Is divorce worth it?

Divorce is horrible. When I was eight and my Dad sat me in front of a cheesy american video to make divorce seem like a normal everyday occurrence so kids swallowed the consequences better. It even had a cheesy tune spelling out the letters of divorce like you were learning the alphabet.

Yet I was the only kid in class who had parents that were splitting up. They split when I was seven. One morning we got up and the delivery men had arrived and were packing up some of our things. I had wondered why, on the previous day, Mum had put up a sign saying ‘Pickfords this way‘ at the end of our road. We were effectively moonlighting while dad was at work. Although I didn’t know this at the time I just thought it was a game that Mum and I were playing on him. I said to Mum, “It will be funny when Dad gets home and we aren’t here”. After 2 years passed I realised it was beyond a game. Although it morphed into this weird game of possession over me. Whenever my Dad had an argument with Mum over the weekend when I was staying with him he would say “right I am bringing her back” it was the easiest way for my Dad to get revenge by using me as the thing he could hold over her. Because I was upset it would make her upset – what a cunt he was back then.

I could go on with more tales of woe of toing and froing between my dad and mum – which all culminated in me refusing to budge from the car and watching my dad abandon the car on my Mum’s road and attempt to walk to the nearest bus stop. It was a true battle of wills between an 8 year old and her father and I was never going to back down. The car door was open where my dad had been standing trying to negotiate with me but I didn’t move a muscle, I didn’t even undo my seatbelt – not even when my Mum tried to coax me in. I would have stayed in that effin car all night. I watched Dad’s back as he walked down the road and then watched him turn round climb into the car and start the hour’s drive back to his in silence.

A few months later a fat man moved in with me, my mum and my granny – who had put us up for the interim. This fat man was my Mum’s new boyfriend. As we only lived in the upstairs of Granny’s house so that she could have the ground floor we had 3 bedrooms and a bathroom at our disposal. One of the bedrooms was a living room. For some reason that I can’t quite remember, fat man, mum and me all slept in the same room. I knew when they wanted sex because they would move into the other room thinking I was still asleep. In the end I got my own room. Although this didn’t stop all the moaning, groaning and grunting that went on most nights that I could hear as clear as crystal through the paper thin walls. Its strange hearing your mother having sex with a man who isn’t your father. Particularly at an age when you don’t quite understand what sex is all about. Just typing this now brings back the sounds of their sex in process – my mother was very loud. It affected me in a strange way and I think I will leave the rest of the story for another blog.

Anyway, back to divorce. It fucks kids up. Avoid it at all costs. Just because your kid is smiling at you and looks like they believe you when you say to them ‘everything is going to be OK’ does not mean that they are taking it on the chin. I can only speak from my own experience as a 7 year old going through a divorce it was incredibly confusing, swept everything you thought you knew completely away from underneath you and left you very unstable and having to find inner strength. With kids the reaction tends to come out in other areas – normally at school. I developed a habit of stealing things from my friends and becoming quite aggressive – although you don’t realise that you are doing it at the time. You are just doing what helps to numb the stuff going on in your head.

Two of my friends are going through break-ups. One child is 7 and the other is 6. I see them and it breaks my heart – they look so strong and unflappable on the outside and completely unaffected. That’s how I used to look but inside there is turmoil.

Despite my Mum’s best efforts to make things right (my dad made his efforts a while later) my childhood from the time of the break-up to about the age of 13 or 14 was a write-off. I can’t remember one moment of bliss. As an only child I was indulged. I was given a pony, a jeep and later a motorbike! What a lucky kid! No seriously I know how lucky I was but I would have exchanged all of that and more to have had my mum and dad together.

Recently I dared criticise my mother for the effect her relationships with other men had on me while I was growing up (although I have yet to tell her how the sexual side of her relationships affected me – think i will take that to the grave with me). Thinking that it would placate me, she said “if I hadn’t been with fat man (name has been removed obviously) then I wouldn’t have been able to fund your pony” I was stunned. Does she really feel that her relationship with him affected me so little that I would have been happy with him if I had known that he was funding my pony? Fuck off! If only she had given me that option at the time. I would have gladly flogged the pony to the first taker in return for kicking him out.

Living with Dad was not an option either as he just saw it as a chance to get the child maintenance payments reversed in his favour but with a few more daddy day care pounds added on top so that put paid to that idea – cheers Dad. At least he led the bachelor life for a good 15 years, which I would much rather have lived with.

