Happy Fathers Day Mom

Today I logged onto Facebook (as we do in order to pass a few minutes with our morning beverage of choice) and my news feed was filled with loving posts to various men from across the board, from dads, to grandads, to loved ones of the male variety in general. Which is lovely.

It is, afterall, fathers day. The day we are told to thank our fathers for all they do for us. The only thing is, I never knew mine. He was around for a short while but soon lost interest and vanished around the age of 2 or 3. My very young mom raised three kids on her own for the most part (albeit with the help of my powerhouse super human nan who dashed between work and school to collect us and help where she could.) But on the whole, my mom raised us kids and was the one that put us to bed each night and spent that time with us.

So, I have to say, I find fathers day a bit of a funny one. I do not feel obliged to thank a man I do not know and have not seen since I was 2. Neither do I feel I owe anything to a man who made my moms life utterly miserable through neglect and abuse, leaving her as a young mom of three with no money and bad memories. He never bothered contacting us again, until too long had passed, somewhat of a relief looking back, and paid no maintanance for his children EVER, moving on to impregnante another woman whilst mom raised his first three alone. I cant be thankful to a man that by birth right is my dad, but by presence has been none existant. I can, however, be thankful to a few people and Im going to take the time to do that today, before the day is over, to give my thanks publicly, because although my mom hates these forced days where we are told what to say, I know her and a few others deserve a few good words on fathers day.

Firstly, to my step dad, Rob. My mom got remarried to a lovely man after we all become young adults (or old teenagers in my sisters case.) He has been the one who has supported her and loved her and helped her. He has also supported, loved and helped all of us kids in equal measure, individually, at different stages of our time knowing him. We have brought, in all fairness, a lot of distruption (as kids do) to his previously probably a lot more peaceful child free life. However, we have also added another dimension he never had before, a positive one, like that feeling of belonging to a unit and life being about so much more than yourself . Like having a family to call his own (without having to do the pooey nappy stage-he got the difficult young adult stage instead!). And the unconditional bond that you get as a family when you realise these are truly your people and that, even if you fall out, you know a year down the line you can see them and give them a great big hug and mean every squeeze of it. We have had our moments as a family, all of us, but you have done as you promised you would and stuck by mom through thick and thin, as you have stuck by all of us too. For that, and for the person you are, I truly am thankful that you came into our lives, having enriched ours also with something that we have never had before either. That being a positive male role model who says what he means and does what he says. One that knows and wants his responsibility and looks after those around him. I know we scare you sometimes (ha!) but I wouldnt change you being in our lives for anything. I am so pleased you and mom found each other when you did. It was so lovely talking to you today and we look forward to seeing you in August. WP_20140221_174

Secondly, to my daughters dad, Adam. The pain I felt after you left, breaking a decades worth of love, work, family, hopes, plans and life, is not an easy burden to bear for anyone. On occassions since that time, for one reason or another, things have been trying, confusing and frought. Seperations are not easy, especially unwanted ones. However, we have somehow, someway, managed to create the most beautiful, intelligent, funny little girl. We did that. I dont know how she came out so wonderful. Or so clever. Or so talented. We have had back and forths, ups and downs, trials and trouble. We have also, however, had family time still as a unit, co parenting on your days here to make sure Emi knows her parents are both around still, regardless of our personal situation, having plenty of moments of happiness, joy, friendship, laughter and pride along the way. Whatever has happened, a families bond, if they were a genuine happy family, is still there. You are still family, in whatever way we can now call it. The obvious resentment is there for me as a single mom now, doing most of the work all week on my own and being the one that now builds my life around Emi, which is so much harder by yourself. That is natural I think. I am still working on that. However, as it is a day for being grateful and thankful, I would like to say that I am thankful you still turn up when you say you will. I am thankful that you help out with the nursery runs when you can, giving me a much needed break on those days. I am still thankful that Emi has a dad and that you didnt do what a lot of men do when they leave and simply walk away and forget about her. I am not saying its perfect and you know I give you it when I think you can try harder for her, thats my job, im her mom, but what matters is you are still here. That is more than my dad did and I can only hope that it lasts so that Emi will always have two parents who want to be around her, in her life, wherever we may be, showing her she is loved and wanted. It hasnt been easy, granted, but somehow, even after what happened, Emi is surrounded by love and happiness in her home, both by me as her main person each day on our days alone together and also as a family still when you come and visit. It is so healthy to teach her to be kind. To be kind to those even who have hurt you. To be kind to those you love. To be thankful for the things you do have even when you dont have what you feel you would like. Emi still has her people around her and I am very thankful for that. Thank you for letting her enjoy opening your fathers days presents today. She had a ball. 20170221_085447

Last but not least, to my mom. We have had our ups and downs. I personally think its a girl thing because Emi already acts about fourteen at four! You dont always say what I want to hear, or you might question things I think dont need to be raised. You annoy me and I annoy you. Sometimes. Thats life. Then, sometimes, you phone me up, just for a chat, just because you miss me, just because you miss Emi, just because you want to see how I am. You live 300 miles away, yet, you are the one that phones me after ALL the important things that go on in my life, like health appointments or personal stuff, you always phone to see how it went and how I am. I was thinking about this the other day. Dont think I dont notice that. We may have fallen out before. Plenty. You have raised strong feisty women with an opinion. It wasnt going to be a smooth ride. We may have really pissed each other off before too. You may not have been able to raise us in the idealic situation we are told by society we should have. But you did raise us. You are still here. You are still present. You are still calling. You drive up 300 miles just to get a cuddle from your grandaughter and make sure you can still be involved with her upbringing. I know people with mothers on their doorsteps they dont hear from for a year at a time. You bother. You make the effort. You are someone that Emi completely trusts and puts her own care in Grandmas hands because she knows shes safe. She has decided that for herself because she feels it. You have taught her, through what you taught me, to feel what she needs to feel. To follow her emotions and to go with what she needs. You are constant. You are here. I admit I have taken that for granted in the past and as we all do, have sometimes focused on certain bits I may not like or agree with. You have also done this in return. However, we fight, we make up, we get over it, we move on. We mend, we heal, we progress, we live, we love. That is what a true family is about. To be able to tell you straight then get over it. To not always agree, but to get over it. To accept youre not always right then get over it. To be there because they want you to be ok. You, I know, would never cut me out of your life as some have done, or leave me to my own devices to never hear from you again. You are too concerned with knowing if I am ok. I hear of people, friends I know also, who dont speak to their mothers or daughters. They fall out and never speak again and years pass and they die having never spoken and one person is left feeling horrible about it. I think that must be unbearable. I would feel heartbroken if Emi didnt want to know me. I would also never even consider turing my back on her, unless given no choice of course, as I appreciate some are. Now I am in a position of being where you were all those years ago, on my own with a child, I fully understand how hard it must have been. The loniless can be dibilitating. The work load can be exhausting. The constant reminder that you dont have what you wanted can be hard to take and effect how you feel around the children. However, you managed. As I am. I am more than managing on the whole actually. Thats because of you. Because I have been raised to be silently secure enough to handle my own. To feel every insecurity but to work to the best of my ability with what I do have. To have that fighting spirit within me that you took from nan also and to simply survive, even when you feel you dont have it in you. Because the alternative is not an option when you look into the eyes of your child and know you want them to have a happy upbringing. I want so much for Emi and I know you feel the same for me. So I just wanted to say thank you. For being both mom and dad for all those years. For doing it all. See you next week. looking forward to our holiday. WP_20160620_17_38_41_Proxx

