Time

The days have continued to be eventful but weirdly, I have been relatively calm.

I’ve got into a nasty habit of checking in on three apps multiple times a day. Probably boredom. Facebook, WordPress and my email account.

Occasionally, when really bored, I will watch some of the weird videos on Facebook. I say weird, but actually, I found my favourite motivational speaker on there: Mel Robbins.

So, two days ago, and I don’t know how else to explain this, I watched a series of videos and read a series of articles that made something shift in my brain. It was a combination of posts and videos from different motivational speakers who actually said a similar thing. It was about taking action on your dreams and the power of visualisation. It made sense. As a depressed or anxious person, you dwell or ruminate on the negative. Therefore you feel negative. Such a simple concept really and not one I haven’t read before but somehow the triad of approaches made something click.

The articles I read were actually about narcissism. I hate the way society jumps on a bandwagon and there seems to be an obsession or trend with narcissists and red flags. Anyway, following my London friend’s query about whether Wildcard may be narcissistic, I had to look into it.

He does have traits – maybe we all do – but not all. I don’t believe he is a narcissist, nor am I qualified to label him, but again the fact that he had traits made something shift in my brain.

So that evening, in the silence created by the dying embers of his sulking, I decided to broach the subject of the summer. If you remember, I have my original flights for August – the ones I booked months ago before my impromptu trip in July as he had spoken of us travelling maybe. I have one week to change them. So, I broached it.

He was shocked, bordering on contemptuous. I could tell you how this disagreement covered two days but I won’t bore you. I will try to be succinct.

He couldn’t understand why I wanted to come back so soon. When I reminded him of what he had said, the ‘come when you want’, the ‘come next month’ and the travelling, he denied it. After some miscommunication resolving, I understood the following:

  • ‘Come next month’ was said to me when I was upset to calm me but he never expected me to actually do it.
  • The travelling trip was an either-or. By coming in July, the possibility of the trip was cancelled.
  • He didn’t want me to come in July and had always wanted me to come in August.

There was talk of it being too soon, he needed to relax between visits. He said his brothers may be visiting and he may be travelling with extended family.

I didn’t cry. Can you believe that? I was strong. I was angry even. I was…more like myself. It was also my turn to sulk. I told him he clearly didn’t miss me like I missed him. That I had assumed he would want to see me whenever we could, like me. That I clearly wasn’t that important to him.

He said it had nothing to do with missing me – if that was the case, he would want me there every month. He talked of needing to ask his parents again and I told him not to bother. I’d had my answer.

Of course he did anyway, and they were happy for me to return though it was clear he still wasn’t and the call ended on a sour note.

However, ten minutes later, he had messaged me apologising. His parents had apparently shouted at him for not letting me come. They were happy for me to come. He said that he would speak to his brothers and let me know. I told him that if he didn’t want me to come so soon, I wouldn’t. He replied that we would speak tomorrow.

I still didn’t cry. Sure there were times when my eyes threatened it, but I didn’t cry. I am not sure I can explain why. It is possible that because my mind has been consumed with him and dreams of our future, the thought that this may not happen has contributed to my anxiety. Perhaps the realisation that he isn’t perfect, that maybe he does have narcissist traits and that this had led me to feel this way (both good and bad) has cleared my mind a little. The realisation that actually, my imperfections may not lead my to losing the man of my dreams but a man I had dreamed about and idealised. That it can be his imperfections which may end it, not mine, has contributed to my mind shift.

Yesterday, after work, we spoke again at length in an attempt for me to understand him. He was stressed and agitated. He reiterated his parents liking me and being happy for me to come. But then proceeded to both explain why he thought it was too soon but also to tell me that he would speak to his brothers.

In summary, what I have gathered is, me coming causes a certain amount of pressure and stress which is not unwelcome but he wants a break. I also think there are financial implications which he hinted at but denied when questioned. It was an either or – July or August – and the July trip caused him a lot of worry about me. He feels a return in October or November is better but if I want to come I can come at the end of August. He said I wasn’t thinking of him and his family and only of myself and my desire to be with him. I argued that I only thought I could return so soon based on his words which have turned out to be false in an attempt to calm me.

Despite his determination for me to understand him, he has repeatedly said he will speak to his brothers. I keep telling him I won’t come.

In a weird way, this has kind of cleared the air and eased my tension. I can’t pretend I’m not a little hurt, but my anxiety has eased. The truth has settled my overriding ruminating.

