Happiness

This summer I realised I was truly happy for the first time in 2 years. It has been nearly 2 years since my ex walked leaving me to be a single parent from the start. It’s now autumn and feel compelled to write about why.

I’m a very reflective person yet it didn’t take long to work out why I was happy.

At the beginning of the summer I split up with a guy I had been dating. It was quite an intense relationship and although he was a lovely guy he just wasn’t right for me. It meant that over my summer holidays I focussed on devoting my time off to the job I actually want to do- being a Mum. My daughters Dad, the perennial part timer took himself off for 4 week holiday so I didn’t have to share her. I loved it. No work, just play with my angel.

And she excelled herself. Lots of fun days out (National Trust rules!), activities and I talk to her incessantly so she is very articulate for a little girl. To the point that she declared herself a ‘chatterbox’. She recently said ‘my talents are singing and dancing, Mummy’. Amazing. She’s not even 2!

I’m back at work now and I’m still happy. Work is always hard but that is another reason why I’m happy. It dawned on me to celebrate my successes. I’m good at my job. It’s hard and I balance it with singleparent hood. I didn’t go under  with stress last year and rose to the challenges despite divorce and everything stressful that goes with it. I am a good role model to my daughter and I hope she is proud and follows in my footsteps to be a strong career woman.

Im also happy because I’ve accepted singledom. I know who I am again and I’m not seeking someone else to define me. My daughter’s Dad is back as chief babysitter and I’m loving spending my time off with my friends and family rather than pursuing dates and relationships with inappropriate people. For the first time in 10 years I’m pleasing myself and putting my wants and needs first which includes raising my daughter how I want to.No compromise. I feel 24 again.

There was a mini set back- the ex announced he was trying for a baby with the ‘the mistress’. My first feelings were rage. Then I remembered how emotionally abusive he was when I was pregnant and after I had given birth and I felt relief. He hadn’t changed, although hope he has learnt from his experiences. She will have to put up with that. She will have to compromise to his demanding nature. She will finally realise the enormity of what they did. They’re not my problem anymore.

My daughter loves ‘Frozen’ and singing along to ‘Let it Go’. I love it too. I’ve let the past go. I can’t change it. I have peace as a result. I have happiness.

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The Baby Chronicles- 22 months

I’ve had you all to myself this 6 week summer holiday to share with friends and family and you have surpassed yourself with how gorgeous and wonderful you are in every situation. Perhaps because every day has been different or exciting or perhaps because you and I have spent every minute rather than you in nursery but your language and development seem to have rocketed in the last few weeks. You also have a brilliant sense of humour and I love hanging out with you. You’re my little companion and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s times like this I’m so proud of you and also of myself as I know you are the product of my hard work and care of you. I love being your mummy- you make me want to be such a good one.

So I thought I would list some of your most amazing things to show off your awesomeness. This will also serve as a good reminder of what you were like when you were little. Photos don’t do things justice and I don’t want to forget.

1. You are addicted to Peppa Pig. It stems from working out I could keep you quiet on an airplane or on a long car journey. You love it so much you know all the songs from episodes  , love the books and have a Peppa pig doll (It’s actually George but I daren’t tell you!).

2. You are fantastic at speaking! You speak in simple sentences. It means you can tell me what is good or bad! You tell me what you like and you can tell me what we did during the day if I ask you, “what’s been your best bit of today?”.

3. You know lots of big words: Cinnamon, chatterbox (that’s you!), climbing, You also know what fruit is and came name all the fruits you love- strawberries, blueberries and bananas (lananas to you!)

4, You are very bossy! (Another word you know!). When I say it’s time to tidy your train track away you say, “Leave it Mummy!”. You have learnt to describe something as “rubbish’ if you find it boring or you don’t like it! You also tell me what you want to help me cook for your dinners and help me with what I should put on the shopping list!

5. You can count to 15

6. You can spell your name. I know it’s simple recall and reciting and you can’t always select the correct letter of the alphabet to go with the sound but it’s a bloody good start! Once we recite the spelling I say, “what does it spell?”. You shout “‘ena!”

7. You love climbing and are very adventurous if we go to a soft play or park. I’ve had to get good at climbing too as you always choose the slides that are very high!