But even after you have long since left home, got married yourself and had your own children the effects of divorce continue. My children have 3 sets of grandparents – my husband’s parents who are simple as it is just the two of them and they have been married 40 years, then there is my dad and my stepmum and my mum and my twat  of a stepdad. It gets very confusing with grandfather, grandma J, Grandad M etc etc. Then there is Christmas – trying to fit them all in and not piss anyone off – then there is the stepchildren – who don’t get on very well either. In fact I gave up on my stepdad’s children as they were just impossible to get along with so I waved the white flag and we now see each other separately. This means that I have to book in dates in advance to see my mum – great! My stepdad is a sensitive soul (and very possessive) he likes to know where my mum is at all times and doesn’t like it when she spends time with me. Anyway that’s another blog for another time.

The long and the short of it is – if you are thinking of divorcing and there are children involved please avoid it at all costs. My Mum would even back me in on this as she has said quite a few times now that if she could reverse time she would have stayed with dad as she believes divorce is not worth it having lived with the consequences. At least try to patch things up no matter how hard it is. (Domestic abuse however is a whole different ball game).

If you think that your children will survive it and not be to upset emotionally you are kidding yourself.

Sorry its been quite a heavy one today but I am unable to voice my true opinions to my friends in the process of splitting because I am ultimately criticising their parenting by saying – but what about the kids?

Thanks for reading. I would be grateful if you could donate £1 to Unicef if you enjoyed this blog. This blog is intended to fundraise for Unicef and help them combat child poverty globally. Please go to my fundraising page to donate.

Thank you.

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What can we learn from Buddhism?

I am not a Buddhist. However, if someone put a gun to my head and ordered me to pick a religion it would be Buddhism. Like a lot of people across the world (and annoyingly many celebrities) I feel the ideas attributed to the Buddhist faith make sense. The religion dates back to the 5th century yet it is so applicable to modern day life. Mainly because the success of our daily lives is measured according to what we can achieve in a day. Every morning I wake up to a new to do list: get up, feed baby, feed child, feed myself, feed dogs, dress baby, dress myself etc etc….and then later…..renew insurance, ring Irma, ring Dad, clean house, hoover, prepare lunch etc etc The list never stops until bed-time. But that is when I do most of my thinking so a whole new list of longer term shit starts up – review my career, how can I make a dent in world famine and poverty etc etc, oh and a house move in 5 years time.

What causes the stress of the daily grind regardless of your age, position in life, class, is always thinking about the next thing to do rather than concentrating on the task at hand. From what I understand of some of the concepts of Buddhism, peace and harmony in the mind is helped by completely devoting all concentration and attention on what you are doing at that time – no matter how menial. So I try to do this every day and it is amazing how many times I catch myself thinking about other things while doing something. This is called multi-tasking, which is often essential in modern life. However the Buddhist way of going about your daily life means you really enjoy life to the full rather than racing through the hours till bedtime, or as Homer Simpson once put it “I try not to let the day hurt too much before I get back into bed with you Marge”.

So when changing my baby’s nappy I started thinking about other stuff, got distracted, looked down and saw a beaming smile and I thought, “Shit how long as he been smiling at me and I have been too busy thinking about other stuff to notice”. That’s the problem. If you don’t appreciate the actual moment you are in, because you are too busy anticipating the next, then life just passes you by and that’s sad. I even tried this idea when simply cleaning the windows and I just shut everything out and focused on what I was doing and ended up doing a really good job – which was satisfying. It’s difficult to do this when the phone rings or someone else distracts you but I thoroughly recommend at least giving it a go.

It’s good for the workplace too. When at work I have a one touch policy – I finish a job to its completion before moving on to the next. I prioritise the tasks and work out how much time is needed for each so that I am not ‘toe-dipping’ from one task to the other. This technique encouraged in Buddhism makes work more productive and your home life more enjoyable.

It’s also quite good for blogging too. Don’t think I will ever reach the state of Utopia though.

My blog is all about raising money for Unicef. I have added another £6 of missed blog fees bringing the total raised so far to £16. If you are able to spare a £1 (my aim is to raise £1 a day from this blog) please visit my fundraising page to donate.

 

Thanks for reading.

How long can you go without sleep?

Well, I’m knackered – first post since weekend of ‘Tree Festing’ and have a tiredness that won’t go away – feels like a cloud hovering over my head. No matter how hard I try to encourage the cloud away – positive energising thoughts, exercise, caffeine, more caffeine…. – it just won’t go away. A bit like the clouds we have experienced in the UK this ‘Summer’.