In discussions with two of my Facebook friends, we have all concluded that he just needs more time for whatever reason. He wasn’t ready to talk about our future and he is not ready for me to come regularly. Despite his courteous assurances that I am family, I am in fact still a guest and I knew that really.

I’ve done that typically insecure thing of jumping on a suggestion, a possibility, letting my desires and dreams take over and then panicked when they didn’t come into fruition. They were my dreams, not his. We haven’t got to the point of discussing and deciding upon our dreams together.

This morning, it is like the world has shifted. We have gone back to normal, back to the way we used to be – an hour’s call of me laughing at him and him laughing because I am. The pressure has lifted, and if I am being honest, it is the pressure that I had applied.

I’m some ways, and this is real far out thinking, I feel like we have passed a test almost. One of my biggest fears has always been that I am like his exes – completely in love with him whilst he is happy but with no real intentions. I am aware that each of his exes hit the point of demanding a decision, a formalisation of the relationship. Every time he has ended the relationship. In a sense, I have done the same thing. The difference is, he hasn’t ended it. I know I am different to them. And this has now confirmed it. But at the same time, I must not make their mistakes and chase and pressure him. I need to have faith in our relationship now and let time to what it needs to.

He needs time. We need time. And at last, I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Sulking

Oh yes I am, well and truly.

If the world was fair, I would be sat on a plane now waiting to take off on the last leg of my journey – a one hour flight – to get to Wild Card’s city.

But I’m not. I’m sat at home alone. Sulking. Periodically crying. Feeling sorry for myself.

My flights were cancelled because his borders are still not open. There’s no clue to when they will be.

He has heard rumours that his government will enforce quarantine again after Eid. He had also heard that the borders may open after Eid. See what I mean?

This week the hotels in his country have been allowed to open to full capacity. That has to be a good sign, surely? Domestic tourism is never going to fill hotels which cater for a growing international tourist industry.

I can understand then if you’re wondering what I am sulking about and why I am so anxious. And it is because it really isn’t that simple.

OK, so let’s assume they open.

First, I have to get flights. At the moment, only the national airlines are allowed into his country. If they continue with that, then seats on flights are going to be at a premium.

And I have a small window of opportunity. Because it isn’t the time spent there it’s the two week quarantine afterwards. If I am to go and come back, it needs to be in the next two weeks. See what I mean? I’m not lucky enough for the borders to open and for our government to drop the two week quarantine at the same time.

September I go back to work. My next holiday is October. What is the likelihood of a second wave before then? Or over the Christmas holiday? Before we know it, it will be February and a year since I have seen him.

That’s if we last that long. Will he wait for me for that long? Or will he get bored of this situation and find someone closer to home?

So yes, I am sulking. I hope you can understand why. Right now I should be lying in the arms of the man I love. Instead I’m sat alone dreaming.

Please take a look at #loveisnottourism on Facebook and Twitter. There are thousands of couples out there who are separated and with little hope of being together in the near future. We need your support.

Doom and gloom

By rights, being as today is my penultimate day in work before the summer holiday, I should be in a good mood. I’m not.

I’m not depressed or even anxious – which makes a change. I’m just goddam fed up.

I realised this morning that I have nothing to look forward to.

My summer holiday is usually filled with booked camping trips, a holiday abroad with a friend, day trips etc etc. I have nothing.

My two week booked trip to be with Wild Card has been officially cancelled given that his government are still not letting in tourists. That of course does not help. I’ve rebooked for August in the hope things will change but the likelihood is that I won’t be going. There are too many factors that could stop me.

My relationship with him is as good as ever. We are still in regular contact every single day. Recently he has told me and shown me in so many ways how he feels without actually coming out and saying it. Admittedly, I kind of need that blunt statement of intent and feeling but the more I want it the less likely he will give it me.

It also doesn’t help that during our recent conversations he’s talked about one of his brothers taking his wife for a trip to Stockholm and the other brother and his wife having a cosy restaurant meal post-fall out. I’m jealous. I’d be happy just being in Wild Card’s house with him, going nowhere, but even that isn’t happening.

The summer holidays is stretching out before me as a bland nothing. I don’t want to go camping because I don’t want to deal with people. I don’t want to go to my beloved Lake District because it is reportedly full of people. I don’t want to spend my holiday stuck in my own home because that’s what I’ve done since lockdown when not in work. It’s all blah blah blah.

