Great…Ish Expectations

Hello,

I feel like I always start these conversations, if that is what you can call them, with the same things. Either a long time has elapsed since the last chat, or not enough time. Or it will begin with something I saw or read somewhere, and then I forget where I saw it. Or song lyrics, or something relating to what Jake has said or done. The list is always endless.

Like always, this post has been in my mind for a while. It is always the same, like a wave building up to crash on to the shore. Or, as I just explained to my friend, like a coke bottle that’s been shaken about to blow. Disgustingly descriptive isn’t it?

Anyway, the way it starts is that something happens, or I see something, or I don’t know… something kicks my brain. And then it forms, but very patchy. So I have probably written a paragraph here and there in my head, but that is further down in the story. Does that make any sense? I guess I should begin…

I cannot remember how long ago I saw it, and I have a sneaky suspicion it was only a few weeks ago, but I saw this post/article about how we are the ones to teach our children to have expectations. I remember how much that struck me, which is why it is so ridiculous that I cannot remember where or how I saw it. But I got it. And thus a conversation in my head began. It got me thinking to how expectations work, how expectations shape our children, how they shape us, how they even begin.

We all have expectations. Expectations on everything and everyone. It goes from something tiny and irrelevant, such as – If I stick water in a pan over a flame, I expect it to eventually boil. To bigger things such as – If I work my ass off, I eventually expect to be able to retire… at some point. Or I expect not. Depends on a few things but you catch my drift.

I can hear you wondering how on earth this might relate to children, but it does. Think about it. We teach our children to have expectations, we teach them to shape their lives and expectations by the way that we do things. They are constantly shaping their worlds by the things that they do with us. This is not a note to make you stand up and re-think how you do things by the way, and neither is it a preachy post.

This is the other thing to keep in mind. We all have totally different experiences in life. This means, we have totally different expectations to things that happen or might happen or life in general. It is so confusing, and so wonderfully messy. Everyone has such strong opinions, and then it all changes when the outcome they were expecting, doesn’t happen or changes slightly.

No one ever expects the biological parent to leave, but it happens and people will forever remain shocked. Or angry. My god people get angry about this…

No one expects the person that is not the parent or not biologically related to stick around and raise the child, but they do and people remain shocked. This always leads to much bigger expectations by the way…

People who drive the fancy car, we expect must have money behind them to afford it, yet we are always surprised to learn this might not be the case.

People with grand job titles are expected to be ball busters, strong, confident leaders, and people are surprised when they aren’t like that. Or are extremely like this and worse. Never quite a happy middle.

Children expect the person that raised them to always be there, yet we are always surprised when we have to have that conversation that touches on death. To the point that we try to put it off.

We never expect the person we have known for years and loved for ever to change, yet they do and we remain open mouthed with shock.

We never expect the people to stand by the person that broke them, but they do and again, we shout with shock.

More recently, we have all had to learn to deal with the sadness, shock and surprise when the famous person we might have idolised and expected to be a good person, is not.

And there are good expectations too.

We expect the person that was always overlooked and down trodden by their partners to bounce back and do better, and they do and we love that.

We expect the person that has forever worked their arse off to succeed, and when they do, it’s amazing.

We expect the people forever waiting to be parents to finally get their wish, and they do, and again, it is priceless.

We bend over backwards to build a world of expectations for our children and for ourselves, we tell stories, take action, work hard, incorporate so many things to build expectations of the lives we have. To the point that we sometimes manage to fool everyone, including ourselves.

Yet I feel like expectations are destroying us. High expectations of people and things and events lead to bitter disappointment. Disappointment is hard to stomach. Too many people focus on what they see and ignore everything else. This seems to be giving everyone false expectations of what everyone and everything is like. It adds a masked layer to reality. And this is why that comment about us teaching children to have expectations struck me so hard.

Some expectations are good ones. You teach children to be nice to everyone. Of course they will expect everyone to be nice back and get the odd shock when they realise not everyone is, but 9/10 people are. You teach them to expect that everyone has a story, everyone has a background, everyone has a past. You teach them all the things where expectation surprised you. You teach them to expect the unexpected. Or you teach them not to have expectations at all.

I always expected this blog to be the platform I needed to tell people that the expectations they might have of a girl getting pregnant when not married, with very little education behind them, with the biological dad having run off, with family telling them they would never manage, was wrong. The thing is, it depends really on what you deem a failure to be. I wanted this blog to be the beginning of something, I had dreams and expectations of touring schools and telling girls that having a child didn’t mean the end. That people telling them they expected them to fail was wrong. Funny how life turns out, but then I now cannot imagine my life any other way.