This tiredness can best be described as a fog of sleep deprivation accumulated through the months and years of being a parent. If I had known that 8am would be a luxury lie-in, then I would have relished the 12 noon wake-ups when I was a student a whole lot more. Back then my boyfriend and I knew we were being self-indulgent (stir at 12, watch a bit of TV in bed, maybe a bit of sex, followed by an all-day breakfast at Goodbodys in Plymouth)

But of course we didn’t have a clue that we would experience the complete opposite in our 30’s ( woken up at 5am by baby, settle baby, up again at 6am, settle baby, up again at 7am, feed baby milk, fix breakfast for 6 year old, put washing on, feed dogs, do dishes, prepare baby’s porridge, glance at clock…8am time for coffee to keep going for at least next 2 hours) …….Apparently the caffeine kick only lasts 20 minutes.

I just don’t look at the back of my eyelids enough any more so guess my over indulgent days as a student were simply preparation for sleep deprivation in later life.

It is sod’s law that once you finally get into a situation where you could potentially have a good sleep it just don’t happen. Like this weekend in a gorgeous hotel room – both children fast asleep – some blokes across the street have an all-night conversation at the top of their voices and the hotel bed, while fabulous to look at, is one up from sleeping on a bed of nails. Either that or my princess tendencies detected several pea like lumps under the mattress.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of our stay in Gloucestershire, but I could have done with a bit more energy before embarking on the beautiful Westonbirt Arboretum trails and the Tree Fest – highlights were the Bateleurs performing in the Big Top and the chainsaw carving. Best of all was standing under the mighty and majestic trees in the arboretum. Some huuuuoooge Douglas Firs – their presence in the UK made all the more amazing an admirable because of the fate of the man who introduced them, David Douglas, who came a cropper when looking for rare tree samples in Hawaii at the tender age of 35 and was trampled to death when a wild bull landed on top of him after falling into a cattle pit. I will never look at a Douglas Fir in the same way again……..or cattle pits….if I ever come across one….which I hope I don’t.

A few more quid donated to Unicef during my downtime over the weekend. Back to you now – if you like reading this post please donate £1 to Unicef – see my fundraising page.

Thanks for reading.

Do you have an eating disorder?

I was with my stepmum today who loves food. I do too but for the first time in  my life I made a deliberate effort to make my bottom half (a size 12) match ,my top half (size 10). I did this by adopting the policy of a couple of my petite friends – put less in your mouth. Its bleedin’ obvious isn’t it? But why has it taken to get to my thirties before I gave this a go?

I last lost a significant amount of weight when I was trying to shift my postgraduate body that had endured 3 years of Snakebite, chocolate and chips. With a bit of waccy baccy thrown in for good measure. I did weight watchers and meticulously counted my daily intake making sure that I kept within my 20 points per day allowance. Wine was replaced with diet coke and vodka and I swapped 5 weetabixes in the morning for 2. I got back to  my pre-uni size and in the main kept to it as I had the Weight Watchers points system chip embedded into my brain.

After the birth of my second child I looked at my rear in the mirror – which has always been big, and thought…..why not give this a proper go and get this butt reduced. So I simply stopped eating as much – seriously stopped eating as much – mainly by skipping lunch and breastfeeding and exercising like a trojan. Yes my little son even helped to suck it out of me. Within a couple of months of this, helped by training for 64 lengths of the Swimathon and embracing the Zumba movement I cracked it. Size 12 skirts and trousers were now too big – while my butt was still big it had been reduced.

In doing this I have realised I liked food and that I was over-indulging in my portions. Madonna’s trainer once said that the portion size should only be as big as your fist and this is true. It didn’t take long for my stomach to shrink and for me to feel fuller quicker. I have come to the conclusion that we westerners do eat more than we need. I have been eating way more than I need for most of my life.

However I can’t pick anything up now without looking at the calorie count and then totting up in my head how much I have already consumed – I try to stay around 1000 calories a day. My Stepmum, who is a larger lady, is looking into following the feast and famine diet. The diet is based on consuming 600 calories for 2 days and then a normal calorie intake for the rest of the week. Apparently this is good for combating dementia. I think it is better to just reduce portion size across the board rather than dedicate special days to starving yourself. My friend’s Mum, who is losing weight has taken it to the extreme. One day she didn’t eat until 1pm and only had a plum, had a salad for dinner and that was that. Even on my best ‘figure conscious’ days I couldn’t do that – I would be trying to eat my pillow at bed-time and wouldn’t sleep. My friend – she eats twice a day – skips brekkie, has something at 10am then something at 3 and that’s it – she’s full.

