Category Archives: life

Stories form us

I believe us humans learn how to behave, and a certain amount of our moral compass from stories, either family stories, books, tv – think Friends, songs, film etc. 

So by sticking our male children from 10-20+ in front of a story that is or similar to Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty for hours and days at a time (unlike a single story book) what can we expect from them as adults. It amazes me they can function in the real world at all after almost total submersion with their peers into a world of sex, violence and narcissism. 

I’m not saying they will all be serial killers but their out- look on the every day minutae of life will be framed by the stories they have been submerged in. Expectations of relationships and how to treat women, the ability to just restart if something goes wrong. How to treat fellow humans that get in your way. It scares me. 

Being a step parent is hard

Being a step child is hard too. But there are rewards. Step parenting should not be undertaken lightly. You have to do everything you would do for your own kids, but more to win them over, then yours are jealous…

This means cooking their favourite foods to be told their mum does it better, crispier, softer, with lemon, without. 

Washing all their clothes including skidded pants, and yes they will use every item of clothes in the cupboard and give you more to wash after one weekend than your own kids do for a week. 

Putting the clothes away as they are not back for two weeks. 

Changing endless bed sheets as the spare room is overtaken with sweet wrappers and nerf bullets.

You will not feel like a luxury bubble bath after hearing that they’ve accidentally poohed in the bath again. 

You will worry they’ve used your toothbrush again. 

You worry if it’s appropriate that they climb in bed in the morning for a cuddle.

You have to learn to cope with their little of big problems from autism to fear of spiders.

You will buy them clothes or suffer other people judging that you’d let your kids out in ……. Fill in the blanks or unsuitable clothing.

When they behave badly you can’t tell people they are not yours. 

Your weekend will be centred around them as you only have them two days in fourteen. 

They will sit in your favourite chair and you won’t say no.

You’ll watch their choice of TV.

You’ll buy them birthday or Christmas presents to watch them toss it aside to say they have a better one at home. 

You won’t be able to discipline them or they’ll hate you, run to dad or mum and say how evil you are. 

You will be their carer but not welcome at parent school meetings, or sports days or family celebrations, anything important in their life.

You won’t get a Mother’s Day card for all you do for them but you will help them make one for your partners ex.

They will assume you have to do all the things you do for them and not realise that actually you don’t. 

You will lose them if you split with your partner. 

You are a parent with no rights. 

You will get close to them yet have no say in their upbringing. 

 

It’s all worth it when my partner comes back from sports day and says his son asked why I wasn’t there (I  would love to be but wouldn’t want to upset his mum) but he missed me and that makes me feel like I’m doing ok. 

 

Empty Nest

That was so quick, two little embryos grown and about to fly, literally to the other side of the world. I’m left with the pets and quiet bedrooms gathering dust.

 It didn’t all go to plan, I was expecting as the children left to be pet free and have time for our own adventure with my husband. Sadly five years ago he started his adventure without me! My lovely pets are showing remarkable health, bouncing along happily.  But this doesn’t mean huge changes are not afoot, life is going to be so free with no one to answer to and I – who thought 10 years ago my life was mapped out – have no idea what is behind that next enticing door. 

 

Isn’t life fun when you don’t know what’s going to happen next, plans are over rated!

Advice to my twenty year old self

As we start a new year I was reflecting what I would tell my twenty year old self inspired by the blogger named twentysomething.

The obvious stuff has pit falls – don’t marry him, but then I wouldn’t have my two lovely children and being what I was, I’d probably have married someone similar. So I’ll try to write advice supporting rather than just say no!

I would tell the young me, you are an adult now, every decision now should be your own, take responsibility for it.

No one else knows what they are doing either.

Don’t let your partners career succeed to the detriment of yours.

He isn’t always right just because he dominates.

Take control of the family finances – even more so if it’s his area of expertise.

When children arrive leave them in his sole care often.

If you think he is having an affair he probably is.

Don’t worry about no sex for five years as you will have an amazing time exploring that area very soon, yes even though you are over forty, men will still find you attractive and you will be amazed at how it feels to make love with someone who loves you.

When he leaves it will be the start, not the end of your life in many ways. Stop crying and play with your children.

Three wishes, what do we really want?

Watching Aladdin in panto I was struck with the question of what my three wishes would be?