8. You love to cook for real and in pretend. We visited aunty Sophie the other day and her son had the most fantastic toy cooker. You spent hours at it pretending to make “my favourite- pasta, sauce, and cheese”. .. I know exactly what to get you for your 2nd birthday.

9. You cannot identify colours. It becomes hilarious when you argue with me over what’s what! “That’s not blue!” You shout when I insist it is. The only colour you can successfully identify is red. We’ve recently agreed that colours fall into 2 categories: red and not red. Brilliant.

10. You call the skin of bananas once they are peeled, “Nana legs”. Genius.

11. You can proudly put your own shoes on.

12. You are very polite and regularly say “please’. You’re a bit rubbish at saying “thank you”, though!

13. You take a terrible photograph. You understand the concept of posing for a snap but when I say “smile”, you pull this squinty eyed face with your 2 teeth sticking out. Priceless.

The Holiday

Holidaying with friends with kids is the way forward- especially if you’re a single parent. I have another friend who recently became a single parent recently but incredibly sadly through widowhood. Puts my shit into perspective. Anyway, we chatted one day about holidays and you could see the lightbulb go on in our heads & so we decided to go together. I have another friend, who does not have kids but simply wanted a break and a beach holiday and was cool with coming along. She is awesome- I would have never gone in holiday with other people’s kids if I had had none. She also was happy to help with the kids and it meant we had an extra person for baby sitter so we could take it in turns for 2 of us to go out at night. Result. 
However, fun was everywhere and I can honestly say the holiday surpassed beach holidays Ive had in my previous incarnations as a party girl in Ibiza. My friends were chilled and there was lots of lovely girlie chat, the area in Alcudia, Mallorca was fantastico for kids, we had an aircon apartment I arranged with it’s own swimming pool and we were yards from the town centre with markets and close to the beach. We were also close to a water park. In my head it was practically Ushuaia in Ibiza- a pool party but with kids and water slides! Me and baby girl even had a boogie in our swimming outfits by the pool! She excelled herself, just as she did last year in Hong Kong.
My douche bag ex recently commented “what’s the point in taking her on holiday? She won’t remember it or appreciate it”. Nonsense you fool. It’s about my memories of her paddling, playing, making friends with my friends’ kids and playing in the sand. It’s about reminding her of the bird show, water parks, pizza and enormous amount of ice cream she ate. It’s about recording her running in the sunshine and trying to buy things at the market. It’s about her development and seeing her face light up at all the experiences. I feel like I can take her anywhere and do anything with her. She’s the love of my life. Who says life ends with kids? It’s only just begun.

Closure

I met the mistress the other day. She’s been playing step mum to my daughter since she was 9 weeks old and I had never met her. Now I’m divorced she’s the girlfriend and I’m the ex wife. A lot has happened and I’m out the otherside but I was still anxious. It was about time though. I don’t want to be her friend and I wasn’t going to have a cuppa with her but it was good to put a face to a name and see how she was with my daughter, which is even more important as my daughter has started to reference her name when talking. She is a significant other in my daughter’s life and as I pointed out to my douche bag ex, I had a right to know who was looking after her.
My anxiety dimmed as soon as I walked into their house they have bought together. He answered the door where far too much neon for a man of 36. He also had a bandage on his wrist from a sports injury, which amused me as he reminded me of Keith Lemon minus the ginger hair and moustache! I looked around carefully and noticed a few things about the decor. Several things were things I had talked about doing with ex when we had a bit of money. He clearly stored those ideas and when he needed to start from scratch again he remembered them. He boasted the dcor “was all his idea’. Of course dear, who else would get a look in? There were also photographs we had taken together of our favourite parts of Manchester city centre and a painting from St. Ives, one of our favourite spots we used to holiday. It started to dawn on me how different men are or at least he is to me. There was no nostalgia there for him. They were simply cool places and he could separate them from the person he experienced them with and even continued to experience them with his new girlfriend. I, on the other hand, rarely do anything that I used to do with him but perhaps that is more out of circumstance as I am a single parent and therefore dont have the ‘freedoms’ he has and i have thrown myself into motherhood and doing everything for baby girl.

The ex. no wait. Sorry - Keith Lemon.

