Insert metaphor here

Hello,

Been a short while has it not? Life has just gotten in the way. I have been mentally writing this post for months, but as I am currently on holiday, I figured now was the best time. It is hard to switch off though right? I know I am going back to carnage and I want to savour every last drop of these seven days, but I find my mind can wonder…

Anyway, this post is definitely not about work. I suspect I owe you an update on the friend and her three weeks of utter joy.

I don’t really know where to start there. The week it all ended, the first few days were torture. She told at times she felt like she could feel her heart breaking. Then other times, she would go back to saying how lucky she was that she got that time with him. Madness to me. They are back to being best friends. I mean literally couldn’t find two people closer. They can look at each other for less than two seconds and know what they are both feeling and thinking. I know she sometimes will try to persuade him that they should just give it a go and be together, and he tolerates it because deep down it’s what he wants, but he can’t give it to her. I sometimes look at it and wonder if they aren’t both just torturing each other. Being so in love but not being able to just be together.

The point is that she lived – for three weeks she lived. And I think I said this in my last post, but just in case, it definitely showed me something. And this sort of takes us into this post. Just remember to bear with me, I do so love a tangent and going off on one.

So a few months before my friend went through her three weeks, I was driving back from my mum’s. Out of nowhere, I had an attack of – OMG what the f*** am I doing with my life? I’d come out of a relationship of nearly 11 years and had gone into another relationship which was slowly dwindling. I don’t own my own home, I am definitely not earning the millions Jake wishes I was, I couldn’t take us on the one trip he had asked for… I mean just the list of things was endless. And I topped it off with this final thought – OMG I am nearly 30 and look at everyone else around you Emma, they are miles ahead and you are failing.

I know, everyone, literally everyone in the world at some point in their life will have this exact thought. Maybe not near to 30, but the point is, we all look around us at some point, pop our heads over the fences and look at the colour of everyone else’s grass and think – oh s****, I am failing.

I am surrounded by people who own their own homes, some are on to their second homes. Friends are getting promoted, getting engaged, getting married, having kids, going on their 100th holiday of the year, their kids are excelling at everything and there was me. In my f****** VW Polo on finance that was in hindsight, a mistake. Driving back to an empty house, because Jake was at his dads, and I hated my then partner, and I was nearly 30 and omg… You got your violin playing? I know, it is so pathetic! Like I said though, I am 99% sure you have had this moment, and if you haven’t yet, you will.

What was really weird, is that as quickly as I had this barrage of negative thoughts, it went. I talked myself out of it. I was seeing a very good therapist at the time, and I thought through it all.

I was nearly 30, a lot of people don’t make it that far. Yes, my ultra long relationship with the father of my child had ended, but we were all happier. We are still friends, and most of all, both still working together to raise Jake. He’s found someone who makes him really happy and is great with Jake. Huge bonus for single parents around the world, to find someone who gets it and accepts this extra part of your life.

No, I didn’t own my own house, but I reminded myself that I still have these dreams of disappearing into Europe and getting a house in Copenhagen or back to Italy and my old family home. So sod it, I have no savings. I mean literally nothing. Jake asked me the other day how many ££ I had saved as he wanted us to look into buying a boat… He said you literally have nothing mum?! Yep Jake, nada. But. Every month, without fail, I pay my rent on time, I pay my bills, I buy food and I put petrol in the car. I have some left over so that we can do things. Occasionally this stretches out to cocktails. The main thing is, we are managing.

Yes, a lot of my friends are getting new boyfriends/girlfriends, getting engaged, getting married or having babies. I also know a lot of friends who are holding on to relationships because they too have been bitten by the fear of being nearly 30 or have just hit 30, and are worried that they won’t find anyone else. I am surrounded by friends who are loving their single lives and are able to go out and serially date, just like I am doing, and going on the odd trip, and loving life.