I’m going to focus on reinstating my fitness regime and working on my new hobby of painting. Even that is boring me.

I want the excitement and anticipation of travelling. I want to be in the arms of the man I love. I want to feel his love. I want to take my children places to inspire them and help them grow.

Instead? Nothing.

What do you think?

Wild Card called me Saturday lunch time as he had been required to work extra to cover a sick employee. He was out in the van and we chatted whilst he made his way to his destination. He pulled faces to make me laugh – not safe I reminded him–and winked and smiled at me.

I told him about my daughter knowing everything. He asked what she had said and I told him: she wants to meet you and your family. I think he was a little surprised by this but I reminded him that he had suggested it too. He kept coming back to it, jokingly, and I figure it made him a little nervous. I again reminded him that he had said I needed to tell my family.

After that, there was another call and then pretty much silence until late at night.

By that point I was climbing the walls.

He knew I was going out to see a family friend and I’d told him when I’d be home. I actually got home later than planned but called him anyway. No answer.

An hour and a half passed. Still nothing. So I text him. Nothing.

Just at the point where I thought I might actually implode, he called. He’d been asleep after the extra work. I calmed, eventually, and decided that I hadn’t scared him off. It was just coincidence and my overactive imagination. We had a long chat as usual and everything seemed fine.

Sunday was similar. We had some early morning texts then he called me about an hour later and made me laugh again. His next call was a few hours later and at this point my sisters and Aunty were here.

Usually he won’t stay on the phone if I have visitors because he feels that my attention should be on them. This time though, he interacted with them and they all joked at my expense. I loved it – he was with us even though he was far away.

When my family left we were still on the phone: he shared with me some pictures of his family and of himself as a child. By the time the call ended, we had been on the phone for two hours.

I spent the day marking. But something was playing on mind. He still hadn’t confirmed my visit.

Last week when we discussed it, there were a few things he needed to sort first. There was something with work and his sister in law visiting. He told me not to book and that he would know more by Friday. Friday came and he told me his sister in law’s travel plans but did not mention my visit.

All weekend I’ve wondered what to do. Do I ask him again? Wait for him? Did he assume that I have already booked? My sisters told me to just ask so I did – I sent a message.

About an hour later I got a brief reply saying ‘ok’ and telling me that he was out. Another hour after that he called – he was sat in his car outside the train station waiting for his brother. He brought up my text.

The first thing he asked was whether I was worried about Cornavirus. I explained that as it is here and in his country, I could catch it anywhere. He told me he was worried about my safety and what if I was quarantined? I reassured him that I would have travel insurance.

He told me that there was no problem then and I could come when I liked over the Easter holiday. I asked if he wanted me to come and he said yes and seemed to pull his sincere face, the one he pulls when I am insecure and he is trying to reassure me.

But then, in the next breath, he told me to not book until next week, once his sister in law had visited and his brother had left. I was so confused at this point. Why tell me I can come when I want, that he wants me there, but then ask me to hang fire on booking? I told him again that I did not have to come but he said again that I can but just wait to book.

His brother arrived at the car not long after that so he said he would call when he got home.

I was, am, so confused. I thought about what my sister had said earlier:

What she said was true (and the reason I have given you all the details of our communication), every day, cumulatively, we are on the phone for hours. He would not do that if he didn’t want to be with me. So what was the problem?

He called as promised when he got home. Before long he was sat at the table, eating, and I could hear his parents having a quite heated/enthusiastic conversation. I heard the word Corona mentioned a number of times. He joined in at one point. After a few minutes of me observing but not understanding this conversation, he said he would call me back shortly as he ws talking with his family.

He did, and we talked and almost fell asleep together again. I love that. Neither one of us wants to get off the phone but we both start to drift off. It feels like we are lying together.

There could be lots of reasons why he doesn’t want me to book but of course my head jumps to him not wanting me to go. His family are worried about Cornavirus – I know that from when I was there in February and from conversations I’ve had with Wild Card over the past weeks. Maybe him and his family are worried about me visiting with the outbreak – there are many more with the virus in my country than his. If I was to catch it there I would have to stay there. Perhaps they are worried for me.

Maybe he hasn’t asked his parents yet. Their middle child is about to leave home… Maybe it’s not the right time.

Perhaps it is financial. I know he spent a lot of money when I was there and he would not accept any from me. Maybe it’s just not convenient and he doesn’t want to upset me. I just don’t know.