 

How is my baby girl 4 already x

On 21st February 2017, my gorgeous little girl turned four. For any parent out there, with kids of any age, you will fully understand how fast that time passes you by. It is a strange feeling, celebrating a child’s birthday, especially when they are this young and little still.altAmXFT0bdvjntDnsyYgLIeP5pHK--RoOHbcJNb2l6WURjAbove: The arrival. Feels like yesterday

In one sense, it is of course a celebration of life and how far they’ve come and grown as a little person in their own right. It’s a time to be surrounded by your loved ones, spending quality time together, enjoying those moments and simple pleasures that are allowed on that special day, such as being spoilt with presents and eating copious amounts of cake. (We had food coloured, very bright, very 4 year old friendly, TROLL cake, for the record ;-).)20170220_153928 Above: Emis Troll cake

Those moments are all worth it and we had a great day. We had two celebrations for various family members, one being a very lady like tea party for the girls and the other being a trip to the farm with her dad, aunty and uncle, followed by visitors with goodies in hand for her for the remainder of the day. It was a special day all round and I feel blessed that everyone loves her as much as I do. Birthdays are great for reaffirming that you are in fact loved.

Above: Birthday fun!

In another sense, however, I felt some sadness on that day, even more so now it’s passed. Just that sort of sadness, that we all as parents feel, when the child, no longer your baby, gets another year older, leaving behind another year of precious memories and milestones that will never happen again for them. Its gone. Its achieved. Shes onto the next adventure already. The first birthday is always an emotional ride but nobody tells you how much harder it gets to watch them grow up with each passing year. Especially when you just have the one child and are throughly enjoying these younger years with them, it hits it home that whilst loving the child you have, you might never get to experience these milestones again with another, something I very much wanted. As a single parent who has to focus all their energies on their child rather than dating or going out etc that can be a tough reality to face. I know other single moms in the same position as me, in their thirties, feeling the same way that I do. It’s a scary time not knowing if you will get to fulfill something you know will bring such happiness. But I can only focus on her today. She does bring me a whole wealth of happiness which I never take for granted. And in turn I know she’s happy with me. We love each other and its pure and real. That feels amazing.

Above: My focus. My happy girl.

Of course, it was her first birthday without Nan too, who passed away last July and who I always think of but who is especially on the mind on special occasions such as this. I remember her being a little uneasy after I had Emi in 2013, wincing at the idea of being a great Nan as it made her feel old, but within her own time, she came into her own and with the love she had for Emi, grew to adore it. She beamed with pride when she was around my little girl. That made me extremely proud. I think about their funny little relationship often and how they used to take pleasure in winding each other up (ages 3 and 79) then taking great pleasure in laughing together and sharing some biscuits after their fun and games. I think for the first birthday without her, we did great together. 20160807_071958[1].jpg

Above: 4 generations. Nan, me, baby Emi and Mom.

The stages of a childs growth and progression seem to whizz by without ever standing still.  That is why I try my hardest to make the most of it and not miss anything. Teething, eating, crawling, walking, running, talking, starting nursery. Shes done all that. Shes a pro. She will be starting school this September and I have to admit that’s not a milestone I have been looking forward to. It will be such a huge change to our life, which is currently me and her together most days, that I know it will take some time for me to get used to it. I know she will love it though.  I sometimes sit with her at home, wrapped up in a cosy blanket together, watching her funny baby videos to remind me of things she used to do. She finds herself hilarious too which is so funny to see. Its amazing what you forget or need reminding of. Life is of course about the present and living in it, which we have no choice but to do to get through each day, so the way she used to say “kilky” for milky, for instance, isn’t in the forefront of my mind most days. However, to have those precious memories captured on film, to look at whenever I want, is priceless to me.

It also reminds me how much life has changed for me and Emi. I was in my family of 4, with a partner and step son, both in my life for nearly 8 years. Now we don’t have those 2 in our lives on a daily basis and especially with Emis big brother it could be months before we get a catch up these days with him, as our lives move forward, so I am so glad that I have some wonderful memories to look back upon on paper to remind me, after the hard times faced recently, that they really were very happy times for us all. It also helps me to take nothing in life for granted. Not that I ever did then. Family to me is everything. I loved it all.

Above: Happy days

I try to be in the moment with her as much as possible but to be able to capture a moment of pure joy is bliss and a memory I enjoy being able to look at when I need a pick me up or just happen to be having a trip down memory lane. Sadly, there was never really anyone around who would take pictures of me with Emi without me having to ask. Then, when you have to ask, the moments gone and its posed and no longer natural. All those beautiful, unguarded moments, such as feeding in the first days or playing together. I’m sure I would have looked a mess and probably (definitely) would have scrutinized myself in the pictures which is probably why nobody bothered to take them, but having the choice of pressing delete would have been nice. Any pictures I have are ones I’ve had to take myself, selfie style, with her sitting on my lap. I took countless, gorgeous photos of her with her dad, her brother, her family. Sometimes moms are so overlooked and then there are no precious moments to look back on in years to come. My photo albums at home are full of pictures of Emi with everyone but the person that’s in her life 24/7. Her mom. I wont forget personally of course but a reminder of happiness is sometimes so needed. I would urge anyone who sees a lovely moment to try to capture it for moms with children as they are too often the ones behind the camera being forgotten about. fb_img_14704222592891

Above: Selfie queens

I have a lot to be thankful for in terms of my daughter. Shes a little firecracker. Shes determined, she’s strong, she’s healthy, she’s a madam at times but she’s so full of fun and life that she keeps me going even when I don’t feel like it. Theres not a day that isn’t filled with some sort of laughter or fun when she’s around. Shes my absolute priority and its a pleasure to spend my days with her. I look forward to spending time with her and making it about me and her, no distractions. Kids only want your time and with a kid like this why on earth would I want to be anywhere else, especially at this stage where she’s happy, interested and soaking everything new up like a sponge!