I am not getting paid millions, but in all honesty, I have no idea what I would do with that much money anyway. Plus, my job is amazing! I get to travel, I work with very cool people, and my work allow me to swan out the office whenever I need to go and be a mother. There was a time when I had the balance of work and home life really badly wrong, now home time is home time. Work waits. Don’t get me wrong, speak to my friend Ursa and she will tell you that at least once a week I have a meltdown and she has to slap me. But otherwise hey, work is good.

The biggest thing that kicked me out of this spiral was something my therapist said. She said she was excited for me hitting my 30s. Emma you have almost lived your life backwards, she said. I was settled in my 20s. I had the baby, the amazing relationship and a budding career. And now? I have the entire world. I am nearly 30 and no, I don’t have someone waiting for me when I get home from work every night who can share a glass of wine with me. I do have Jake though. I have friends that get it and support me and come to visit whenever possible. I have an amazing family.

I know what you are all thinking. Isn’t this a really obvious post? I am not sure it is though. Recently, the amount of people who have pointed out that I am nearly 30, that I am not married, that I have a child, that my job means I am not capable of being the ‘little woman’, that I shouldn’t be chasing dates, that I should be saving my money to buy a house… I mean opinions are thrown at me a lot. Apparently, I am very intimidating for men because I have my s*** together… Do I?! And intimidating? Why? I don’t know.

Anyway, I kicked myself out of the negativity, I got home, I eventually got rid of the bad partner and embraced freedom. I embraced turning 30. I will be honest, it’s August and I don’t turn 30 until December… but I am definitely not dreading it as much as I was…

Then my friend went through her three weeks of bliss, and I thought you know, if it takes me another 20 years to find that, I will wait. If I don’t buy my house until I am 60 right before Jake shoves me into a nursing home, that’s okay too. And my best childhood memories of holidays are the ones my mum would do in the garden for us, because she had no money either. You make life what it is.

I sound very preachy don’t I. I definitely in no way have my s*** together. I am muddling through and I love it. I told you I would go off on a bit of tangent.

The last few months, even before the post about my friend, I have been thinking about this post. The entire world expects you to be at a certain point in life at 30. There is so much pressure on having your own home, of your kids being perfect and of being supported through it all by the perfect partner.

Christ, I tell you now, I would rather be single than be miserable. I would rather be single than settle for a life with someone who doesn’t make me happy. I would rather spend hours with Jake playing football than spend time with someone who can’t hold a conversation.

I love that I don’t own my own home, though at one point I wished I did. But I fixed that by getting an allotment, because all I actually miss is a garden.

Jake is slightly over sensitive, but he is amazing. He is so funny, so clever and able to hold his own in a room full of people.

F*** society. F*** the people who are throwing pressure on you to be at a certain point in life. Grab life by the balls.

And here endeth the lesson. I promise no more preachy posts… for at least another few months.

Enjoy your summer kids and do all the things I would do.

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

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Blind Faith

Hey,

Standard line – it has been a while.

A lot going on as always, working, Jake getting bigger and nearly as tall as I am… general day to day stuff. Learning a lot though, which is always handy I think. This year I turn 30, and whilst I realise that is not the biggest of milestones, I definitely think it is going to be a turning point for me. However, today is not about me…

I had a bit of a life lesson from a really good friend of mine and felt compelled to share it. I’ll give you an overview of what she has been through, and see if it makes a difference to you like it did to me.

She has had one hell of a year. She was in a very negative relationship but wasn’t able to see it until she came out of it. She spent the year losing bits of herself, giving up huge parts of herself and managed to get help. So that in itself is amazing.

Then recently, she was completely side-swiped and swept off her feet by a kiss. Sounds mad doesn’t it, but it was that total love story moment. She was kissed by someone she had known for a long time, someone she admits she had never seen or thought to kiss. But that kiss changed her completely. I remember her face when she told me about the kiss. It was like she had come back to life. And the guy, well. So far removed from what she would normally have gone for, but he was perfect for her. Smart, funny, interesting, and an adventure. This is crucial to her because that was what she was in need of. She just never thought it would be him giving it to her.

