Almost daily diary!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Beginning (After The End, which is below)

I know why my wedding sits so firmly in my head as one of the best of days of my life. It is because I organised it all, I had it as I wanted it, each thing perfect and beautiful to me. And, looking back over the long years of marriage, this was probably my Swan Song. The last thing I was in control of, the last creative thing that I did before limits were put in place.

The limits were small and appeared slowly, small things one by one. My choices became narrowed, my wishes eventually ignored. All of it happening slowly over the years.

Yet I am to blame too for this loss of self.

A little more than a year after marriage I had my first child. It threw me sideways, I finished work, became home bound, stuck to the sofa with a newborn for what seemed like forever. I emerged slowly, a new creature, diminished in confidence, smaller, unsure. My world had shrunk, I was a 'kept' woman. My choices were dependent on another. Independence gone.

I have refound myself over the last year. I can have a choice, and it is all mine. I have forged through mountains of problems and climbed what seemed to be insurmountable hurdles to get here, to this point, the point where I become Ms. - such a 'loaded' title.

We, the children and I, are making plans for our new house. I can have the colours I want, I can choose how to spend the money and what to spend it on. It feels good. We have colour charts and magazines. Tall Girl and I are pawing over them, dreaming a dream that can become, to my surprise, a reality.

I have nearly made it. I wasn't sure I ever would. I wasn't sure I would be strong enough to see it through. Freedom, my own home in my own name. Back to the future in a way, for I had my own home before I was married. I gave it up without thinking then. How strange.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The End

Another document to add to the filing cabinet, in the compartment that says 'Passports, Births, Marriages, Divorce'. It's official, The End. From the proposal on 16th July 1994 to the Absolute 16th February 2011 and all of life's little ups and downs in between. Neatness in it's ending if nothing else. The beginning of another chapter, yet, yet...

Yet I can't help looking back to all those precious moments shared. My wedding day, for years ranking the best day of my life, not for the act itself but for the joyous day spent with all my favourite friends and relatives. So long ago now, but still precious, with hundreds of snapshots stored in my brain: My step fathers speech which was embarrassing and not a highlight; the Best Man's speech which made me cry; hoovering in my wedding dress between daytime 'do' and evening (we had the reception in our enormous ground floor flat comfortably sitting 35 for lunch with the rest of the guests arriving for an evening buffet); the smell of lillys wafting through the summer afternoon; the fire-eater as entertainment at night; the inebriated friend cross-legged on the lawn communing with the stars at midnight; the last drunks to leave at 2am. Vivid as though it were only yesterday.

And births, who could forget all the emotion of those days? "Mind his ear" the midwife shouts as the student nurse cuts the cord from around Small Sprogs neck! Another snapshot, shared with another now unrelated.

So no, when the solicitor rang me today and told me my Decree Absolute had arrived on her desk last week I did not shout with glee. "How does it feel?" she asked. I could have said numb, but it took a while to realise the feeling. In a way that piece of paper made no difference at all, for the marriage was over years ago but it is still sad. Something held so precious for a while, now spent. Yet my days go on the same, nothing really has changed at all, moments always there; never can be erased by a piece of paper.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dressed for all occasions!

I picked Tall Girl up last Sunday from her Dads, to go to the christening. She is wearing a lovely dress which we bought together last year. She has on some suitable shoes and decent tights, she looks grown up. She has some mascara on, but not too much and her hair is straight and glossy.

We get into the car.

'You look lovely' I say as we pull out of the drive
'I've got my shorts on underneath' She exclaims
I give her and odd look and she pulls up her dress to prove it, black tights and denim shorts, with a pretty dress over the top.
'Why the shorts?' I grin
'Well you said it would be cold in church, and I though if we broke down or had and accident, it would be better to have shorts on as well'!

I guess you can never be too sure of how the day will proceed!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ruby May

Today at a christening, it suddenly struck me how strange life is. There is my Tall Girl with the baby on her lap, beaming and cooing to her as if she were her own. The baby's uncle sits next to me and reminisces about when he held my Tall Girl as a baby, and how her big brown eyes stared out of her small pink face in wonder at the world. And I, in turn, remember holding him at the same age, remember his birth, remember him growing up, all those years ago.

So much water under the bridge since then, so many lives touched, so many twists and turns of fate. Yet here we are, all together for this new small bundles big day, all together again. It is reassuring.