This blog has become more of a place where I literally type what comes into my head. The filters disappear. And it always becomes so messy. I started by saying that this post had been forming in my head for a while, yet I lost the thread a few paragraphs ago. I dip in and out of my chosen subject. I expect most people will have switched off, because really, what is the point of this post? What is the point of any of the posts? I have visions of one day showing Jake these posts, and I expect him to feel embarrassed, maybe ashamed that his mum felt the need to sometimes lay bare so many naked thoughts. I also expect he will scratch his head and wonder what on earth I was every trying to say. A blog for life after university? Not so much. The mad ramblings of a crazy woman? Bang on.

So, why a post on expectations? How on earth does this relate to being a single mum? How on earth does it impact life? I took it as a lesson. I don’t want Jake to have low expectations, or expect bad outcomes from actions. I want him to understand that life is never ever black and white. I want him to understand that it is okay for people to react differently to anything that he might think, say or do, because he will at some point react to something that someone else does. I want him to understand that life is a surprise. It is such a beautiful surprise. Not to sound too corny but it is a gift. I want him to let go of the strict ways he might look at things, and allow himself to be open to the idea that there may well be more than one right answer, and that this is okay. Expect the unexpected.

Anyway, I feel like I have finally finished rambling. The lid blew and I got it out. I plan to now work out how to manage Jake’s expectations for the weekend when I tell him there is no football for the month…

xxxxxxxxxx

 

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On the cusp.

Hello,

As always, I am slightly late on this. I have been meaning to sit down and scribble but the moment has never felt right. And it has to right?

The moment feels right because of a few factors. New year, minus the ‘New me’ BS. I turned 30. Jake is about to turn 9. New job starting soon. So it felt like today was the time.

I was also thinking back to why I started this blog, and how last year it changed slightly when talking about relationships etc, and it had nothing really significant about Jake in there. This is crucial today, so prepare for Jake spam. Mind you, if you were to glance at my instagram Jake is pretty much all you see. He’s like the cat I’d have if I didn’t have him, keeping this single, crazy lady occupied.

Anyway, about Jake.

He’s turning 9 on Sunday. Now, granted 9 isn’t really significant, not in the way turning 1 or 10 is when looking at kids. But to me it is. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing Jake, you will know that he is quite a chatty, opinionated and articulate child. Biased I realise, however, I actually put this down to the fact that I sent him to nursery as soon as I returned to uni and he has been surrounded by adults for 80% of his life. He’s like me, comfortable around adults and happy to hold a conversation, but equally at home playing with his friends.

His ability to be so comfortable is what got me through 2018. I have to say, bar a few moments, 2018 was a shitty, mentally exhausting, crappy year. So much stress and drama, a lot of it down to me, my actions, my weaknesses, my stupidity, my inability to say no and my fragile mental health. There was a crucial moment though, two very clear weeks where I remember that if it hadn’t been for Jake, I wouldn’t have gotten out of bed.

His little hands in mine, his cuddles, kisses, his funny moments, his thoughts and opinions… I really survived because a day without Jake is horrid. All this has of course, achieved the inevitable ‘Mothers guilt’. I mean, I feel like a lot of the time he’s older than he needs to be. He wants to be older than he is, desperate to be considered an adult and I’m left wondering is it my fault?

And here’s the really critical, crucial thing about why him turning 9 is so significant. I can see it. I mean I can literally see the last few bits of him being little, of still being my little boy and of the child like innocence (it really does exist) leave him.

His opinions are becoming stronger. His hopes and dreams are evolving at a staggering rate. His demands have changed and his need of me has changed. Things are becoming more black and white for him, which is something I hate. I had to really fight with him that Father Christmas isn’t fake, because I can’t deal with it yet. Everything is changing.

Jake is ready. And don’t get me wrong, I love change. Change scares me but it’s much more fun than playing it safe. But to turn round and suddenly see this… young boy rather than my little boy, is a change I can’t handle. Which is ridiculous after wondering if its my fault that he’s so comfortable with adults. How can I feel guilty for that but be proud of it, yet not be ready to see and deal with him actually getting older.

