Monthly Archives: September 2016

Just us 5

I had a whinge here last week about how lonely single parenting is at times. It is too, but to me that’s the only real down side I find in being a single parent. 

You’d have to ask my elder 3 children their down sides in having me as the sole stable influence.. actually let’s not do that, it might not be pretty! 

After my moan I wanted to talk instead about how I enjoy our family dynamic. We’ve been ‘us 5’ for many years now. I like it, I think the kids do. It’s cosy and comfy and it’s home.

We are 5.
Mum,who needs to up her organisational game but makes a good pie. 

Eldest boy- Maths and science  enthusiast who fancies being like Brian Cox, a scientist AND a rock star. 

Youngest boy – Enjoys food. Pasta maniac. Funny beyond words. Best Garth Crooks impersonator. 

Eldest girl – Sporting superstar. Dress hater. Smashing sexist stereotypes one at a time. 
 Youngest girl – lover of all things fairy. Bookworm. Cooking show enthusiast. 

You see how all these personalities combined could make for a slightly quirky household. It just comes together and works though. That’s how families work I suppose! ! We fit. ‘Us 5’works for us. 

Being a single mum does have  its  advantages. I’m lucky to get to be the one who gets to spend time with them, know their quirky little likes and dislikes. The one who knows their interests and what makes them tick! Just sitting chatting with them and hearing their take on the world is a favourite way to pass my time. 

I talk in these blog often about finding Mr Perfect (for me) remember the list? I just don’t know where on earth he’d fit into our dynamic though. This may be why I don’t get too involved with anyone. I’d date , I’ve softened a lot on that front. Having another person around for board games Friday though or an extra bum on the sofa for a Doctor who marathon?Hmmm, not sure. 

Just us 5 works just fine.

What I’m realising recently though is that ‘us 5’, well that’s already changing. As the teens are getting older occasions where all 5 of us are home or doing something together are becoming more rare. I’m aware for the first time really that ‘us 5’ isn’t going to be that forever or even that much longer. In 2 years the eldest will be away to uni, the middle two will be out having a social life rather than playing Articulate with me. 

I can see approaching on the horizon a time when ‘ us 5’ will be a special treat rather than the norm. I can’t be too sad about that either, it’s my job to raise independent human beings isn’t it? 

Maybe if the dynamics are changing anyway a time could come where  we could squeeze an extra person on the sofa for Doctor who? 
Or maybe I’ll need that space to put all my comfort food when the kids are all too cool to be watching TV with needy mum! 

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Domestic abuse is a thief 

More accurately, the perpetrators of abuse are thieves. 

I’m close to the end of the tunnel of recovery from abuse. 

I spoke here about feeling healed. 
I know there’ll always be anxiety and trauma triggers but I’m able to deal with them now. My day to day life is on the whole a calm,free one. 

When I look back and reflect on those dark years though I am resentful of the things that were taken from me that I’ll never get back. That are lost forever. 

This may sound a bit nuts but my memories of my elder children’s baby and toddler days are really limited. I had 3 babies under 3, I wasn’t allowed to nap. I was so bloody tired. (this is a really effective tactic. When you’re exhausted, as all parents  know, you can’t function properly. You can’t think straight, you’re certainly not going to have the energy to get up and leave) 

Memories of that time are blurry. First words, first steps, first foods are all hazy and confused and messy. This isn’t just down to tiredness. I had a very unhealthy coping mechanism for years of blocking out any memories that are traumatic. Unfortunately other memories have been lost with it. Blocking out trauma allowed me time to heal. It was a survival technique for a long while. 

The problem is, as some of you may identify with, what should have been memorable occasions with the babies were inevitably when the biggest ‘kick offs’ would happen. Christmases, birthdays, holidays. Anytime the attention was focused on someone other than the abuser the shit would hit the fan and I’d suffer the consequences. Which means all the Christmas and Birthday memories are as lost as the trauma that accompanied them for me. 

I resent this. I do. That in order to protect my mental health in the past other memories have been sacrificed. I should say here that thanks to a lot of counselling and therapy these days I have way more healthy and helpful coping strategies and to anyone in an abusive relationship, thinking about leaving one or still haunted by the effects from abuse I’d say seek out counselling. The relief of someone handing you the tools to allow you to put yourself back together again is immense. 

