Archive of ‘parenting’ category

Complete

Complete: having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full: a complete set of Mark Twain’s writings. Finished; ended; concluded: a complete orbit.

The weekend just passed was one of those weekends where you don’t really do anything, but you get a lot done. No family or friends visiting it was just the five of us, and Saturday morning was focused on organising and decluttering. We seem to be a family that collects stuff, stuff in every room of the house, stuff we don’t use or need and stuff that doesn’t necessarily belong here anymore. For example, my bedroom currently houses an old car seat; which is no longer needed or used. Our youngest’s room has a bed guard and dismantled Jumperoo in it, sitting unassuming in the opposite corner to his cot; and our kitchen has umpteen unused gadgets covering either what little workspace we have or in nooks and crannies on the floor. And do not get me started on our garage, which unsurprisingly isn’t currently used for parking our car.

So, on Saturday morning, a visit to the tip was in order and the pram I’d first used when having our youngest (now broken) (pram, not youngest) was casually thrown into the boot of the car with a load of clothes and some other random bits and bobs.

Putting the pram into the car it didn’t hit me. Driving to the tip it didn’t hit me. Wheeling the pram over to the designated area it didn’t hit me. But driving past it, sitting there empty and broken, it did hit me. Hit me that it was the pram which had carried my last baby. I mentally went back in time and remembered using the pram on walks we’d been on, holidays where I’d pushed and rocked him to sleep in it; day trips, school runs, supermarket visits. And out of no-where I began to cry! I felt so daft for it was just a silly old broken pram…and yet it represented so much – and it was like saying goodbye to a part of my life that I’d never get back.
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As we drove on to do our supermarket shopping (we really know how to have a good time don’t we?!) my husband asked me what was wrong. And so I told him that I was sad I wouldn’t be having anymore babies, and that leaving the pram at the tip had brought this home to me. And he sighed. And he looked at the road straight ahead and calmly said, ‘I’d quite like another baby.’ My eyes opened wide, as did my mouth! What! Another baby! That’s crazy! Or…was it…?

As we did the shopping we found ourselves excitedly chatting about babies, how amazing they are, how we’re awake all of the time now anyway so one more wouldn’t make a difference. We got a bit carried away (no, not that carried away!) and spent the rest of the day wondering ‘what if?’ and reliving happy memories of when our boys were babies.

And so, for the rest of the weekend, and even today, it got me thinking….thinking about how when you have children do you ever know if you’re done and would like no more? Is there a maternal switch that just turns off and you’re happy with your lot? Or as mums, do we always think…one more, maybe just one more?

I vowed, vehemently so, that I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS have another baby after I had my youngest, and yet now he’s nearly two I find myself craving a newborn and being unbelievably broody – even though the PND I suffered afterwards was something I wouldn’t want to put anyone through ever again. I love babies, I love my babies, and could literally make a million of them if it was physically and practically possible. But it’s not is it, finances and the size of my house are all factors for a start. As is my mental health and our other children. I’m so fortunate to have been blessed with three amazing children, three healthy children whose lives are pretty fab at the moment. Deciding whether to have another baby or not isn’t just my decision, nor is it just mine and my husband’s…there is so much more at stake and so many more people involved and affected by it. (including my best friend, who firmly stated that she’d be moving abroad if I ever announced a fourth pregnancy)

In all honesty – even though I’m still clearly thinking about it today – as the days have passed since the pram went to a new home, I’ve become less enamoured with the idea of another baby. A sleepless night and eight loads of washing this morning later have helped confirm that opinion. I guess I know the reality of what having another child means, and that excites me and unnerves me all at the same time. It hard work, babies and children are hard work…and it’s relentless….and yet it’s all worth it and for me is the most wonderful thing in the world. And so I keep thinking – is our family complete, will it ever be complete, or will I always want one more…just one more…

Seems my decision at the moment, quite possibly isn’t a final one…

What do you think? Is deciding to have a baby ever an easy decision? Are we ruled by our hearts or our heads, and do we truly know when our family is complete?