I know, mad rambles of a crazy mother. And just so you’re aware, I tell Jake daily he has to stop growing, and he rolls his eyes. I get a lot of sassy comments back. I have started getting slammed doors, comments on my inability of being a good mum. He’s wished he was dead (can’t think where he gets this dramatic character from) and he’s also stated on more occasions than I care to remember that he cannot wait to move out and leave.

I mean of course, that’s what you want your kids to be like. I never wanted a clingy child who couldn’t do a thing without me. He’s my twin in that sense. I like independence and I try hard not to smother Jake. I’ve been accused of still mothering him and treating him like a baby, which is not true. But I’m not ready now to treat him older than he is.

A lot of the lessons I’ve found myself teaching Jake involve consequences. He’s relatively free to make his own choices and decisions, but he now is learning that they all come with consequences. Trying to keep his world grey.

The other thing I’ve been trying to teach Jake is that my choices and decisions are equally as valuable as his. And believe me, when you’re raising a head strong boy who is literally you in character and mannerisms, this is not an easy task.

I’ve just told him off for screaming at FIFA and his response? It feels like real life mum. I hate football.

Anyway, as I said, I am starting a new job soon. When I told Jake, the opinions, demands and requests coming out of his mouth made it feel like I was discussing it with a much older person, rather than my 8 year old sidekick. But I need him. His opinion matters to me. I want him to be proud because if it wasn’t for him, who would I do this for? I mean obviously me, but once you have a kid, you do become slightly less important.

2018 was a year in which I was incredibly selfish. I mean I really pushed boundaries and did things that if I could take back, I would. There are so many things I would do differently, I’d say no more. And I’d have stopped to really look at Jake and essentially grow with him. Go through his changes with him. Then maybe him turning 9 wouldn’t be such a shock.

Like I said, I do not believe in the whole, new year new me thing. I believe you change when you’re ready to, not because of any other factor. But I am going to pay more attention to Jake. Be more aware and a better teacher, hopefully. You never get it right with kids, especially your 1st.

We will both be facing new challenges and new moments, and it’s better to do it together rather than apart fighting our own minds and souls.

Oh I sound preachy don’t I… disgusting.

He’s happy, healthy, tall and as obsessed with football as he’s always been. Can’t really ask for more than that can I?

Maybe the football thing…

Xxxxx

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…

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A hiccup

Hello,

Again, been a while. Always the way, and there was me thinking that life would become less busy once Jake started school.

I’d always planned to ensure that once Jake started school in September, I would really push my business and start getting more work. I thought this would take a little while, and Mike and I agreed that if it wasn’t going well, I would put it to one side and get a proper part-time job. Fast forward to the end of September and I have work coming out of my ears, which is great! This isn’t the hiccup, the hiccup is Jake.

I have to admit, that I was almost sickeningly smug of the fact that Jake had started Primary school and didn’t show any signs that he didn’t want to go in, wasn’t having nightmares or crying at the gates. There was me thinking ‘He’s been going to nursery and school since he was eight months old, he’ll be fine.’ Of course I didn’t act smug in front of others, but mentally I was thinking thank goodness I don’t have to worry.

So of course karma caught up. Forget total breakdowns at the gates, waking up having nightmares, or demanding to stay at home rather than go to school. Instead he decided that what he ought to do is punch someone in the face and throw a water bottle across the playground, smashing it to bits. Thus total panic ensued. You know Jake, wouldn’t hurt a fly and knows what it’s like to be picked on. He was also known for doing the right thing, so if he was hurt, he would go to the teacher rather than take matters into his own hands. I was horrified and so upset. Mike on the other hand, whilst he was concerned, also felt that ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘he’s not going out of his way to attack people’. But of course, you are going to worry. On top of this, I am my mother’s daughter, which means I have inherited the ‘Hayward Guilt’ gene, so essentially I am always guilty. I started thinking, okay, what are we doing wrong that he suddenly feels like he has to hit out? Do we need to stop reading Horrid Henry books, do we need to change what he is being allowed to watch on TV, has it come from him seeing us argue, is it because he’s an only child, etc. Think of a reason and I will have covered it by blaming myself. It’s actually frightening. This idea that something is happening to our son that isn’t in our control, something is affecting him so much that he feels he needs to lash out. How can you help? On top of that, he is only four, so his understanding of what he is doing and what you are telling him are quite limited. Of course he isn’t going round randomly attacking other children, there appears to be a group of boys all just being slightly boisterous with each other. But it is slightly disconcerting. What’s more, if I can barely cope with this, what am I going to do when he becomes a teenager?!

Anyway, there you are, that’s the current hiccup.

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