It got me to thinking – what is healthy and what is bordering on an eating disorder? Also given that I didn’t decide to lose significant weight until my thirties is the pressure to look thin reaching its peak – with the likes of Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham inspiring us to put figure first before hunger pangs?

Then I think about the families in drought ridden countries who survive on nothing but rice if they are lucky – what would they do if they were whisked away to the UK – would they go  mad and gorge on all of our gorgeous food? Maybe initially but then would they also get sucked in to looking good? I think the reason why I have made a concerted effort now is the pressure to look good despite multiple pregnancies – and be a bit smug about it too.

For all the negatives of obsessing about weight though, there are some positives I have experienced: finding it easier to exercise, looking better in jodhpurs and having more energy.

When pic-nicking my daughter paused before she ate her apple pie to ask me how many calories were in the cake. I responded very quickly with “about 200 calories”. My Stepmum then said to my daughter how important it was to eat lots when you are growing. I thought – shit has my calorie counting gone too far – am I unwittingly passing on to my daughter the beginnings of an eating disorder in later life? Or am I encouraging her to think about what she consumes – is that a good thing? I don’t know. Our culture does two things – it makes us body conscious but it also makes us feel that we may have eating disorder issues if we seriously reduce our intake – but I wonder whether our intake is just too much in the first place??

My quest for the perfect rear continues – when walking up the alleyway, my daughter following me said “Mummy your bum wobbles” …

Thanks for reading if you enjoyed the post as ever please leave a donation to Unicef – the whole reason why I am blogging.

I am signing off for the weekend now as we are off on a mini-break. I know we only just came back from a week’s holiday but gotta enjoy the school holidays while we can…..

What age is the best?

What age is the best? Well debatable that 32 is that good. I can’t complain. I think I am just still young enough to behave a bit recklessly:  speed, get drunk occasionally, listen to Radio One. As a parent though I am trying to be the cool Mum, which in my view involves the following:

– avoiding wearing too many tunics (done all too deliberately to cover up the hip and bum post-natal problem areas)

– I try not to embarass my 6 year old going on 16 daughter (not very successful on this one)

– avoid conversation with pushy middle-class social climbing Mums (not hard)

– Make a point of talking to the group of Mums that are often classed by the snobs as ‘have nots’ (easy as am one of them because I live in an ex-council house who cares?)

– Avoid Boden, Joules and other brands of a similar ilk like the plague.

Its very crude I know and probably come out looking a complete twat but I don’t care.

My friend’s oldest is about to embark on a career with the Royal Marines and he has been told the training he faces will be ’15 months of hell’. To an ambitious young man that sounds too good to miss. To a 30 something male with a mortgage etc that’s Ok providing there is a fuckin big pay cheque at the end. Our priorities change as we get older and that makes us more boring. Just like  switching from Radio 1 to Radio 2.

When you are 6 it seems, by observing my daughter, that the world is your oyster and anything is possible. Six year olds also don’t have a social filter when talking. As I discovered when she told the owners of our holiday property exactly how fast Mummy was driving to catch the ferry. Oh and reading my Dad’s rude card out loud in the pub without hesitating to say the word ‘arse’ as I mentioned in the previous post. I am now starting to educate her on what is and isn’t appropriate to say –  which results in  a barrage of questions – “why can’t I say that you did 130 to catch the ferry mummy?” ….”because they don’t need to know that”…..”why not”…..”because Mummy shouldn’t have been doing that speed”….”I keep telling you Mummy that you go too fast”. At this rate my daughter’s best time in life will be when she is finally in a role of authoritaaaa either as a headmistress or a cop. I am just going to have to settle with going too fast at 30.

This blog is intended to help raise money for Unicef by asking readers to kindly donate £1 when they like what they read – please visit my fundraising page at Unicef to make a donation.

Thanks for reading.

What’s the minimum age for fifty shades???