If you enjoy reading my blog I would absolutely love a nomination for the MAD Blog Awards! The categories I can be nominated for are…
MAD Blog of the Year, Best Blog Writer, Outstanding Contribution, Most Innovative Blog and Best Schooldays Blog. You can nominate by clicking on the button below. Thank you x


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Time Out

Time Out: Noun: a pause from doing something (as work); “we took a 10-minute break”; “he took time out to recuperate,” respite, break, recess; pause – temporary inactivity.

If you follow me on Twitter you may or may not have noticed my unusual silence of late. I needed some time out, and from life not just Twitter.

I had recently read an article in Psychologies magazine about pleasure that got me thinking – and in it there was the following quote:

‘Our culture teaches a woman to over-give and she ends up depleted, lonely, cranky and victimised. Pleasure is something every woman requires.’

Now this article very much focused on sexual pleasure (don’t worry, we won’t be going there in this post) but it also mentions how pleasure also comes from discovering what brings you fun and joy in your spare time, and that if you do nothing and always wait for others to make you happy, chances are you’ll lead a miserable life.

Now I know that sounds a bit dramatic – and maybe it is – but recently, even though I think myself happier than I’ve ever been before, I am almost certainly not finding many things pleasurable, and have become increasingly downtrodden with the groundhogdayness of life that comes with looking after three small people. Clearing food repeatedly off the floor was becoming beyond boring; doing the laundry, endless loads of laundry, was almost unbearable to the point that there were piles and piles of clothes in my house and I had no idea if they were clean or not; my husband walking in after a hard day at work and casually asking me what was for dinner was increasingly making me want to rip of his man bits, fry them in a little oil and then ram them down his throat. Life had become so repetitive and familiar that I was locked in my own sweet hell, where everything was beginning to irritate me and I was morphing into a spiky ball of built up resentment and frustration.

We all know how hard parenting can be, we all support and listen to each other, yet when really faced with the really of its relentlessness are we truly honest? I know I’m terrible for plastering on my make-up (never seen without it, God forbid!) and casually throwing the phrase ‘I’m fine’ into everyday conversations, when inside I’m screaming ‘no, I’m bloody well not fine, I’ve just had to change the biggest, smelliest nappy with one hand whilst simultaneously emptying the dishwasher with the other and watching my umpteenth cup of coffee go cold. I’ve already had three people burst in on me whilst I’m trying to have a poo and have yet again been faced with the constant ‘why have you got a beard down there mummy?’ question whilst dipping under the shower for five minutes whilst hoping my youngest doesn’t flush himself, or my mobile phone down the toilet.’

Most days, most days I can laugh about all of the above, even when I’ve stupidly given the toddler a packet of Cheerios that he takes great pleasure on firing across the lounge. Or when I run to catch vomit in my hands for the gazillionth time, knowing damn well that it still manages to go absolutely everywhere and then makes my hands stink of sick for days. But last week it had all completely and utterly got on top of me and I was properly fed up. Fed up with feeling like dogsbody that was solely there to make everyone’s life easier, when no-one was making mine simple in any way shape or form – and so I quickly arranged for some time out. Four days in fact of total time out where I went away with my mum somewhere special…somewhere that we disappear to once a year…somewhere that is child and husband free.

I remember as a child how important time out had been for my parents – my dad would regularly go on fishing holidays (he was a keen fly fisherman, often having meetings with a Mr B. R. Owntrout on Friday afternoons!) and my mum would often go away with ‘the girls’ on Butlins fitness weekends. I clearly remember a time that my dad was left with us on one such weekend. He served up dinner, and it was stew…and it was grey…and yes, my brother and I refused to touch it. For years we teased and taunted him unbeknown to us that mum had actually cooked it (mushroom stew, hence the greyness!) and had left it for him to reheat! So I’ve grown up knowing time out is important and maybe that is why I am a firm believer in doing it myself, without any guilt whatsoever…honestly! And when I was away I fully indulged in activities I categorically can’t do with children. It was uplifting, refreshing and so very indulgent. Someone else cooked for me, another did the dishes for me and conversations with my mum were uninterrupted and always complete. I only got up when I needed something and chose to, my sleep was uninterrupted, my coffee was hot, and oh joy of joys I got to pee and shower on my own.

