Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Is there anybody there?

Am getting a bit downhearted, I confess, about this blog.  I got very excited at one point as I was getting a lot of Russian visitors; only to find that the God of Spam lives in Russia and all of those readers are probably, in fact, hackers or computers.


So if you are out there, and are actually a real live human, could you leave me a message?  Just a hello?  Or how your day has been?  Or your life story?  Just a sign will do.

It would make my day.  Nay, week.  Nay, month.

Please please please and thank you. xx

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

When your kids go on holiday - without you

My ex takes my children away from me tomorrow, for a week.  They will be 1,400 miles away in Ibiza (22 hours by car says Mr Google, though no traffic information, funnily enough).  This makes me feel sad, odd, guilty, sad again, anxious.  Also, if I'm honest, a tiny bit happy.

I know I shouldn't admit that last thing.  I AM mostly very sad that I won't see them for seven days, and extremely concerned that my husband takes good care of them (as he frequently has trouble taking care of himself).   I worry that, as last year, he will leave my youngest merrily floating out to sea on a lilo.  Or take his eye off one of them and lose them on the busy beach.  Or not sunscreen them up.  Forget their hats.  Encourage them to jump off high walls.  And the like.

But I have to remind myself that they are 10 and 12 now.  One's almost a teenager, for God's sakes.  And I think they'll be ok.  More than that - they'll have a great time.  I have instructed them to text or email me every other day.  It will be interesting to see if they do.  I will be waiting with baited breath for their boysy words, full of sun and swimming and ice cream and fish.  I'll savour each word like a kitkat chunky.  Treasured messages in virtual bottles from my loved ones.

And - the boys being away means that I can go away.  Which I am doing, with the boyf.  Nothing as glam as Ibiza mind - we are setting off for the noise and excitement of Porlock, where I'm going to meet the boyf's 89 year old father.  Who has dementia.

And we'll be camping.

Oh Goody.


Monday, 22 July 2013

When your new partner avoids your children

I've got two boys and they're bloody great.  Yes, I am their mum and yes, I am biased.  Speaking more objectively, my eldest (12) is a nerdy boy, erring on podgy, who avoids kids his own age like the plague.  From about the age of three, he has always thought of himself as an adult.  He is condescending towards his peers, thinks most of them are stupid, and as a consequence, doesn't have a friend to his name.  He also whinges.  Regularly.  This can be incredibly annoying.

On the plus side, he is incredibly mature, has a wonderful sense of humour, a rather charming sly side and is practical beyond belief.  He builds IKEA units for me, knows how a wing works, is a talented mathematician AND writer and will one day be able to buy my a Greek island.

My younger son (10) couldn't be more different in character.  Children flock to him as if he has magic powers; and yet he does nothing, doesn't say anything clever, doesn't do anything impressive.  He is good looking and charming, and can wrap me round his little finger.  He spends time doing his hair.  He laughs a lot.  He is sporty.  He has 'it' - whatever it is.  But but but he is obsessed with 'cool', can be moody, and sometimes difficult to communicate with.

So these are my kids.  Normal.  You'd have thought that, anyone dating over the age of 45 would recognise that kids often come as part of the package.

Apparently not.

On the second date with my boyf, he said that he wasn't interested in kids, and he would have nothing to do with them.  He'd had two of his own, messed that up, had enough, thank you very much.  Ah, thought I, just wait until you meet my lovely boys.  They will charm their way into your life.

Apparently not.

It's been a year now.  Boyf actively avoids seeing them, even to the point of, if he gets to my house when they're there, he'll spend time in town until they've gone to their dad's.

I have only just twigged how big a deal this is.  (I am a bit slow.)  Reject my children, reject me.  They come as part of the package - can he not see that?  I'm certainly not asking him to be their dad - they already have a reasonable one of those - but I probably would expect him to interact with them, maybe go to the park with us, kick a ball about.  Perhaps even play on the xbox.  Xbox.  xBox.  Or however you say it.

Boyf is a musician.  I had vision of him teaching my youngest how to play guitar.  Ha!  How stupid of me.

So now I'm at a crossroads.  Do I carry on seeing him, in the hope that one day he will come round and accept them?  Or do I cut the strings now; isn't a year long enough for him to get used to the idea?  Surely, if he's not making the effort now, he never will.


Friday, 12 July 2013

Women are happier post divorce

Really interesting bit of research from Kingston University saying that women are generally happier than men post divorce - perhaps because they feel liberated.

YES!  That's exactly how I felt!  Liberated sums it up.  No more washing his pants and socks.  No more cleaning his excrement from the toilet.  No more cooking his damn tea with his damn no vegetable routine.  I don't have to worry about that any more (except that, occasionally, I do find a pair of his pants in the wash, and this freaks me out - until I realise that the boys have brought them home in the transfer bag by mistake.  *shudder*).