My friend has a tendency to get over excited really quickly, so I think she got a few warnings. Not because it wasn’t a good idea but just because she has such a habit of going from 0 – 60 in a short period of time. She almost gets intoxicated with that feeling of happiness and what things can lead to. She still thinks she’s going to get married at Blenheim Palace… It’s what I love about her, her endless positivity. So yeah, she got a few warnings and a few funny looks when she told people about the kiss and him and beginnings of their relationship, but then she said herself, when you know, you know. She knew it was never going to be a fling, it was never going to be a small moment. When she explained that to people, they quickly changed their tunes.

So the two of them embarked on an amazing adventure. I mean, they were amazing together, and brave, they had the odds stacked against them. But oh my god you should have seen her face. She looked like she was permanently on a high. Made me think how amazing that one kiss could open up so much for someone. Changed them completely. And all for the better.

She would tell me a lot about how she felt, the fact that she hadn’t seen it coming, how much better that made it. She discovered him and herself through him. It was so beautiful to watch, especially with what she had come through in the past year.

So I was slightly blind sighted myself when she told me, just 3 weeks later, that it had ended. Like I said, they had some odds stacked against them, which I can’t go into. What surprised me though was this – she looks in pain, like it hurts to breath. She thought she had more time, a chance to take it somewhere amazing. However, she isn’t angry with him. Frustrated and angry with the outcome, but not him.

More surprisingly, she is just grateful she got the 3 weeks. She knows it’s going to hurt like hell for a while, and she’s got to go through the whole getting over him process. But she said it herself, she came alive. And hey, 3 weeks isn’t a long time, but like she said, when you know you just know.

My friend is managing, early days still but she is soldiering on. And they are going to be the best of friends, because you can’t share a moment like that and not be. It is sad that they couldn’t work over the obstacles, but don’t take that as a sign that they weren’t meant to be. Far from it.

So what is the point of this story? Moral of the story is this – don’t settle, not for anyone. Life is short, amazing and beautiful. And maybe you will only get 3 weeks like she did, but they may be the best 3 weeks you have and could lead you on to something so amazing. And oh god be spontaneous! Kiss them, kiss the person you have been wanting to kiss for days, weeks,months, years. You have no idea what it can lead to, but the not knowing is far worse than the trying and it not working out.

For me, it was just amazing to watch the two of them completely fall for each other. Sounds really weird, but it has given me faith. I am a huge believer in fate and what is meant to be and not be. So this made me more determined to keep the faith and not to settle. Maybe that means I wait for a kiss for a long time, or maybe I will kiss the person I have wanted to kiss for a long time. Who knows? It’s kind of exciting, the not knowing. Just don’t settle, that is going to be my motto. And you shouldn’t either. No matter what, don’t settle. It is not worth it.

Keep the faith

xxxx

Swinging pendulum

Hello,

At what point in life do you finally say to yourself, what other people think of me really doesn’t matter. Or are you just born that way. Or do you just wake up one day and think – f**k everyone, I am happy so surely that’s what matters.

It really baffles me. I mean, I have a severe fear of what other people think. What they might say. What they might be thinking. Would they do whatever I am doing? Would they handle things differently? If so, how would they handle it? Does it make me a bad person that I am not doing or thinking along the same lines? Does it mean that there is something wrong with me, that I am a bad person for not reacting the same? For acting in a way that someone else may not?

God, that was torturous just typing it. I can imagine reading it might be the same thing. I mean torturous in the sense that you are rolling your eyes and screaming – of course you’re wrong! Well, I guess that is what I am hoping for. Because in truth, the above is really my day to day. Sometimes, I keep it at bay and it doesn’t trouble me that much. Sometimes, like today, it is almost crippling. It can completely stop me in my tracks.