The ex. no wait. Sorry – Keith Lemon.


Then there was her. Literally the polar opposite of me: tall, skinny, olived skin (mixed race?), beaky nosed and very young. His vanity clearly demanded he chose her not ‘boring’ family life. Excluding looks, she allows him to have the same relationship we had before I became pregant and ulitmately thats what his affair was all about. Selfish and shallow doesn’t even cover it.
I didn’t feel jealousy. It’s been a long time and I’m not in love with him anymore. I’ve learnt to live in a world without him. What I felt was closure. More so than getting my divorce through. I have no more hurdles to jump anymore. That’s it and it wasn’t that bad. I think it helped that it cemented and confirmed that he is just living the same old life, even in the same part of town, all the freedoms so he can have fun, get drunk, walk in the country, play sport, swan off backpacking for weeks at a time. He’s even dressing far too young for his age in a bid to stay ‘cool’ and ‘urban’ and youthful for his own vanity and his girlfriend, no doubt. He can do all the things we used to do but occasionally punctuated with my daughter who he can have fun with and hand back so he still gets his lie ins and go to the pub. Glamorous Dad.
Once upon a time I would have raged with jealousy that this girl was living my old life. But the closure I felt was not only because he was the final hurdle but because his existence is ulitmately shallow, selfish and self centred. My life is so different and unlike him I don’t consider it a sacrifice. What else is there in life that has more meaning? My bond is so special with my daughter who I get to see every day and cherish. When I wake up to her and go and greet her in her cot it’s like Christmas every day and I wouldn’t change it. It’s the best love I’ve known.

Furberised

My 20 month old has been a bit of a monkey at night in recent weeks: clingy, separation anxiety, wanting cuddles, calling out for water. This, and what I thought were sleep terrors and she most deifintely sleep talks. It was hard getting up loads in the night and getting to work. My job is hard and it has been exhausting. Now, dont get me wrong, I’m not stranger to sleep training as has been documented on here. I’m a tough cookie and have done some hard core ‘crying out’ sessions. But this is not only hard but hadn’t been working. She is of an age that all letting her cry would do was whip her up into a frenzy and tantrum that she coudln’t calm down from.
I was at a lost. What worked before no longer worked. I called the health visitor for advice and spoke at length about it. Twice. Were her tips hepful? No. Some of my other Mum friends were having similar issues too, so I just excused it as a phase. I was going to give up and succumb to baby girl getting in my bed for a good night sleep but in my heart of hearts I knew this was a slippery slope. She needed to learn to sleep for herself.
It all came to head last Thursday. My daughter had spent her regular Wednesday night at her Dads. He greeted me moddily stating she had woken up 9 times in the night. Say what?? 9 times! He was clearly sleep deprived and moody to boot as a consequence and insisted I sleep trained using this method he had found on the internet. I was fed up with his demands especially as he has always reaped the rewards of my hard work. Glamourous Dad is his my nick name for him. “You do it”, I said. There was a heated exchange, in which he agreed, in the end. He agreed to take her for the week.
Once I had cooled down from ‘Dad of the year’ giving me advice on how to sleep train I rang a dear friend who I had recalled used the Ferber method which he had suggested. She swore by it as her son went thorugh a similar phase which kept everyone, including her older son up at night causing a very tired household. I listened to sage advice and realised it was the way forward. I did it myself on the Saturday night and although it was hard the system makes sense and she got the best night sleep in a while. It was hard to let go when her dad came to collect her the next day. I had control and ownership of all her parenting since birth. But it’s not about control. It what’s good for baby girl and me. I didn’t have the energy, due to work pressures, for another bout of sleep training and the other part of me wanted the ex-husbnd to know what its like. Not just sleep training but getting up to work and doing the nursery run too.
So, Furber needs a Nobel Peace prize. Does he have one? Within 3 nights, including my go at it, she was sleeping through. The method is simple and what I like was you don’t leave your little one to cry for huge amounts of time. Tonight she is back with me. I have appreciated my day with her so much for not having her for a week. And it’s a relief to know she had a good time at her Dad’s but clearly missed me as I had the best cuddles and kisses today. Tonight’s bedtime was the calmest and easiest ever. She was in bed 730pm on the dot. No fuss no crying as I walked out the door. Happy Days.