1. Health for sure… Not to groan as I stand, to be able to run and move like I was 17… Or 7!

2. My second surprised me, it was to be amicable with my ex. It would make mine and my kids lives so much happier. I have tried a few times but I can’t break through, I don’t think it’s possible till the financials are sorted (which he tells me is never) and frankly it’s probably too late. However I can encourage my partner to be kind to his child’s mother.

3. I’m leaving this one for all of you! What would you do with your wish?

The Veggie and the Christmas Turkey

 

My tight smiled politeness is completely unconvincing, I wish I could act relaxed and happy while my brain is yelling Noooo! It’s Christmas Day (actually Boxing Day but their Turkey day) at my partners parents and I don’t want to be a problem, I want them to like me, to accept me but there is one big obstacle (actually there are loads, I’m not the mother of their grandchild, I’m not free to marry, I’m not a wonderfully successful academic… But the one I’m talking about now is) I’m vegetarian.

They have 17 for dinner and I am happy to help my partners mother, she’s finding it hard to cope as she gets older. So I dutifully baste the turkey and watch as she opens the tubs of goose fat and says to me do I think goose or beef fat makes the best roast potatoes. I feel awful as I gently remind her I don’t eat meat and she shrugs and says ‘oh but you don’t mind on roast potatoes do you?’ It is then that tight unconvincing smile I hate – mine rises and gets slapped on my face for the duration. I feel the stress across my back as I try my best not to be a pain. I watch as the bacon goes into the spouts and wonder if there is chicken stock in the bread sauce. I glance painfully around to see if there is anything I can eat for my my meal without having to explain myself awkwardly and make my hostess look bad. She pulls out a veggie Waitrose tart and I am so relieved.

The guests arrive and guess what there’s a surprise vegetarian so gallantly I give up my tart. Only to find out later that this veggie is one of those part time ones that yesterday enjoyed turkey. The smile tightens. The food is plated up in the kitchen so I have no escape, if it had been at the table I could have tried to avoid the bacon in the sprouts, chosen the smallest spud and pushed it round the plate. I’m presented with a massive plate of food covered in meaty gravy. My smile is so tight it might snap. No happy go lucky cheerful girl here, my stress shows in my inability to communicate, the kindly gent to my left thinks I’m neurotic as I hardly touch my meal.

I manage to get through with the usual comments about me not eating the delicious meal, I feel ungrateful and feign a headache and too much rich food the day before. I’m not even going to talk about the suet filled Xmas pudding and mince pies. I have tried to search for an analogy to gain your empathy instead of derision, when I was 18 and at uni I decided to make handmade Easter eggs for my family, I had a mould and set to with my new rubber spatula. Every beautifully handmade egg tasted of the new rubber from the spatula. That’s what it’s like eating sprouts, soup roast potatoes etc all tinged with meat fat and juices, but more because if I allowed my self to think about the animal I was eating, how abhorrent it is to consume another being it would be much worse than a rubber twang. So I tighten up as I force myself not to think.

The irony is to come though, I know so many veggies will sympathise with this, the guests leave and the carnage is left, there is nothing for it, the best china has been used, so not allowed in the dishwasher. There are baking tins of meat fat everywhere, the kitchen stinks of dead roasted animal. Obviously as the able bodied female guest my job is to wash up. The tight smile twangs sharply like a violin string, I try not to breathe as I bury my hands into hot water with floating scum and fat of animal and spend an hour scraping off that poor beasts remains.

After we collapse by the telly and I’m under attack, ‘you didn’t eat much’ I smile thinking ‘yes I’m starving pass the chocolates’ and try my best to change the subject. It’s so hard trying to shield people from their thoughtlessness and I really don’t want them to feel bad about my choices, but I would like to have that choice and not have to continually fight for it, defend it and be forced to compromise further than I am happy to go. I would like them to know they were charming thoughtful hosts.

Some tips if you have a veggie for dinner and want to make them comfortable and welcome (which might not always be the case!)
Don’t ask them to baste the turkey.
Roast potatoes with olive oil and butter are the best and everyone can enjoy.
Don’t put bacon and meat stock in everything.
Ask them to dry rather than wash up.

I was a broken chair

Sometimes a broken thing can be fixed to be stronger and more beautiful.

My new partners parents had an old painted dining chair in their bathroom. It had a metal plate quite crudely screwed on where the back had previously been broken and I couldn’t help reflect as I lay in the bath that I was that chair.

Sat upon for years, part of a set, then broken and cast off on my own, then some very kind person saw something in me, took the time to mend me so that I was stronger than ever before, if a little scarred, but standing on my own and doing what I needed to do in life.