The hospital bag

I’m not sleeping.  Is it too light (I’m thinking of investing in one of those oh-so-chic eye masks)?  Too warm?  Or are there too many thoughts in my head?  Yesterday I saw the hospital bag packed, ready and waiting at the door.  I saw the nappies.  Did I imagine the tiny white baby-gros?  Not yet permanently marked with sour milk.  The hand knitted cardigans and tiny hats, socks and mittens – it must be so cold and frightening for babies when they leave the womb and are rudely thrust into this world.  The feelings I had walking away from his house with the kids and dog in tow are hard to put into words.  There was definitely jealousy and sadness and a realisation that the kids are going to be part of something that I can probably never give them.

I started thinking about how he is feeling.  Does he have to keep biting his tongue in conversations with his girlfriend?  His head must be filled with birth stories and experiences – one emergency c-section following 48 hours of labour and one planned after what felt like an eternity of bed rest.  I’m presuming he probably feels like he can’t share these tales.  Has she actually gone so far as to say to him ‘I don’t want to hear any more about your experiences?’.  I wouldn’t put it past her.  And there must be a little bit of mansplaining on his part.  After all a man can never know what it is truly like to give birth in whatever way, shape or form but I’m sure most men can’t help themselves.  Okay, I know I’m generalising but in this case I’m pretty sure it’s true.

Has breast feeding been discussed?  Has he regaled her with tales of a fridge full of savoy cabbage leaves? Has she had a baby shower – not something that happened in my day – but I know she’s had her last day in work. A make of pram decided upon and purchased, bottles, teats, sterilisers.  What make of back-up formula have they gone with (if she is planning to feed herself)? All those things that you think you need as a first-time mum but are left unused in their box and all those emergency runs to the shop for things that are invaluable that nobody ever tells you about.  That only comes with experience.  I remember months ago a colleague overheard her sister chatting to a friend in a cafe.  The conversation or rant went along the lines of: ‘and who does she think she is giving my sister advice.  I mean what’s a woman of her age doing getting pregnant anyway?’.  She was bitching about one of my ex’s sisters who is also pregnant and due to give birth any day now…and is my age.  So my ex’s girlfriend is obviously not welcoming any help or advice, most certainly not from his family it would seem.

I can’t stop thinking about whether this experience will feel completely different for him.  Third time around, nearly 8 years after our daughter’s birth.  Will the guilt he must feel over the past ease when he holds his baby for the first time?  Will he weep for his mum and wish she was here to meet his baby?  Will his family forgive him for all of his past misdemeanours when they arrive up at the hospital?  I mean it’s not the baby’s fault is it?  But then I keep thinking will she let his family come to the hospital at all?

I passed her the other day.  I was walking the dog with my boyfriend early on Sunday morning.  She was walking with her sister and her husband.  She’s obviously been told to stay active.  I didn’t tell my boyfriend who she was until we were passed, carried on with my conversation about my brother and his rant about how three of his shirts felt too small on him and he would need to up the exercise.  It was the first time since before my ex left – when she was just another girl in the gym and I had no clue about how she would become part of my future – where there was actual eye contact.  No pleasantries were exchanged but she looked at me and  I can’t stop thinking about that look and what was behind it.  Would she have said hello if I had?  This woman (or girl? She’s not even 30 yet) after all essentially parents my two for part of the week.  She plaits my daughter’s hair and holds her hand, she supervises home work, laughs at appalling jokes, buys clothes for them.  Is it ridiculous that we walk past each other on the street?