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The time away gave me time to think. Having recently turned 37 I’ve been feeling a little uneasy…not a young ‘un anymore my life is very much set on its path, and yet I’ve not been ready for middle age-ness at all. I have very much been feeling feel torn in between two lives, unsure of which step to take next. When young your life is always segmented by different events – you work towards GCSEs, then A-Levels before further education if you so choose. Marriage and babies give you life-changing things to look forward to and your life is broken into different stages; however now I’m settled. My life doesn’t have a next stage as I am having no more children, which in turn means no more maternity leave, just unbroken work for the next few decades. It’s a strange time and one that honestly, hadn’t been sitting well with me. I’ve always been someone who gets bored relatively easily. I feel I need to achieve more than I have. I feel like I need to make every day count, every experience a memorable one and I’ve recently not been very good at living in the moment and being grateful for all I’ve got.

I know I’m so very lucky, several years ago as a young single mother I’d never have dreamt of having a career, a husband and a wonderful family. I’m so blessed to have everything I do, I’ve just been totally determined for it to be perfect. Maybe my need for perfection stems from losing my father when he was just 48, and then a dear friend at the age of just 40 – I don’t take a single minute for granted, but in turn that means my aspirations are often unrealistically high and I strive to meet them, failing often.

However over the last few days I’ve been able to take a step back from my life…and am so much more appreciative for it. I’ve been able to look at things in more perspective and have relished the opportunity to regain my momentum and zest for life. I’ve recognised that bringing up three children is a huge achievement, as is maintaining a successful marriage – which is so very hard at times. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve written a book to support families living with post natal depression and am involved in some wonderfully exciting charity work in this area at the moment. I have an amazing group of friends who are so brilliantly supportive. I may not be going out as much as I used to and I may (definitely) have several more wrinkles than I did ten years ago, but these things now seem so unimportant.

These four days away have been magical, powerful and I feel revitalised. I came home to smiles and cuddles and a husband so exhausted from looking after the children that he fell asleep at half past seven last night. And today? Today I’m back in the swing of being a mum and a housewife. I’m no longer irritable and have an infectious grin across my face. Never has the phrase happy mum = happy family been more true – without doubt everyone is more settled and grounded because of it.

Now where did I leave that cup of coffee….

If you enjoy reading my blog I would absolutely love a nomination for the MAD Blog Awards! The categories I can be nominated for are…
MAD Blog of the Year, Best Blog Writer, Outstanding Contribution, Most Innovative Blog and Best Schooldays Blog. You can nominate by clicking on the button below. Thank you x


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Through the eyes of my daughter…

Groovy: Groovy (or, less common, “Groovie” or “Groovey”) is a slang colloquialism popular during the 1960s and 1970s. It is roughly synonymous with words such as “cool”, “excellent”, “fashionable”, or “amazing”, depending on context.

So the fantastically supportive and groovy @kateonthinice has recently started up a Monday linky all about being a groovy mum.

I’ve not felt particularly groovy of late and as all of you who read my blog are aware, some of that is due to my delightful twelve year old daughter and our tempestuous relationship. So when Kate tweeted me the link to this week’s groovy mum post I wasn’t sure I would be able to join in, as the last person I thought would think me groovy was my daughter.

However….when I asked her she said all of this…pretty much in one sentence without stopping for breath…maybe I am a bit groovy after all…

You’re in with the style and the fashion.

You can have a girly chat with me.

You’re kinda like my sister and I can talk to you about anything.

You try your best to do mother and daughter stuff.

You’re always there for me.

You go out and have a laugh, and free your mind and have some fun.

You’re not overprotective like some parents and that’s good.

You’re a laugh.

You’re not afraid to show your emotions.

You like to do girly stuff and go shopping and stuff.

You are strict, but not really strict.

When I do something wrong to talk to me about it, I’m never scared to tell you I’ve done something wrong as you’re always there for me.

You’re a good cook and you love to make cakes and cupcakes.

I know you work for the family, but you always put your family first.