All I know is that I am really confused. I’m the sort of person that likes plans straight and clear. I want to know what’s happening. I need to plan and book and be sure everything is ready. So maybe its my own need to control that’s the issue.

Or maybe he just doesn’t want me to go.

What do you think?

Readjustment to reality: Feast and Famine

After a romantic and fun filled week, then a weekend being apart but crammed with ‘I love you, I miss you’ and multiple video chats, the last two days have been really tough.

As I explained in my last post, Wild Card and his family made an 8 hour car journey on Monday as they were going on holiday.

I had a few messages throughout the day – he was driving after all – and he messaged when he arrived.

Later, we had a very brief video chat whilst he was out at a cafe with his family and then we had a couple of longer text conversations throughout the evening, including one late at night whilst we were both in bed.

I should be happy with that, shouldn’t I? But, I’m not. He preoccupied. He is in another place which means he is not free to talk. He’s with extended family so needs to respect that. So whilst my heart is still aching in the missing of him and my words have expressed that, his have not.

If anything he was in a weird mood Monday night and I have to keep reminding myself that an 8 hour drive as the sole driver will do that for you. I kept trying to end the conversation with an excuse of going to sleep but I just didn’t like the way I was feeling. He wouldn’t let me though and would ask me a question to keep me talking.

Yesterday I messaged in the morning to wish him a good day. Before his extended holiday, this was always his routine. I took over when he finished work. He replied, and we had a brief chat, but then I had a meeting. By the time I got back to my phone he had gone out. I told him I would speak to him later and I got a kiss in return.

I waited all day. I didn’t message him and he didn’t message me. He is on holiday!!!! My rational mind would tell me. How quickly he has forgotten you, my irrational mind would counter.

By 6pm I was in an anxious state. My sister told me to stop being stupid and just message him. An hour later I had a brief reply. Then nothing again. Anxiety overdrive.

Eventually, at around 9pm he messaged. He sent a picture of him sat at the table with all his family, I guess as reassurance and explanation. It was needed – the conversation was stilted and difficult. And yes, I know that was because he was sit sat with his family and was in effect disrespecting them by continuing to message me, no matter how disatisfying the conversation.

At one point, I sent the following due to a conversation I’d had with my sister where she said she wants to talk to him more:

His reaction to that made me feel a little better but I just felt dissatisfied at the end of the conversation, despite the amount of time and superficial conversation we’d had.

Four days ago I was on cloud nine. It’s not realistic that our communications would remain the same. It was my first time being with him, the first time of leaving him. It’s natural that this was going to be difficult to readjust.

And then, it’s how I feel about him. Not to mention my natural tendancy to be anxious anyway. My friend, a trained counsellor, summed it up for me. From his knowledge of me and my previous relationships, this is the first time that I have truly ‘matched’ with someone on every level. Every other relationship I have had has involved some sort of ‘settling’.

It was like a smack in the face because it was so true and I hadn’t thought of it like that before. Whilst wanting to believe that my true match was out there somewhere, I’ve been of the opinion that you find a good man, you love each other, you accept the faults and flaws and work hard to make it work. My impending divorce perhaps suggests the flaws in that plan.

I’ve met someone who makes me happy (when I’m not being an anxious freak), who challenges and inspires me, who cares for me and (usually) makes me the centre of his attention, and who I am wholly and physically attracted too. When with him, I felt the heady mix of being completely comfortable and settled as well as being excited and ‘alive’.

Is there any surprise that I am scared of losing this?

In my late night angst, I searched for some online advice and found a psychologist and relationship expert which has directed my thinking today.

Over the past few days, I’ve made it clear how I feel. He can be in no doubt of the depth of my love and how much I am missing him. But him being preoccupied is accentuating my natural tendancy to be anxious. This means that I am acting differently. I am being clingy and snippy and needy. He’s just trying to enjoy his holiday with his family. If I want him to miss me again, I need to stop creating this negative atmosphere when he messages in the only way I can.

So today I have not messaged him, as instructed by the psychologist. I’m giving him space to enjoy his holiday, not bombard him with my neediness, and therefore to miss me.

It’s so hard. It’s nearly 11am, 12MD where he is, and I haven’t heard from him.

The other advice, sound advice from what I can see, is that I need to renegage my social life: keep busy. Be happy. Be the person he fell for, not this needy, whiney, anxiety ridden nag. I need to take care of myself and be the best I can be.