I had an email discussion with my ex last night about childcare over the summer.  He is a teacher and has the whole summer off.  He would usually look after our two Monday to Wednesday whilst I’m working.  I asked if there are days he wanted me to arrange alternative childcare.  My boyfriend felt it might be a good idea to involve his two daughters in providing childcare.  A way of them getting to know my children and lets face it earning some money over the summer months, giving them a bit of focus and keeping them occupied.  I love this idea.  Especially since one of his daughters is a trampoline coach.  My daughter would have a ball perfecting her moves!  Anyway, my ex said he thought it would be okay.  There wouldn’t be too many ‘disruptions’ but if there were any he would let me know in advance.  This, again, has stirred emotions in me that I’ve never felt before.  I don’t want my two in the thick of it, fetching nappies and entertaining the baby.  Is that selfish of me?  And anyway how does he know how his girlfriend is going to feel?  Will she want my two hanging around?

And I’ve also started thinking about them bringing the baby home for the first time.  I wonder will she feel absolutely petrified; that fear that defies description when you realise you’re solely responsible for another human being.  Will their house be filled with flowers and dishes of lasagne for the freezer?  Will he ration well wishers like he did for us, wanting to stay in control.  Will he resent her mum hanging about like he did for me or will he welcome the help?

Why am I torturing myself like this?

Teeth & Bones

The Renegade Press

“You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

  • Walt Disney.

One of the most universally recognised concepts of ancient Chinese philosophy is the idea that all things exist as contradictory, yet inseparable opposites. Commonly known as the Yin and Yang, the principle states that there can be no light without darkness; no man without woman; and no joy without sadness. The earliest known depictions of the Yin and Yang characters are found on the skeletal remains of animals that were used in divination practices as early as the 14th century B.C.E. The Oracle Bones were carved with various symbols that served as questions to deities, before being subjected to extreme heat until they cracked. Those cracks were then read by diviners, and interpreted as the word of their gods.

Interesting, right? But completely irrelevant…

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Now to name change

Today I signed the divorce petition.  I made an appointment with my lawyer, kept my appointment, signed the document and had a quick update on next steps.  First of all there was a comedic episode where he got me mixed up with another client.  I’m not sure why…was it because I wore my hair back today?  Or is it because he’s merged with another firm and is in a new shiny office and is a bit confuddled or have I aged years since I last saw him – I’m hurtling towards 40, I noticed distinct turkey neck this morning.  He ushered me into his office and said ‘so you want to discuss divorce?’ and I replied ‘Eh no, you have paperwork for me to sign?’  the penny then dropped and normal business resumed.  The first step in a three part process as far as I can understand.  I should be divorced by the Autumn.  Forty & divorced.  I actually had to sign in two places and my main worry was that my signatures looked different, particularly the surname.  See, when you’ve fallen out of love with your surname you tend to avoid situations where you have to use your surname and you quickly forget the signature you spent hours, days even, perfecting. Big tip, major even, to all those nearly-weds – don’t take your partner’s surname.  Keep your surname, your identity.  For me this isn’t even a feminist thing.  The faff of changing it is immense (all those debit cards and the like) and now I’m going to have to change it back to my maiden name – or, if I follow my mum’s wishes, go double-barrelled – and that’s going to be a huge pain in the arse.

Anyway, it was pretty horrible thinking this is it.  It’s all over (nearly). All those years of marriage just dissolved with money and a couple of signatures.  I’m lucky in that my ex has to do the leg work.  He has to go to court and prove that we were married (with the marriage certificate) and that we have children (with the birth certificates) and that I agree to divorce (with the shoddily signed documents).  This is just and right.  It is him after all that’s pushing for divorce .  I guess he will remarry in the foreseeable future – another hurdle for me to cross as I’m sure the kids will be involved in the ceremony.

So really apart from paying half the costs (why did I agree to that again?  Oh yes, that’s right because I’m a fucking pushover, excuse my language but really I’m tired and cross today and if you can imagine this being said in a Scottish accent you will get the full effect) my work here is done.  Depressing really.   Now I just have to wait I guess.  Divorce will mean one less tie.  One less thing for him to hold over me so that’s all good.  But then it’s one less tie to his family.  My support network really when my family are across the water.  I definitely need them going into this period of uncertainty (his girlfriend’s baby is due at the start of July) and the kids need them but then I guess its up to me to keep that connection so that the kids have their granddad over here and their aunties and cousins.  It’s like a parallel universe.  One where I have to act all nice and smiley like everything is grand even though I feel so aggrieved by their son/brother.  But I have to do it.  I can’t have the kids sensing my ill-feeling.

