Friday, 20 January 2012

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since...

... he said, "Never try to reason with a drunk or a fool."

Oh, if only I'd listened...

Last night I spent an hour trying to reason with the biggest fool I know  - My Ex - while, across town, MLM was sat trying to reason with a drunk - His EX - ... to what end? To try an drag some decent parenting out of these people...

Oh, why do we bother... how can we ever hope to change what they have always been.

Next week: progress; this weekend: fun with the babies... all of the lovely little buggers.

FYI... this article...

... from the (sorry) Daily Mail is a handy hint on how NOT to do parenting... sick buckets and pitch forks are on me.

But if you're feeling like a bit of a bad parent for any reason today, read this and cheer yourself up... there's no possible way you could be as vile as this woman... 

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Once upon a time a foolish prince was cast under a spell by an evil witch...

... and that crazy lady was queen of all that is vile and bad in this world... yes children, you've guessed it, her name was Liz Jones.

I have no (publishable) words for her horrific, selfish and incredibly embarrassing article today on the lengths she was prepared to go to in order to secure a child for herself... (it's no great spoiler to clue you into the fact that it involved stealing her boyfriend's sperm without his knowledge in order to get pregnant without his agreement... she explains how... don't worry)...and her shocking admission that it wouldn't even be for any other reason than to keep a man interested in her on some level...

And I quote:  

"I still have days now when I wished the sperm-theft had worked; that I had a daughter or son my husband felt  compelled to visit.
Not, I’m ashamed to say, because I think I’d be a particularly good mum, but because our relationship would not have been a complete waste of time, with nothing to show for it but bad memories and a shared cat."

Please world, don't let there be people like this out there...

Read the full article here: Crazed Witch Liz Jones Talks About the Subtle Art of Sperm Theft

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Biding my time...

My Lovely Man and I make plans sometimes...  they are pretty much always the same... a wedding, a home, a fireplace in winter, children running in a garden, friends for Sunday brunch... Sometimes we allow ourselves to be braver... to feel less hemmed in by our responsibilities to our children and their other parent.... and we talk about long rail journeys and mountains and a Whole Other Life in places we can't live right now.

But for the most part, we are infinitely 'sensible', you know...

I think it's the fear of fucking up again that keeps us that way... we turn around and look back at our twenties and think, "There's no room for mistakes this time." Better not rush, better not get carried away, better not make fools of ourselves again.

But it's no fun...I love him like crazy and I want to be with him... I want Our Life and I don't want to wait an age for it to begin.

We are lucky enough that Our Life already has three fantastic little kids in it... So why aren't we getting on with it? It's just The Fear, that's all... it's the Not Knowing of it all...

How long are you supposed to wait? What is the proper amount of time? Do we have to wait until friends starts saying things like, "Come on, you two, what are you waiting for?" I wonder if really it's other people's approval we're waiting for.

All I am sure of for now is that mornings waking up without him seem wasted...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

There are four people in this relationship...

What is to be done about the past, I ask myself?

Back at the beginning of our relationship, My Lovely Man and I prided ourselves on our maturity and on our good fortune... On the fact that we could manage all of the various areas of our lives so beautifully, saving the special romantic moments 'just for us.' 

"How marvellous," we cried, "to have this love affair... how free, how very modern, how detached from the stress and ordinariness of the rest of life, how wonderful to be individuals again."

... and how wrong we were. As it stands, I'm having murderous thoughts about his ex girlfriend...  let me explain.

I am the only one of my female friends who, when drawn into discussion about possible future forays into love, would say that I wanted a man who already had kids.  It always raised an eyebrow at dinner parties... "But why would you want to complicate it like that?" people would ask, "I mean, even if his kids are great, they'll always be The Ex Wife hanging around in the background... and you don't need that!" (Shudder)

But I had my reasons. I don't want any more children myself and had become convinced that however much a man protested his love for me; one day he'd look at me lovingly in bed one morning and say, "Come on, let's just have a baby." And what would I do then? Well, I would say no of course. And that most probably would be the end of that. No baby, no love.

And so when I met My Lovely Man and we had established pretty early on that neither of us wanted more children, it was a blessed relief... for both of us. I would love him and he would love me and we would parent our own children, each person getting up to deal with their own child in the night... it all sounded so marvellous. Now, however, I am facing the realities of being with a man who has a child... but it's not the child that's the problem... he's absolutely's the other woman... and it's driving me mad.