I have photographs of the children as babies and younger kids,these are a comfort in a way but even looking at them I feel robbed. 
I see birthdays, first school uniforms, the happiest smiliest toddlers. I see birthday candles blown out, days out. The kids look at the pictures and enthuse about certain days. To me though there are stories behind every picture, trauma and tears and faking happy to the kids whilst feeling so desperately miserable and on the edge. So I even feel robbed of my photo based nostalgia. 

On a much shallower note, that I almost feel embarrassed to talk about , I feel robbed of myself. Of that girl not yet in her 20s – young, carefree, slim, happy when she met that man. It goes without saying I could never regret the amazing children I gained from that relationship. I feel though I wasted my best years with him. I was the girl without hang ups. These days when I date, if I look like getting close to a person I’ve no choice but to disclose all my baggage. That’s tricky. It’d be so nice to just not have to explain away traits I’ve inherited from that time. I mean bloody hell it’d be really quite nice to be trying to turn on the charm with a hot guy you really fancy without having to explain actually you really need to sleep on the side of the bed nearest the door or you’ll freak out. 

I’m angry and resentful at the things I’ve lost but I don’t want this to be a negative post. I jut wanted to share in case it resonates with anyone else. 

I regained so many things I thought I’d lost in that relationship and I’m so grateful for that. Friendships and relationships that he’d dismantled I got back, my self esteem, control of my own mind. I got all these things back. I’m lucky in that respect. 
Being too angry and too resentful will only damage myself and I certainly don’t intend to do any more of that, I’ve only just rebuilt!

 


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My parents are a fairytale to my children 

Both of my parents had passed away before my children came along. They’ve never had grandparents provided by me. They’ve no happy memories to share, no stories to pass on to their own children like they have with their grandparents on their dads side.

The effect of parenting without parents on me has, at times, not been pretty. There was always a feeling of inadequacy that I couldn’t give my children the loving grandparents they would have been. I know this is irrational, as irrational as the anger I’ve felt towards my parents at times for not being around. Emotions can be irrational and nonsensical though can’t they, especially when you throw in grief to the mix.

Added to rage and inadequacy are a whole other range of feelings I’ve experienced as a mum without parents.

When the children were babies I had moments of despair where I hadn’t a clue what I was doing and I just needed my mum around to ask what the hell I was meant to do about colic!

I’ve felt jealous of people who did get to spend time with my mam and dad, who got to know them and be loved  by them when my children never would.

I’ve been envious of other mums who have their parents to lean on for support and speak of how they don’t know how they’d manage without their help.

I’ve done IT’S NOT FAIR like a toddler.

These are all fleeting feelings though. The only emotion to stick around for the long haul is a sadness. It is really sad that my children never got to meet their grandparents, it’s sad we’ll never get to see how those relationships would have turned out and developed.

My children know of their grandparents though.

My house is full of photographs, some of my parents. They’ve been up in the house as long as we’ve lived here. They’re familiar to the kids. They’re part of what makes up ‘home’

Mainly though, my parents are fairytales to my children.

They’re a series of stories I tell and repeat.

When I talk to the kids of how my mam made the best pattie and chips and attempt (and fail) to recreate it they’ll giggle at how they hope hers was better.

When youngest boy is watching Only Fools and Horses or Fawlty Towers (he bloody loves them! ) I’ll tell him how my dad loved  them too and find particular episodes he’d made me watch with him.

When the children and I are carrying out our little family Christmas rituals I chat about what we used to do as kids. Through the years we’ve incorporated some old traditions  into ours (post lunch board games and Christmas day buffet tea for example) and that always makes me feel there’s a connection there.

Maybe being a fairytale isn’t so bad, maybe being a familiar character in a familiar story has an endearing charm of it’s own.

My children never knew their grandparents but they do have memories after all I think. Kept alive in my telling them the stories.
After all, fairytales are magical and familiar and comforting and if that’s how the grandparents they didn’t meet feel to them then that’s a whole ‘happy ever after’ of its own.

 


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The Tale of Mummyhood


Call me a grump but… 

It’s beginning to feel a bit chilly. 

Am I crying for summer back? 

Lamenting the end of  picnics and pretty summery dresses? 

Not at all not one bit. 