I also have to wait until January 2019 for his name to come off the mortgage and give him the princely sum of £5000 .  I wanted to rant the following at my solicitor today.  I wanted to ask him to include the following in his reply correspondence to my ex’s solicitor:  What exactly is the £5000 for exactly?

  • Is it for abandoning me and the kids?  Lying about your feelings.  Making me believe it was all my fault for being a shoddy wife and mother but then, surprise, there’s a younger model waiting in the wings!
  • Leaving us to fend for ourselves?  Not to put to fine a point on it but I fucking hate bin day.  I hate emptying bins – that’s when I miss my ex-husband the most – which is pretty telling in itself right?
  • Is the £5000 I have to give you to cover gradually reducing the amount you contribute to the mortgage on a house you claim to still have ‘an interest in’ so eventually I have to cover the whole mortgage plus oil and electricity (I paid £230 to fix my boiler yesterday so this one in particular is a sore point).
  • Is it to cover sending the rates bill in my name?
  • Forgetting to tell me that you had cancelled the house and contents insurance until I casually asked if this was still something you were covering?  Thank God I didn’t walk out of the house one day and leave the front door wide open…oh wait…
  • Is the £5000 to highlight the fact that you reduced your child maintenance payment because I had the cheek to claim all of the child benefit? For our children.  You know, because they need shoes and stuff.  It’s very selfish of them but their bodies and feet miraculously continue to grow and it’s our duty to clothe them?

Now to name change…apologies for the bullet-pointed rant.

Two homes

Nearly four years ago, when things had gone belly up in my marriage and my husband had moved out to his parents’ house I was given a book.  A dear family friend who had experienced this awful, horrendous situation before me actually gave me quite a few books.  Some for me and some for the kids (her son was the same age as my daughter when she separated from her husband).  Last night my daughter unearthed one of the children’s books; Two Homes.  She announced she was going to read it.  I thought nothing much of it.  It’s a fairly decent picture book about a child having two homes (hence the title :)) and how sometimes the child will spend time with their mum, sometimes their dad, but they can still speak to the absent parent and both parents still love them despite living under two roofs.  The theory seems simple and straightforward as an adult…unless you’re going through it and this is your real life and every morning when you wake up you want to crawl back into bed but you can’t as you have two young children depending on you.  I remember reading this book to the pair of them when things were so raw, swallowing back tears and putting on that brave face that I’m oh so familiar with now in order to let them see that everything would be fine and this was the way things were now and they were still as loved and cherished as ever.  I think I even put the book in the bag going to their dad’s so he could read it to them too.  I’m not sure he ever did that however.

We were all fairly restless last night.  My son crawled into my bed at 5am.  Shortly after I heard the soft footsteps of my daughter looking for a glass of water.  The alarm was due to sound at 6.30am so a glass of water was retrieved from the kitchen and she was returned to bed.  At this point the dog was up, wagging his tail.  He too was sent back to his bed.  At 6.10am my son decided the dog should join us in bed.  I must admit I was cross and cranky.  I turned my back to both dog and son and tried to get a few more precious minutes of sleep.  The alarm went off.  Both dog and son now fast asleep again; the cheek!  I woke everybody to start the day.  School mornings are frantic.  Don’t get me wrong I love nothing more than squeezing both children tight in bed in the mornings, nuzzling into their bed heads as they paint pictures about their dreams or nightmares and I soothe them with cuddles and words but this morning we had to get up and start the day.

