Monthly Archives: December 2016

I actually kept my New Year’s Resolution 

Last year I decided not to make the usual New Year’s Resolutions. I wasn’t going to promise to get fit or lose weight or finally find the allusive Mr Perfect. The problem with those ones is it’s likely June would have come around my running shoes wouldn’t have seen the light of day, I’d have been a stone heavier with all my single lady chocolate eating and I’d have felt a bit of a failure. Why set myself up for that? 
I always do like to make a resolution though, start a year with an optimistic goal. This year I kept it simple:

Try new things!! 
Thats it! 

I’m a bit of a set in my ways kind of a woman. I rewatch all my favourite films over and over as I do books. I order the same thing in favourite restaurants. It sounds boring (I am a bit!) I prefer loyal!! 

So here we are at the end of 2016, I’m reflecting on how my resolution went and I’ve realised this is the first year I’ve ever kept a resolution. 

I’m one of those people who, when people are talking about classic movies or the latest must see box set, I’ve never seen them. I thought as part of trying new things in 2016 I could tick a few off the list. I even tolerated Disney (I know!) to watch Beauty and the Beast which I’ve never seen (bloody hell talk about Stockholm Syndrome)  I got through some soppy ones (The Bodyguard, Top Gun) and some old classics I certainly should have seen before now including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – loved it. I finished up with Trainspotting last night which I expected to dislike but didn’t! 
The teens  introduced me to How I Met Your Mother which I’d never seen but I bloody loved. Unfortunately as I discussed here we tend to get pick up TV and movie quotes in this house so “Major Disappointment”  *salutes* and “Haaaaave you met Ted” are now stock phrases here! 

I read Wuthering Heights for the first time this year! I know! What kind of self respecting bookworm gets to 36 having not read that. The imagery in it is just so beautiful, her writing excusite. 

Trying new things on the food front was always going to be harder. I have the same attitude to trying new food as a toddler. I just KNOW I won’t like certain things (fish, eggs, baked beans, cauliflower, strawberries) without ever having tried them. So I tried making new dishes instead. My pulled pork was a particular triumph. Small girl and I also had a go at making our own pasta but to be honest that was just a messy, time consuming waste of our time. 
I did boy stuff ! 

Well man stuff… A fun brand new thing for this sceptic of all things male girl! 

Sharing  my blog with people who actually know me was a terrifying new thing. It had been my little secret spot on the internet for ages but people have been so nice and supportive. My little  blog has been on the Mumsnet front page this year too! A proud new thing! 

I’ve even made a good start on writing that book – THAT is new! ! 

So all in all, despite 2016 being the year the world went barmy, on a personal level my ‘try new things’ resolution has been a good, positive one. 

I think I’ll keep it for 2017!!

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The highs and lows of festive singledom .. 

Christmas is a couply time .There is no getting away from it.It’s rammed down our throats in advertisments from October! Couples strolling hand in hand in the snow in matching knitwear.Then post Christmas ..we have show off present period.Everyone showing off all the lovely presents their other half have gotten them!!I’m not totally jealous by the whole thing,well a tiny bit….maybe!!

I’ve been part of a couple at Christmas and it was never a shiny happy smiley time, all thoughtful gifts and kissing under the mistletoe. So rather than weeping into the mulled wine, I thought I’d weigh up the ups and downs!

 

Low: No thoughtful gift from someone who adores you and knows you really well

High:No need to fake joy over a gift voucher ..or similar thoughtless gift!

I love gift buying and gift wrapping and all that goes with it at Christmas, nothing makes me happier than finding something I know someone will love. I’m not an easy person to ‘get’ though so when I receive a gift that makes me feel like that person knows me well it makes me giddy!!
 

Low: No sentimental Christmas card, with a loving message and gorgeously thought through words.