Review

I find it hard to squeeze in blogging nowadays as a working single mum. My job and my 20 month old are very demanding. However, this week I got a week long sabatical from her whilst she stayed at her Dad’s. Her sleep has been poor of late with sleep terrors, sleep talking and genral neediness for cuddles in the night and I felt too exhausted to go through yet another round of sleep training. “You do it” I said when her Dad moaned and insisted on a new sleep regime last week after she had kept him awake on her weekly stay at his. You could have heard my jaw hit the floor when he agreed. I miss her terribly but the smug bugger has seemingly cracked her sleep problems. Win win. I’m just glad he knows what it’s like for once and that I didn’t have to do it. For once.
So, this week, I have been working late in a bid to get all my school prep done so I don’t have to work my summer holidays. It’s been weird not having to do the nightly bath and bedtime routine and I’m suprised at how long my evenings feel. Even with doing school planning I have had time to come to the keyboard to type somehting for me and not for work purposes.
Whilst looking over my blog I re read the “Bombshell…..” It was the first piece I every wrote and it was lucky enough to get posted on Any Other Woman too. It feels strange reading my words and yet knowing I was in a much different emotional place back then. I’ve come a long way. I thought about the list of dreams for the future I wrote nearly 18 months ago now and thought I would review them. The original list is as follows:

1.Cherishing every day with my daughter and keeping a video and photographic diary of her milestones.
2.A 2 bed little cottage somewhere, which I can furnish how I like. Bring on the soft furnishings and scatter cushions.
3.Working part-time
4.Swimming lessons with my baby
5.Learning to horse-ride with my daughter
6.Going on a girlie holiday (friendship has won out through all of this)
7.Meeting a man who will spoil me
8.5* holidays (not the travel lodge or hostel)
9.Running a B&B in St. Ives
10.Learning to scuba dive.
11.Re-marrying with a fairy tale wedding day I didn’t do the first time around.

I have actually managed to accomplish 1, 2 & 3. Well, it’s not a cottage but a more gorgeous than most terrace with a massive garden for baby girl. I swim regularly with her but have not done actual lessons with her. In 2 weeks I can tick of No. 6. I am off to Majorca with 2 friends and one of them has become a single parent too so is bringing her kiddies too. Should be fun – villa with a pool and guaranteed sun. Whoop!

As for the rest… time is needed. That B&B has retirement written all over it. As for meeting a man, well I have dated several to know what I want now. The fairy tale wedding no longer seems important. I do know that I want someone to spoil me and I don’t mean with material things. Generosity of actions and words is so important. I want someone who can put me first for once. I’ve discovered I don’t need a man but I would like one as I would like to be a family still as it was something that was taken away from me. So, someone who has family values is a must. But most importantly I want someone who brings out the best in me and makes me and my daughter feel content and carefree. I wonder if that person exists?

Mini-Break

This weekend, baby girl and I set off on an airplane to sunny Devon to visit my sister. I couldn’t face the 5 hour journey so a flight from Manchester seemed ideal. It also seemed like a good idea to do a trial run before a longer flight to Spain in a few weeks- who’d have thought I’d travelled to Hong Kong when she was 7 months old?! God it’s easier when they don’t walk and talk! It was- we were there in no time, baby girl didn’t kick off about being in the car seat and we arrived without me feeling stressed or knackered. What a glorious weekend to choose! The sun was out and my folks were there too as it was my Mum’s birthday and baby girl was the little adorable firecracker she can be rather than the temper tantrum beast she has occasionally become in recent weeks. I have been having another bout of sleep issues recently and spoke to the Health Visitor at length about a new age appropriate sleep training routine as seemingly letting her cry no longer works just causes more anxiety. Yet, weirdly, I have had the best sleep this weekend. Baby girl has been staying up late but we have also been tiring her out with sea air. Perhaps also because we slept in the same room baby girl was comforted and slept through like a dream. It was a mini break because I slept and because we did wonderful holiday things like a boat ride and the beach. It was also a mini break from the old routine and the calm before the storm before hardcore sleep training begins. I now feel warmed by the sun, refreshed and ready for some bumpy nights.