You see, I'd never considered it from any point of view other than how it would suit me to not have to have any more kids: no man demanding rental space in my womb, no nappies to change, no 4 am feeds, no kicking him on the way out of the bed because he can sleep effortlessly through the baby's screams...

But worse than that, I think, is his EX...

She's so bloody difficult... and she never seems to go away. And much as I initially tried to maintain a graceful, opinion-free silence about her, it fast became impossible. She's always there, just out of sight, quietly fucking up evenings and weekends with her mad behaviour... I hardly have the words to describe how much she pisses me off...

I've never met this woman, but it's clear that someday I will have to. And what will I do? With all of the information I have about her, thinking of all of the spiteful phone calls and text messages that come at all hours, the terrible things she puts her children through, and with the sure knowledge that she is vile and volatile and clawing at the man I love. How will I shake her hand and tell her how lovely it is to meet her at last? It's gonna take some serious effort. Last week she called me a 'whore' and my children 'brats'...  I laughed at the time. It was just a comically clich├ęd outburst from a very unhappy person... but we don’t deserve that. We are not those things.

MLM has met my ex, who has been equally as vile in the past... but the huge advantage is that he lives in another country and we get on quite well these days. I try not to mention him too much. But he is also there in the background. They both  are... these exes. These people we used to love. But who we'd so much rather leave behind us and never speak to again, but whom, because of our children, we have to deal with every day... a constant reminder of the past, and of the mistakes we have made.

 This is the price of love in a time of parenthood... there are four of us in our relationship somehow.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

You push, I'll pull...

We actually did it... we actually stood this weekend, in a children's playground, pushing our respective kids on the swings... I thought of this blog and smiled to myself.

It had been a pretty momentous day... the day our children met for the first time... but it had all gone swimmingly and there was no cause for concern... and so we took them across to the playground to play for a while.

I have to confess to having been pretty terrified on the drive there that it might all just blow up in our faces. MLM had met my kids several times: it had all gone really well, they love him to bits; I'd met his son: it had all gone really well, he's appreciated my knowledge of Star Wars. So far, so good... but now for the kids to meet.

And what the hell would we do if they didn’t hit it off for some reason...? I couldn’t help wondering if that would be the end of ‘Us...’

It was at a family day at MLM's father's house... so not only did we have to put the kids to the test, but we had to do it in front of MLM's extended family. Yikes! However, a few water pistols, a BBQ and a game of cricket soon levelled the playing field and by the end of it everyone was commenting on how well they were getting along and how it was hard to believe they'd only just met for the first time.

MLM and I sat back and watched... relieved... oh so very relieved indeed... Suddenly the future seemed to pull into focus.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

For a long time, I went to bed early...

Last year at a Christmas party... nearly four years single and not hugely bothered about it at the time... I found myself under interrogation from a new friend... I love her because she is blissfully open and honest about everything... which is why I was suddenly painfully aware of her very loud voice bawling at me:

"Four years? Seriously, you've been single for nearly four years..?"

"Yup, four years," I replied, smiling to myself and swigging on my champagne, because I knew what was coming next.

"Well, what the fuck are you doing about it?" she bellowed, already looking around the packed room for a potential man for me.

There it was... the million dollar question... just what the fuck was I going to do about it?

Well, not a a lot as it happens, and I launched into the standard speech I'd worked up over time for people like her, explaining that I actually quite liked being on my own and that while sometimes it was shit to only have yourself to rely on, actually most of the time it was quite nice and very very liberating. And while everyone around me had come to view me as some crusading, femininsta, selfless single mother doing a brilliant job under trying circumstances... actually... ACTUALLY... what they'd failed to notice was that I'd been leading quite a selfish life.

Yes, there was no one to put up shelves for me or to screw in light bulbs, but then again I'm quite handy with a drill and a stepladder. There was also no one stopping me from doing exactly what I wanted to do. No one to have to compromise with, no one to have to quietly resent for not having done the washing up before he came to bed. It was one less thing to think about, one less responsibility in a life jam-packed full of them.

Despite being slightly hemmed in by my single-motherness, I've never had so much freedom in my life as I've had over these last years. Independence is a wonderful thing and a very enriching thing. So, these days with My Lovely Man on the horizon, I find myself asking whether I am even capable of giving it up?  What will take its place?