If I forget to put the bins out, it's my fault.  I'm not constantly biting my tongue thinking "shall I remind him?  But he hates it when I do that.  But if he doesn't, he'll forget.  And I hate it when that happens.  I hate smelly bins."  There's no looking at the washing up and thinking "I'm sodding well going to leave that and see what happens."  (What happened, by the way, was that it stayed there until I cracked, washed it up, then sulked for a day and a half.  No one else noticed.)

I don't have to listen to him snore all night.  Hallelujah!  This is bliss.  No more earplugs, no more attempting to push him over (in my head, I was pushing him over a cliff).  No more pleas asking him to brush his teeth before coming to bed.  No more avoiding sex with every excuse under the sun.  (Headache, period, work tomorrow... um, left handedness, leg hurts, too hot, someone might hear, kids....)

No more having to go out to work, and then have to do everything else entirely.

Kingston Uni are right.  It is bloody liberating.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Dating Post Divorce

I often read articles all about how it's ok to be alone after a divorce.  How it's good to find yourself, become more self aware, learn to be alone.

What a load of cruddy bollocks.

My view is this.  I don't want to immediately settle down again.  But what I do see is that I have an opportunity now that I've never had before.  Yes, of course, I was single in the past but when you're young, you're on the hunt for a mate.  You're programmed to look for someone who you can procreate with, a suitable match, and have children before your body clock gives up.  You bag a man, get a ring on his finger, get up the duff - job done.

Now, I've had my kids thank you very much.  I just want to have fun.  I want to be wined and dined, and have the most fantastic sex.  I want to see all sorts of different people, and then, maybe, in a few years' time, make a choice about whether to settle and who with.

Internet dating supports this concept.  You are not going to limit yourself to talking to just one person at a time.  You are going to communicate with several, see a few, and probably get to know 2 or 3, within the same timescale.  If you are particularly moral, you would choose one to date.

I say meh to that.  I don't think it is immoral to date several guys at this stage in life.  It's a different game.  The rules are different, expectations different, outcomes different.  A note on honesty; if I'm asked, I will be honest.  I will ask if it's a problem (as most of the time, it transpires that they are doing it too).  It's early days, but I think that if someone says it does pose a problem, then I will have to make a choice on whether to pare down my chums, or whether to say goodbye to that individual.

Having said all of this, my date tonight blew me out.  Gah!  So I AM alone, with my lonely curry for one, and my popcorn, and my crap TV.  Pfffffft.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Competitive Teas

Firstly, before launching in, I feel like I need to explain the word 'tea'.  This is confusing to British people, never mind those reading from abroad (yes, that's you, my one Venezuelan reader),  I'm from a large city in England called Birmingham.  It's the second largest in the country, in fact - and if someone from Manchester says different, don't believe them.

With Brummies (those who come from Birmingham), the meal you have in the middle of the day is lunch.  And the meal you have towards the end of the day is tea.  If you go out for an evening meal, that's dinner.  You can't have tea in a restaurant.  Well, you can, but you'd be drinking it.

Anyhoo, this is about competitive tea-cooking between me and my ex.  I do my utmost to cook my kids a decent meal for tea.  Even after the shittiest day at work, you can find me slicing,chopping, frying, baking, peeling.  Not necessarily in that order.

I want to cook better meals for my kids than my husband.  I want them to be healthier AND tastier.  I want to reign supreme in the kitchen.

It backfired a bit today when one of my kids specifically requested a barbecue.  As you know, barbecues are high fuss, high risk affairs.  Get too close and your clothes/hair/appendages get singed.  Leave a burger on for half a minute too long and it solidifies into a lump of charred charriness.  Touch it by accident and all the fun has been pulled from that day as well as the next, because your finger will blister up and stop you from typing, throwing a ball and opening tins.

I digress.  Today, none of this danger stuff actually happened.  What did happen was that my other son, the one who had not requested the burnt charcoal meal, said those heart-tearing words: "Dad's meals are nicer than yours."


I found my whole sense of Motherhood was being pulled into question.  My ex husband, better at cooking?  The man who didn't touch a saucepan over the last ten years?  The man who doesn't eat greens?  The man who... etc.

"Yes.  He cooked us duck noodle salad the other day.  He gets us to rate his meals and makes a note of the favourites so we can cook them again."


I am panicking.  I need to get all my recipe books out and make lists of meals.  I need to do a chef's course. I need to bake bread.  I need better at it.  Somehow.

I will succeed in The Great British Tea off.  Whether it be by cooking my own Heston Blumenthal style duck noodle salad (with fruit pastilles, perhaps), or by making chocolatey cheesy alphabetti spaghetti, my kids WILL say that I'm the best tea maker.

Even if I have to pay them a fiver each to do so.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Perhaps I am a feminist after all?

Ok.  No comments.  So I'll have to tread this path solo.

