over half way through. 'Support so and so' she said today, which I duly did. As I leaned over to look at one boys work and ask him to check his capital letters she pushes in front of me and says 'Lets have a look at your work so and so, I think you could just take a minute to check your capital letters'. I just said that, I wanted to say, I can do my job.

She never lets me use my initiative, she never gives me anything to do that she can't watch me do. For goodness sake I'm a grown woman and I have been doing this job for 6 years now. Not that I would be doing it if I didn't need a job that gave me school hours and holidays. I used to hold down a responsible job, where I was my own boss with deadlines to meet and contractors to motivate. I am a capable person.

Yet today I feel constrained and put down. The pay is poor and the job is stressful, no preparation time, no planning time, challenging children 1:1 for hours at a time, often with no work set.

To add insult to injury, as I finish up my lunchtime art and craft group, my line manager walks into the room. I've not seen her since the holidays and was about to use the statutory pleasantry of 'Did you have a good half term?' when she barks at me 'Leave that, X (a child that needs constant 1:1 support), isn't going swimming, you need to have him all afternoon' Then she walks off!

Well thanks for that, I think to myself, hope you're having a good day too! I do not 'leave that'. The room looked like an explosion in a cardboard factory, and it is someone else's work room. How could I leave it in a mess? I do the mental equivalent of a 2 finger salute and carry on clearing up, knowing the lovely (not) teacher I work with can easily manage him for a few more minutes while she does the register.

I enjoy the company of the children I work with, even the badly behaved ones who have problems of their own poor things. It's a shame the adults can't just be a little more pleasant.

 My new job, though stressful too, so far is ok. Yet the more I work in the school system, the more I despair with it.

End of rant. Bring on the weekend.

Monday, November 01, 2010

What did you do last week?

The half term break was a welcome respite from what has been a really busy time. Having a new job, I have realised, takes up more energy and thinking than just trundling through the ins and outs of the normal routine. Added to that we have been dealing with Tall Girls injury, poor thing, fetching and carrying things for her as well as taking her to school and back. I hadn't anticipated the impact on the whole family routine. I am hoping, now that she is managing on only one crutch, that she will be able to catch the school bus this new term, as normal, which will mean Small Sprog doesn't have to sit in the car for an hour before being delivered to school! Fingers crossed.

So the break was welcome for all. We spent a fantastic long weekend in Wales and the weather was kind to us. We also cooked and carved and saw friends. Here is our week, briefly, in pictures...

We went here (Paxtons Tower)

and the beach, which always makes me happy,

and here, The National Botanic Garden of Wales, with the largest single span greenhouse in the world!

Small Sprog and his friend made these

and we all made this, our Christmas Cake full of wishes.

The week has gone so quickly and today all the tension of being back at work has filled my body again. Last week feels like a distant dream. Still, it's only 4 more days to the weekend and only 7 more weeks of school until the Christmas Holidays! I must not wish our lives away! (55 Sleeps 'till Christmas!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Dream

The 20th October 2010. A crossroads, a major event, our court date that has taken nearly two years to materialise. Yet...

I settled out of court in the end. It was last minute and 'to the wire'. Part of me couldn't face going to court and the other half couldn't face the outcome if we went. My solicitor told me I was mad and could have got what I was entitled to had I continued to fight. But at what cost? I asked her; to her it was just another day at the office.

I may regret my decision one day, but now it is too late. I settled for less and he gets to keep his precious house. The children are overjoyed that they will not have to loose their home again. For that reason alone I have done the right thing, for now.

The outcome is, though, that I may never get on the property ladder again in my own right. I have this dream you see, of a cottage in the countryside, of roses and flowers and animals and endless sunny days. I feel the need to complete my journey to that place, yet it is such a selfish dream. Those I tangle along with have other dreams and other places to go, yet the dream is strong, and one I could not make happen in my last life. It is, perhaps, a foolish dream and one which (I have suddenly remembered) my Mother also had, when she was younger.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my Mother has made her own Christmas cake, as did her mother before her. When I was little I used to love to watch her mix up the magical cake, the first step towards the best time of the year when you are small! And before she lovingly put the mixture, all sticky and sweet smelling, into the baking tin, I was given 'a wish and a stir'. I would hold the wooden spoon in my small hand, and with my eyes tight shut, I would stir and make a wish. A wish never to be told.