Above: Enjoying life’s little things!

Through the personal pain I sometimes feel, I am equally excited about her growing up and the adventures we will have together. She is so lively and athletic, her stamina knocks me out at times. She is hilariously funny and loves an audience. We do simple things together like going to the park or baking. Life really is about enjoying the little things and spending a day planting up seeds for the garden may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but its interactive, its great  for bonding and it gives us enjoyable things to look forward to later in the year when our plants are springing into life. Having kids doesn’t have to be about chucking expensive toys at them as so many people these days do in place of attention. I’m sure in years to come, when she looks back at our life together, she will appreciate the time I gave her, remembering those memories more than anything I could buy her.20170227_1700091

Above: At my side through it all 😉

So now she’s 4, it’s the start of another year of milestones for my little daredevil. Who knows what this next year will have in store for her. In the last few months alone she has learned how to master the pedals on her bike, she has become a keen dancer and she is interested in taking up ballet. Her personality is in full bloom and more than anything I am excited to see how much she will blossom this year into the person I am already seeing developing before me each day. It’s safe to say I am one very lucky mamma to have such an inspiring little girl in my life. Heres to being 4 and loving it ;-). She will always be my baby though, no matter how big she gets 😉 xwp_20140601_004

How do you fix a generation of nasty yobs?!

Yes I live in Birmingham (quite a nice town on the outskirts).

Yes I live in a mixed area of both council and private properties, this road in particular being a real mix of people and backgrounds.

I fully understand that living in a city will bring its share of crime, disrespectful people and idiots. Does this mean, however, that I should be intimidated within my own home by what can only be described as ignorant bastards without a brain cell between them? No!

I can usually get through my time here quite pleasantly. We have had trouble in the past, granted, but since about a year ago, all has been quiet. No more quad bikes destroying the calm of the avenue for hours on end at a time. No more teenagers hanging out on my front porch smoking weed that filled my house up above it. No more opening my door to find intimidating groups of men or boys right on my door step with a baby inside to worry about. I was rather enjoying the lack of people on this avenue this year. Peace had been restored.

Today, the New Year brought me some unwanted visitors. I wouldn’t usually post about something so insignificant, but I don’t actually feel it is, thinking about it. The manner in which I was spoken to today in my own hallway, truly makes me lose all faith in a lot of the new generation of human beings and absolutely makes me want to hang my head in dismay that these people are being taught that its ok to be such nasty assholes in their adult life towards good people just trying to live and bothering no one else. I say taught because there is no way if raised correctly these people would be so utterly cold, disrespectful and unsympathetic towards others in situations they themselves are causing.

Being New Year, I had a big clear out of Emis room today, with her help of course (Help includes jumping in my carefully sorted piles of clothes, emptying a box of jigsaw pieces in the area I needed to hoover and dancing around naked whilst I cleaned around her-she is 3, why not!). I had armfuls of cardboard from xmas gifts, toys she doesn’t use anymore for the charity shop, clothes to sell, you know what its like with a 3 year old hoarder! I carried the cardboard down for recycling being completely unaware of anyone being outside my door. I wouldn’t have opened it if I had heard voices. With Emi singing at me it was hard to hear anything else.

I opened my front door, which leads into a communal hall I share with 2 other neighbours, to see grown men in my hall smoking and rolling up joints at the bottom of my stairs. This may seem like nothing to some of you, but they didn’t live here, I had never seen them before in the area, and they had seemingly just walked in off the road and decided to enter my hallway and hang out in there. It is very intimidating for anyone, before events took a nasty turn, never mind afterwards.

Before I said anything, one cocky shit said “Oh alright love we are just waiting for Steve”. He smirked and turned away, feeling very happy with himself and not realising that normal people with any sense of neighbourly goodwill at least know their neighbours first names. It said a lot about him that he assumed I didn’t. I ignored this at first, knowing full well no one called Steve lives in this block, just asking instead if they would not smoke in my hall as I had a young child at home and the smell fills my flat up. They said sorry love, quite sarcastically, and carried on rolling and smoking. Staying put, continuing to talk to each other whilst facing away from me with no intention of stopping after apologising. Mocking me directly.

I said “Who did you say you were waiting for again?”. The reply was Steve, followed by a snigger and another back turn. I said “Well unless someone new has moved in since yesterday when I spoke with my neighbour Darren, no Steve lives here, so could you please leave as you don’t live here either.” I thought this quite reasonable. I remained calm and spoke sense. I had a small child on my hip. A reasonable person may have seen their intrusion and left at that point.

These were not reasonable people. There is a new generation of spoiled, uncared for children, who do what they like at home with no consequence, or do want they want on the street because of lack of education at home about basic manners, respect and morals. They grow up into spoilt, ungrateful, greedy adults, with no sense of self-awareness, with a massive sense of self entitlement and a thirst and desire for everything to go their own way at all times. Crime is ignored. Life has no meaning apart from getting through each day on their terms only. The streets are theirs to claim in their eyes. Anything and anyone is fair game.

I was quite speechless at the massive toddler tantrum that erupted from one of the blokes in response to my statement. “For fucks sake, we are just waiting for a taxi and just fucking chillin so you need to shut the fuck up and get back in your house and leave us alone, it’s a council property anyway so you have no say so fucking shut up.”

This was actually his argument. In my hallway. Knowing himself he didn’t live on this road and had intruded my hall off the streets. With my 3 year old daughter in attendance being shocked by his foul dirty mouth, listening to every word. God forbid she ever thinks this sort of disgusting behaviour is acceptable.

