Life lessons of 2017

Hello.

someone told me recently that I have a tendency to find a quote or piece of text that will in some way strike a cord with me and how I’m feeling.

I mean, they are absolutely right. If you look at my Instagram or Pinterest account, a large section is dedicated to quotes, pieces of literature and sometimes funny passages that in some way highlight how I’m feeling at that particular moment.

2017 has been the year of feelings and emotions. 2017 has been the year where I think most of the big things that can happen in life, happened.

And this week, I feel like something snapped. I had a moment on Tuesday where every emotion possible hit me at once. And that’s when it hit me – this year has been a long one. And one filled with lessons, most of which I think I’m only just realising. As well as lessons, I feel like I’ve learned the most about myself, particularly this week.

Don’t you think it’s hilarious how at 18 you are desperate to be an adult, to be considered an adult and feel totally ready to handle adult situations because you know, you’re 18.

Then, you reach 29 (not old I realise but this is really based on my perspective) and you think – if I could go back to my 18 year old self, I’d have a list of things to say. Mind you, what 18 year old listens to an adult and takes on board what they say? Catch 22.

The point is, and what I’m waffling and trying to get to, that hindsight is a beautiful thing. That’s been my biggest lesson this year. I actually think I might try and make it the family motto.

Because it’s true isn’t it. You do all of these things, or go through moments and feelings, and take action. Then maybe 6 months later you look back and go – ah shit. Would do that differently now. And you say things like – in hindsight. Yep, beautiful thing.

So, what have I learned this year? Here’s the list…

– stop looking at other people and how they live their lives, it’s incredibly toxic and only makes you feel shit.

– put the phone down! And the laptop. And whatever other bit of technology I’m known to hold at some point in the day. I’ve missed moments, ruined conversations and stopped listening and that causes disaster.

– money really means jack shit. Literally cannot do a thing to make life any happier or better or more successful. Remind myself daily that I’m paying the bills, keeping a roof over mine and Jakes head, feeding us and putting petrol in the car.

– your real friends will not care if you have no money, if your clothes have not been updated in about 18 months or if you don’t buy them presents. Real friends just want to see you and see you happy.

– don’t make yourself feel shit for spending money on a cheeky takeaway or a cinema trip or doing something with your child. The moment you share will totally outweigh in value the money you have spent.

– be more resourceful. If you can’t have it, you can’t have it. You’ve survived this long without it and you’ll be just fine next month too.

– the people who really love you will go out of their way to make you feel amazing because they know it means the world to you. Don’t take that for granted and don’t throw that back in their face either.

– stop being so scared of talking. Talk. Talk a lot. Share your thoughts and feelings and communicated. Nothing will be resolved if you don’t open your mouth and speak.

– stop being afraid. Stop being scared of decisions and actions. Stop overthinking. You’ll never do anything or go anywhere if you can’t get over the fear.

– don’t be afraid of asking questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Ever.

– stop killing yourself with guilt. Give yourself a good talking to. Write down the mistakes you made and learn from them. Move on and be better.

– admit when you’re wrong. Be honest. It’s so much easier and less painful than going through interrogations and stories and everything else that comes with dishonesty and holding stuff back.

– read more. Read everything. Learn more. Fill your brain with information.

– it’s the little things that mean more. So note all the little things about people. Remember what makes someone smile, what makes someone happy and do it. There is nothing better than seeing a genuine smile on someone’s face.

– let go. For the love of god let go. Move on. Learn and move on. And do better. Bet better.

I realise some of these might be along the same lines, but these are really more to me than anyone else, so it makes sense in my head. Does that make sense?

I have had a real eye opening this week. A real moment where I saw myself from other people’s view point. Honestly? I hated it. Hated what I saw and what it made me feel about myself. And that’s the bit that no one warns you about at 18. You become this person and the things you were so sure on at 18 now have changed. It’s all different.

I told myself that I really had to become better at keeping things black and white. I have a tendency to overthink, overreact, and worry about stuff. Which means I don’t see moments. And so I said to myself, you have to stop that.

But actually I realised, sometimes it’s okay to be a bit grey about things. And that’s my biggest lesson this year. I really have to learn about myself again. Re-discover who I am, what I want and who I want to be. And I definitely plan to hit that list above and make those changes. But I also need to remember who I am.

I don’t know right now. And that’s quite scary for me because generally I’ve always been pretty sure and have always pretty much known my own mind. Now? Not so much.

So that was 2017. In as small a nutshell as I could manage because I really do ramble.

Anything else to report? Why yes. Jake is just over 2 weeks away from becoming 8. 8 would you believe. He’s spending Christmas with Mike and so when I dropped him off today, I gave him a small present before we do our thing on Boxing Day.

I gave him my copy of The Adventures of the Magic Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton. It was one of the first books I discovered after moving over from Italy. At the age of 8 so you can see the significance. I told Jake we need to have more adventures. And that’s something I’m really looking forward to next year. More adventures with Jake. He comes out with the most amazing comments and thoughts and when we have adventures together, that’s normally when the best of him comes out.

That’s it. 2018 is going to be the year that I have adventures and just generally remember what I’m like.