I wished the same thing year after year. I wonder if she every guessed my wish? I think not, for I wished that my Mother should eventually live the cottage that she had always wanted, and I wished so hard for roses around the door and happiness all around. I still do wish, against all odds, even now; knowing that they are as elusive as a dream is impossible. My Mother has never lived in that cottage and gave up her dream long ago, though she is lucky enough to be comfortable now in her bungalow, and that is a blessing.

So this coming week, while the children and I are on our Half Term holidays,  I will mix up the Christmas cake mixture, all sweet smelling and sticky with spice and brandy and cherries and fruit. And I will pass the wooden spoon to Tall Girl and then to Small Sprog and, in turn, they will make their wish. Small Sprogs wishes are hard and true. He closes his eyes tight shut and wishes with all his might. I may never know what he wishes for, but whatever it is for both of them, they truly deserve it all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moving on

I looked at my Tall Girl today, and she is so very tall; 14 years old next month.

I remember being 14, and all the worries and excitement of living new experiences. Everything then was very vividly indeed, life was brightly coloured and jagged with anticipation, like a Picasso painting, the world was waiting, it was all there, but nothing was quite in the right place.

And then I look at my Small Sprog, who is no longer small; in his last year of Junior School, yet still so very young to me. Sometimes I feel pity for him without meaning to. I don't want to pity him, yet he still seems so vulnerable in the big world around him.

I remember dreading telling him that his world was about to cave in around him and that everything was going to change. I had this awful image of his beautiful smile turning to tears forever. He was always such a happy child on the surface, born generous and smiling.

And then I looked at how far we have come, how far I have come. Two years ago we were living a different life, two years ago my lovely daughter was a pre-teen, we lived a boringly normal life and I was lost to myself.

Yet now I am strong, independent and free, if you ever can be truly free, especially with two demanding children. But I feel free. I have things to look forward to, a whole life to look forward to, my life and those who tangle along with me through it are all so very cherished. These days I have 'plans'! And the plans that I make, we make as a family unit, are not dismissed or put aside. I feel alive.

My Small Sprog smiles still, he has not lost the joy of living, though he has moments of distress, and he holds me tight and tells me he loves me. Always he declares he loves me more than I love him, no matter how much I protest!

My pre-teen is a fully blown teenager and full of teenage habits, yet she is strong and beautiful and has endured the last four weeks in plaster admirably and with, mostly, good humour. She is maturing.

Adjustments have taken place and a new reality exists, one that is so far from the previous reality that sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if it really is true. How did I get here? How did I make such a massive change in my life, our lives? I almost can't quite remember.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Last week I had a call from Tall Girls school to say that she had dislocated her knee cap. Poor thing, it was a very traumatic experience. She kept reliving it and telling me all about it over and over again for a few days afterwards, it was the shock I think. Luckily her knee popped back in fairly quickly but the swelling was considerable and after a trip to A&E, where they put her leg into a splint and then another trip to the hospital a day later, we ended up with a set of crutches and her leg in plaster from top of thigh to ankle. Poor Tall Girl.

She was however, quite stoical about it and took it all in her stride, so to speak. In hind sight perhaps this is the ideal teenage state of being, completely unable to reach anything or do much therefore having everything done for you whilst you hang about on facebook. Do I sound a little grudging?! I am not, but it is wearing and tiring and I am appreciating how much she normally does without me really thinking about it.

It has been just over a week now, and although she is back at school, getting there is a little more complicated than normal. Usually she catches the bus from the end of the road. These last few days since her accident, she has needed a lift. Both ways. You can imagine how that works in with a full day at work, not to mention the new job which starts tomorrow! Life's sweet pattern...

So on the way to school last Friday, a 40 minute round trip down county lanes; as we were stuck in traffic getting out of Bristol, she shouts 'NO!' just as I pull into the far side lane on the duel carriage way. I have quite a shock. Is she in pain, am I about to run someone over? No it is neither of those. 