Here is the other crazy thing. I’d imagine you might be reading this and be thinking – well, she has a fear of what people might think of her, and she’s typing it out to the entire world to read. (I mean the web by that, not the idea that billions of people are reading this)

The thing is, it is much less frightening putting something like this on-line, than actually having to sit down, face someone, look them in the eyes, and try to explain all of this. It is much less frightening not saying these words out loud, and watching people’s faces, desperately looking for a reaction and trying to decipher their true feelings. I don’t know what it is. But my god I could never say all of this to an actual person. I mean, I know I sound crazy but I am not sure that I could have anyone else tell me.

The pendulum bit comes in because on the other side of all of this, I need the opinion of family and friends and loved ones. I crave the need to know that maybe someone at some point has felt what I am feeling at any given time. Surely someone else near me gets scared like this? Or over thinks about everything like I do. Or is just plain scared. Scared of taking a step. Wondering if it is the right step. What will the consequences be of the step. Who will judge me? Who will I loose? Who will stay?

It is exhausting. hence the question of when does it end. I do think some lucky buggers out there are just born with a f**k everyone else attitude. Not in a horrible way, just they are strong and confident in their choices and their actions, and don’t always need to have the reassurance of someone else. You know, the whole black and white, and not so grey. I mean everyone at some point needs a little reassurance?

My other question is, or rather, the other thing I wonder about it – how long until this kind of way of thinking wears thin? At what point do family, friends and loved ones go – enough. Enough of your needs, enough of you wanting answers. Just live.

That’s the answer isn’t – just live Emma. Jeez Louise just live. Stop thinking. Stop worrying. Trust your gut. Trust your heart. Live.

And then I ruin it, I think, by saying – well, that just sounds kind of selfish. Because you can’t just live can you. You have to think how you’re living moment might affect someone. And what if they don’t react well to the way you live.

Oh good lord, I have lost the plot haven’t I? I swear as well, I wasn’t always like this. Well, I don’t think I was anyway or not this badly.

And if any of my friends were saying this to me, I would be screaming at them and telling them – go live! Fuck everyone else. You have to be happy, because the people who love you, and I mean really love you, won’t care if the choices you have made aren’t choices they would have made. They wont care that maybe actions you are taking aren’t ones that they might take. They won’t care, it will not matter. They will love you anyway, they will want you to be happy. Because you won’t remember this bit, you will remember the happy stuff more.

Mind you, who on earth takes their own advice hey? Not me apparently.

So, all that aside. 2018 thus far has started well. We celebrated Jake’s 8th birthday. Can you believe he’s 8? Well, actually he’s 8 going on 58. He’s a perfect mixture of child, adolescent teenager and little, old man. He also has a crazy sense of humour, comes out with things I could never in a million years think of, and is rather cool.

2018 is going to be great. I am determined to get to 31st December 2018 and be able to say that I lived a bit more, had a little more of a f**k you attitude, and enjoyed every single moment that came my way.

I would say that’s the plan, but maybe not making it a plan and just enjoying the moment will help me achieve the goal? Who knows.

xxx

P.S. I realise a swinging pendulum may well have been the wrong metaphor for this particular post, however it felt like the right one at the time… Judge away, I am doing the same.

Choices, choices

Hello!

So, roughly three months have passed. The last time I wrote, was to say about how I promised to change. To be a better parent, take more notice of my child, spend more time with him and just generally be at home more.

This was of course before the 10 day trip to Bali and the six day trip to Dubai.

Here’s the thing. It is hard to leave him, it is hard knowing that I miss out on things. It’s hard not to blame myself for him acting up and assume that it is down to me not being around. It is hard not to take it personally when the teacher says things like ‘Well I don’t like to call or bother you too much because you’re never here’. No I’m not here, because I work.

I choose to work. I choose to earn a living, to gain experience and to do what I can to ensure that I can support us. In the last year though, I have realised that there is still a stigma with being a working parent and a woman. I think it also goes the other way, if you choose to be a stay at home mum. There is no middle ground and you cannot win. You’re either completely crap and selfish for wanting a career and potentially missing school activities, or you’re a lazy stay at home mum, who cannot be bothered to get a job. And to top it all off, the government have ensured that working part time will financially screw you.