We’ve had an odd summer. Now the elder 3 are getting older, they often have plans with their friends rather than wanting to picnic in the park with mum! Added to that small girls holidays with daddy, eldests hols with his pals and other holidays with grandma I feel as though we didn’t really get to spend that much time together really and it left me a bit flat where summer is concerned. I know this is likely how things are going to go now the kids are getting older but I’ll put this year down as a transitionary period and prepare better next year. 

So a chill is in the air and I’m not sad, I like autumn. It’s the kick start to so much good stuff! 

Comfort food 

I like a bbq  as much as the next woman but it  just doesn’t do much for my soul. 

Stew and dumplings, soups, hotpots.. These things make my heart happy! I know! I know! It’s always about the food with me! There’s a whole other kind of giddy reserved for coming in out of the dark and cold to a stew that’s been bubbling away in the slow cooker all day filling the house with yummy smells! 

Even better. . These comfort foods may carry a few more calories than your summer salad but it’s OK because.. . 

Jumpers.. and boots… 

I bloody love a jumper! ! Gone are having to show  your wobbly bits. Fluffy jumper and even the attention seeking boobs are covered up and behaving themselves! Sooo cosy too! OK we all know I’m stuck in a 90s tartan skirt /sweater combo but to mark the start of the season I may treat myself to some new thick black tights!!! Ready for… 

Hull Fair Weather

OK so to those of you not from Hull you’d probably just call this – well weather I suppose. Back in t’day though the week of Hull Fair (early October) was always when your mam would buy you new scarves and gloves. It’s cold, it’s crisp, it’s worthy of gloves but not necessarily a coat! 

I know I’m a Hull bore.. I do I promise. I know I’ve mentioned next year is our  (yes I know I don’t live there  anymore but  it’s still home! ) big City of Culture 2017 year. Should any of you find yourself in the vicinity being culture vultures around October, pay the fair a visit. It’s a spectacle! 

Cosy, dark nights in. . 

The best bit of autumn/winter to me. You’ve tummies full of lamb hotpot, you’re all in your pj’s on the sofa watching either Strictly or X Factor (or a movie if you’re too cool for that). No Doctor Who this autumn though-shame on you BBC. Hot chocolate on laps, curtains shut, lamps on.. 

My little family and I, cosy and snug? Yes that definitely makes an autumn night for me! 
Besides those children have to make up for their summer desertion to needy mum! ! 

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Sometimes single parenting is a really lonely place

Youngest boy is tomorrow getting an award at a fancy school awards ceremony. They’re not an easy thing to get, but he had an amazing yr 9 last year. His school report was one of those you really want to rave about on Facebook but you’re too concerned about looking boasty. 
I’m so incredibly proud of him and I’m really looking forward to celebrating his achievements with him. 

There’s a but coming obviously.. BUT I am really quite sad about going alone. It’s not because I feel inadequate as a single mum either. That used to be my default on occasions such as this but that chip finally seems to have finally fallen from my shoulder thank goodness.
 
The reason I feel sad is because it’s lonely being a single mum at times. I would love to have another parent who loves him as much as me, who I know feels as proud as I do. I’d love to be able to attend this ceremony tomorrow and share the look of ‘we did a good job’ I see other sets of parents doing. I’d like to go home on the evening and chat about how great the kids are once they’re all tucked up in bed. 

None of that is to be though. I’ll go to the awards, I’ll sit alone, I’ll be proud as punch and then we’ll come home and I’ll reflect quietly on my own (after telling the boy how amazing he is of course) 

I don’t want to be whinging and the majority of the time I love being a single parent. It’s certainly much better for everyone than living in the hellish abusive relationship when I’d daydream of getting out and how free single motherhood would be. 

I’m grateful and privileged to be bringing up these amazing children of mine. It’s just sometimes breathtakingly lonely and the realisation of truly being out there on your own still comes as a shock occasionally. Big school events like this, exam results day, deciding what to choose for birthday and Christmas presents , family days out… they all do make me feel a little fragile still. 

Smallest girl is a whole other ball game. Her daddy is very hands on and there is always someone else there on important days and to tell when she does something particularly brilliant. It’s a nice feeling. 

I will continue to enjoy single parenting the majority of the time. I’ll continue to be grateful for our new, free life. 

The children do have people  who love them and the world’s most awesome auntie who is as proud of them as I am. 