While we were holidaying in France, I had my partner in crime on-hand to help out with the childcare. That was the main reason why it was a holiday for me  – I couldn’t have given a monkeys as to what country we were in or where we were staying. Just having an extra pair of hands was great. So while luxuriating by the pool I decided to find out what all the fuss was about and read my friend’s copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. I was expecting descriptions of some leather clad sex-mad orgy from the offset but was pleasantly surprised by the tame start. Once it got going I looooved it and was very turned on I have to say. But I started reading it in the evening as it felt wrong to read it during the day in the presence of my 6 year old. “What are you reading Mummy?” “Oh just a boring adult book nothing you would enjoy”. Damn it why did I say the word adult  instantly my daughter’s intrigue goes up times 1000. “Can I read some of it please Mummy” Now, I got my Dad a dirty joke card for his birthday  it was a long cartoon that folded out and out as you read. Before I could stop her, my daughter read it for him and we were all very impressed with her reading skills, particularly when she said the word ‘arse’ with such confidence. If she comes across words she doesn’t know, she spells them out phonetically and then strings the sounds together to get the word. When it came to the word ‘arse’ she read it straight out with a bit of oomph to it too. My dad looked at me with raised eyebrows. I was shocked. As far as I know none of her storybooks or school reading books contain that word. I don’t say arse that often, at least not in her presence. So I am mystified as to how she has become so familiar with the word at such a young age. Times are a changing,  think I need to keep a closer eye on the scripts they use for CBBC programmes.

Anyway, I was doing a very bad job of dissuading my daughter from reading Fifty Shades. This resulted in a tug of war scene where she had hold of one end of the book and I the other. I was so desperate for her not to read it that I really got quite angry with her about it “No really you can’t” my daughter’s response was a giggly “why not?” and she got even more gigglier as my anger intensified. In the end I had to run for it book in hand to find a suitable hiding place and then spent the rest of the week worried that she would uncover it. So Fifty Shades became strictly bed-time reading only. It got me to thinking…..when is an appropriate age to read it? A friend told me of a 14 year old she knew of who had read it. Her mother said it was fine as long as she was aware that type of sex wasn’t normal. It’s difficult because the ‘vanilla’ sex described in the book may educate virgins both male and female as to what sex should feel like. However will it also encourage experimentation of the dungeon sex? Is that a bad thing?

Thankfully the book has now been passed on to a friend of mine and I am keen to get part 2. I just wish it came with a lock and key to fend off inquisitive daughters.

My husband on the other hand is going to receive a copy for his birthday…..

Thanks for reading.

I am adding £9 to the Unicef fund for my absence. The whole reason I type this blog is to fundraise for unicef so if you enjoyed reading it please donate £1 or what you fancy to help Unicef conquer child poverty and suffering world-wide.

 

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Fish Politics

Hello again.

We have 2 fish, microscopic in fact. We are too tight to get an electric pump so every 2 weeks or so ( or when the fish can no longer see out) we decant the fish into a jug to clean up the bowl. This is a hairy moment as the fish flip and flap from the net to the jug and on one occasion flip out of the net and onto the oven hob (I hasten to add it was not switched on and have discovered I am adept at picking up a tiny slippery fish from a slippery surface without the fish coming to any harm).

Fish ownership has introduced me to fish politics. One fish floats in a very passive state while the other one tries to attack it at all angles like it is a piranha. One fish is docile the other provocative – the attacker and the attacked. While observing this one day it occurred to me that this is the most basic distinction between two human characteristics – those that live and let live absorbing the ups and downs as if they were bouncing on eiderdown and those that live and get fucked off with life’s knocks and fight back like Jack Russells in a gypo camp.

I as you probably may have guessed, belong to the second type and life is harder this way. I am jealous of the first type as life seems so much easier the more placid and accepting you are. I have also concluded that this attitude is better for parenting. Sometimes I pretend to be the docile character but it doesn’t help as I am as placid as Mount Etna – in fact I am just brewing up for an eruption. There are elements of me that are laid back but only to the point where there are some things that I don’t give a shit about – like a spotless house for visitors and ironed bedsheets. other things I do care about – like the wankers across the street who refuse to put their dangerous mutt on a lead.

The things is it is very difficult to alter behaviour if you are fundamentally a docile or antagonistic person. My friend is going through that awkward transition in a relationship from honeymoon period to something more serious and the bloke is skirting around the more serious element. I am all for grabbing the bull by the horns and giving him a slap round the face and I tell her so but it won’t work because she doesn’t work like that. There are obvious pros and cons to both walks of life and I often wonder what t would be like to not give a shit for the day….

Hope you enjoyed reading my first blog post after the hols – as usual please donate to Unicef if you thought this was good.

Cheers