From my personal view point, I love Jake but I don’t want to be around him 24/7. One of the things that Mike and I are most proud of is that we have a child who is incredibly confident, who is happy to meet new people, and who doesn’t need us to be around him 24/7. This independence was gained by me being happy to leave him in nursery whilst I went to lectures. It carried on when I had to desperately find work as a waitress, rather than sit on my arse and beg from the government. And it keeps going to this day. I am there when it counts, at the important times and the times when he doesn’t actually need me, but I also miss things.

My new job is more demanding. It’s long hours and stressful. Remember my post regarding on my inability to say no to things and people? Well, it hasn’t gone away and it’s a habit that has gotten worse. So yes, sometimes I work evenings and weekends, I check and answer e-mails. Dare I say it, you will catch me checking my phone at the dinner table and I am also prone to having a very slight, internal breakdown if I am somewhere with little to no signal and non-existent wifi connections. BUT. I work for a direct selling company. This industry has become a success because of the flexibility it gives to people, especially mothers. I am lucky enough that my job allow me to work from home if Jake is unwell, I can skip out slightly early to collect him if I need to. I can pop out at lunch to watch him receive a certificate for his work. Flexibility is something they give me plenty of and is so precious to me.

I made a choice seven years ago. I made a choice at 20 to have a baby. I made the choice to do what ever it took to be a great parent and to have a job so that I wouldn’t have to rely on anyone. I decided to show the people that doubted I could cope that they were wrong. And, without sounding smug, I have done just that.

It affects everything, working. Because when Mike and I got back together, I went from being independent to relying on him because I couldn’t get a decent job. He had to become the bread winner, the person that Jake and I relied on whilst I found my feet. So getting this job has displaced things.

The weird thing was that out of Mike and Jake, it has been Mike that has suffered more from my new role. Except for whilst I was in Dubai and Jake managed to catch chicken pox. I did get the blame for that, as apparently I should have known he would get it before going off on my jollies. (Jake’s words) Independence comes at a price. I gained it back getting this job, and so it has taken me slight further away from Mike. He needs me to need him more and be at home more. He needs the attention, the assurance that things haven’t changed too much. But they have. Because I like my job. I like being able to afford to do things, and also… paying my bills. I can contribute to the joint account, rather than ‘borrow’ from it. That’s a big thing.

I refuse to stop though, which is in part due to me being incredibly stubborn and also because I know deep down he doesn’t want me at home all day and he loves the second income. I mean honestly, I went to Bali for goodness sake! Who on earth says no to that? And you know me, I get itchy feet. Travelling is the thing I love to do and was unable to when Jake came along. Which is fine, but I refuse to be made to feel guilty for loving what I do. Right?

We shall see I guess. Either things settle down, or more choices need to be made.

I’d also like to point out that if Mike won the lottery then all the issues would be solved. Though I think I would travel more…

xxxxxxxx

To all the dads

Hello,

Apologies for taking so very long to post. It has been a slightly long time, but we have had a lot going on. Firstly, we moved. Finally got out of East Sussex and are now settled into Oxfordshire. Mike was head hunted for his dream job so off we went. It has been the best decision for us; it wasn’t that East Sussex wasn’t for us, and leaving friends and family behind us has been really difficult, but I think I can say with some certainty that we have found the place where we will settle down for the foreseeable future. Jake is incredibly happy in his new school, and I managed to find a fantastic job in the same town as Mike and just a field apart, so pretty perfect.

You will remember than it was well over a year ago that I asked Mike if he would like to adopt Jake. At the time, it seemed like a very straight forward process. Of course because it is us, it never got done. Not because he didn’t want, but because life got in the way. So we decided that as we were now fully settled, we would start the process again.