And then, when he comes back to me and things go back to normal, then I can discuss how hard this week has been for me.

My dad used to say, you only know if something is truly yours if it comes back to you when you let it go.

To quell my considerable anxiety at this situation, I am trying my best to logically think of the positives of this situation if it all goes wrong.

If he doesn’t come back, if things don’t return, then he wasn’t right for me anyway. There’s no reason for this to happen unless I do something wrong. His words, remember?

My experience of travelling alone has been inspirational and life changing. I can do more than I think I can.

I’ve learnt so much about the prejudices of others but also the goodness of people: being open to that, not biased.

I’ve learnt that you cannot always accept the judgements of others, even when you trust them. Everyone has biased and flawed thinking.

Actions speak louder than words.

I’m worthy of love. Men find me attractive. I am liked. I don’t need to settle.

Whilst I’ve found love across the seas, I’m pretty sure that somewhere, probably closer to home, there will be someone else who would equally make me happy. (I didn’t like writing this one)

You’ve got to be open to love. Open to risks. Live life as it is supposed to be lived. Not just exist.

My previous relationships have caused some real hang-ups for me, more than I realised.

It’s dangerous to accept your first thoughts in a situation. Initial reactions are emotion and anxiety driven. It’s important to pause and reflect and think.

No matter how important he is to me, I have a life here. I have children, family, friends and a career. Those are some of the things he loves about me. Ignoring them over him is counterintuitive, however you think about it.

Live in this moment. I can’t always have control of the future.

I can’t make him love me or want me. But I can make him fall out of love with me by being stupid. I just need to be the best I can be. His words.

So there we have it. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Days two and three

As I lay listening to music and thinking of him, there was a knock at the door and he came in. A feeling washed over me… Butterflies and relief and comfort that he was there.

We cuddled and kissed and then it was time for breakfast.

Not that I was ever uncomfortable, but I am feeling much more relaxed now. We all sit around the table and eat and talk together. It’s lovely. 😁

After breakfast we all got in the car and Wild Card drove us to the ruins of a Roman town in the hills. The journey was beautiful, the place stunning, and I enjoyed every second of our fingers touching, him calling me princess and the impromptu dance we had in the middle of the ruins. Considering he was sick, he drove all that way because he knew I would love it there. He said he wants me to be happy.

On the way home we stopped off to see a number of things that he wanted to show me. He’s considerate and kind and lovely, just like his family.

We had an amazing dinner of grilled sardines and salad and a lentil dish of some sort. Once again, his mum had gone out of her way to manage my food intolerance with little touches just for me.

After dinner we went for a walk around the city with his brother. Here, something unexpected happened.

We were talking, Wild Card joking as he often does, and he happened to say something – in jest – which I took a little sensitively. He didn’t notice at first, but as we headed back to the house he pulled me back to question me.

“You’re angry with me? Seriously? What did I say?”

Despite my protestations, he of course wouldn’t settle until I had repeated the ‘offending’ comment which – of course – by this point didn’t sound half as bad as my overreaction.

He didn’t take it well. “You know I’m only joking with you, you know I’m always joking”. I told his to forget it, it was over etc but he wouldn’t.

When we arrived at the house, he stopped and leaned on his car. His brother, who hadn’t spoken to either of this at this point, offered me the door but I walked towards Wild Card so he went upstairs.

I stood next to him, and for a little while there was silence. He was upset and although I kept telling him to forget it, it was in the past, he just couldn’t. He kept apologising but at the same time, didn’t seem to understand why I had reacted that way. He then asked if it was because of his brother, and I admitted that was part of it. (In hindsight, I think this was a part of it. The joke was at my expense and whilst it wasn’t a horrible thing he had said, for a second it had embarrassed me in front of his brother).

We eventually went inside but it carried on. We talked about it a little more and then I went for a shower.

When I came back he just kept apologising. He said he understood his mistake now and kept asking if I forgave him. He kept kissing me and saying ‘I’m sorry’ over and over. He left for me to go to bed but then came back five minutes later and apologised again. He said he wouldn’t sleep until he knew I had forgiven him, despite the multiple times I told him it was forgotten about.

Truth is, whilst his reaction was unexpected, this sincerity and the depth of his hurt that he had upset me was so real. It of course made me feel bad as I knew he had been joking and had quickly realised that I had completely over reacted anyway. You can’t take it back with hindsight though, can you?