I went down to make multiple breakfasts (we can never agree to eat the same thing like those picture-perfect Instagram accounts) and my son announced he was going to read Two Homes.  Again, I thought nothing of it.  I’ve never hidden the book.  It’s sat gathering dust on a bookcase.  Time passed as I boiled the kettle, popped the toaster, washed the dog bowl, I even managed to hang a wash on the line.  My daughter arrived downstairs. She announced her brother had gone back into his own bed and he was crying.  I took a break from morning chores and went to console the now inconsolable one.  He couldn’t articulate why he was upset but he was definitely upset.  I’ve known for a while that he was holding things in, letting thoughts and feelings and emotions build up inside even though I frequently encourage him to speak to me.  Yes it was horrible to see his little blotchy face and watch the tears dripping from his chin but it was needed.  That release was overdue. The house move with their dad, the separate bedrooms, the imminent arrival of the baby.  The confusion in his head as to what family he belongs to, where do I, his mum, fit in all this?  It’s all built up and this morning it proved to be too much for my first born.

By the time we started our walk to school his face had returned to normal; the blotches gone.  He announced he had used the last of his hair gel and that he would actually wear school shorts if I bought him a pair (previously he had decided that he was far too cool for such a garment) .  He pondered on whether his fidget spinner would be delivered today and he asked me when I would be finishing work and what was for dinner.  I shouted I love you as he ran off to class.  He shouted it back.

Upbeat

I’ve just spent the weekend with the best bunch of women ever.  Girls I grew up with.  Went to school with. Danced with (on a stage, in various clubs, at various house parties, inebriated or not).  We’ve kissed the same boys, made the same mistakes.  We’re grown up now.  Some of us are mums, some aren’t.  Some are fulfilled in our careers, some aren’t.  Some earn enough money and have loving supportive partners, some of us don’t.  But above all else we are here for each other, supporting each other, rooting for each other, cheering each other on and empathising and offering advice and guidance (and at least a glass of fizz and a hug) when things seem to be spiralling out of control and going horribly wrong.

We spent the weekend drunk, dancing, singing, destroying our skin in a hot tub.  We bathed in the unseasonably warm weather, got patchy pink bits which we hoped would miraculously turn into golden tan.  When we ventured from the safe haven of our secluded lodge we giggled at our Italian waiter.  So young, so handsome!  We quickly realized we were most probably too loud and lairy for public consumption and we high tailed it back to our blissful lodge where we reminisced over photos taken in the early 90s.  Laughing at our eyebrows (you’d pay for eyebrows like that now OR why did I pluck them all out?!), our hairstyles, our fashion sense (I spent hours customising those green denim shorts!), our attempts at painting on make up.  Our school crushes, first kisses, big mistakes, first forays into drinking brightly coloured alcohol, experimenting (with various degrees of success) with drugs and the messy aftermath of both.  Things got emotional.  Dangerous situations with over-eager teenage boys were analysed and the mums amongst us planned ahead for our children and how we would deal with these situations when they arose in the not so distant future.

Above all else, when the weekend was over and I reluctantly re-entered real life (a bit hoarse from over-eager karaoke, bleary eyed and, I admit it, sporting a 3-day hangover – ouch!) I felt elated and content with my lot.  I woke up every morning of that far too short weekend, cocooned in a crisp, white duvet feeling so lucky.  So lucky that I could still call these women my close friends.  That I still felt so safe and secure in their company.  That I could share my true, authentic, emotional self with them and that they would offer their advice and support without condition or judgment.

I don’t see these women everyday.  We don’t even get the opportunity to speak every day but as we all leap over that 40th birthday with gusto and enter into our middle age (gulp) I can safely say that I’m in the best company ever.  These women have my back and I have theirs and simply put that feels amazing.