I was thinking today that yesterday's post was bullshit.  Yes - I do have a need to be loved.  But actually it's by men AND women.  I hate the thought of someone not liking me.  In my view, the proof of a successful life is how many people turn up at your funeral.  So I smile at everybody.  I flirt with most.  I am polite, say please and thank you, and try my hardest to act with tact at all times.

I do not wear make up; I don't have an urge to get plastic surgery (particularly to get my revolting spider veins seen to on my thighs - ugh); I don't wear short skirts (see spider vein issue) or rely on a man to keep me.  I work.  I do (some) DIY.  I even bloody put the bins out.

I find this feminist issue really confusing.  Is a feminist basically someone who believes in equal rights for women?  Is that the nub of it?  Or is there more to it?  Is it not only equal rights, but equal status, equal behaviour; equal thinking.... are women expected to become men?

This is where I struggle.  Men and women are different.  I see that.  I think most of us know it.  Women are physically weaker, slower, smaller.  They have boobies.  (Well, I don't have much on the booby front but there is a whiff of a something there.)  So should, for example, the prize money at Wimbledon be the same for men's and women's singles if the women's matches as dull as dishwater compared to the men's.  Yes, controversial, I know.

Women are, in general, less driven at work.  But they are more collaborative.  You get good and bad managers of both sexes.  And yet the pay gap is 'strikingly uneven' (reported by  the BBC a couple of months ago so must be true).  Surely men and women, although having different strengths (speaking very generally here) should be paid equally.

But does the 'having children' issue get in the way?  My own experience shows that it is difficult to get back in the game if you take a career break to raise kids.  I am a graduate who initially got a good job in London and earned a really good wage.  Come 32, I leave work to look after my two children.  I keep my hand in a bit by working part time here and there for a very low wage.  But when I am ready to re-enter the rat race, my earning-worth had sunk through the floor.  I've had to start building it up again, literally from scratch.

I've gone off point a bit here.  Really what I wanted to say was that perhaps I am a feminist.  Or perhaps I am on Tuesdays.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Is divorce a feminist issue?

I've been reading a lot of Caitlin Moran recently.  She is funny.  And she's from Wolverhampton.  Therefore she is ace.  I love it when she talks about lady parts, crappy jobs, embarrassing parties...but I sort of switch off when she talks about feminism.  Fem. In. Ism.  Said like that, it sounds like a tampon.

This I know makes me a bad person.  Worse.  A bad woman.  Other women have died - yes, literally died - for my cause, so that I can work on (reasonably) the same footing as a man, not be tied to the sink (unless it is part of a corking sex game) and have as many children as I want.  Or none.  Then stop.

But I don't consider myself a hard lined, hard edged, hard nippled feminist.  In fact, I am ashamed to say (and this is when I am grateful that my blog is anonymous) that I feel that I need a man to be happy in life.


It's shocking, isn't it?

And in fact, what I am busy doing at the moment is making a little cocoon of men around me so that I feel loved and supported and cared for.

It's pathetic.  I've done lots of strong things in my life.  I've cycled 80 miles in a day.  I've run a half marathon.  I've performed in the Last Night of the Proms.  I'm a qualified pilot, for God's sakes.  But despite all of this, I need a man (or four) to love me.

Even as I write this, I'm feeling a bit vommy with myself.  What I would really like is for you to leave a comment to tell me why I feel like that, and how I can stop myself feeling like that.

That would be really useful.    Would you mind?

Saturday, 6 July 2013

It's a Fat issue

I had a difficult conversation with my eldest son yesterday.  He's 12, and almost as tall as me (5'8'').  Before his dad and I split, he was a skinny thing, a good runner, fairly fit.  But since the split he has piled on the pounds and this was brought starkly into focus when I saw him next to one of his peers yesterday.

My son is fat.

How did that happen?  Has he turned to food for comfort?  Probably.  Have I let him?  Certainly.  Added to which, he started secondary school last September so is eating a shedload of rubbish for lunch, rather than the carefully monitored healthy primary school meals.  AND he is constantly finding ways of avoiding PE.  Firstly because he was lazy, and now, I suspect, because he is ashamed of his body.

I lost three stone about three years ago through WeightWatchers and, by and large, have managed to keep it off.  I understand about feeling fat, eating for comfort, struggling with discipline - all of that.  But I also understand how AMAZING it feels when you start to lose the weight, how proud of yourself you are that you can fit into those jeans, run for 20 minutes without feeling like you're having a stroke, wear SHORTS...   I was trying to explain this to him but he was flatly denying, at every point, that he was overweight.

When I went to bed, I realised that I was approaching this all wrong.  I was treating him like an adult, whereas in fact he has just 12 short years under his slowly expanding belt.  I just need to limit what he eats.  Buy the right food.  Stop allowing him to snack.  It is actually a test of discipline for me, and not so much him.

So that's what I shall do.  The difficulty will be getting my dear ex husband to play along too.  But I have to try, for my son's sake.