When I phoned the Oxfordshire council to give them the details they would need, I was told that it would be a relatively quick process because Mike and I have been together for so long, because Mike has been there from the word go, and because most importantly, Jake’s birth father has never EVER had anything to do with him and nor have his family.

We went to meet the social worker to be talked through the way step-parent adoption works and everything that would be needed. It turns out that the way step-parent adoption works is far more complicated than we first thought, and we are looking at something that will take at least a year to complete. More interesting is the way the law works for step-parent adoption, and the way in which it works with both the birth and step-father.

It feels weird to refer to Mike as the step-father, because as you well know, he is a dad. He has been a dad for six years, and he will be a dad till the day he dies. The law and the process that comes with step-parent adoption however see him somewhat differently.

Firstly, they will make it extremely clear that the courts see step-parent adoption as a last resort; they consider it a way of severing the child from the birth family and if they can find a way of ensuring that this doesn’t happen, they will do so. I find this incredibly odd regarding our personal situation, especially as Jake’s birth father has never had anything to do with him.

Secondly, you have to tell the birth father exactly what you are planning on doing. In fact, you have to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that you have done everything physically possible to get in touch with them and get their consent. Be aware though that if they don’t answer the social worker will give a final attempt and leave it; if the birth father contests the adoption, then they have to come to court and explain their reasons.

I’d like to point out that this was slightly shocking but the very least of our issues. We have been in touch with the birth father and he completely agreed within an hour of sending the message. This was slightly painful for me; not because I wasn’t aware that he absolutely didn’t care, but because it took him no time at all to make the decision.

The biggest shock for us was when the social worker informed us that they would not accept our application until we had told Jake. This they are extremely strict on. Please don’t get me wrong, we knew we would have to speak to him at some point to tell him. But we thought we had more time. On top of that, how on earth do you explain to a five year old about birth fathers and step parents and make it understandable?

Most importantly, how do you explain to a child that there is someone out there who doesn’t want him? I know what you’re going to say; that this isn’t what you’d say to him, that he has Mike who’s better than anyone, that he has a great family and he’s gained so much more and you know, make it suitable for a five year old to understand. But you are still having to explain that deep down, someone didn’t want him.

That’s the bit that I found hardest to stomach. Mike on the other hand came away feeling slightly like the last six years he’s spent as a parent haven’t technically counted. We understand that these laws and regulations have been put in place to protect the children and families who are in difficult situations and legal battles. However, our case is just incredibly clear.

Mike can tell you what it was like to feel Jake kick inside me.

He can tell you what the birth was like and how he got there and how it felt.

He can tell you what Jake looked like when he was born.

He can tell you about the first time he smiled/learnt to hold his head up/rolled over.

What it was like the first time he changed him and put his baby grow on the wrong way round.

He can talk about him crawling, walking, talking and his favourite laughs and giggles.

He could list his toys and the funniest moments we have had together with Jake.

He was there when we took our first family holiday.

And then there’s all the recent stuff; tackling Jake and girls this early on, taking him to school for his very first day, getting him into football, buying him his first Brighton kit and teaching him the offside rule.

There isn’t anything in this world that Mike couldn’t tell you, and in just one two hour session, he felt like this didn’t count. Because the birth father, even though his only connection is genetic, could walk in and demand to have some part in Jake’s life, if he chose to.

Again, I know. I know that we are fortunate because we have Mike and the birth father is not making things difficult for us. It was just a shock.

So. This message is to the dads. Whether you are related by genetics or not, if you are the man who can give the same information that Mike can give about Jake and more, then you are the definition of what it means to actually be a DAD. Thank you for working 24/7 365 days a year to raise beautiful, wonderful children and making mothers proud. You deserve all the recognition. Nothing should be going to the people that walked.

Raising children is never going to be easy, I will hold my hand up and admit that. But if it is something that you think you could easily walk away from, then you’re not a dad, you’re not even the birth father or worthy of the name of sperm donor. You are scum.

Keep up the good work dads, keep raising children the right way. You’re doing an amazing job.

xx

 

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