I was pretty shocked for a few seconds but kept my calm and said “Well you’re wrong as these are not all council, I am a private tenant and regardless of what you think I pay my rent and I have rights to my own entrance hall and seeing as you don’t live here I am within my rights to ask you to leave and stop filling up my property with smoke. You are also being incredibly aggressive and intimidating in front of my 3 year old and I don’t have to accept it in my own rented space from someone not even from this area.”

This angered him greatly, to which he started swinging his arms back and forth Kevin style, pacing the hall and aggressively lunging towards the stairs, spitting his words at me, saying “Whatever, its council, im not going anywhere, call the fucking police if you want me gone or fuck off, im staying put.”

He looked like he was so raging mad, he might run up the stairs towards me at any point if I said anything else, so I started backing up, ushering Emi inside first, getting ready to close the door and call the police if necessary. Luckily, I didn’t have to waste any more words on a brick wall, as I think his mate could see his gobby shite of a friend had overstepped the mark and scared us and said “We will go love, sorry”. He literally had to drag his mouthy friend out whilst he continued to shout obscenities about his hardship of not getting what he wanted. He actually felt hard done by! As soon as they had stepped outside I followed them down and shut the door, bolting it so they couldn’t come back in, but even then they remained literally looking at me through the glass, they had made a point of just going as far as off my step and no further, not leaving my front porch area and continuing to smoke in front of my property, swearing at me as I closed the door. (Little fucking bitch, I believe I was called that time.)

It’s fair to say, me and Emi were both pretty shaken by the experience today. Me more so. Emi forget within 5 minutes but did start acting out the days events in great role play bossy shouty sessions using her dolls as the naughty men and telling them off. She is a great story teller that girl! It’s all material for her. No awareness of the real danger in the world at that age. I hope she remains innocent until necessary.

I always try to lock the door downstairs and ask that the neighbours do also. However, they have a habit, either them or the postman, of forgetting. I have lovely neighbours downstairs who, if at home, which is rare, will help me up the stairs with my shopping if they see me struggling. I will feed their cats on days they are away. We have a good neighbourly friendly relationship. My other neighbours are equally ok, friendly enough to say hi to and quiet as mice. No trouble. But someone is forgetting, maybe on their way out on a morning, to close the door, meaning that, as both sides are out of the block for a day or two at a time, very often, for most of the week, I am the only person in this block with my daughter. Which can have its good points. It’s very quiet. Although, I have to say, it at times makes me feel incredibly vulnerable as if they were outside my front door today as I opened it, as kids have been in the past on my top step smoking, the unreasonable nastiness from that one particular bloke could have ended up with mine and Emis health or lives at risk. That is the reality of bad people and the situation I am in on my own with a child. There is no partner only hours away to make you feel safe once they get in from work as there used to be when similar things happened when Emi was a baby. Its pretty scary at times. That is not dramatizing it. It is the reality of being a woman with a child in an isolated place on my own. You never know whats around the corner and I am hoping for better things than that rubbish today.

It is not ok, in my opinion, simply to say, well its the area, you chose to live there, deal with it. Yes I chose to live here, in a decently priced rental property, as a starter home, with my partner and first baby on the way. Since being made a single parent, when things like this happen, I am a vulnerable woman with a young child. And I hate that. Because even the strongest of women, when faced with unreasonable people who could put their lives in danger if something flips them the wrong way, cannot use their strength for good to defeat or reason with idiots who use their personal rage and lack of intelligence to bully their way through life. These kind of people, with such ignorance to their own deficiencies as people, are dangerous. Bullies are not big men, they are not tough either. Nothing these people do should be encouraged or praised. The world would be better off without them. Sad but true. Nan used to say they need putting down as they bring nothing to society apart from trouble. I would like to believe you could help some people with kindness and patience but we all know that some people are beyond that sort of help.Bad habits are ingrained in them from childhood. Nan might have had a point somewhere;-) Only kidding. But that’s the question.

Short of getting rid, what can we do about it? Call the police as that moron suggested today? He and me both know that if I did, they would roll up 3 hours later, say they had searched the area and go back to real policing. They would log it and tell you to keep logging it. And on the log goes. With no end. No purpose. No outcome apart from to appease the caller and seem half interested. I have been there. Nothing actually gets sorted.

What else could we do? Join neighbourhood watch? I have never read much on them, but imagine its much the same but with the addition of lots of curtain twitching, with the end result being calling the police and logging it. Oh and having a nice sticker proudly displayed in the window. I am sure it helps in some areas but in the forgotten ones it serves no purpose apart from giving the nosy neighbours a role.

And that is about it. I hate that people see these yobs and turn a blind eye, because its easier to let them do what they want than become a target to their bullying. The men in my hallway today were grown men of about 25-30. Grown men. Not teenage kids. How are they allowed to enter someone elses property and intimidate a mother and small child trying to go about their business. My Nan used to say just leave it. She always ignored them. And for the entirety of her life within her flat on this same road, she had people smoking in her hall, keeping her awake and on edge, meanwhile assuming it was ok because nothing was said. I imagine if it was they would still have been there. Yobs don’t listen to reason. Of course, on her own, she was vulnerable too. But the fact remains, it is not ok. I will not live as a recluse being told that thugs rule and there’s nothing I can do about it. I can at least try.

It is time for entire communities to come together, take back control of their areas and work together for a better way of life. There used to be such community spirit and now people just abuse each other. I would rather live an honest life making the best of it. People should help each other, as it used to be. I am calling for better patrols of well known problem areas as a starting point. This worked before. It took endless logs from many people within this area when the anti social behaviour was at its worst but it led to a raised police presence in the area, which, I believe, is what has contributed to the quiet of the last year here. I don’t know if this will even be acknowledged by one person in relation to an individual event but I will be trying.

Good people who live their lives honestly should not have to live in fear of leaving their own home. It doesn’t matter if you live in a council home, a private rent, a bought home, a caravan, you have the right to privacy and safety. I pay my bills same as everyone else, this is my home, that hall is my entrance. I will not allow it to be taken over by fully grown bully’s. I don’t think one person can make that much difference against the war on brain dead hooligans but it does have to start with one person at least.

I will fight with everything I have to keep my little girl safe within her own home. This is her safe place. If it doesn’t feel safe, what do we have left?