Stability

There are a lot of uncertainties and unknowns going on in my life, and the kids’ lives, right now.  The role I’m currently doing at work is only meant to last until the end of May (although I’m covering part of the duties of somebody who is on long-term sick leave and it’s doubtful if she’s ever returning to work).  I know if I go back to my visitor-facing role I’m not going to be working to the best of my ability.  My mind will be elsewhere, I won’t be able to focus on the person in front of me.  I can’t physically work until 7/7.30pm in the evenings anymore and more to the point nor do I want to.  I would also be going back to manage a team who have been managed by somebody else for a period of time whilst I’ve been working on some amazing projects.  These projects will not be completed by the end of the month and I would really like to see these to completion.  I really want to be with my kids (and my dog!) being a mum, checking in with them, making sure I’m there for them when they need me.  And I’m more and more aware that they won’t always need me.  My son will be going into his last year of primary school in September.  Soon, I will lose him to secondary school, his friends, girlfriends (or boyfriends I don’t mind either way), his ipod, his phone and whatever else.  I need to spend what time I have left until that time, squeezing him tight and ruffling his hair and generally embarrassing him.  But ultimately I know a job’s a job and I need to be working at the moment.  The mortgage needs to be paid, I need to put food on the table (which they usually accept without moaning) and I want them to be treated as I was by my parents.  Not getting everything they ask for but also not worse off because their dad walked out on us.  It’s not their fault that he met someone else and they shouldn’t be punished for it.

The kids are feeling a bit shaky.  They moved house with their dad at the weekend.  I think everybody was under pressure, stressed, tired, the kids (7 and 9) were packing their belongings and unpacking, hoovering the old house.  I think my daughter actually refused to go back to their ‘old house’ for the last run.  She was probably scared of her feelings, didn’t want to cry or cause a fuss when tensions were running high.  I felt like saying to her ‘darling I know how you feel, I spent the last year or so when me and your dad were together doing just what you’re doing and it’s not right, you have to let your feelings out.  Tell him how you’re feeling, cry if you need to cry’.

But obviously I didn’t say this.  It’s not something she would understand at the moment and it wouldn’t be fair on her to hear this so instead I cuddled her and told her everything would be okay and things would settle down again.  The house is still in our hometown and actually closer to my house (which I see and I hope they see as their proper home) but I think the imminent arrival of the new baby and the fact that they’ve moved into their own bedrooms (with double beds!) at Dad’s is probably all a little unsettling.  So much so that my almost 10 year old lynx-smelling (or stinking?!) son climbed into my bed last night almost as soon as lights were out as he just couldn’t settle. His mind racing with what’s going to happen in the not so distant future.  And I know that he worries about me, how I’m feeling as I put on a smile and pretend I’m okay with everything.  Maybe it’s the wrong thing to do but I try to be honest with them whilst following the age-old rule of never badmouthing their dad in front of them.  I save that for when I’m with my friends fuelled with wine and pent-up rage.  Oh I did let it slip that I describe his new car as being jobby-brown in colour but they just thought this was humourous.  And yes, they probably have told him I describe it as thus.  Oh well…

I think some stability is needed and soon.  For all of us.  This need for stability has probably impacted on the way I’ve been treating my boyfriend of late.  Why can’t you commit?  How do you really feel?  I’m also aware that going into the summer months has always been like this since the separation.  He has the whole summer off, I have to work my normal hours so there’s always tension in terms of will he agree to look after his children on ‘my days’?  Will he cut the child maintenance down even further?  When are my parents (who are getting older and aren’t as fit as they were) free to come over and look after the kids.  If I knew what my hours of work were going to be that would be a start and then I could plan accordingly.  Maybe a one-to-one this afternoon with my boss will shed some light on matters and give me a way forward.  I’m really hoping so.  In the meantime I just need to keep working away and doing the best that I can in all areas of my life and hope and pray that things will all work out for the best.

 

Blood

Yesterday was traumatic and I’ve only started processing it now.