High: I don’t have to take huge offense when he writes out a card in front of me out of a pack that he’s just written one to Great Aunt Dot out of! It’s probably signed ‘from  Steve’

I’ve a bit of a thing for cards! Would rather have a nice card than a gift anytime! I do still send Christmas cards (I know I’m so old fashioned! What a loser!)

 

Low: Having to do Christmas couply activities alone !

High: I can sometimes persuade the children to accompany me!!

Christmas Markets, particularly the Manchester one are romantic (In my head).You see the couples giggling over a mulled wine and walking hand in hand with their hot chocolates. Me, I drag the 7 year old along and she’s fabulous company. I only feel a tiny bit jealous of the ones sneaking a snog!!!

 

Low: Once the little ones are in bed I find myself sat in alone over the Christmas period.

High: Once the little people are in bed I can put on my Pjs , get under a duvet with a bottle of wine, copious Christmas chocolates and put on The Holiday…again!

I suppose if I were in a relationship I could allow someone under the duvet to share the wine and chocolate!!That could work.Just as long as they didn’t try to ditch The Holiday for  a boy movie

 

Low: I spend a week alone when the little people go to grandmas

High: I have a week to finish the Christmas chocolate , watch rubbish TV and get to go home to visit my sister

I get so sulky when the little people leave me just after Christmas to go to another one at Grandmas over New Year. That’s precisely the time I do dwell about not being in a relationship. However I usually do squeeze in a visit home to my sister and niece and nephews during this period and I’m a big believer in home being where the heart is! 

Low: Our Christmases are relatively low key. Just the children and I

High: You don’t have to put up with other people’s annoying relatives. 

You know the type judgemental Aunt Mary, racist uncle Bob, inappropriate cousin Mike and you can’t even get drunk to take the edge off as you have to try and make a good impression!! 

I think all in all I’m quite content as I am just me! I’m super aware though that this is because my previous relationships have been so dire I do romanticise how the next one is going to be!! Maybe next Christmas should Mr Right , his thoughtful cards and gifts and his love of the Christmas Market have swept in it will be a whole other story!!
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Petite Pudding

To the mum enduring an abusive relationship at Christmas time… 

Dear friend, 

We don’t necessarily know one another  but maybe we do. Living with abuse I know is torturous and I know you feel so alone, so I just wanted you to know that I know.
 
I know how your abuser hates Christmas and uses this as a mantra in order to justify his behaviour. That he’d never have torn the Christmas tree down if you hadn’t made a fuss when you know he hates Christmas. 

I know that you’re going to spend the whole of the festive period treading on eggshells, trying not to draw attention to yourself or the children. Trying to quietly play with them,make them feel loved and nurture them whilst keeping  them from being too noisy or too messy so as not to unleash his temper. 

I know all the work will have been left to  you, all the food shopping and present buying. Even if he’s withheld money you’d still have been expected to get presents, and you probably have. 

I know whatever presents you have bought will be wrong. You’ll either have bought the wrong thing or you’ll have bought too much and he’ll call the children spoilt. He’ll tell you you’re an awful mum but he’s wrong. You’re not. You’re incredible. 

I know that Christmas time might be a lonely place for you. Maybe you’re isolated from your own family and friends so have to spend Christmas with his. Having to watch him turn on the charm in public and play the devoted family man. 

I know you’ll have not been able to get it right if you’ve been round his family. If you’ve been quiet he’ll accuse you of rudeness and being stuck up, asking who the hell you think you are and ensuring you continue to feel like shit. 

Alternatively if you’ve been chatty you’ll be accused of flirting with his brother, his friends, his dad. Accused of having an affair, called a slag whilst simultaneously told you’re  so fat and ugly no one else would ever want you. 

I know maybe he’ll not buy you a Christmas present, he’ll tell you you’re not worth it. He’ll spit that he didn’t get you anything from the kids because you are such a terrible mother. Maybe it’ll go the other way though, maybe he’s presented you with the grand gesture, an expensive gift in front of people that’ll likely be smashed into pieces at his hands by new year.