Enjoy the holidays

Xxxx

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What a year it’s been

Hello,

Well it has been one hell of a year. Real ups, downs and wtf moments that leave you speechless. 

Who would have thought that 2016 would be the year that Donald became ruler, Britain would prepare to exit the EU and that we would lose so many stars, so many incredible people that changed the lives of so many. I realise it could sound slightly dramatic but I still find it hard to think that Alan Rickman died. I imagine there’s a name in the list of people we lost this year that you find difficult to digest. 

The world itself has become a scary place. I think an eye opener has been the hurt humans can do to one another. Again, maybe a little dramatic but humans have not been kind this year. Of course that isn’t for everyone. Some amazing things have also happened and all because of the act of a few. I think that’s the thing to hold on to, the thing I plan to pass on to Jake. There is power in just one person doing something good and amazing. I know I’ve had the pleasure of knowing a couple of incredible women this year who remind me daily that one small, kind act is powerful. 

From a personal perspective, life has been interesting. I’ve had the fortune to travel to some amazing places, meet inspiring people, strengthen friendships and most incredibly, work out what’s important for me. It’s taken a while and a lot of mistakes but I think I’m finally getting there. 

I decided, upon hitting the grand old age of 28 (I know, I know I’m a dick) that things had to change. I needed to change. In all honesty, I don’t particularly feel like myself at the moment. But I think I can see the light and I’m beginning to think I know the steps that need to happen for it to all change. I realise some of this, or all of it sounds dramatic but then, everyone struggles with different things don’t they. I just realised that I need to be happy and like myself, which is ironic really because that tends to be the advice I give to people. 

Jake. Well, where to start? I definitely feel like I’ve achieved a better balance this year. You’ll remember the post I did about trying to be with him more and balance work etc. I have travelled a lot this year. But it’s been a positive thing because it means when I’m home, I’m home. I’m with him and enjoying time with him. What’s been a real highlight as well is that I was able to bring him with me on one of my trips this year. To share that with him was amazing. 

The thing is I just love to travel. I am slightly lazy but actually being still and not going anywhere is hard. I get itchy feet. I discovered this year my son is the same. 

Biased I realise but Jake is growing into an incredible person. He’s clever, funny, and so confident. The confidence bit scares me a bit because I don’t have it. For Jake though, nothing seems to scare him and I hope he never looses that. 

So this year really has just been a bit of a crazy ride. I am exhausted more than anything else and do look forward to kissing it goodbye. 

2017? No plans more just making wishes and enjoying each day. Definitely travel more, learn more, grow in general. Most importantly I want to find the person I was and be a little bit selfish. I want to be happy. Don’t want to die regretting anything. 

I know – corny as shit. 

Happy New Year x

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

Happy Birthday

Well hello there!

Been a while… A stupidly long while. I always apologise and promise to do more, but in all honesty life has just gotten in the way. And that’s really the topic tonight. 

I’m sat here, slowly watching the time move closer and closer to 1:59 am January 6th and I think life didn’t just get in the way, life might have robbed me a little. I want to believe that it is completely normal to not remember little things like the first time Jake smiled, or the first time he rolled over. I mean you list them and I’m likely to have the same answer – I cannot remember. 

The horrid bit though is that I was sure yesterday he was just two, maybe three. And he’s not. He’s an almost six year old. An almost six year old who has lived with his mother whilst she has gone through university, through bad relationships, through more hangovers than I’d care to admit, through seven house moves, about the same number in school changes and has come out of it clever, funny, full of energy and just wonderful. He is such a dramatic little person and I am not sure that’s all my doing. He loves to dance, to perform and to sing. I cannot sing. I mean I was banned from whistling that’s how bad I was. 

I have no patience what so ever. You can ask Mike and it gets worse when I’m tired or stressed or hungry. I am so bad at doing homework with him because children can be frustrating… And I am the one who would like him to go to grammar school. But I did give him Mike, who is a saint… Unless he’s playing FIFA 15.

The point is, life has become busy. And that is my fault. I got carried away with it, I forgot that I am a mother first, a partner second and everything else comes after. I let everything get on top and now I’m sat here moaning because my baby isn’t a baby. He is a young man. Who’s obsessed with football. Sometimes it does suck being the only girl in the house. 

So. This has become another thank you Jake. Thank you for putting up with me even though I have no patience. Even though I am so rubbish at playing with you unless its board games. Even though I hate football. Even though I shout a lot. I know I am frustrated a lot and stressed at the moment, and that it might seem like I don’t like to spend time with you. Actually, I love you. And not just because you’re my son, but because you keep me going. You are my constant goal in life. The thing that is always slightly out of reach. You make me work harder. You remind me that money, nice clothes, the latest car all of that is irrelevant. The only amazing thing in life is you. 

I cannot promise that as of today I will change into Mary Poppins. But I can promise you this; I will try to be more patient. I will try to have more of an imagination and play with you. I will try to dance with you more often. I will even try to like football. I will love you for ever. 

I may not remember the little things, but I know that you are my proudest and most wonderful life moment I will ever have. And that will include marrying daddy πŸ˜‰

Happy Birthday Jakey 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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