At home Mum on the rocks

This was an email I sent to my Mum in Espana:
Dear Mum,
…………Talking of birthdays, there has been no improvement between me and hubby. He is refusing to apologise and I am refusing to let it go so we are now in stalemate, co-existing under the same roof but not communicating unless absolutely necessary – it is hideous. As a protest I have stopped cooking meals for him and doing his washing. As a result there is so much less for me to do which is great! He took an aversion to my lovely retro phone so that is now unplugged on the side and it is just being used for role play games – I didnt even bother to have a battle over that one. It turns out that he had to go through the formal process of interview at his work to get the full-time role and he had been getting worked up and stressed about it – think my birthday was in the wrong week. He complains that he is tired which is true but I still cant find a valid excuse for being so horrible on my birthday so I dont have much sympathy. I think something needs to change as the wear and tear of the job and the commute and working 6 days a week is causing wear and tear on our home life. I have threatened separation and his pride gets in the way of fully taking that on board and he just goads me to go ahead and do it. I am worried that by the time he realises what a fool he has been, it will be too late and too much water will have passed under the bridge. I want to do what I can (e.g. mediation) and may suggest it when he is ready to discuss further as I feel he would benefit from the views of a third party neutral person.
In the meantime, I have started looking at applying for jobs again as the last time we hit rock bottom I was an ‘at home Mum’ and I think that this is a recipe for disaster as far as our marriage is concerned!
Thankfully Lucy and Karen are on the phone/ in person to support me but what I find most worrying this time round is that i dont feel sad enough about the situation. Its almost as if I want to see what living on  my own would be like as I have never been without him since the age of 17! Turning 35 has flicked a switch in me, in that I am now looking to the next decade thinking by the time I am 45 will I still be treading on eggshells around his moods, feeling guilty every time I use my bank card, worrying that if I purchase something for the house without his approval he will just try to chuck it away or push it to one side and  will I still have to tailor my career around his? Unless he is wiling to face up to his increasingly stubborn and belligerent behaviour (as Louise says the ‘1950’s man’ syndrome) I will have to seriously re-consider things….
As much as I love hurling cakes across the room, I would quite like to eat some birthday cake next year!
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Cinderella seeks a pre-nup

Its not easy to say ‘Mum, I think that was a bad decision’. I have been brought up to believe that Mum’s decisions were all taken with me in mind. Not that I was demanding, she just had the classic single parent syndrome (and only child syndrome) of proving the life she had chosen was the best for her child. Therefore woe betide me to criticise her decisions. The biggest decision was the marriage split with my Dad. She was strong to have reached that conclusion but what followed was not how she had hoped.

My dad’s favourite quote from the film ‘The Gladiator’, rings true in this situation ‘what we do in this life echoes through the halls of eternity’. So my mum remarried to a guy 10 years ago who brought her happiness but was not keen on ‘the baggage’ that came with the union. It has got better over the years but him and his family will never filly embrace ours.

So I had to admit to my mum that I didnt think putting his name on the deeds was the best decision. It didnt go down well. I am not after all the money when she goes, I just don’t fancy fighting with stepdad and the three evil stepbrothers over capital that my mum acquired over 20 years ago long before they were on the scene. Since I was 8 that house was my Mum’s financial bedrock to protect us both. But when stepdad comes along decades later and buys a property on Spain and puts my Mum’s name to it, he does so expecting her to reciprocate, so she did.

We ended the conversation with her on a mission to undo that decision, but she lets him intimidate her to going his way on things. I am not holding out much hope.

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Dealing with delinquent 6 year olds

So, I mentioned yesterday that I was having a few child behavioural issues. Here is an update…

My friend is running late from work so I offer to collect her daughter from the bus stop and have her round for tea. My daughter is pleased to have someone round who is a bit more into conversation than a 10 month old. Everything is going well until dinner time, when she starts to goad her friend for eating too slowly (in anticipation of ice cream) and pulls the most horrible face at her. I tell her off and remind her of the consequences if she continued to act like a grumpy teenager.

I was particularly displeased, as she had been shocking to my Mum last week when she had returned frm Spain. My mum was gutted as she is only in the UK for a short time and likes to have quality time with her granddaughter not a load of grief. At the time I punished her then by removing 10 of her good points (she accrues points for good behaviour, once she has hit a certain amount she gets a reward).

I have had to scrap this point system as it is clearly not working. She didn’t put a foot wrong when she was off school for 2 days because of a sick bug (although she was ony sick once in the night and was completely fine after that). However 3 days into school and she starts acting like an ASBO will be hers in 2 years time. What gets me is the defiance. She is a tough cookie. I have to try and find something that will really hit home and make her regret the consequences.

Back to last night. I was just explaining to my friend the bad behaviour I had been experiencing and then my daughter does something to prove my point. When my friend asks if there are any more places in the Saturday Theatre school that my daughter goes to, my daughter replies “I don’t want ‘her’ in my class I have enough friends as it is”. My friend was shocked by this and so was I.