That is my thought for the start of this New Year anyway. Its survival for peace. I have always fought for what I believed in and loved. It’s not about to stop with my home. Pro-active and positive. Pick your fights x

Remembering Nan at Christmas

How is it December 11th already?! This month has been a whirlwind of house sorting, tantrums (Mainly Emi, honest) seeing visitors and friends and getting ready for the big day on the 25th. Of course, it’s really all about the children when making grand plans for presents and trips to santa,which with a 3 year old, this year is ALL about those things as well as family time. However, this year is going to be a bitter sweet one for me and many others since the loss of Nan in July. It almost feels like it happened longer ago, I have to remind myself sometimes it was only this July we lost her. So I wanted to make sure I remembered the adults this year too as best as I could. This year really is about making sure that EVERYONE is ok, because in all honesty, it’s going to be really strange on the day without her here. WP_20160411_16_59_17_Pro[1]

Last year, even though ill and with very little appetite, Nan still managed quite naturally to insult my cooking to my face across the dinner table saying “Sprouts are a bit crunchy”, whilst making a point of screwing her face up and over exaggerating how difficult she was finding it to chew them with her ill-fitting false teeth. My brother kept his head down, apart from a side glance to see my reaction, probably knowing the effort it had taken me that year simply to hold any sort of Christmas after my partner had moved out only a few months before. Meanwhile, I clenched my teeth and tried not to tell her to go home. (I wouldn’t have really but I was annoyed.)

I had dared to venture away from the standard boiled sprouts option, instead adding lemon, garlic and breadcrumbs, but when faced with a 79 year old woman who knew exactly what she wanted and expected from a christmas dinner, this did not go down well at all. I remember at the time, after hours of cooking, being really annoyed at her for feeling the need to even say anything like that, she could have just politely not eaten them. But then that would be asking for her to be someone else. Now I can look back and laugh. It’s actually a really happy memory for me now because it’s just so silly isn’t it?! To get annoyed over sprouts?! People of a certain age do tend to think they have the right to say and do whatever they like and they let it out of their mouths wherever and whenever they please. Nan was no exception to this theory. It’s a humorous thing really. The best part is, they know full well that because of their age that they will get away with it. And they do. And she did. Because no one dared say anything back. It’s ok for her to upset someone but there’s a natural respect for that generation that I wouldn’t have tried to upset her in return. Funny isn’t it?

What I would give to have her insulting my cooking abilities this year.

There is something about christmas that just makes Nan feel alive again. This was her time of year. Everything reminds me of her. From going to choose the christmas tree, which we always did together (with Emi last year which was special), to seeing the Cherry liquor chocolates in M&S that I bought for her every year (and that she then bought even more of for herself because she loved them so much and often ate a whole box in one sitting whilst watching tv on an evening.) Everywhere I turn there is a reminder of her and it can be really hard sometimes not to just keep crying at the fact she is not here anymore. Most of the reminders are happy ones, but even the good ones can make you tear up. 20161203_1752391

The one thing that reminds me most of her at this time of year is Holly. For as far back as I can remember she made holly wreathes for friends and family all throughout December, trailing up to the local park with her drag bag in the dark so she wouldn’t be seen cutting away at the Holly in daylight. I think we have probably all been up with her at some point helping her get in her supplies. The house was a mess with greenery cuttings and ribbon everywhere all throughout the month but the end result was always stunningly beautiful. People came back to her every year because she was so good at what she did. She didn’t do it to make money. She never made anything from it. She did it because she enjoyed that the people who had them from her loved her work and would return every year for something she had made. They were miles better than anything you saw in standard florists or markets. She had a real sense of pride in everything she made and even though she would never admit satisfaction with anything she produced to anyone else, I know she was proud of her abilities and most of all aware of them herself. She knew.

This year, without Nan to make my wreath, I wanted to remember her in my own way by attempting it myself. Not for myself. I havent made myself one yet. I will. My main purpose in doing them was that I wanted to make one for those people who had one last year and would never get another. I wanted simply to gift them in tribute to Nan and as a way for me to stay connected to her and remember her. To try to practice the skills I picked up only last year when she showed me a few bits in the nick of time. Christmas to me, especially after a loss, is not about what you get. It is about gestures, love, cherishing what you have. We don’t have Nan anymore but we do have everything she taught us. It has been a wonderful experience for me. An emotional one of course too. I have retraced her footsteps and scrounged around the same park she did to get some holly and other greenery. Whilst there, I sat in the sunshine and just remembered her. I felt sad and happy all at the same time. Then I came home and had a go. That was very Nan. Just give it a go and try. I realised there is a bit of Nan in me too, as after I had made a few I started to see what I did wrong with the first one I had already gifted and was kicking myself a bit that it wasnt as good as those that followed. A bit of Nans perfectionism coming out in me I suppose. Now I can see why she was always so particular. The more you do the higher your own standards are. They also take thought, time and patience. I think I understand her a bit more having made a few of these, which I didn’t expect any insight into her when I started them. Funny how things work out. 20161208_1512151

Above: There is always time for a play in the park, even on our Holly collecting mission…

As it happens, I have been rather pleased with the outcome of my efforts. I will fully accept it when anyone says “Its good but it’s not your Nans” because it’s so true. She just knew what she was doing and if she didn’t it looked like she did. She was beyond practical and would always work it out. She knew how to do everything with ribbon and wire and arrangement. She just knew. I don’t. My version is to buy a base (she made her own) and stick things in as best as I can and hope for the best. As it turns out, I’m not too shabby at it! 20161210_1421231

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Once the wreathes are packed away, there will be lots of other things sparking off memories for me of our past times with Nan. My big tree reminds me of her huge real trees she used to get and let us decorate (Probably rearranging our placements once in bed, as I do now with Emi). Hiding Emis presents in the cupboard reminds me of the stacks of presents she used to drag up the road in her wheely bag to us on christmas day. Her face last year watching Emi open the presents she had chosen for her was lovely. The trifle she made every year will be sorely missed. (I never did get her recipe.) Things just keep flooding back to me and I will miss her so much this christmas. However, I am already making my own traditions, with my own little person hopefully remembering all the little things that I do for her too, which is lovely to know that the cycle of life, love and giving is not one that ends with the loss of someone special…..and something tells me Nans traditions are not going to stop at me 😉 xxxx20161210_1212541

When lipstick is the answer!

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I’m having one of those days!

You know the sort. We all feel like this at times, especially as single parents who have been faced with hardship or pain and are still trying to find their way through it.