You are thoughtful, you think of others and if you think they’re upset you will always get them something.

I think you’re probably the best mum out of all of my friends’ mums.

See even if I’m mean to you and stuff it doesn’t mean I don’t care.

And so, from now on, every time we fall out I’m reading this post – for it makes my heart swell with love and pride and reminds me that beneath it all, our relationship is still as strong and solid as ever.

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Tongue Biting

Bite your tongue: to stop yourself from saying something because it would be better not to, even if you would really like to.

My inability to bite my tongue has always got me in trouble. I often wonder if it stems from my senior school days where I wish I’d bitten my tongue a bit less and lashed out a bit more. It wasn’t an easy time as those of us over the age of 18 all know, and it’s a period of my life that I’d hate to relive with a passion. A time where you’re not a child, yet equally not an adult – where everything can be a bit scary and overwhelming. You learn a little more about the world you live in and discover that it’s not all Care Bear hearts and flowers, but that it can be tough, unforgiving and unbelievably cruel at times. I found maintaining friendships at secondary school very tricky and always thought about everything far too much. I was never relaxed and able to go with the flow like most of my peers, and would lock myself away in an extreme dark mood if I thought I’d been wronged, which obviously led to me being the butt of many a prank and sarcastic comment. I was easily wound up, and still am.

When I look back at who I was and how I behaved as a teenager I see a lot of similarities between myself and my daughter – however, where I (mostly) kept quiet and retreated into myself and my OCD, she very much vents her frustrations outwardly so everyone knows about it. And she is without doubt far more stubborn that I am, which is really saying something. I’ve written about this many times before and yet somehow, in spite of everything I’ve tried, things have deteriorated between us somewhat to where we have both openly said that we don’t actually like each other very much at the moment. Which makes me feel incredibly sad. Everything is a battle – she won’t eat anything that contains any goodness in it whatsoever. She refuses to drink water. She hates cleaning her teeth and showering as they are just too much effort. She’s exhausted, yet will not sleep before half past ten. Her room is forever messy. And I find myself constantly wondering whether this is all normal?

Don’t get me wrong it’s not all hideous, we do have wonderful mother/daughter meals out and time when it’s just the two of us and it’s magical. And recently we discovered something new which worked wonders. I suggested that she went and wrote me a letter, as honestly as she could and that if she wanted me to read it I would, or if she wanted to keep it privately then she could. And it was a really useful tool in diffusing her anger, yet like most things the positive effect was short lived.

Many people I know do not have twelve year olds, and I’m really missing those reassuring conversations where someone else says their tween is exactly the same. There are no toddler groups for tweens, no stay and plays or tween massage sessions. Health visitors don’t come round and ask how you’re getting on and there are no 13 year checks. It’s a time where parental instincts really do have to kick in as you blindy go where you’ve never been before and tackle challenges you didn’t know could exist. I understand why she is like she is, and I know I can’t fix hormones and make this period in her life any easier, but I do want to make it more bearable for us all, I just haven’t worked out quite how to do that yet and I’m not prepared to ‘wait ten years until she comes back to me’ as many have suggested. Life is too damn short for that.

What I do know is that my instincts are definitely telling me that I have to learn to bite my tongue more. I’m ashamed to admit it and am being painfully honest here when I say that she often succeeds in dragging me down to her level, and we’re like two teenagers arguing and I’m no longer behaving like an adult – and I’m mortified and know I need to reign it in. I have to accept that she’s going to be challenging, that she feels like she hates the world and the world hates her and that everything and I mean EVERYTHING is so horribly unfair to her that it’s unbearable. And I have to find something good to praise…something…somewhere, but it’s far from easy.

So please, if you have any tried and tested tongue biting techniques share them in the comments below, for my instincts are also telling me that at the moment, I need all of the help I can get…

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Technology Time Out

Time out: Noun: a pause from doing something (as work); “we took a 10-minute break”; “he took time out to recuperate.” respite, break, recess; pause – temporary inactivity.