The last weekend of the school holidays.  The kids arrived back from their dad’s on Saturday morning and immediately asked for friends to come round and play.  I agreed this would be a good idea.  Myself and the dog had stayed at my boyfriend’s house on Friday night (part of our bickering was the fact that I was putting off travelling to his because my dog gets so anxious in the car that he vomits everywhere – think of baby puke and multiply by 100 for level of grossness and you’re maybe close).  The dog dosed up on travel sickness tablets (active ingredient – ginger) had not puked in the car and his level of anxiety was visibly reduced. I was feeling elated and triumphant!  But I knew I had lots of washing to do from our holidays and a playdate would keep the kids occupied whilst I washed, hung, folded and hung up/stuffed into drawers (I don’t as a rule iron unless completely necessary hence I walk around looking artfully disheveled most of the time).  Lunch was eaten, two friends arrived and fun ensued.  The play date turned into a sleepover.  Why not?  My son had been awarded a distinction in his first piano exam.  They both deserved to round off the holidays with a treat.  My boyfriend arrived, dinner eaten we all walked down to the seafront with the dog for ice creams then up home to get into jammies.  Both kids and friends slept well.

In the morning Boyfriend and I have a good honest chat about where we were and a lot of our issues were laid out thoughtfully and honestly by both of us.  Things were looking good – the day looked bright.  Breakfast served up and eaten.  Four children bouncing on the trampoline in the back garden; well three bouncing and one lying in the middle being bounced.  Then a few rounds of hide and seek then mums returned for pick up.  My son was asked to go and play with his friend in return for the sleepover.  The mum in question – a new mum for the third time – was experiencing her first hangover post-birth (red wine, her homemade stew uneaten – school boy error) and thought that they boys could play together and she could hopefully get some quiet time with the new baby who was herself recovering from the dreaded pox.

So that left me, Boyfriend and my daughter.  And the dog.  We took a short drive to a great park.  We had it to ourselves for the first wee while.  All the good folk at church or still in bed.  Then we went on further down the road to some beautiful rock pools – some fairly large.  A young couple in wet suits took turns jumping into them with one of those underwater cameras.  The dog was super excited; I think he thought they were ducks.  The boy helped the girl across the rocks.  She slipped and he picked her up and dusted her off.  I must admit I was a little envious.  Wish I’d experienced young love on this beautiful coastline.  Me and my daughter got our sandals off and it was lovely feeling the warm water and the sand between our toes.  We collected shells for some future art project and my Boyfriend and I considered gathering the dry driftwood for firewood.

Our tummies started to rumble so we drove home, dropped the dog off and had lunch in one of our favourite cafes.  Boyfriend left for home.  He likes to prepare for the week ahead and me and my daughter did some grocery shopping and returned home.  We settled infront of the TV.  Thoughts of making a bolognese for Monday night’s dinner in my head but I couldn’t quite bring myself to stop snuggling  and move from the sofa.  A knock on the door sent the dog barking.  My daughter’s friend asking to play.  Earlier in the week my daughter had been in tears as the same little girl hadn’t wanted to play with her.  The day before when she came to the door my daughter had firmly said that on this occasion she didn’t want to play with her (getting her own back?) but today they both seemed to want to play so instead of getting up to make the bolognese I stuck on Big Little Lies on Sky catch up (totally fallen in love with Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon all over again!) and put off again.  And then disaster struck.

The first blood curdling scream made me pause the TV.  I ran into the hall, daughter covered in blood.  Between tears she told me she had fallen out of the trampoline.  She was clutching the back of her head, her face red, hot and wet.  I took her bloody hand away and parted her dark matted hair.  All I could see was a deep pool of almost black pulsating blood. I looked down at a few drops on her grey wool jumper and smeared them with my finger.  Seconds passed.  I grabbed a box of tissues, car keys, phone.  I got my daughter to hold a wad of tissues to the back of her head and told her to press as hard as she could. I threw the dog into the kitchen.  Locked the back door, tried to calm myself and my voice as I told her friend she would have to go home now (she lives in our cul-de-sac).  I phoned a friend and neighbour in a panic.  She was alone with her two boys – I don’t know what I needed from her I think I just needed to tell someone that I was driving to A&E.  She texted saying her husband was returning from watching the match.  She asked what I needed her to do?  I said it was fine as I started the engine.