Those days where you don’t want to get up but know you have to with a little person talking to you at 6am. Those days where everything feels at an all time low and you can’t understand where people’s empathy has gone when they say “That was a year ago, get over it”. Those days when you get no sleep the night before because after a good week of living with your little one, a bad night suddenly creeps up on you and you lye awake unintentionally thinking about all the bad things that have happened then get over tired and don’t sleep at all. Those days where the weather is so dull and heavy that is gives you a personality to suit! Those days where life feels out of your control and you can’t see a way forward with current relationships or situations. Those days where you look in the mirror and are confronted with new grey hairs, duller skin and deeper set eye bags, seemingly much more prominent than yesterdays offerings.

We all have these days, I know it’s not just me! But today is my turn.

I took my daughter into nursery today looking and feeling like utter crap. (Its true!) There comes a point where you sort of give up looking after yourself a little bit when you feel so low. (I’m not trekking up the hill in a dressing gown or anything, im washed and dressed at least, but with as little effort as possible, as it takes so much effort to do it.) I have done really well keeping up my yoga the last week but the last few days it has slipped and my mood has slid with it! Sometimes you just don’t have the energy!

I was going to head home and pretend I had no housework or phone calls to make and just lye around drinking tea all day whilst I had the chance. After realising this would only heighten my thinking and negative feelings today, I instead did something that I hardly ever do. I walked into my local town (even though days like this I hate people in general ha) and went shopping. Ok so I do go shopping, but it will be for food or household items. If I buy a new top it will most of the time be a quick pick up from a charity shop or a bargain I have had delivered to the house that I have found on Ebay. I never go and just shop or buy none essentials for me. Today I needed a bit of retail therapy.

Ok, so I still didn’t spend a lot, but I hit the makeup isle in boots and decided my face needed sprucing up. I came away with a new lipstick, a blusher, a highlighter and some eye shadow. Not masses but treats I never otherwise allow myself. I also hit the charity shops for a proper browse child free and came away with a few nice bits from Wallis and Topshop (at charity shop prices of course!). I came home, dyed my hair, sat in the bath for an hour and did nothing. I then applied my new make up, dried my freshly dyed hair and tested my clothes out. What a self-indulgent day eh?!

The housework didn’t get done today. My phone calls still need to be made. I will have to fit in some study for my course tonight instead. Theres a pile of washing on the kitchen floor I have just stepped over to make a cup of tea. Whats happening in my life today is still happening. However, I feel so much better in myself and most importantly am composed again to take my little girl to the park and be present with her in a calmer state of mind than I was this morning. I took a selfish pampering day, something I never do! I put myself before all the jobs that really needed to be done, something I never do. And I have realised that it is ok sometimes to do that! I feel better anyway with my grey covered and a splash of colour on myself.

This morning I was on the verge of tears and after a bit of self therapy I now feel ready for a fun packed afternoon when I pick my daughter up. I couldn’t be so self-indulgent every day of course. But some days its just needed. And lets face it, tomorrow is another day. Things can only get better, as they say! I am so glad I bought that lipstick 😉 ximg14758434965221

Co-Sleeping with a child

Up until the age of one, my daughter refused to sleep by herself! She was so young and little, we just became accustomed to the fact our night time rest would be disturbed and accepted it would get better when she was ready. It became a way of life that we just went along with, often believing our patience couldn’t last when we fancied a bit of alone time and a crying baby would often put a stop to it. We always found humour with it though, as the second she was placed between us, she would close her eyes, smile coyly and drift off for the rest of the night in a wonderful cosy sleep, probably feeling pretty safe and smug. We didn’t mind really. Getting to squish her baby leg rolls in the night was a pretty good consolation prize. (We all enjoy baby rolls, don’t deny it.)

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Above: Who wouldn’t enjoy waking up to this?!

Then suddenly, when she was around 14 months, is stopped. She wanted to sleep in her cot and there were no more tears at bedtime, no more midnight wake up calls. We found ourselves for weeks after it started keeping on checking in on her, making sure she was still breathing, as we couldn’t get used to the quietness. We actually started to miss having her with us on a night.

People will often tell you that these things are just stages and the child will grow out of it naturally when they are ready, but I don’t for one second think that most of us believe it will actually happen that way. So when my daughter suddenly was very contented in her own cot, eventually also being happy in her own big girls bed approaching 2, we couldn’t have been happier for her. Of course, for me as her mother, there was that secret hidden element where I also felt a little bit like she didn’t need me anymore and was getting her comfort elsewhere. That will always be there I now know, whatever new milestone she reaches. But I had a partner at the time, so no baby in the middle of us in bed was very much welcomed and it was nice to have time for each other again.

Then, as some of you know, our world was turned upside down when my partner left me for another girl, leaving me and our daughter confused and insecure.

From the day he left, my daughter has refused to sleep in her own room, never mind in her own bed. The first few months were really needed for us both. We drew comfort and security from each other, her still only 2 at the time and having been used to feeling secure  since birth knowing daddy was in the next room, I can’t imagine the insecurities she must have felt at watching him go. Break ups are so confusing on the children and unfortunately, some people never do consider the children when they run onto the next greener horizon they think is awaiting them.WP_20140308_008.jpg

Above: Innocent little lives. So peaceful with what they know and are familiar with x

In terms of myself, I no longer had someone to hold me and make me feel safe at night. When you have spent 8 years with someone who cuddled you to sleep every night, it’s a real shock to the system to have an empty cold half of the bed. So having my daughter with me, at night, really pulled us through together. She wanted to know that I was there at all times and that I wouldn’t leave her also. I do believe she also wanted to protect me. She had seen first hand, unfortunately, my devastation at what was happening, and the day he got into the van packed with his things and went, we sat on the hall stairs, where she cuddled me, wiped away my tears and said “We are together now mom.” At only 2, she was looking after me. And I needed it. And she knew I did.

These days, I never for one minute doubt a child’s intelligence. Some people say they are only 2 or 3, they don’t know what they’re saying, or they wont remember anything. Of course they will. They are like sponges.