Alcohol is a factor at Christmas too I know. He’ll use it as an excuse for his appaling behaviour. Blame it on the drink. Should you pour a glass of wine though then you’re back in awful mother territory. An alcoholic. A disgrace. 

I think that there is likely still a tiny glimmer of hope inside you. You’ll ignore it for the most part because it is terrifying, you can’t let your mind begin to daydream about another way. You’ve just got to put all your energies into making the kids feel loved, keeping them safe. Focus on just surviving, your thoughts almost exclusively trained towards preempting his next move, keeping him calm. 

You probably have even forgotten it was there, than tiny spark of hope. It’s been dampened over the years certainly but not extinguished. It’s lying dormant waiting for the day it’s safe for you to leave. It makes me sick to even say that. Safe to leave. We know the statistics though, we’ve read the newspaper stories, we know leaving abuse can be dangerous. 

When it’s safe though, when you’re ready that tiny glimmer of hope will see you through. 

I’m sorry that your Christmas is an ordeal. I’m sorry everywhere you look you see happy families enjoying cheery Christmases with devoted fathers and husbands and you wonder why you don’t get to have that. Even the TV bombards you with smiling festive families and I know it just makes you want to weep for your children and for yourself. I know you do your weeping in secret. I’ve been you.

 
I’ve done years of Christmas being a time of violence and of criticism and shouting and screaming and pain. I didn’t think there’d ever be a time that that wasn’t my life. I couldn’t have ever envisaged that one day the children and I would be safe here in our house, able to do Christmas our way, able to enjoy rather than endure. Here we are though. It is possible, there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. I know you can get there too. 

Just please know this, 

You are valuable and you deserve to be free. You are loved and cherished and there is a whole army of women out here ready to mobilise and support you when you are able to make those steps. 

I wish you a safe Christmas and a peaceful new year

Xxxxx

If you are in an abusive relationship and you need help the Women’s Aid website is here for help and advice 

The Freedom Programme which helped me immeasurably after I’d left the abusive relationship but also is open for women still in the relationship has groups around the country as well as an online course. Their website is  here

My Facebook blog page is here

 

One Messy Mama

Petite Pudding

 

Spending Christmas with people you’d rather not? Let me help… 

Christmas is fantastic. I loved it anyway , but when you’re a parent it takes on a whole new level of awesomeness. It goes from being amazing to bloody brilliant!The problem is everyone wants to be round the kids for Christmas.Therefore you might end up having to spend the special day with pain in the arse in laws , annoying siblings or in my case for many years  my child’s other parent !

Having people you’d rather not over for  Christmas dinner or having to go to other peoples houses  doesn’t have to put a downer on Christmas though. 

I’m not claiming to be an expert , but I’ve spent the past 15 years doing one or the other so I have picked up a few handy hints along the way..let me share!

* The main thing is to avoid conflict.At all costs. This may mean restraining from pouring a whole gravy boat over the person who has said ‘Is this turkey a bit dry?’ Or it may mean spending the couple of hours with a fixed smile when an elder relative comments on how spoilt the kids are and in their day you got an apple and orange and were grateful! Whatever it takes (even if that is hiding in the larder with a bottle of Prosecco and a straw)

* Which leads to the next point. If you’re going to have a drink , just have a couple (until your unwanted guests are gone or you’ve left whoevers house you are at anyway) My motto is drink enough to render you mellow  not enough to loosen your tongue. Previously I’ve had a glass whilst I hide in the kitchen whilst someone else puts toys together lovingly cook a feast of a meal. Then obviously a glass over lunch. At this point I like to point out to my guest that I would get him a drink but he has to drive home doesn’t he? (code for you are NOT staying over) Post lunch gentle nudges are necessary to get your visitor to leave. I like to use “ooo Eastenders is on in a bit!!” Now I don’t usually watch soaps over Christmas , but I am not going to surrender THAT get of jail free card!..and with a kiss on the cheek and a Merry Christmas they are gone and you can open the good wine.