At the same time though, the depth of his feelings he had an opposite effect to the one he must have thought I had: it just made me love him more.

Day three.

Yesterday we had a relaxing day. We spent the whole day together watching TV, going for a walk, talking, kissing and dancing. Whilst I can’t get used to doing nothing – I certainly don’t do that often at home – I wanted every second to last for ten.

Because by the evening, I came to the realisation that half of my holiday was over. Half of my time with him was gone. And even with the knowledge that I still had half of the time still left to go, it filled me with a sadness that I was unable to hide, despite my best efforts.

Summer update part two

I’m currently on a small plane flying from Innsbruck Austria to Frankfurt before flying on to Manchester.

I have had the most amazing holiday in Austria with my friend. I’ve done things I never thought I would do and have experienced sights like no other I have seen.

Innsbruck is usually a winter ski location but I strongly recommend visiting in the summer. The weather was glorious – hitting 30° on some days – and there’s nothing better when you’re stood on top of a mountain, taking in the views.

There’s so much to do in this city. Lots of museums, from the interesting folk museum to the museum of anatomy. There are plenty of beautiful buildings and castles to explore, shops and restaurants and then of course, nature itself.

Innsbruck is a walkers paradise. We spent a morning on top of Nordketter, a mountain accesible by funicular for those not inclined to walk (ie, me) and it afforded the most stunning and awe-inspiring views. There’s nothing more life affirming than attempting to sketch the scenery upon a mountain top.

There are of course other mountains in the area to explore, all accessible by bus on train. We travelled to bus to Mieders and experienced the delights of their hair-raising summer toboggan or alpine roller-coaster. Not for the faint hearted. However, sitting on the meadowy mountain side, surrounded by pink, purple and yellow flowers, and gazing at the stunning views of mountain, valley and forest it is absolutely worth it.Austria is not the cheapest place to visit although we got a great deal on flights and accommodation. We flew with Lufthansa and Austrian airlines: the short stop over in Frankfurt keeping the cost of flights below £200 per person. There are direct flights in summer at double the price but with many more ecomical flights in the winter. However I can not fault the Lufthansa service: staff were polite and accommodating, seats were comfy with ample leg room and you get a complimentary drink and snack. We stayed in an Airbnb loft apartment which catered for 6 despite their being two of us, and we paid £550 for the week. It had everything we needed, was clean and comfortable and was two minutes from the train station and a ten minute walk to the Altstadt.

You can expect to pay just under €4 for a coffee or ice cream and most main meals cost around €15. Austrian lager and wine is similarly around €3-4 a glass. Of course, you have to try the wiener schnitzel, apple strudel and Austrian beer. All good. 😁

Definitely worth paying for was the Innsbruck card. This gives you free travel on local and sightseeing buses and free entry to all the museums, castles and cultural landmarks. This also includes access to Nordketter which cost around €36 in itself. We paid €50 each for two days which allowed us to see the majority of where we wanted to go.Similarly, with such great transport links, we had to make use of these and managed a trip to Salzburg and later Bolzano, Italy. The trains were quick and comfortable and the views were amazing. Of course, none of my pictures do it justice so you will just have to visit yourself!

Relax

I’m extremely grateful for the weather in the South West of France at the moment. My boys are outside in the garden, playing in the sunshine. It’s giving me half an hour of peaceful rest.

Last night my daughter went to bed early as she has come down with a cold. It meant that, as my youngest was also in bed, my son and I had some time together playing card games. We both really enjoyed it and I know he likes that one-on-one attention being the middle child. We both decided that a lie-in was warranted today.

Of course, my youngest wasn’t up for that plan and woke me up relatively early. When I came down the stairs though, he’d decided to make my breakfast for me:

A glass of water and a yoghurt. Not bad for a five year old! I thought it was pretty sweet of him.

Admittedly, I want a day at the cottage today. Whilst the children have spent some of the morning embroiled in various technologies (thank you Madagascar – my youngest has been very entertained!) I have pottered about, washing and cleaning. It’s amazing how enjoyable that is when it’s not your own home!

They are all eager to get out and about again this afternoon though and I need to go to the supermarket to stock up on some essentials.

Despite having a lovely time, I know we are all looking forward to my sister, brother-in-law and niece arriving on Friday. I suppose this is where I have missed another adult around the place – I am the only source of entertainment and parenting! I’m relishing these quiet moments on my own now.