There’s been a lot of talk on my Twitter and Facebook timelines about having some technology free time. A regular period of time where we are screen free; all technological gadgets and equipment turned off. It comes at an interesting time for me, as this weekend has seen several discussions between my husband and I about how much time we are spending on our phones and iPads. On Saturday I witnessed both of boys climbing up their father’s legs whilst he looked up something on the internet on his phone. I saw my daughter roll her eyes again as I picked up the iPad just to have a peek at Twitter. I saw us through my children eyes, and it did not make me feel good.

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Social networking, the internet, the television and more are all available 24 hours a day seven days a week and unless we switch them off they will not be silenced. We went out as a family to enjoy the sunshine yesterday morning and as I wondered around Victoria Park in Bath I observed a ridiculous number of parents looking at their phones whilst their children played and called out to them to ‘look’ and see what they were doing; and often when the parents did look it was through the lens of their phone’s camera – including me.

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Photos are extremely important, I love having an in depth record of my children’s lives so far – but I must admit I don’t sit and pour through photos of my childhood – everything is firmly imprinted in my mind, And I’d like the same to be true of remembering my children.

And what are we afraid of if we put our phones down? Missing an important call? Missing a mention or a tweet? Missing having access to the news and weather? Would it really harm us if we weren’t so accessible? If we switched off, zoned out and focused on what was happening right in front of our very eyes? Those messages will still be there hours later, but what is happening then and there will not.

I think that the thought of turning off our electronic devices panics many. But for my family, panic or not, it has become a necessity for us. We need to switch off. It’s all too easy to escape into a different world and shut out the real one. My children are growing up painfully quickly and I don’t want to miss a second. They deserve our time, our energy, our devotion…at all times!

So starting this week we are going to have technology time out. Daily from after school until the children go to bed. Then also at the weekend; phones and iPads will be switched off and put away. And family time will be family time. I think it may be quite refreshing…I’ll let you know how it goes!

What about you, do you think we all rely on technology too much and miss the world around us at times?

For the body I had, I will not weep.

This poem was inspired by a post by @ErickaWaller1 to whom I recently emailed a picture of my post baby stomach.

I earned this body,
It’s mine to keep.
For the body I had,
I will not weep.

Pert breasts were given,
these saggy ones were not,
I worked hard for them, I fed with them,
I miss the others not.

Stretch marks did not come in my youth,
Nor when I was a teen,
They marked my skin forevermore when my babies grew within.

My stomach once was beautifully flat,
Then three times a rounded dome.
Smooth and flawless skin outside,
Before inside became a home.

Darkness reigns beneath my eyes,
Puffed and wrinkled now for a while.
I love those lines for each one marks,
the times you’ve made me smile.

It’s where I grew you, where I first loved you,
Upon where you fell asleep,
For my old body, waiting to grow you,
I will not now nor ever weep.

Prose for Thought


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Not enough time

Too much to do, so much undone,
Not enough time.
Want it all, to have it all,
Not enough time.

Gallop here, race there,
Not enough time.
Rush around, never stopping,
Not enough time.

Half done, a rubbish job,
Not enough time.
Never finished, rarely complete,
Not enough time.

Anxious and worried,
Not enough time.
Less than perfection,
Not enough time.

Give my all, give everything,
Not enough time.
Work so hard, constantly strive,
Not enough time.

Do my best, be the best,
Not enough time.
Expectations high, unrealistically so,
Not enough time.

Something must give,
Something must go.
But just what that is
I do not know.

Love my life,
Love everything that’s mine.
Want it all, but there’s,
Not enough time.

Prose for Thought

Reluctance

Reluctance: unwillingness or disinclination to do something. “she sensed his reluctance to continue” synonyms: unwillingness, disinclination, lack of enthusiasm.

Urgh. Meh. Pah. Bleurch. On Monday, for the first time in nearly two years, I will return to work as a primary school teacher after my third (and final) maternity leave. A couple of weeks ago – feeling extremely nervous and apprehensive – I went into school to join in their Christmas lunch. And when I came home I wrote this…

Today I went into work for the first time in a very long time. And in January I return to work after nearly two years of extended maternity leave. How was it you ask? Strange, horrible, exciting, different.