The drive to the hospital usually takes half an hour.  I drove quickly, checking my rear view mirror for blue lights.  My daughter was scared, I was scared.  Just a few days previously she had asked my brother, her beloved uncle, about the time I had slipped in the bath as a child – probably the same age as she is now – and was rushed to hospital for stitches.  Did it hurt?  Do they put you to sleep?  Will I need stitches?  Am I going to die?  I want to go home.  I feel sick.  I don’t want to stay in hospital.  I held her hand between gear changes, I told her she would never be alone, I would stay with her always.  It wouldn’t hurt, everything would be okay.  Tissues were given to her to catch nervous vomit and spit.  Her arm started to hurt from holding the back of her head.  I got her to change hands and asked to see the tissue.  Not as much blood as before, it was stopping, I told her this was a good sign.  We arrived at A&E.  I’m usually terrible at parking.  The only space available was tight but I reversed in like a pro and ran into the hospital clutching her hand.

We were seen quickly by a nurse. Pulse rate was okay.  Kidney dish infront of her now to vomit into.  Light shone in her eyes.  She seemed okay.  Now the doctor.  He got me to part her hair – sticky and congealed with blood, fresh tears appeared.  I was hurting her but we had to see the damage.  It was judged as ‘not too bad’.  I got her to lie on the bed and water and glue were applied to knit the two sides of flesh together.  A head injury leaflet was given and on the way out to the car her father was phoned.  I waited for the blame and judgement but to be fair to him it didn’t come (not to my face anyway – he probably saved it whilst discussing my poor parenting skills with his girlfriend).  We stopped at his on the way home so he could see her.  By this point the panic was subsiding but the pain was ramping up.  Calpol was needed.  Home, jammies, medicine administered.  Her brother arrived home.  He had missed the whole emergency, thankfully.

We rounded off the weekend with a game of monopoly.  It felt surreal but it was enjoyable all the same.  My son following the same game plan as he always does; buy up all the utilities and train stations.  My daughter being frugal as usual.  Me taking pity on the poor streets – the pinks and light blues that give a meager £12 rent when an opponent lands on them.  I had one glass of fizz leftover from Saturday night.  Purely medicinal.  I had to be able to drive in the middle of the night if she started being sick again or she couldn’t be woken.  My friend who I had called in a panic texted to say she would keep her phone on and if needed could come over to sit with my son if a 3am drive to the hospital was necessary.

At 9pm I took my first proper breath and realised I had been shallow breathing for 4 hours.

Gin & Tonic Poached Pears, April 2017

thoughts of this summery dessert keeping me going this Monday x

ellenlunney

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We had our first mini dinner-party in our new place in London last week, so I decided to make poached pears for dessert, as in my view, these are the most stylish way there is to end a meal.

They remind me of dinner parties at home back in the 90s, when my mum would reappear after the meal with a cold bowl of crème fraîche & a steaming casserole pot of a dozen pears that had been poached in an exotic & effortlessly glamorous combination of honey, orange juice and, most unusually, black pepper. The black pepper cooked out to a delicate, vaguely Asian gentle warmth that Jamie Oliver would no doubt describe as a ‘hum’… and our guests inevitably adored them every single time.