“That is a horrible thing to say, apologise right now!” a meek “sorry” (although not heartfelt) is uttered. She is standing in the dining room so I ask her to say goodbye and shut the door on her and her behaviour and then turn to my friendwith profuse apologies. To which point my daughter starts to cry. I couldn’t believe she had the nerve to say that. Thankfully her friend didnt seem to react. So after they had gone I decided to take something away from her that would give her the same hurt that her friend must have felt when my daughter was so unkind. This something turned out to be her beloved ginat fluffy dog Rosie – a prize she won a few years ago. I knew if I took this away there would be tears.

There were. Good, breakthrough. She then went to bed with no story in disgrace and this morning (thank God) she was back to her normal nice self not this evil teen child. Although I do think the naughty version is there ready to surface at any minute.

My daughter is nearing 7 and I am told that this can be a difficult age. Apparently every 7 years their hormones go bananas, (I dont remember this as my parents were going through a divorce when I was 7 so I was too busy getting my head around that shit – thats what I resent the most. My daughter wants for nothing has 2 loving parents who are together – what has she got to be mooody about?) so the next installment will be at 14 – think I will pack her off to boarding school on a full bursary at this rate, given she is already acting like a teenager at 7.

After putting her to bed I sat down with my 10 month old in front of In the Night Garden and he cuddled his monkey toy and sucked on his dummy in peace – I want my little daughter back too…..

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Reading about parents divorcing in a school book

My daughter came home last night with a new reading book from school, “I’ve gone up another level Mummy” she proudly announced. “Oh well done, let’s have a look at what the new books look like”. I took an instant dislike to the title ‘Separate Ways’ – it was about divorce and my daughter had chosen this book…..uh-oh.

There are a number of friends in her class who are unfortunately getting divorced at the moment and she is intrigued as to what happens. I was 7 when my parents divorcd and I didn’t know anyone else who was going through the same experience, which made it even harder. When my daughter recounts what her friends have been syaing to her about their experiences it breaks my heart as it brings back the pianful memories of what I felt.

I would be interested to know the statistics on how many divorced couples came from broken homes themselves. You would think that their experiences would prevent them from making the same mistake themselves. But often this is far from the case. Princess Diana made a conscious effort in her marriage, but when you are with a serial philanderer it takes a very very strong person (0r an extremely submissive one) to turn a blind eye.

Everyone has their own reasons for divorce and some are more justified than others. When children are involved, however, I feel every effort should be made to protect the marriage. Divorce should only happen once all avenue is completely exhausted. However, in some instances it just cant be rescued.

There is no happy ending in a book about divorce, there wasnt in my daughter’s book. But it concluded with an understanding, that things were going to change. But, it was going to be alright because the children would continue to see Mum and Dad.

Tomorrow I will blog on my daughter’s bloody awful behaviour, which has turned a 6 year old into a 16 year old and our attempts to try and claim our good daughter back again – will welcome tips!

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Only child syndrome missing a sibling

I’m feeling sad and I don’t know why.

I am sitting in the garden on a glorious day. Cloudless blue sky, soft gentle breeze, warm but not hot, birds and butterflies flitting about – perfect. I have just been told my baby boy has been given the all clear by the cardiac consultant – I knew he was fine but I’m glad he has finally been discharged. After my baby being poked and prodded for the last time (he was such an angel and endured it with a smile) I met up with my friend since schooldays for lunch.

But something has changed between us. Something so subtle that it can’t be discussed or explained. We find things to talk about but it no longer comes naturally any more. So keen am I to try and improve things that I am thinking what we can talk about that will switch the old best buddies magic on again. Its difficult to describe the feeling that I am hunting for. But something more than that of acquaintance making small talk. I want us to be kindred spirits again. But something has definitely gone from our friendship. I am hoping it is temporary…

I worry its just me. Throughout my life I have asked too much of my friends. Wanted them to be there when they were not. That’s the difference between friends and family. Most family members are always there in the background but I find friends come and go. Friends are also a bit like a drug after you first meet and the friendship blossoms you are then forever chasing that first giddy ‘hit’ when you initially discovered you both had so much in common.  Then life’s problems hit and you try to be there but its  never the same.

I think I ask too much of my friends. Someone once told me that children who have no siblings (like me) are always on the search for their surrogate sister or brother and that is my problem. I adored my friends when I was younger they gave me respite from my parent’s break-up and my mother’s relationships with other men. They introduced me to their world and showed me a different way of life. I didn’t have to rely on my imagination alone when I was with friends. I was always more comfortable with one or two friends then a large group because I craved the in-depth relationship. I found having too many friends was just too superficial for me I couldn’t get to really know them. It sounds a bit sad in a geeky kind of way. However I was a confident kid on the whole.

As an adult I am really not very good with my own company. I think that must come partly from being an ‘only’. I like interaction with others but not just anyone – people I know really really well. I used to have a good friendship thing going with my own mother but time has faded that now and it doesn’t help that she is in Spain most of the year. The mother/ daughter chat isn’t as good on Skype.

I don’t want to mope, I just want to reflect on what I have discovered is a side effect of being an ‘only’.

But the real test of happiness is this scenario – look around you, if your life was taken away now would you be happy with where you had got to in life? I am not talking about achievements I am talking about levels of happiness and right now I would say yes and I hope my friends and family would say the same.

If you have read this and answered no – then figure out what is bringing you down and change it NOW!

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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?

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