However if sometimes I go on about the kids too much in this blog or on social media I promise I’m not trying to make out we have perfect children here or being boasty. It’s just, sometimes, I’ve no one else to tell. 

The Pramshed

The Curious Case of the Lesser Spotted Teenager.. 

There used to be a quite vocal, very present human being living in this house with us. Quite a charming chap he was. Fun to hang out with, he was especially talented in choosing movies and was very handy for sending out to the shops. 
However, one day, my 16 year old first born developed a social life and ever since he has become a rare sighting in our house. 
He has friends to hang out with, football matches to watch, girls have reared their head (boooo!) and there is always a better way for him to spend his time than chatting with needy mum here! 
Occasionally the lesser spotted teenager will allow us to socialise with him. After exams we were permitted to go out for pizza with his pals. We were all very honoured and I felt like I mustn’t be a TOTAL embarrassment if we were allowed  to chat and eat pizza with the teens. Also of course I was buying the pizza which may have had more to do with it. 
I’m fairly sure he still lives here and hasn’t in fact moved out. Though sightings of him in his natural habitat are rare we often spot signs of life! They usually come in the form of bread, butter and sandwich fillings left out on the side, plates and mugs found by beds. Sometimes if you are up very early you can hear the call of the teen. It sounds very much like “mum where is my?..” it’s often followed up by the sound of milk being splashed on the worktop and cereal being crunched before the slam of the door is heard on his way out to college. 
Thankfully, on the occasions that the male, teenage human decides to spend time with his family it’s a very pleasant experience. Food, TV and chatter is shared. Sibling bickering is at a minimum and I certainly am happy to have a few good quality hours with him before he’s back out with his friends! 
I expect over the next couple of years his siblings will follow suit and this house will become a quieter, stranger place. Thank goodness for small girl. . She’s going to have to be around to keep needy mum company for a long while yet! ! 

Signs your child is a Bake Off obsessive… 

Small girl ditched Cbeebies for the Food Network when she was about 3. She loves any cooking  programme : Jamie, Masterchef, Great British Menu, Matilda and the Ramsey Bunch she’ll watch them all. When she’s ‘grown up’ she wants to own her own restaurant. 
Her favourite, as is mine, is The Great British Bake Off. I always try to encourage the kids interests and if I can share in them I always try too so snuggling watching Bake Off with cake is one of our favourite things 
Though sometimes I pick up on signs that maybe she loves it a bit too much.. 

1) The Great Soggy Bottom Meltdown 

Small girl loves baking, she’s quite skilled. School cake sales or coffee mornings are her favourite when she can bake at home then show off her wares. This is all well and good when it’s all going right, when her pies are perfect, her buns beautiful and her shortbread superb. 

However, when it goes wrong you can  witness a tantrum Gordon Ramsey would be proud of. The most recent one occurred after small girl had been making a cake. I had interfered (because I never learn!) Cake came out most unsatisfactory. Cue the 8yo equivalent of a toddler tantrum ending in her storming into her room with the words “I am not serving that it has a soggy bottom!” 

2)Her life ambitions are a little off the wall 

The phrase “all I want in life is to have an oven with a proving drawer” has been uttered more than once. A ‘big posh’ food mixer is on her Christmas list! 

3) She is a proper food critic

Indoors at home I find it pretty quirky and  adorable when she comments that the cookies you’ve made are a little overbaked. Eating out is a little more blush worthy though when she becomes food critic  2016. Her chopping up a pie, declaring the pastry too dry makes me feel as though I have one of those unbearable children better placed in a Roald Dahl story. She’s not I promise! All Bake Offs fault! 

4)She has delusions her daddy is like Paul Hollywood 

Small girl maintains that her daddy looks like and bakes like Paul Hollywood. 

She is deluded. . and possibly has been touch of hero worship going on. 

5) Play doh becomes very competitive 

Play doh out. 

Her soft  toys come out. 

Small girl v mummy at play doh bake off. 

The soft toys play the part of Paul,Mary, Mel and Sue. Strangely though, small girl voices the judges and though their opinion on my play doh cakes are usually scathing they are always very complementary about hers! She’s been even known to get the famous Hollywood handshake for her croissants! ! 
I’m mummy, I find all this quirkiness the cutest thing ever. .  Though I’m also hoping her restaurant ownership comes off, I’d never cook again! !