I haven’t really planned what we are doing for the next few days and I’m trying to decide how confident I feel about driving a bit further afield. There is a fantastic lake complex about half an hour away which I know they will love. I’d also like to take them to Limoges but we can luckily go by train – there is no way that I would drive into a city!

For now, I’m just going to enjoy the peace. With three children, I know it won’t last long.

Anniversaries.

A year ago today my dad was still alive in hospital. I was enjoying a Wrestlemania themed birthday evening with my family (don’t ask) and then was going to visit Dad in hospital with my sister.

I have a lovely picture of my Dad and I from that visit, forehead’s together. He has just given me a present which he had kept in his hospital bedside table. He told me how glad he was that I had come to see him on my birthday.

However the smiles aren’t reaching either of our eyes. Dad is pale and tired. I’m already mourning my Dad, wondering and hoping he will come home this time but knowing this is probably my last birthday with him. It was.

I planned my trip to purposefully cover my birthday. I’ve had no cards or presents today and that’s absolutely fine. Dad hasn’t given me his hallmark newspaper-wrapped hand carved gift that he’d spent weeks planning and making. (My house is full of them and I love each and every one.) Dad hasn’t made my breakfast and I haven’t seen my sisters. I miss them all but for this year, the first year, this is what I needed: to escape from the memories. From what should have been and always was.

This morning I drove my children to the local village and we each selected a birthday cake from the patisserie.

I got ready listening to my favourite songs on the record player and danced with my son as he giggled at my exuberance.

We then went to a local restaurant for the ‘plat du jour’ and my children laughed at my nervous attempts to communicate in French with the poor waiter. My driving is much better though!

We have relaxed in the sunshine this afternoon and then went for a walk in the countryside to feed the local donkey.

It’s been a lovely day. It doesn’t feel like my birthday but that’s what I wanted. Dad made birthdays, just like he made Christmas and Easter and every other holiday and festival. Dad made every day, in fact, even when he was ill.

We are quickly approaching the anniversary of my Dad’s death. I can’t help but re-live each moment as each day passes. I suppose this is part of the process. It seems an age since I last saw him, held him, cuddled him and yet feels like only yesterday that he died.

Life is funny like that.

Although I long to see and hear my Dad today, I’m actually missing my sisters the most. Maybe because I know I could have seen them today. We are the three musketeers, desperately trying to live positively through this experience and replace something irreplaceable with love and support for each other. I love them so much. I know it made Dad happy that we are so close and look out for each other.

This evening my children and I have played dominoes and cards and I completely forgot what day it was. Birthday or not, this holiday has meant that I am spending quality time with my children and that’s the most important thing. My Dad taught me that.

Bonjour!

We’ve spent one full day in France so far. Despite the usual sibling squabbles, I’m feeling rested and relaxed already.

I can’t say the same for yesterday. My goodness that was difficult!

Packing was fine. Easy even. Apart from my 14 year old deciding she didn’t need my help – at all – I could plan and manage. Job done.

Airport security was the first major stress. I worry about that when I haven’t got the children with me, so three kids with electronics and a daughter who has packed without supervision is a scary prospect.

Other than receiving no help from the airport staff as I slowly went through each bag (they were helping single passengers for some strange reason) it was faultless. I then relaxed.

We got to the gate on time, found our seats…all good. My eldest son then started to get anxious (part of his condition, fixated on plane crashes) but my daughter was fantastic in supporting him. My youngest, who has never been on a plane, was equally good. I’d packed a colouring book, a deck of cards and a card game set so he was entertained throughout. He did ask when we were going on the slide which I then tried to explain, but it was a successful trip.

Unfortunately, I’d managed to mess up the car rental. We had an hour wait until it was sorted but I wasn’t stressed and didn’t mind. May be because this actually meant I didn’t have to drive for a while.

I’d class myself as a confident driver as a whole. Not when I’m driving in a foreign country. This was my first time and I was dreading it and rightly so. It was HORRIBLE.

It felt wrong. It was a manual instead of my usual automatic. I was on the wrong side of the road. I didn’t know where I was going. I didnt know the speed limits. Awful.

I did it though. My kids were amazingly supportive. I did it. 😁

Today has been better and I have made a couple of small journeys. My confidence is growing.

We’ve had a lovely time so far. We’ve walked together, played together, relaxed.