For those of you who don’t know I’m a primary school teacher and have been for the last 14 years since I qualified. I’ve worked both as a supply (supply teacher of the month May 2003 I’ll have you know!) and then as a permanent member of staff in my current school since September 2003. During that time teaching, my school and myself have changed unrecognisably. It’s fair to say the current education system neither excites or motivates me – if I had Michael Gove’s job things would be done very differently, but sadly I don’t, and somehow have to fit back into a school and a system I’m not particularly enamoured with.

Now I’m not going to go into detail about my actual school, because let’s face it as a teacher I’m not entirely sure I should blog about work at all, but what I do want to write about is how I’m feeling about returning. This will be the third time I’ve returned from work after having a baby. The first time I was a single parent and my daughter was 18months old. Having had to defer my last year at university after my father had died I hadn’t had a full time job before I got pregnant, so being a supply teacher seemed like the perfect way to get back into teaching. And it was the right time. My daughter has always been very busy, inquisitive and sociable and (as my mum lived over two hours away so couldn’t help out) nursery seemed like the best choice. She settled in instantly which helped and I was excited to return to work. Supply teaching meant if I needed a day off I could easily have one, but it did mean no holidays as I worked in nursery school during the school holiday time, or there was I didn’t get paid. It worked well. Working three days a week gave me the best of both worlds and I loved being ‘me’ at work, something that was mine and defined me and I was good at. Then, when she was three, I had an opportunity to work permanently and full time. A choice I didn’t take lightly, but a regular income was too good to turn down.

Skip down the line a couple of years and I met my husband and became pregnant again. This time I was on maternity leave for just ten months, and at the end of it I was raring to get back to work. I thrived on the buzz, applied for and got a promotion whilst on maternity leave and loved it. Working three days again was brilliant and I still got to spend some wonderful time with my children when I wasn’t at work. I became an expert at compartmentalising things and when at home work did not cross my mind once.

And this time, well this time is different. This time is so very different. And I’m not sure why. Is it me? Is it work? Is it because of pnd? Or because I know I’m not having anymore children and going back to work is now forever until I retire…which will probably be when I’m one hundred and fifty if the government have anything to do with it. Although this maternity leave has been one of my most challenging – pnd really is a complete bitch – it has also been the most amazing time of my life. I knew I would want to take extended maternity leave when I first found out I was pregnant and applied for it straight away; and I’m so grateful we’ve (just about) been able to afford it. With my middle child starting school last September I knew that the long settling in period would be difficult to manage if I was working. My husband works away often and there is no family close by to help out and I didn’t want to rely on wrap around care immediately like I had to with my daughter. And now I’ve taken that extra magical, and wonderful time away from work it’s making it so much harder to go back. My life is pretty amazing at the moment. Yes I have a challenging pre-teen saying she hates me often, yes I have two wonderfully lively boys who never stop, and yes some days I am overwhelmed with the groundhogness of it all – but it really is simply perfect. I love being with my children, I love being able to blog, I love spending time with my friends who are mums themselves. And of course none of those things actually have to stop, but they will be impacted upon by work.

And work itself. I felt lonely today, which is ridiculous considering the staff are over 60 in number. It’s changed so much. I likened it earlier to some colleagues to the boiling frog analogy – and that those still there haven’t noticed the many changes because they have been subtle and over a period of time, like the frog not realising he’s getting too hot – and then there’s me, the frog thrown into the boiling water and screaming because it’s painful and shockingly different and not a pleasant place for me to be at all.

And then I stopped writing. So, Monday is the day and as you can probably guess I’m pretty reluctant. Hopefully once I’m back all of the people who have said, ‘It’ll be like you never left!’ will prove to have been right. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Do you work? How did you feel about going back…any magical words of advice for me?!

Disjointed

Disjointed: lacking a coherent sequence or connection.

You may or may not have noticed my lack of blog posting recently. It’s been a funny few weeks. Not necessarily in a bad way, but not entirely good either. I’ve had ups and downs, good days and bad – and have desperately been trying to promote my book by writing several guest blog posts which will hopefully be live soon. There’s been vomit and nativity plays and nights out with wonderful friends. There’s been a visit to Father Christmas and endless shopping and wrapping of presents. But what there hasn’t been for me, is festive cheer.

