I’ve looked at the blank screen, thinking about what to write for weeks now. I’ve picked it up and put it down more times than I can count but I’m on a mission to try and finish it today. Is there a reason why I want to write it today? No not really, apart from writing things down helps to set them straight in my head and that is always a good thing!
There are so many feelings, emotions and experiences that have happened since I last wrote anything and quite honestly I’m not sure where to begin. Every day holds new adventure. Some good, some bad and some truly incredible but all happen surrounded by wonderful people. Friends, family and people we meet along the way who will either become friends or will be part of our lives for a season. They come into our lives to teach us something or to bring something to our lives that God intends and maybe for us to do the same. Most of the experiences that have happened over the last few months are linked in some way to the last post I wrote about being happy. The theory that in a whole lot of situations you can choose to see the positive. To find the happy spark in any moment and use it to make yourself, and others, smile. This theory has of course been tested (and I’m sure will continue to be, daily) but I still stand by it. It’s good to look back sometimes to see how far we’ve come but I’ve kinda come to the conclusion that there is no point in getting bogged down in thinking about it as there is too much good stuff going on that gets missed if you’re looking behind you. I have to use the past to give myself the strength to keep going forward, to put it firmly behind me, to keep reaching for the next adventure and create yet more amazing memories for myself and my 3 wonderfully amazing children.
I often wonder as I write these posts if people do indeed want to hear all the ramblings about my life and to be honest I’ve come to the conclusion that this is actually what this blog was for. It’s not like I’m forcing people to read. This blog is and always has been a way of clarifying my thinking about being a single parent and the joys and challenges that that brings, with the hope that somehow, somewhere, it helps someone else to find their own path. Was being a single parent my choice…. No, not by any means, but that is the position I’ve found myself in and it’s something that, although a struggle, brings unending joys to my world every day. I’ve always said, and I stand by it to this day, I feel that if this blog and my rambling thoughts about doing things alone can help even one person to realise they are not the only ones in a daily struggle between doing what’s right for everyone and just kinda wanting to shut the bathroom door and pray it’s a bad joke, that if it helps them realise that what they’re feeling is completely normal then it’s been worth it putting my thoughts down.
I’m not by any means saying it’s only single parents that reach great highs and huge lows, that it’s only single parents who reach the point where they just feel like running away (for 5 minutes peace behind a locked bathroom door after making sure everyone is safe, fed, happy and have had a wee usually!). I know many of my friends who have wonderful husbands feel it too. It’s one of the joys of being a mother I suppose. That feeling that wherever you go or whatever you do, you are at the mercy of small people who at any given moment will yell “I’ve done a poo” or “what’s for tea?”, will have licked the dog, spilt juice all over the carpet or have done something else that requires your attention, all of which usually just at the point when the kettle has boiled or you finally decide to eat something. I completely adore my kids and would do absolutely anything for them at any point of the day or night (I’m a lot more grumpy at night though) but being on call 24hrs a day can get very very draining. I used to feel it when R was at home and working away too, but nothing prepares you for that actual feeling of having to do it alone. There are a few friends of mine who’s husbands are away all week or are in the services so they do do an awful lot of the parenting on their own and kind of understand where that feeling is coming from and until R actually left I was one of that group. We would hardly see him during the week. He’d leave for work before we got up and would either be away overnight or not back till after the kids went to bed or even after I went to bed. It felt like single parenting…. Until I actually was a single parent.
The difference now is that there is no one coming home, even in the future. The future stretches out in front of me and it’s just me…. I am the one responsible for everything. I am the one with the sole responsibility of keeping my 3 beautiful children safe and alive! There is no one I can hand over to when it all gets too much, there is no one who is gonna share the load. It’s me, me and oh me! Don’t get me wrong, I have truly amazing friends and family who would step in to give me some space at any point, and I know that, but that’s not the same thing. Even when my children are physically with someone else I still have no one to share that emotional load with. No one to share both the joys and the worries with.
Don’t think I’m slating all parents who are not living at home, I’m not. Some are fantastic and still share that load with their ex partners, still co-parent very successfully and want nothing more to be an active part of their children’s lives. But in my case he’s rubbish…and I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s ok.