This was a year ago. Its been a rollercoaster ride getting to this point. Some days are good. Other days not so good. We have fun together though. Since that time, I have tried to get my daughter to want to sleep in her own room, investing in a new bed for her and even redecorating it in her choice of colours. We have managed a few nights where she begrudgingly goes to sleep in there, but I always awake to the sound of little footprints running back into my room in the middle of the night, getting in, smiling, turning over and falling into a lovely peaceful sleep next to me. Sound familiar? WP_20150104_17_51_25_Pro.jpg

Above: Team work x

A few people have warned me off allowing this. They have said the child will become too dependent on me. That she will never sleep in her own bed if I don’t push her to now.

I think, this time, I am going to listen to my own instinct.

It is doing her more good than harm having that comfort from me. She sleeps rights through the night (7pm until 7am on a good night.) It has been a year but not a straight forward one. Try telling a 3 year old when its time to stop missing her daddy being there when she needs a cuddle. It doesn’t happen. They are natural creatures at that age, going from one moment to the next entirely on how they feel in that moment. If it brings her comfort to know im not going to walk out on her and im next to her, whilst she’s still young, I am all for it.

She wakes up rested, rejuvenated and happy right now. I have attempted a few times in her room and most of the night has been spent disturbed, crying or generally restless. She is then a misery the next day for lack of sleep which makes things twice as hard.

At three and a half, she is already getting embarrassed about me giving her a kiss on the cheek when I drop her into pre-school. This morning, she wiped it off with her hand and gave it back to me! It gives me hope that children follow their natural needs and that she wont always be hogging my bed. She has grown up so much in the last few months, she is different to how she was even 3 months ago. They are constantly evolving and growing, something I don’t think they are given enough credit for when they are often labelled as spoilt or naughty.

I do believe that they will tell you what they need in their own time. Dont misplace my meaning, I do believe kids need structure and routine, which she has. They also need boundaries. Treats should be treats and not expected everyday, they should understand that hard work is the way to earn things they want and not just be handed it, and so on.

However, at the moment, with the sleeping, I don’t see it’s doing her any harm. I am pretty certain that pushing her away before she is ready would actually do more harm than good. I’m also pretty certain that in not so long from now she will be feeling even more grown up and will eventually leave the safety of my bed and want her own. That is a given, it will happen. And I will miss these baby years where she was completely devoted to me and wanted nothing in return other than love. Why shouldnt I enjoy this special time? Maybe if I had a partner I might feel differently, but I don’t. That’s my point, no one can say it’s wrong because each situation is different for each person’s individual life path.

Also, whilst I am not sharing my bed with anyone else, it’s of no great rush to me either. I like knowing she’s there too.

Co sleeping shouldnt be mislabeled as inappropriate or wrong. It also shouldnt be confused with co dependency. I am all for her being in her own bed and when she is it will be a relief not to be kicked in the face in the night. I’m just not going to bully her into getting there before she needs to. x wp_20141107_08_30_10_pro

Single Mom,not Superwoman! (And what its really like living with a 3 year old!)

I was chatting to a friend the other day when they pointed out to me how they thought the systems that be often expect single parents to be more like superwoman than anything else. And it wasnt until she said it that I realised how much I am expected to be able to manage on my own. And what a good job I’ve been doing actually. I have been feeling somewhat overwhelmed by it all since last year when this became my living status, that being me and my daughter on our own.

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Now she is three and a half, has just started pre-school and is growing so fast it scares me! I am a busy single mom trying to work out what to do next whilst wondering how the hell I will fit going to work into the equation next year when she starts at school. I have a lot to juggle and would really love to hear from any of you that have done it and succeeded! Here is a bit of an insight into what living with a three-year old is really like for those of you who think it’s a walk in the park!

As it’s approaching next September, I find myself more and more daunted by the day. I am sure some of you reading this have been there and can assure me it will be ok. I know deep down things will work out in whatever way they are supposed to. That is usually how life goes. Just getting there is always scary. I would be a liar if I didn’t admit to this. My head is a cloud of decisions I have to make pretty much alone and I often feel ready to give up. I don’t though. I suppose that’s my saving grace. I’ve come close to giving up. But the benefits of having children, single or otherwise, far outweigh the negatives and that is why us parents carry on when faced with only one other option.

Choosing a school: I’m just realising how scary it is making sure you pick the right one! Even if you are happy with a decision and make a choice, there’s no saying they will have space for your child anyway. School life is a whole other ball game to just having a baby. Its getting very real. Choosing a school is something you hope to be doing with a partner on a lazy Sunday in bed, with her tucked up in the middle of you both, looking over the relevent prospectuses whilst cooing over how fast your little one has grown up. To progress as a unit is always the ideal. I looked forward to that bit. You work with what you have. I will of course discuss it with her father, but, inevitably, I will be the one taking her and dealing with the school every day, so it is on my shoulders to make that final decision. It already takes me 25 minutes each way to walk up hill to her pre-school, that’s each way, 25 there and 25 back. Twice over each day. Nearly 2 hours of my day taken up with getting to pre school and back. No wonder my calves ache! Yes I could spend £4.40 per day on the bus but you do the math, especially when she’s at school. It may not seem much to some of you but every penny has to count when you don’t have excess.It has to work for me too whichever I choose.

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School runs: Managing school runs with work as a none driver is not going to be easy. (Those who have helpfully said why don’t you just learn to drive have obviously never survived on £45 income support per week.) I had a friend once who said I would manage as everyone else in my position had to. It’s a  good point in theory, but coming from someone who was driven to the school gates door to door every morning by a family member and who had a supportive partner paying the bills whilst she got to raise her kids at home, it didn’t really bring me much comfort. Remarks aren’t really helpful unless they come from experience. We have a practice routine now of course, which will help us prepare for the real thing, as she’s been at nursery for a year now and the hours are pretty similar to a school day (9am until 3pm) But that’s just two days per week,whilst I am at home and don’t have to rush to work after. The five day week is going to take some getting used to I think!

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Getting out the door:Trying to get yourself up and out the house is one thing. Getting up to an alarm for anything in the early hours is never nice for anyone, kids or not! If I leave without food on my clothes or lipstick on my arm it’s a successful morning. (Ever tried just nipping upstairs to do your make-up without a 3 year old following you and destroying every piece of makeup you ever owned?! Not managed it yet myself!) Trying to get yourself and a young child out of the house, on the other hand, is a whole different kettle of fish. To be clean, dressed, packed and fed and at the place you’re going on time is a challenge. We are managing it so far! Just about!