I was, in fact, about to overtake her school bus, but because of the volume of traffic, I would have, had she not shouted, drawn up along side the bus in the waiting traffic by the roundabout. I pull up just short of the bus, leaving a gap between me and the car in front. I give her a look. 'Am I the most embarrassing Mother in the whole universe?' I ask. A rhetorical question, so it seemed. Well that was the topic of her last English lesson anyway. I harrumph.

I do try, I really do try NOT to embarrass my off spring, however I have realised this is an impossible task, whatever I do, including just breathing, is a total embarrassment to them both.

We negotiate the roundabout and the bus miraculously gets ahead of us again, only for us to catch it up at the next junction. If I did not pass it now, I would have to follow it all the way down the lanes to school. 'Brace yourself!' I say to her with a smirk 'we're overtaking!' It was her time to harrumph. But, unluckily for her, the traffic lights suddenly changed, and there we were, at the red light, right next to her school bus. 

I sneaked a sideways glance. She was staring straight ahead. 'Oh look' I exclaim as I look past her and out of the passenger side window, 'There's Lucy! She's waving'! I gave her a big wave back. I guess that's not cool!

Tall Girls face was like thunder, she was convinced the whole bus had seen us but obviously most of the students on the bus were far too busy throwing their packed lunches about and calling each other names, to have bothered about us at all. The lights changed and we were off at high speed, me laughing my socks off and her looking very displeased!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Falling in love!

I have fallen in love, he is the perfect cat, apart from his thinness, which makes him a bit boney to cuddle. We have named him Pencil, because of his thinny skinny body but sadly he is not mine. He lives across the way and his real name is Max.

His owner doesn't seem to be home much, and Pencil waits by our door for us to come home, whenever that might be. He seems truly happy and peaceful in our house, with company and attention. She says he's very old and that's why he is thin, but he seems constantly hungry! I know I shouldn't feed him, but he is hard to resist. 

I have missed having a cat about the place, he is a real time waster, so calming to stoke a beautiful creature.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Influences (or Effects) part 2

After writing the first part of this meme, I realised that actually these people which I am writing about have, perhaps, not really influenced my life so much as as effected it. Influenced is so much more often used and associated with a good thing, but some people just effect, whether you want them to or not...

When he called me into the bedroom I knew what he wanted, I had felt this moment coming for a long time. I was 14, the age my own daughter is soon to be. The memory is hazy, I think he called my name and I walked into the room obediently, like the child that I still was. I can't remember what I was wearing, a nightdress I think, I don't think girls wore pyjamas back then.

I remember standing by the side of his bed, the bed they shared when my mother was there, a big bed in a big room adorned with frills and lace, yellow and peach in the daytime, very grey during the dark hours. I remember him asking me to get onto the bed, I don't know how long it took me to do so or how many times he asked. In my mind I think it took a long time. In my memory I was not scared, not in a scary sort of way, I was just unsure, I knew it was wrong of him to ask me. He was the adult, the 'responsible adult' with whom I'd been left; in his care. I knew that this wasn't what children would normally be asked to do.

In my memory I sat astride him, as he had asked. In reality I hope I did not, I really hope I did not. He asked me to get into the bed with him. Into it. With him. He was lonely, he said and he wanted a cuddle.

I don't know how I managed to return back to my own bed. I can't remember if I cried, if I ran back, or walked. I do know I said NO though. That I do remember; no, I can't do that, it's not right.

Later, in my own bedroom, in my own bed, I remember him standing beside me, over me. Maybe he was weeping or maybe he was not and at some point he uttered the sentence they all use; 'Don't tell your mother, she'll make me go away and that will make her sad' Like other children before me, I agreed, tears streaming down my cheeks by now. Sometime later during that night eventually I slept, in the same house with him, alone in my room.

I agreed to say nothing because he was right, she would be sad and I loved my mother very much.

Eventually I spoke out, during a row about something quite different. I don't know to this day whether she believed me, she never did anything about it though, it was far too late for that by then anyway.

Influence or effect? It still effects my relationship with my mother, the relationship she has with my children, she has suffered, whether she knows it or not; things could have been so different.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What a week!