I used to always end my little speech about not being at all bothered about being single by saying..."Look, I just honestly don't know how I would fit a relationship into my life." And people would either congratulate me on being so incredibly self-sufficient or nod patronizingly, while I could see them thinking, "Yes, yes... poor thing."

Well, who knows perhaps I was kidding myself, perhaps it was a clever little smoke screen for my concerns about even attempting to get involved with someone again. Perhaps I really did believe it... I think I did.  I know that in the very few dark moments when I wondered if there would ever be anyone else, I did do sums in my head about how many hours I could realistically give over to a man, in the spaces in between work and children and cultivating my own life. And wondered very seriously about what it would cost me... personally.

But until I got together with MLM, and since we have started trying to fit ourselves in around the rest of our lives... between children and jobs and friends and families... well... I don't think I really knew until now how hard it really would be. I asked him recently, what would you be doing differently if we hadn't met. His response? "I'd have been to the gym in the last three months and I might have read a book. I'd definitely have got more sleep."

At the moment MLM is being tugged in all directions by his life and, sympathetic as I am to those demands, I'm quite caught up in the responsibilities of my own... which has  got me wondering what we can really be to each other.  I don't want to be a pessimist, after all, this is a learning curve for us both... Love in a time of parenting is a many splendorous, but a very bloody complicated thing, and looking over at MLM, all tired and worked up, and with no hope of going to bed early like Proust, I find myself asking:

What price love?

Friday, 17 June 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged....

One morning a few years back I found myself slumped at the kitchen table of an old friend, hung-over, knocking back coffee and listening half-heartedly as she read out a newspaper article sent to her that morning by her worried mother.

Mum was trying to make a very clear point to her newly single daughter... (and friend.) And her point was that that we were 29 years old and time was running out... We needed husbands, and we needed them quick!

Oh god... not again, please..! Both my friend and I were bruised, aching and bashed up from recent splits... She from the reasonably amicable but terribly sad end to an eight year relationship, and I from the hideously acrimonious split from my husband of seven years... Neither of us was in the market for fresh heart-ache.

The article didn't make for encouraging reading and the upshot was that girls who didn't marry the bloke they'd spent their twenties with were... not to put too fine a point on it... screwed. It suggested that by the beginning of their thirties decent men were either a.) snapped up or b.) realising that life without wifey and babies had a helluva lot to offer a single chap of independent means.

Apparently all that was left to us two silly girls who'd ditched the blokes we'd snared at 21 was a lifetime of 'enforced independence' or to wait for the first round of divorces... By which time the men available to us would be a.) coping with life alone, b.) embittered c.) broke from child maintenance payments and d.) unwilling to commit to us in the way they had done to their ex wives ten years previously.

Depressing stuff. So much so that my friend and I all these years later still refer to it as 'That Article'... Worst of all, it was written by a man... a man who claimed that he just wanted to clue women into the truth about men.... he said we needed to face facts... We just weren't 'viable' in the way we once had been. According to him there was nothing to be done now that we had missed our window apart from steeling ourselves to become benevolent/ wicked stepmother figures at some indeterminate point in the future.  His line? "See you by the swings in ten years time, ladies."

The idea of it just seemed ghastly... and my friend and I thought of adding a slug of vodka to the morning coffee as she screwed up the article and binned it. Was this really it? Was this as good as it gets? Had we really thrown it all away?

Well, in short, the answer is: No, of course it's bloody not... and of course we bloody haven’t!

Four and half years later and I'm not sure where the time went, but these days I have someone rather wonderful in my life and I often find myself thinking back to that article years ago. I can only assume that despite the fact that My Lovely Man conforms to many of the points made by that angry male journalist in his joyless article back in ‘07... (30-something, separated, single dad, caught up in work, a bit bashed around by life and love)... that he is simply... well, a better sort of man than old journo' gave some men credit for.

MLM and I are not an 'easy option' in each other's lives: we each have kids from a previous relationship; we have demanding jobs; our exes are still complicated factors in our lives; we don't have the time for each other that we'd like to have... it's tough loving someone so much and having to very often come in second, third or fourth place behind all of the other responsibilities in life... hey, we really don't look good on paper... but actually what the angry journalist forgot to mention is just how beautiful the second chance is... 

So this is about that: love the second time around; love in the time of parenthood.