Someone sent me a quote once on Facebook that said ‘you can’t move on to a new chapter if you keep re-reading the previous one’ and that is very very true, but for some single parents me included, that is really difficult to achieve. The thing with break ups is that you hurt for a while and then begin to move on. If you’ve got children together though that’s a whole different ball game. You are involved in each other’s lives whether you like it or not. If you’re lucky you can find balance in the new way of working but if I’m completely honest I would like nothing more than to never see or hear from R again. The hurt he has caused is beyond words and even nearly 4 years on I struggle to actually articulate the many things he made me feel. If he was a good father and him being around was having a positive impact on the children it would be somehow easier to deal with but he’s not. He is a disruptive presence in all our lives but for the moment it is what it is and we make the best of it.
One of my very best friends did a fantastic preach one Sunday morning on ‘forgiveness’. As I sat and listened to her speaking after what can only be described as one of R’s more ‘spectacular’ parenting moments, I realised that I’m not angry with him anymore. I have indeed forgiven him for the world of hurt, pain and abuse he put me through. My marriage was emotionally abusive (there i said it) and it’s taken me a very very long time to admit it. The thing with emotional abuse is that it’s a grey area. Unlike physical abuse you can’t see it. It is something that is very hard to explain to people and personally I spent a very very long time convinced that the way R made me feel wasn’t real, that it was all in my head and because of that I became a shell of the person I had been when we met. R has a way of making sure people see what he wants them to see. The committed father, the loving husband and so many other things are all roles he can portray at the drop of a hat depending on the situation. He is controlling, manipulating and damaging but whatever happens is NEVER his fault. I never ever saw the control when I lived with it and even knowing all that, writing this today I feel like I am in some way ‘making it up’. Even knowing what I know it would be so easy for me to ‘explain away’ the behaviour and to make excuses for the fact the two sides of his personality never really meet in the middle. I know I’m not imagining it because finally other people are seeing it and speaking out and if anything I’m underplaying what he’s actually capable of. I spent so so many years feeling like it was all in my head, that I was a not worth spending time with, that to actually come to terms with the fact isn’t the case takes time.
I have however forgiven him for the past and I now have to continue to forgive him for the stuff that is happening now so we can find a way of doing the best for the children we bought into the world together. My self worth is another matter and that is a daily work in progress and a blog post all of its own!
The way R treats me doesn’t really get under my skin now compared to even 6mths ago as I’ve come a very long way. He is what he is and unfortunately for both him and for us he is never ever gonna chance. What does irritate me to the point of ranting like a crazy person and often to the point of tears (oh how I hate being so flipping emotional sometimes) is the way he continues to treat the children. Over the last few months the children and I have caught up with, met for the first time and spent time with so many wonderful people, all of whom have see my kids for the beautiful people God has made them to be. Yes they are typical kids. They fight, they throw tantrums, they wake me at 5.45 singing show tunes ‘quietly’, but what frustrates me more than anything in this world is that their own father continually fails to see the good in them. He fails to see them for who they are.
Over the last few months I’ve done a whole heap of thinking about this topic. Some thoughts prompted by things that have happened, some prompted by conversations with friends and family and some just randomly popping into my head while doing laundry or one of the other endless ‘mummy tasks’ that seem to take up my day. The conclusion I have come to from all this ‘thinking’ is that while R’s attitude to the children will always drive me to ranting and at times, tears, it’s ok. It’s ok for me to feel what I feel because that is how God made me and who I am. I am ridiculously emotional and I do wear my heart on my sleeve but it goes into making me the person that I am and the person my friends and family love.
Whatever I feel towards R and his relationship with the kids comes from a place of not understanding. I will NEVER understand why he doesn’t want to spend as much time as he can with the fantastic people we created. I will never understand how he can walk away from his family without a backward glance because I am not and never will be built like that. In the end it’s him who is missing out. The laughter, love and joy that now surrounds our messy unorganised house is incredible and I wouldn’t swap a minute of what we have for anything. I choose to find the happiness in all the little moments and I will try my hardest to teach my children to do the same. Yes their interactions with their father and other people hurts them at times but I know they know they are loved by so many people and I know they know how much I love them. Because of that fact those little hurts other people or their father cause are just that…. Little hurts, and I will forever work to make sure they stay that way.
Overall though life is fabulous. I wouldn’t change a second of it…. We’re happy. That’s what matters 🙂