*Keep cool with the ‘It’s all about the kids’ mantra’ .Make sure at the times you feel a bit niggled just look for the kids? Are they smiling? Course they are! Grandma / uncle /cousins/daddy may annoy the hell out of you but they’re up there in the children’s top 5 people. So as long as they are having fun everything is fine. Every year before my children go to bed on Christmas Day they declare it The Best Christmas Ever. That will do for me.

*If you’re having to go to someone else’s house because ‘that’s what we ALWAYS do’ Be prepared. This is usually a mother in law one. She’s insistent that she has hosted Christmas since it began. If pushed she may declare that Jesus was actually born in the shed at the end of her garden. Anything to ensure her family are at her bosom for Christmas dinner. This is likely the kind of mother I’m going to become when the kids are older , so I do get the woman! Anyway if you are going to someone else’s house. Prepare yourself for the fact they may do Christmas differently .This can range from the relatively minor of only getting one roast potato each with dinner (hit me with half a dozen or don’t bother. Do not tease me with one!) to the more serious of insisting on a walk after lunch. Only place I want to walk to on Christmas day is the telly with a glass of wine in one hand and a selection box in the other.

 Have a lovely , fun filled time whatever you end up doing . Let’s face it , annoying relatives (even other people’s) are as much a Christmas tradition as turkey!!

My Facebook page is here

 

Top Ten things about school Christmas concerts… 

1) The sheer excitement

The kids are so giddy that they’ve been let out of their classrooms, the announcement that Frosty the Snowman is the next song getting cheers I’d not heard since telling my sister it’s ok to drink at breakfast time on Christmas Day.

2) The naughty kids

The ones having a laugh, jabbing people and chatting when the teacher has already put his finger to his lips. Usually prompting a TA to crawl over to them telling them they’re spoiling it for everyone else. For the record kid, you’re not spoiling it for me, I’m having fun.

3) Fake festive teachers

Yes you are wearing a santa hat or a Christmas  jumper. Yes you’re smiling and pretending to be jolly, but if anyone dare uncross their legs you are on it like a ninja. Christmas or no Christmas.

4) Terrible singing 

Why do kids do that that thing of shouty singing? . Hate to be all Simon Cowell about it, but you can pull off shouting through 12 days of Christmas THREE FRENCH HENS!!! Sounding like a football chant. Doesn’t work to bellow Away in a Manger. All about the song choice kids, all about the song choice.

5) Alternative Christmas plays

If your school ditches the Nativity and goes rogue your child could be ANYTHING my child was once a garden gnome!, in her first school play eldest girl was a piece of tinsel. This involved just standing by a tree silent and still for 20 minutes. 

6) Wrong words. 

Always the child singing that bit louder than the others getting words so wrong but so enjoying themselves. I want that child to come to my house and sing carols wrongly, yet enthusiastically whilst we eat our Christmas dinner. Unless it’s people singing ‘Good tidings we bring to you and your KING?? In We Wish you a Merry Christmas.. That just grates!!

7) The thank you speeches.

 You know where the headteacher thanks all the parents for the lovely Christmas gifts. You’re either feeling terribly guilty at this point as you forgot or very smug as you were sure she was looking directly at you as she said it as yours was totally the best present. Walking past the staff room this morning I have to say I’d be giving a thank you speech too if I’d managed to accumulate that much wine and chocolate!!

8) Candles. 

Always a risky combo candles and kids and don’t the teachers know it. Everyone is edgy, breathing a huge sigh of relief at the end when they’re blown out. I get a feeling the caretaker is just the other side of the door with the fire extinguisher secretly hoping for his big hero moment after 20 years of unblocking loos.

9) Joining in!! 