I’ve desperately been trying to get into the Christmas spirit – normally by now I’m totally Christmas crazy – yet this year it’s just not happening. And the reason, the painful truthful reason as to why I’m not in the festive spirit, is simply because this year, for the first time in twelve years, for the first time ever in her beautiful life, I will not be spending Christmas Day with my daughter. For she will be with her father, at her wish.

As many of you regular readers will know her father wasn’t exactly enamoured with the idea of becoming one at such a young age and he did pretty much everything in his power to make it not be true. And so for the first few years, when he was rather inconsistent in his presence, she was blissfully all mine at Christmas.

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As a single parent, who’s father had passed away just two years previously, Christmas was always spent at my Mum’s house, where we carried on all of the wonderful Christmas traditions that had started during my childhood. It was wonderful, something I always looked forward to with immense excitement, and soon there came new traditions as we grew as a family and welcomed more people in. The phrase ‘all good things must come to an end,’ now springs to mind for after a long time of me trying to get her father regularly involved in her life – because even though I had formed a firm opinion of the type of man he was, I strongly believed she had the right to know him and make that decision for herself – we started alternating Christmases. He would have her from shortly after her school broke up until Christmas Eve, and then the next year he would have her until Christmas afternoon, when she was picked up on the way to my Mum’s.

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This year, without either of us talking about it (our communication has been a bit crap of late) I assumed the same would be true. However my daughter’s father had other ideas which promptly placed her rather uncomfortably in the middle. Now I know at times she can be – along with every other twelve year old – quite a challenging human being, deep down behind all of the pre-teen hormonal rage she has a truly beautiful nature and hates upsetting people. She was torn and teary and it was horrible to see. So, in spite of everything I was thinking and feeling at the time (namely rage as her dad hadn’t been particularly friendly in the discussion) I handed the decision over to her and told her that I would support her 100% in whatever she chose. I reassured her that her Nanna and Uncle wouldn’t hate her, and neither for that matter would I. And – frighteningly quickly – she chose to go to her Dad’s.

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I didn’t show her my hurt or upset, I didn’t voice my dismay all at her decision. I hugged her and told her I hoped she’d have a wonderful Christmas, and reassured her that yes, we’d do Christmas Day all over again for her on Boxing Day when she was to be collected. My husband and I then worked out our Christmas with the boys and my family (his mum and dad always come to us on Christmas Eve and prefer to spend Christmas Day at home just the two of them, so that was sorted!) and how and when we could pick her up on Boxing Day. All worked out. Daughter happy. Dad happy. Me…well you can imagine.

I hope you don’t think me trivial or indulgent for writing a blog post about my upset, because yes, it is just one day and I am incredibly fortunate in so many ways…yet for me without my daughter there, even for one day, Christmas simply will not be the same. There will be something missing. Part of me missing. Christmas undoubtedly becomes magical all over again once you have children, and that magic doesn’t stop when they become a pre-teen (she still wanted to see Father Christmas the other day) and it’s hard to know that for the first time I’m not going to be there to see it. And this will be the first of many, a new tradition now formed whereby every other year she is not here to celebrate with me, with us, with her brothers.

Since making the decision I can tell she’s still been torn. Whenever Christmas has been talked about I’ve also been incredibly torn – for if I say how excited I am she gets hurt and thinks I’m not going to miss her…and yet when I say it won’t be the same without her she gets equally upset and demands that I will be ok and have fun! Safe to say I’ve not been able to do right for doing wrong so to speak! No change from the norm there though really either – living with a pre-teen really can be a mine field!

So for now my job before she goes on Christmas Eve, is to embrace what time we will spend together over Christmas, and make it as magical and special as I can. I’m lucky I have my awesome husband and gorgeous boys to celebrate the day with and my heart goes out to others who are not so fortunate. For families come in all shapes and sizes and each have their own challenges to face.

And for us, I’m determined that Christmas this year will still be a magical one…just a little disjointed.

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