A long time ago, it seems like a lifetime, my solicitor told me I would be eligible for Legal Aid, she was in possession of all the financial information at the time and I trusted her. She also told me that if I went to court, she would be able to get me a better financial settlement than husband had offered me. You are entitled to more, she told me. I trusted her.

This week, after many months of form filling and jumping through hoops, I received a letter from the Legal Commission. I read it several times before the words made any sense. I am not entitled to financial help. I can't afford to go to court without it. 

So much time has been wasted just waiting for the cogs and wheels to turn and now, after all that, it seems I will have to settle for his offer, the one he made last year, the one which is worth less than half our joint assets, the one that means I will never manage to be able to house the children and myself in our own home. It has been a massive blow and a wake up call to reality, I tried not to cry. 

And it still seems so unfair that he should be living in a pleasantly tree lined road, in a 4 bedroomed house that he owns, with a large garden. A house that will grow in value over time, has grown in value in fact and which he can sell as soon as he is divorced, yet we are and will continue to pay rent and live somewhere much less leafy. I am trying very hard not to dwell on this, it is better ignored or forgotten. Yet at the same time I am so very glad I no longer live on that leaf lined street, that I no longer walk the paths or drive the roads of that particular suburbia. My life is good and I have much to be grateful for, I am counting my blessings instead, there are no regrets.

When I rang the solicitor to tell her the financial news she sounded surprised and immediately asked for £500!  Can you believe it?! I have asked her to settle out of court for me as quickly as possible, and I hope it is possible; a request that, as yet I have had no response to. My worry is that I am in a much weaker position now if he finds out I cant afford to go to court and who knows what his offer will be? 

However the divorce papers are ready to roll as soon as the finances are cleared. At least it will all be over, the silver lining in the cloud, that is what I am hanging on to - an End at last..

Also on a more positive note; the job I declined in the summer, after much deliberation and worry, has just been offered to me as a temporary contract with reduced hours that I can do. The hours fit in with my permanent job, so I consider myself extremely lucky. Funny how things turn out

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Recently another blogger, The Eternal Worrier, wrote a series of 7 posts about people who have influenced him. I am going to take up his challenge and do the same. I'm not sure how it will go, it's just going to have to come together as I write, bare with me?

When I was 12 I had a friend who had a school girl crush on David Soul, alias Starskey, or was it Hutch? You see it never meant anything to me, all this hero worship and swooning over characters with whom I would never meet. I was more realistic in my expectations in life, I mean, how on earth would I ever get to meet a Pop Idol or a TV Star, let alone snog him; because lets face it, that was what we were all thinking about back then? But Helen was not daunted, every wall was covered with centre folds of her current muse. And she was fickle! I couldn't believe the rapidity of the turnover of posters and photographs, no sooner were they blue-tacked up on the wall, then they were ripped from their shrines and frames and replaced with a better and more appealing 'sex god'...

So, you see, my list of 7 people who have influenced me will not be about anyone you know. I have never brushed with the rich and famous (though I did catch a glimpse of Jonny Kingdom the other week if that counts?) and have never really longed to meet any stars or superstars. They may have influenced me, through popular culture as a whole, but it is my everyday influences that have made me who I am. And every time I meet someone else, the possibilities grow.

...A couple of years on and I found myself in the local park at lunchtime with Paul. I don't remember much about him as a person, I don't think it occurred to me to ask, all I knew was that he made my knees go all wobbly and his dad drove a blue Porche. I remember lying with him on the grass, ridged with anticipation of a first kiss, when he leant over and slipped his hand inside my school shirt. I could have died with embarrassed. Not because of what he was doing, but because I knew, as with all women and girls, that unless you have implants, that the flesh beneath slips sideways and diminishes! Now, I'm not sure anyone had thought of implants back then, but if they had I'm sure I'd have craved some, just to stop the awfulness of the situation happening again. I mean, where had my chest disappeared to right when I needed it?

Anyway, I'm not sure we ever kissed. I think he asked me to the cinema just to be polite, and because he was late we missed the beginning of The Deer Hunter, a film which gave me nightmares and disturbed me for years afterwards.