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Furthermore, although poached pears look fairly complex; elegant & structural in their pale, syrupy nakedness; they couldn’t be easier to make & actually benefit…

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Pity party for one

I have been so up and down lately.  Emotionally everywhere.  Doubting myself and others, questioning myself, my actions, my feelings to the ninth degree.  My boyfriend and I have had quite a few tense discussions on whatsapp around our feelings for each other; what I perceive as lack of effort or enthusiasm (or passion?) on his part, and what he perceives in me as lacking effort/taking him for granted/neglectful behaviour.  I’ve been really reflective.  As discussed previously, maybe it’s this time of year?   I also worked out that I had got engaged and was baptised into the Catholic church 12 years ago around Easter.  Since then my faith has ebbed and flowed throughout my life – through celebrations and low times.  My children attend a catholic primary school and that keeps me connected to the chapel as I sit, usually tense beside my ex, but delighted and full of pride as they go through all the rites of passage that I went through on one night as a 26 year old (I think, maths is definitely not my strong point).  I love being reminded of the ceremonial nature of mass that appealed to me in the first instance; the lighting of candles, incense, transubstantiation, singing, reciting of psalms and prayers.  I have fond memories of attending mass with my gran when little – she would make me a packed lunch and let me eat my sandwiches and take in my surroundings for the duration of the service.  My gran was my Catholic role model really.  Always caring for others with a large whisky and ginger on the side.  Whenever we lost so much as a sock she would insist on praying to St Anthony and low and behold the sock would miraculously turn up – the power of prayer!  My children have also got to the age that when we do attend mass (which isn’t as often as we should) I actually get some time for quiet contemplation which I think is needed; taking time to speak to whichever God or higher power you believe in (be it in church, at the end of a long day or sitting on the doorstep in the evening with a cup of tea) is, I think, a really helpful tool.

I don’t know why I find myself looking back on past behaviours and events so frequently recently and I’m beginning to think it’s holding me back or jeopardizing what I have now.  I think I’m petrified of following the same pattern of my previous relationship.  I know that he was unfaithful but I must somehow be partly to blame for him feeling so strongly for another person (and so miserable) that he was willing to leave the family home to pursue this relationship? What if it’s me?  What if I’m no good in a relationship?  Too selfish, too self-consumed (these blog posts would suggest the latter), too quick to get comfortable and neglect the person that I’m with.  What if I’m lazy?  Expect people to do too much for me? And then I think did I not get anything out of my two stints in counselling?  Why am I thinking these horrible negative thoughts about myself? Relationships break down everyday.  This is a fact of life and I have the misfortune to be in this ‘club’ now.  I have accepted this and must move on – not keep indulging in this pity party for one (hence the title).

So add another person into this heady mix with their own history and their own ‘baggage’ and it makes for an extremely difficult rocky road to navigate.  And sometimes I think is it actually worth the effort but above all else I love this person and I believe this person loves and respects me.  I enjoy spending time with this person, even if it’s curled up on the sofa watching nonsense on TV and perhaps things aren’t meant to be easy.  All relationships need work and I’m learning that embarking on a relationship at this time of my life with all the other added complications is probably twice as hard and maybe I need to relax a little.  On the advice of my good friend I have above all else been attempting to convey my feelings as openly and honestly as possible, even if it’s not pleasant and it may lead to further discussions and confrontation.  After all, what’s the point in keeping these things to yourself and letting them fester?  This is extremely difficult for me.  I’ve come from a point where I kept my disappointments and hurt to myself but I know that this isn’t healthy on any level so I am trying everyday to live a more honest, authentic life (thanks to fellow blogger KE Garland for the phrasing there!).

So for now I will keep pushing on through I guess, keep working things out and doing the best I can.  Now the weather is improving perhaps getting out more, exploring more of the beautiful coastline that I have the privilege to live on will help my mental state.  Walking the beach with the dog, reading more, listening to music I love (Prince – one year on, still devastated), enjoying time with my boyfriend, kids, family and friends and just generally trying to be present should help matters.  Perhaps drinking less wine and treating myself to fresh delicious food, proper coffee and sourdough bread (instead of grabbing and eating mindlessly always in a rush) might make a difference too.  Certainly I have about two weeks to go before a substantial birthday celebration with old school friends takes place (hot tub and karaoke are all in place, can’t wait) so at least I can stick by these rules for a fortnight or so before I return to work a hoarse, bloated and obese shadow of my former self 🙂