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Inconsistencies: There are smooth days where she is so good that I feel a little smug my seemingly angelic child at the time does all she’s told. Then there are days when angel is not the preferred choice of word and she doesn’t co-operate at all. Those days where you will get her dressed, leave the room with only 10 minutes to spare until you need to go, come back in and she’s running around with her trousers on her head and a completely naked body apart from her pants and one sock. All in good fun of course. But not in the least bit helpful. Or those days where you get her dressed and she spills her whole bowl of cereal down her top and it pours under your tv cabinet, giving you another job to add to your morning, reducing your time to get ready and meaning you have to then power walk up the hill arriving very sweaty and frantic but just about on time! Buy hey, if you’re going to be inconsistent at any point in your life, three is a good a time as any to get it out the way!

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Above: Who, me?!

Invasions: Mornings, at times, can be a mammoth task. Eat your breakfast (No!), go and get your shoes (Sits watching tv ignoring me), go and have a wee before we leave (cries saying she doesn’t want to try then after 5 minutes of stern mom talking she goes and does a massive one that she obviously needed all along anyway.) You find yourself often sneaking around the house trying to do things in secret. Like tiptoeing up the stairs to have a lone bath whilst she’s watching Bing, only for her to hear me getting in, run after me, then harass me to get in too until I can’t bothered to say no anymore. She proceeds happily making it her own private water world fun time regardless of its original occupier and I quickly wash my hair in the only corner she hasn’t taken over with toys and bottles. Cold water runs freely no matter how much I say to turn it off,my knee is throughly washed at least 12 times whilst I watch my best body wash I was trying to make last at least another week rapidly disappear before my eyes and my 10 minutes of peace become yet another long-winded mess to clean up after. More work for Mommy. Its exhausting sometimes. Mentally draining. Of course there are mornings shes wonderful and does whatever I need her to. And at other times I adore her company in the bath and love that everything is fun at that age. Who am I to spoil her fun. Simple pleasures are all a three year old really needs after love and food. But when you have somewhere to be, its hard work to see the fun side too often. The clock waits for no man once they are in the system.

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Me Time: Every one needs this. Shame we don’t all have the luxury of taking it when we live on our own and away from family. I think it must be so easy for men to just walk out on the tediousness as they see it, of a nagging women and young noisy baby, not fully knowing or wanting to know the full sacrifice they are leaving them to make for the remainder of that child’s life (As if they didn’t sacrifice enough having the babies in the first place-So long tight stomach, confidence and energy) Women often are the backbone of the family and yet are so overlooked at times its frightening. A mother can do a 15 hour day, feed her baby, tidy the house, do the shopping and still manage to get something edible on the table for when her partner gets home complaining about his single task of working that day and being tired. Yet we are made to feel grateful they have earned the money and find ourselves running round after them to meet their needs. Who is meeting ours? We constantly multi task and it’s just not noticed.

Now I am alone I am having to double the multi tasking I was already doing! It never ends! I am permanently exhausted. I am not always able to clean the house properly or go out for yet more food supplies because it’s too much work after cleaning, cooking, chasing and entertaining. It takes several trips sometimes to do top up shopping. On my own, I cart everything back on the bus, juggling my toddler holding onto one bag with the other hand full and a back pack on too. There isn’t much time left over for me. Yet I am proud of myself for rising to the challenge because the alternative is not even an option.I am going to do this job properly and raising a child is nothing to be half soaked about.

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Time Restraints: My evenings will be taken up with coursework from October, going from one job as Mom in the daytime, to another of student whilst she sleeps at night. I have to do this to better the situation I have been left with. My day will be something like 6am until 11pm constantly doing work of some sort. Once shes dropped at pre-school, I come back and clean up last nights mess I was too exhausted to clean up last night. I have a real bath to make up for the one she stole that morning (If cleaning didn’t take the morning) I might go food shopping or pay some bills and before you know it its time to collect her again. The day goes fast and the night even faster. God help me fitting it all in next year. I will. I have to. I’m just not looking forward to working even harder. I don’t feel its possible right now.

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Self Care: It’s a life of choices and sacrifices on your own I have come to realise. People often say raising a child is hard work in general and even as part of a couple. I am not disputing this. Partner or not, its hard work. But with a partner, at least there is a choice that includes you in the equation getting what you need also. I used to be able to have 20 minutes to myself on a morning whilst me and my then partner tag teamed the care of our daughter whilst the other got ready, all getting to do what we needed and getting out the house on time. Always on time. Always with washed hair. Pre single life I washed my hair every day just to feel fresh. Because I had time to wash and blow dry in those days. And put on make up. And paint my nails. And cut them regularly come to think of it. What a luxury. Post split, on my own time, if it’s a choice between getting her to her nursery on time or washing my hair, im going to be walking up that hill with a hat on instead! I come last now in the household list of priorities even more so than I did when I had a partner because im now doing double the work. It’s not a choice to not make an effort with my appearance. I try as much as I have energy to and as much as time will let me. Sometimes a face full of slap is the least of your worries when your toddlers just been sick all in her nursery bag right before you leave the house!

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Employment: Finding a job to fit around a 9am until 3pm day will be hard. Ideally I want to be self-employed but havent quite found that thing that I am really good at yet. I wont have the luxury of juggling the school runs and collections with anyone, it’s all on my shoulders and after this last year I do worry if I will be able to handle it all. I have also just started an Open University degree which I will have to work around next year. Finding a quiet moment to study with that feels almost impossible already being on my own with her, and that’s whilst im at home, so the thought of fitting paid work on top of that next year is something im finding hard to come to terms with. This  wasnt my life choice of preference. I believed in my family. On my new handed path, on a systems time scale of when they think im ready, im feeling more than a little bit terrified. But a day at a time is what I keep saying and doing.

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The fact is that people often see single parents as moaning individuals who must be saying how tough going it is to get sympathy. I have also found that it’s usually those without children with no day-to-day hands on experience of how draining it is, that have the least empathy for your situation doing it alone.

I don’t want your sympathy. I just like to tell it how it is. Some of you might find it interesting. This blog is something I will look back on with happy memories, knowing I allowed myself to process and progress onto better things for myself and my daughters future. I am not expecting any prince charmings to come and rescue me like in any of the chick flicks featuring any of the famous Jennifer’s that I really must stop watching (Lopez, Aniston, you know who you are giving us false hope these men exist!) I am pretty certain I am doing this alone from now on and all I can do is give it my best shot, exhaustion and all x