I have included him here, for two reasons. His best friend became a good friend of mine instead, no kissing was ever involved, just friends. I often walked home with him. I remember his mum showing me her newly decorated dining room one day in 1979. I was stunned, the walls were hung with luxurious wallpaper; navy blue with gold stars, I'd never seen anything like it before. And later, much later in my life I became an interior designer and recreated her dining room for myself in a large executive house. This was the late 80's, all was opulent and extreme, the 16 year old long gone.

Yet the real influence was how he looked. After we both left school I only spotted him once, walking through my home town, alone and aloof. I can remember now how my heart missed a beat, such a wonderful feeling when that happens, so much more powerful when you are just 16. Yet we never spoke again. Then one day I saw someone who looked just like him. I was sitting in the local Wine Bar with my best friend. If I'd not known Paul would I ever have noticed this new man? I don't think so, but because I did notice him it changed my life's path, things were never quite the same again...

A moment

Visiting my mother in the summer holidays, without the children, was sublime. The sun shone, the flowers were bright and profuse in pots and borders. We had a precious commodity and lots of it, stretching endlessly into the hot afternoon; time on our hands, to talk and share, without interruption, almost.

We sat in the sun with cups of tea to exchange news.They had had visitors through the summer, a friend and her new partner and they were eager to tell me all about it. 
'He was German, you know' said my Step Father who had taken an obvious dislike to the poor man. 'It's a shame The War's over' he pronounced. 
I looked at him slightly puzzled
'Else I could have shot him!'  he finished with a flourish, satisfied at just the thought...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

At Mums

The dog is getting old, we are all getting old. Walking The Dog is a very very slow business.

But it is a beautiful sunny day and we are in tremendously good spirits Mum and I. It is a happy day and I am pleased to be in her company.

We have walked about 500 yards to the nearest grass verge when the dog stops to 'do her business 'as my Granny would have said. It does a massive pile. Mum brings out the inevitable 'poo bag' to scoop it up. She ties the top with a flourish and, holding tight to the looped handle, off we go again.
'How far is the bin?' I ask her, thinking that it would be nice to have a dog but that the 'pooper scooper' bit might be a bit much, especially as the children have been out of nappies for so long!
'Just around the corner' she says with a jolly smile, as the dog plonks itself down for another go.
'More?' I say in astonishment
'Oh yes' says Mum, almost proud, 'Sometimes I get through 3 of these!' She brandishes another bag and swoops upon the steaming pile.

She has the whole thing off to a fine art, and before we know it we are off again down the road.
'Sometimes' she says ' I think more comes out than goes in!'
'Really?' Ewww
'Yes' she says 'Feel the weight of that' and she hands me the two warm bags!
'I think I can live without that experience Mum' I decline

She really is something else sometimes, but you've got to love her!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The call

Maggie May was right, I did know the answer to my dilemma. The reason I'd been so worried about ringing my prospective employer, was because they may have negotiated on finishing times and if they had, then I would have had to have taken the job. In my heart of hearts I did not want it. I wanted to be sure of keeping my children. I wanted to savour the last year of Small Sprog; taking him to school in the morning, being there in the afternoon to hear his chatter, buy him an ice cream or cajole him to his extra maths lesson, depending on the day of the week.

I put off the call until Monday morning and was told that they would not negotiate. Was I still interested? No, I knew the answer straight away, I was not.

Back to the drawing board then. Time or money, which is more important to you?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to reality

As my much-looked-forward-to holiday period comes to an end, my sleep becomes disturbed once more and thoughts of work, childcare, finance and divorce flood my mind in the small hours. I try not to look at the clock when I am restless, otherwise I count the hours that I have missed and add them mentally on to my deficit! Lying there in the early morning greyness I can hear the rain steadily falling. What I really need, I think, is a nice warm lie in the sun, I want to hear the crash of the sea and dig for shells on the shoreline. All this is brought on by knowing that my children are in Cornwall. I have checked the weather continuously this last week to see if it is dry where they are. I worry about Small Sprog on his body board and hope that he is supervised enough and warm...