Through my life I have lost touch with lots of people, some on purpose and some with carelessness. Sometimes I search the web to find a name. Pointless of course.

Today I am grateful for my friends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Parents Evening

Parents evening in a state comprehensive, short hand for bun fight, never my favourite evening of the school calendar I must admit. The large sports hall is riddled with humanity of all shapes and sizes and their offspring. The teachers have 5 minute slots but everyone, seeing as they have made the effort to get there in the first place, wants their 10 penny's worth anyway and this means queues and huffing! After attending for the last three years I have become accustomed to the elbows out and everyone for themselves, dog eat dog sort of an affair. I can elbow with the rest of them if required!

As we stand next in line for the Art Teacher, I notice a couple sidle in from the left. I do my own sidle and take up my starting position for when the couple in front leave their bottom warmed seats for another queue. I can feel the woman of the couple bristle; parents evenings bring out the best in us all
'What time is your slot?' She asks nosily
'5.35' I reply.
She looks defeated (ha) 'We'll let you go first then' she concedes 'Ours is 5.40'
'Thanks' I say through gritted teeth. Bloody cheek is on the tip of my tongue.

On the way home Tall Girl pipes up 'I'm proud of you'
'Oh thanks' I say, glowing with pride.
'I'm glad you are my Mummy and Daddy is my Daddy' She goes on
'Why is that?' I ask
'Well,' she starts 'did you see some of those Mums and Dads in there?'
'What about them'
'Some of them were sooo... well, red hair, bright red, and you know...chavey and... '
She went off in a tirade. The phrase she needed was 'mutton dressed as lamb'!
'So you're proud of us because?'
'Well, you dress like a mum should'
'You mean I look my age?' I asked
Do you know, for one moment there I was almost flattered!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

In the afternoon

When we left court we agreed to go for coffee. It felt strange to be there together, drinking coffee and tea. I needed to be there though, together. He needed it too. We had just gone through a traumatic experience together, ships lost in a storm that had brewed for months, years even.

We drank the first cup, he texted 'The judge was a bastard' several times into his Blackberry. We went over the whole 15 minute process again and again. I needed his company, he was the only one who knew how awful the stress of waiting for an unknown 'other' to make a major decision in your life, was like.

We talked about the children, about how they drive us mad! It was so good to hear that they do the same things, we both still say the same things to them. We are united in childcare if nothing else.

I don't want to let him go. We go to the pub, and are the last to leave.

He talks. I remember how good he is at it. I catch up with all the news, of his friends and work stuff, and we keep coming back to the judge and the court.  It's like we have to keep reminding ourselves that it's all over now, we got through it together, like so many other major events over the last 16 years.

We do the school run together and part company. I suddenly feel very alone. I miss him I guess. I miss the history and the easiness of it, not having to explain, the 'knowing'.

When I first met him I hoped we could just be friends, I never intended it to be more than that. Perhaps now, after all these years, that's just what we can be.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Today in court

It took no time at all to navigate through the morning traffic to get to court this morning. I was early. Waiting is always the most painful part of a stressful situation. I sat in the car and waited, to distracted to read. Friends texted and called, the thought that people cared made me cry, how silly is that?

Getting into the court building was like entering an airport, bag searches and metal detectors, queues. The man in front of me kept fishing things from his pockets, going through the metal detector, setting it off and then emptying more things from various pieces of attire. I wondered what he didn't understand about 'emptying pockets' in the first place. Eventually he was relieved of a small pen knife which he had to leave behind the security barrier. At least being a spectator had taken my mind off the proceedings. As I ascended the marble stairs I looked back to see Husband waiting in the queue for security.

We never intended to go to court. We had done all we could to avoid it in fact. We had been brought to court today by a judge who wouldn't sign our consent order.

In September we agreed terms, not equal, but almost. I wanted it over and wasn't prepared to spend more money and time quibbling through the courts. The solicitors drew up the agreement and sent it to the judge to approve. He sent it back saying it was not a fair split, no pension rights. Twice we returned it, assuring the judge it was what we wanted. During this time, months of it, my lease was getting close to the end of it's time. It became more urgent to get a settlement.

In the court room today the judge provided no preamble. As soon as we were seated he proclaimed that he was not going to pass the order. I put my head in my hands, Husband looked pale. The judge repeated this several times, both solicitors trying to say that we were all in agreement but no, he was not here' to rubber stamp' the order we had agreed on.