The actual joining in bit isn’t my favourite, in fact the phrase’ you too mums and dads’ is an anxiety attack trigger I am sure. My favourite bit is looking around and realising all the other parents feel just as awkward and uncomfortable with doing the actions to 6 geese a laying. Well all except one parent who’s whole heartedly embracing the singing and dancing. 

10) It’s an excuse for a therapeutic sniffle

Kids singing Away in a Manger just ends in tears every time. Their cute little faces are just too much to stand. Please don’t make the sweetest cutest one sing a solo though, that makes the therapeutic sob into ugly, snotty , crying. 

So here’s to school Christmas concerts – just no-one mention that small girl only has 3 Christmases left at Primary school or those ugly, snotty tears will be back!!


My Facebook page is here

 

Being the ‘other’ parent at Christmas 

Dear Littlest girl,

I’m sorry you won’t be with us at Christmas this year. You’re special you see. Really special, you’re too overloaded with love. Christmas should be all about love shouldn’t it? and doing the right thing. So after 7 Christmases of having you here, this year I have to share. I have to say goodbye to you on Christmas Eve and not see you again till Boxing day.

I’ll miss you.

I’ll miss you so very,  very much.

Your elder siblings are teenagers. I’ll miss not putting out Santa’s snacks with you, welcoming the Christmas eve hamper that the elves bring. I worry daddy won’t get it right our Christmas traditions- because they’re ours, not his.

I’ll pine for you Christmas day. I’ll likely have a cry to myself when no one is looking. You know what though? That’s OK, I’d rather I cry than you do.

All my griping here is for me not you, the only one sad is me, not you. I’m being really selfish moaning about it really.

Your daddy will give you a great Christmas. I know that. He’s a good daddy and he loves you, we both do so much. This is why we have to share your time. You are a fantastic little girl, people crave your presence.

I’m sorry too. We negated the separated parent Christmas angst every year. Every single year. Daddy always came over, did presents and dinner with you, with the elder three, with me. We managed that for you four. I couldn’t keep it up though and I’ll never be sorry enough for that.

Just know, please know, it’s not that we didn’t want you here. There is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do to have you here for Christmas. I mean it. Nothing. I’d do anything.

I’m scared too, I’m scared that because I’m so rubbish at relationships you will suffer. I don’t want Christmas and birthdays to become a competition. I just want you to be happy. We say that all the time us parents don’t we? Your happiness is our aim and it’s true.

So I can push through the Christmas upset for the others and for you. I’m happy to ramp up the Christmas excitement and talk about how much fun it will be to have TWO Christmases. I’ll wave you off full of excitement Christmas eve and I’ll be smiling and waving right until daddy’s car goes over the hill like I always do.

Have the best Christmas day, and that I genuinely mean. I want you to have fun with daddy, unwrapping your presents, having the yummiest Christmas lunch (we both know you prefer daddy’s cooking) just have the best, best day.

When you come home Boxing day we’ll all be so very happy to see you. We love you to tiny little pieces. We’ll have our special Christmas then.

I’ll get better at sharing your time , I promise little girl, for you I’ll do it better. I’ll knock off the complaining, because you’re happy and content and like I say, that’s all that counts.

Love you so very much

Mummy
Xxxxx

Can I add, for any other parents in this position, firstly my heart is with you but secondly can I mention the wonderful work of Sarah Millican and her #joinin on Twitter. She explains it better herself here but the gist is anyone who’s alone at Christmas and really doesn’t want to be can find a bit of company and solidarity on Twitter on Christmas day. 

Even years I’ve all the kids I have to admit there are times during the day and especially once they go to bed that I struggle with the fact I’m just me, alone at Christmas. I’ll # joinin throughout the day and you know there’s a comfort in knowing that it’s not ‘just you’. Social media gets real kicking at times but on this one I think it’s truly a thing of brilliance  … I’ll likely see you there once the kids are in bed and I get the decent chocolate out! ! 

My Facebook page is here