Just as I departed for York I received an email from my prospective employer; I have tried to contact you at home, it says, please call me when you receive this message. I quickly email back to say I am about to drive to York and I will be back at the end of the week. Yet I could have called her then. I am putting it off. I want the job but not the hours, I want to see my children, I want it all.

On the other hand, Husband, despite threats, has not cut us off financially and has paid money into the bank. This month then, I am solvent at least. Yet the threat was very real and who knows what will be up his sleeve next. Do I want to live every month like the last one?

Ah and the good news, I suppose is that a court hearing may be due at the end of November, twenty two months from the day when I told him it was over. The solicitor says the first hearing is only 'House Keeping'. I am not holding my breath, just as well I guess, as I'd have expired long ago!

So in the twilight of morning, as I thought for the hundredth time how useful a crystal ball would be, I tried to encourage myself to make the call. Perhaps to ring at the weekend would be bad manners? Who am I trying to kid?! I have managed to forget reality for the last three weeks, now I must face it, and to be honest, why am I putting myself through this, trying to second guess what they will say? The only way to find out is to make the call.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Off again!

Over two weeks into the school holidays and I am childless once more. This time I nearly cried when they left, if Mum hadn't been there too then perhaps I would have, I couldn't cry in front of her, it would have made her cry too! It has been an emotional time, there have been the most wonderful moments, mixed with job and health worries, life is never dull in suburbia.

We had a brilliant week away, a proper family holiday, it felt easy and free and we all agreed the simple pleasures were the best; we fed ducks, paddled in clear shallow streams and skimmed stones in the river. We laughed, a lot. We enjoyed each other and played silly games. We ate ice cream and sweets until our teeth ached! We were happy. I will always remember that holiday, it is the most normal and stable time that I have spent for as long as I can remember. Sometimes normal is a great relief!

The days after our return were filled with visiting various friends before they went on their holidays, the time has passed so quickly, all of it good.

But the inevitable came. After managing to spend nearly 4 weeks on the trot with my children, I had to let them go. It was harder this time. We were out of the routine of every other weekend with their dad. I will not see them now for over two weeks and by the time they return, the holidays will be nearly over.

And all the time I had with them, the whole four weeks, I wanted to say 'Isn't this good? Couldn't we just do this forever? Can't we just go on and on?' But of course they need to see their father, it's only right, yet they seemed so settled at home with me, I find myself wishing...

How have you spent your summer so far?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Small Sprog is gross!

'You'll never guess what's in my hand?'
He is waving it about in a demented fashion
'No, what is in your hand?'
'My fart!'
'Say again?'
'I caught my fart!!' he giggled 'Can you smell it?!'
He lets it go in the vicinity of my face...


Apparently this sort of behaviour is written in his DNA.

Thank goodness he doesn't have access to matches!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tomorrow we are going on holiday, a week away from it all! I have been looking forward to it for such a long time. Schools out, the children are happy, the bags are packed. 

Meanwhile The Dilemma (thank you for all your comments) has not been resolved
I have asked for a temporary earlier finish time, they responded by saying they would call me back today to discuss it. Despite leaving a message and email I have received no response today. I presume negotiation is not possible!

So, although I am really looking forward to the holidays, I am finding it hard to focus on the lovely weeks ahead. There is unfinished business. As I left work today, was I leaving for the last time or will I return in September? 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Dilema

Over the last month or so I have been applying for jobs, around 16 in total. I have been called to interview twice, both were the 'better' jobs.

The first interview was stressful and long winded. It was the first one I had been to for 5 years, I was not surprised when I did not secure the position. However to get and interview from 85 applicants was something I suppose.

Last Friday I was called to another interview, 60 applicants for that one, better odds! I really need the hours, especially as I have heard nothing from husband since he said he was cutting us off financially the other week, the solicitor seems to have gone quiet too.

Anyway, I was supposed to receive a call tomorrow to let me know if I was successful. When my phone rang this evening I was not expecting the call. 'You were so good at interview' she said 'we knew we had to have you' Good to hear I guess but...

The position is full time. I need the hours. But this also means I will never be able to pick Small Sprog up from school again. He'll cope I hear you say but ...