I was waiting for him to speak to me. He did not. All of a sudden I could hold back no more. Don't ask me what I said, I can't remember now, but it was heartfelt, said through tears and said with conviction. We had agreed, nothing would change my mind. Whatever I said, it convinced him. He signed it, we were free. Almost.

Fifteen minutes in court, seemed like a lifetime. As we left the room the  whole thing seemed very surreal. I turned to husband and we hugged. We had both suffered the stress and tension. He turns 60 next year, his pensions will ensure he can have a reasonable lifestyle while his children grow up. It is important, to us both.

'I was going to text you this morning' He said in my ear 'Parsnip' I laughed, and cried together. It was a joke, from long ago, that's the trouble with knowing the same person for a long time. We have so much history.
'You ok?' I ask
'Need a drink' he says.
Our solicitors look on amused. You'd probably not have guessed, as an outsider, that we had just ended our marriage, the decree absolute only weeks away...

Monday, February 07, 2011

THE day...

Court tomorrow, please let it be over soon.

On the more comical side of things, apparently a lorry blew over today on the M60. Not funny in itself at all, but I did think about Tall Girl and her worry about the bus falling over in the wind. Not so silly after all. I hope she doesn't see it on the news, or I'll never get her to school in the morning.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A windy morning, a stormy night in fact and a little wan voice calls from the top of the stairs in the gloomy half light that is just before 7am.

It is Tall Girl, it is Friday morning, and she knows I am not going to work. In her head this means she doesn't have to go to school. I need her to go to school, I can't rest in the house unless it's empty. A luxury to have an empty house. I feel selfish, for a moment. Then I pull myself together, there is nothing wrong with her and she needs to go to school.

'I can't hear you' I shout up the stairs to her. She comes down. 'What did you say?' I ask
'Is it too windy to go to school?' She whines
Too windy to go to school? I laugh, probably not the right response.
'The bus might blow over' she exclaims.
Bless, she really does hate the wind. I wonder whether to have a talk about forces, gravity and the fact that Double Decker buses are heavy at the bottom. I decided against.

She sat sulkily at the breakfast table, a well practised stance often used to make mummy's guilty in the morning for being heartless enough to insist that school was a place where you should be.

Gradually we managed to get the whole morning routine rolling slowly but surely towards the point of leaving the house.
'Don't worry' I tell her as I kiss her good bye at the door 'If it's too windy the buses won't run'
I have my fingers crosses behind my back!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Small Sprogs derision!

I have managed to get a job done that has been bothering me for ages. It is always a relief to get things done that are haunting you, in this case my filing! I had a sort of system, it was called 'Putting all the stuff into one drawer and forgetting it'! It worked quite well in as much as I knew where everything was, it just took an age to find one piece of paper in the midst of hundreds.

Anyway I took the bull by the horns one evening and started to put neat piles on the carpet all around me. Small Sprog was watching TV and could see me from the sitting room.

After a while curiosity got the better of him. He looked about. I had more or less emptied the drawer and the piles were strewn across the landing and up the stairs. 'What are you doing?' He asked in his best disdainful voice.
'My filing' I said to him 'I'm having a tidy up'.
He surveyed the chaos. 'And how's that going for you?' He replied.
Cheeky little ******!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

The last few days...

My friend and I talked things over. It was good to talk.

On Monday I handed in my notice for one of my jobs. I feel I can no longer cope. I still travel the 90 miles round trip to see Mum when I finish work. She thinks it does me good to sit and do nothing at her house. In reality it adds to the stress, too much to do, not enough time. I leave her at 7.15 in order to get to my book club at 8.15. My last task of the day. I really don't feel like going but my lovely friends have arranged it on a night that I am child free, so I feel I should attend. When I finally get home it is passed 10pm. I had left the house before 8am. I am shattered and know this is all the last straw.

The stress has reached my digestive system. Over the weekend I feel sick, can't eat, and when I do it doesn't stay long in my system. I phone the Doctor again and she signs me off work. It is a relief. I have used the time to sleep these last two days, I have slept between school runs and again at night. I am hungry for sleep.

Today I found out that I have lost the house I wanted to buy. Not a surprise really.

On the plus side I have a court date now, a week today. Several months too late! Maybe soon I can get on with my life. If the spring would just get on and arrive, perhaps things would look much better!

How has your week been so far?