Husband has always said he wanted the children 50% of the time, every other full week. The main reason I was able to keep them with me was that I worked school hours and it was agreed that this was a major factor in caring for them. He could not be there after school, I got to keep them.I don't want to lose them.

So, if I accept the much needed job, 37 hours when my current position has been cut to just 11 from September, does it mean I lose my children? If I decline the job, I cannot afford to live.

Money does not buy happiness. Practical or emotional stability?

Tomorrow is my day off. If I take the job, I may only have one and a half days left in my current position. It all seems surreal. It all seems wrong. I have a bad feeling. Or am I just feeling like that because my life will change so much. I have not worked full time since Tall Girl was born. 

Affordable living or my children with me most of the time? A stark choice which I need to make now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

I came, I saw, I conquered...

Well not really, more like; I hung on the phone for half an hour, went to the council offices and eventually managed to get my completed form in my hand delivering it to the solicitor on the way home, whooppee!'

It is a long story, but I'm sure you have all had the experience of 'Press 1 for this, Press 2 for that', what do you do if your problem isn't on the options list? Well, my employer, the City Council, have thought of that. The last option was 'Press 6 for HR emergencies!' I have 'pressed 6' more than once these last 10 days , I can tell you!

When you get through to a human they are very soothing, they must really need to be...

Once I knew the form has been located, and the person on the phone promised faithfully to fill it in straight away, I made the journey across the city to pick it up.

I drove through uncharted territory without getting lost (this city is such a sprawling place) and valiantly made it up to the Second Floor Reception with no problem. I spoke to the receptionist explaining I had come to pick up a form and could he let Paul know I had arrived. 'Which Paul?' he said
'I don't know, he just said Paul, he works in the blah de blah dept that fills in legal forms'
'Ah' he said 'I won't be able to find him if you don't know his surname'
'Shall I ring him and ask?' I say
'You'll have to' he grunted. (for goodness sake!)
So I did, from my mobile phone. From the second floor, I called the council office I was standing in! 'It's OK' I tell the soothing voice from 'Press 6', I'm on the second floor. . .

Meanwhile I receive an email from Husband, ''I would never not support my children and I never want to hear you say that again'', he wrote. What does he think paying his wage into an account I have no access to without setting up Child Support Payments is then, I replied? I have had no response.

Friday, July 09, 2010


Life can be such a roller coaster at times. Today husband informed me he was cutting off all financial support to the children and myself from 1st August. There is no child support order in place. My hours have been reduced at work. I am stunned.

Recently I have been feeling so much better, I have even read 2 books from cover to cover. Yet all of a sudden life seems less smooth again.

However right now I am lying on my back watching the clouds rush by, there is a chilled glass of wine sitting next to me. The sun is shining and I am loved. Life can be so strange sometimes. . . .

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Reached the big 500 at last (Post not strawberries!)

From this ...

To this (Small Sprogs biggest ever strawberry!)

via this ...
(Tall Girls sticky hands!)

To this, 14 jars of it in fact!

A particularly satisfying weekend!

We picked soft fruit with Mum last Saturday, we do it every year, so much so that Tall Girl pronounced on the way home that once you'd been fruit picking it really felt like summer! We had a tradition, the realisation made me smile.

We picked strawberries and raspberries until our hands were red and sticky but just as we were wandering towards the exit Tall Girl happened upon some huge cultivated blackberries. We had already gorged on everything else but thought we ought to try one in the interests of, well I'm not really sure?! They were delicious, black as night and shiny too, ripe and plump and juicy. Suddenly we unexpectedly ended up with a punnet full of them. I so love this time of year. Tall Girl decided she was going to make them into jam. I was secretly pleased. The tradition was catching, we were 'memory making'

As for Small Sprog, he managed to eat his body weight in strawberries, his favourites, and took great delight in finding 'The Biggest Ever Strawberry' as well as deformed ones that looked like bottoms, or worse! Still at least he remembered not to smuggle out 'free' ones in his trouser pockets, because when you put on your seat belt in the car they go all squashy - a lesson learned a few years ago!

On Sunday we cooked batches of jam together and froze some of the raspberries too. Tall Girl, with a little supervision, made 4 pots of her own blackberry jam. She labeled them proudly, it looks and tastes good. All in all we made 14 jars altogether. There were lots of pans and spoons to lick out...

Thursday, July 01, 2010


My Mum has always been a bit forgetful. It has nothing to do with age. When I was little she would take me shopping, and then, when we had bought everything she needed, she wouldn't be able to remember where she had parked the car. I remember walking the streets of my home town, trying to find her little red Mini before the traffic warden did! Far more recently there was the time when she dove off down the road with several Christmas presents balanced on the car roof and didn't stop until several people had gesticulated wildly at her. She has a history of loosing things...

She came down to see me on Monday, and to see Small Sprogs school play, in which he had a very small speaking part. I met her, as I always do now, just off the motorway junction because she's not confident driving in the city.

Despite trying to be on time, there she was, as I drove into the car park, sitting on a bench in the sun. I parked my car and walked to where she was, apologising for being late. She said she was perfectly happy waiting and had been into M&S to buy me some strawberries, bless her.

Anyway, before we set off back to my house, we went to her car to get something she had forgotten. And that's when she realised. No car key. We tipped out her handbag. Twice. Looked under the car, back to the bench. Nothing. She began to panic and, as I tried to keep her calm, I suggested we went back into the shop to see if it had been handed in. Thankfully it had. So off we went, happy that all was well. We had lunch at my house and went to watch Small Sprog, who was good in his play and very much himself, if you know what I mean?

However at the end of the performance we were informed that there was to be a collection for Cancer research, everyone delved for change during the encore and guess what? Mum couldn't find her purse. Oh no, I thought, she can't have lost that as well as her keys, not all in one day surely? She panicked and visibly grew old before my eyes. 'It's OK I soothed, we'll find it, but you just need to sit there for another few minutes until the performance is finished, then we can go and search for it'

I thought she was going to get up and rush out of the school hall. Instead she buried her head in her hands. The look of her reminded me of when she suffered a horrible depression after her mother died. One day, when I was younger and single, she sat in my house and proclaimed that life was no longer worth living. It is a hard thing to hear and at the time I had only a little understanding of just how awful depression was. It took a while back then, and medication, for her to recover but I got her back. How much she would have missed if she had got her wish?Two grandchildren for one thing.

Sometimes though, I think I still see the shadows of depression clouding her face, she is better but damaged. I feel it lurks and it scares me. So when I looked at her, so obviously stressed, I realised how fragile she is, how old she has become. One is used to ones mother always being there, a pillar of strength. When do the tables turn? When does the child become the adult? When did I become the one who reassures and nurtures? The change seems imperceptible, but all of a sudden it is there, fixed. I am the strong one now.

The performance finally finished, I ushered her out to the car. She was uncharacteristicly quiet. Had all been well she would have been revelling in the success of the performance. Instead she was locked up inside herself. I talked to her gently, like one would to a baby, soothing sounds, even and measured, I have soothed my own children in the same way to bring sleep and dispel illness.

We went home, searched the rooms she had spent time in, searched my car and her bag again, all in vain. Again her head was in her hands, 'it's OK' I said 'It's not the end of the world, no one is dying, no one is in danger. You may loose the cash but the cards will be OK, it will all be OK'

We drove back to the car park where I had picked her up. I parked next to her car so that we could look inside and see if it had fallen in there. Again we looked underneath, but it wasn't there. It wasn't there because it was somewhere else.

Yes, it was somewhere else, somewhere much more visible, if only we had known where to look. There it was, on the bonnet of the car, just neatly sitting between the bottom of the windscreen and the wiper blades, in full view of anyone passing. It was intact amazingly. Who'd have thought it? She was relieved of course, and cross with herself, but my main concern was that she was still in shock.

We went inside for sweet tea and chocolate. Once she seemed OK to drive, some hours later, we said goodbye. It had been a very eventful day and one, she told me, she would not be telling her husband about. It had brought home so much to me though too, like how little she has become, diminished somehow, and how fragile too. It made me realise how much I will always love her, and how time stops for no one.