This time, next year

Dear 2018,

So, you’ve finally arrived! There have been times this year when I couldn’t wait for you to get here. Other times I pretty much wanted the world to slow so I could catch my breath. Either way, I’m glad you’re here now.

2017 actually ended the way I would want. My children were happy and we had all a lovely time over Christmas and New Year with my family. It was busy but I am beginning to feel much more rested and rejuvenated. I still don’t feel on top of my game but now that you are here, hoping that will steadily change.

You hold so much promise. I know you don’t have the power to make my life this perfect place I perhaps want it to be, and I know that I need to stop feeling guilty when my life isn’t the way I want it to be. It’s down to me, both scenarios. But as this time of year is about wishes, and hope and looking positively towards the future and being appreciative for what you do have, I thought I’d tell you of what I’ve being thinking.

My children

I want to be there for my children and be able to spend quality time with them without being overly tired or stressed. I want to take them to beautiful and interesting places. I want them to have happy memories of their childhood.

Home

I want a home that is welcoming, warm, tidy and clean. I want to feel like I manage my home without feeling like it manages me. I don’t want it to take too much precious time away from me being with my kids. Can I have the best of both here??

Work

I want to feel enjoyment and security at work. I want to feel satisfaction that I am doing a good job but that I can continue to learn and develop. I want to enjoy it while I am there but I do not want it to be my life. Because it isn’t.

Social

I’ve learnt that there is nothing wrong with having some time to myself: it doesn’t make me a bad mother. I want to spend time with friends and family. I want to go to interesting places. I want to better myself and make myself better. I want someone to love me and to enjoy life with me.

Me

I want to be fit and healthy and full if energy. I want to run and walk and swim. I want to be happy in my skin, happy with who I am. Happy with my imperfections. I want to better myself intellectually. I want to write. I want to feel fulfilled.

I want to be loved. I want to feel like I am at the top of someone’s list for once. I want companionship and friendship and sensuality and affection and laughter.

I know it is a lot to ask 2018, and I know that this is all down to me. But if you could help me out with some of this I would appreciate it. And you would prove to be a much better year than 2017.

Many thanks,

Me

Xxx

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The good, the bad and the inbetween

Hope you have all had a lovely Christmas – I know I have. ūüėä

My sister and brother-in-law and my gorgeous nearly-two nephew came to stay for a few nights. We had such a great time and I have laughed so much. My sisters’ commented that they had not heard me laugh I’m such a long time and that it was good to see and hear. I definitely don’t laugh enough. We played board games, watched films and sampled flavoured gin. Such fun.

As expected from the increased medication (and Christmas!), I have put more weight on and am also suffering from water retention in my hands and feet, another side effect of Mirtazapine, the anti-depressant that I am taking.

No-one likes to put weight on, I know that. I’m not vain but I can’t tell you how much this is getting to me. My self-esteem is fragile at the best of times but it is at rock bottom at the moment. I am seriously considering going back to the doctors to get my medication changed. When I had postnatal depression in 2014, I took sertraline which worked well for the short time I was on it. The downside is that I won’t get the help with the insomnia but the way I see it, my feelings about my size are not helping my wellbeing so this has got to help. I’ve actually ordered new clothes as I know my work clothes aren’t going to fit. I don’t want anyone to see me like this.

Other than that, I am starting to feel better. I feel like the dark cloud is all around my head rather than encompassing all of me. I’m anxious about work but more about how I will face people than the work itself.

So, for the next few days I’m going to do some much needed housework and prepare for my son’s eleventh birthday on New Year’s Eve. Progress then – no more sitting in a stupor on the couch for me.

Ten

Ten years ago I was in a hospital bed,  in pain,  begrudgingly listening to the midwives celebrate their early New Year.  

My labour had been long already: my 9lb 7oz son was posterior and so the pain on my spine was pretty much unbearable. It took the shine off what was meant to be a wonder event in my life and later caused extreme anxiety when I conceived my third child.  

But less of that.  Ten years ago,  despite our problems,  I was still madly in love with my husband.  In the months that would follow I would watch the clock,  waiting for him to come home from work and greet his family of three.  

We had just finished building our home and had just moved in.  We had celebrated our first Christmas there surrounded by family including my grandad – my hero – the last Christmas he would ever have. 

That next year I would be getting married,  my beautiful three year old daughter a bridesmaid.  My grandad died only two weeks later.  

Ten years ago,  despite life’s ups and downs,  I was happy: I had started my own family and was building a home together. 

Tonight,  my three children in bed,  I have blown up the balloons and put up the banners alone.  It is a weird sensation: oddly lonely.  Life was so different back then somehow. 

But you have to look forward or,  more specifically, look to the now.  I have three beautiful children now and still live in the home that we built.  I don’t know what is around the corner but I know what is important.  My job is to make my children feel as happy and secure as I can.  My job is to make them feel loved every single day just like I promised to do I’m those precious moments after they were born.  And although I would never wish to go through that pain again,  I would not change it for the world because it gave me my son.  

Happy Birthday my buddy.! I love you xxxx

“The best laid plans”

Does Christmas ever go to plan in your house? Is it how you expect it to be? ¬†Or are you one of these laid-back people who ‘goes with the flow’?

I am a teacher so everything has to be planned within a inch of its life. My life is regulated by bells and meetings and calendars and timetables. Of course, there has to be flexibility – we are dealing with children after all – but it is still controlled and calculated and measured.

I attempted to plan Christmas as my inner control-freak needed me to. I needed to be prepared and ready. I needed to know exactly what I was doing and when. Part of that included knowing when my children were seeing their dad.

My husband is not a planner. At all. Perhaps that it unfair- his plans are spontaneous and he doesn’t waver from them as he has just made them so that is what is happening. ¬†This contrasts completely with my need to plan-in-advance addiction.

I was fairly happy with what we had agreed for Christmas as there had been some compromise on both sides. I was a little frustrated with him coming to watch the children open their presents, mainly because he hadn’t bought (or paid for) any of them. ¬†My bitter inner voice felt that he was getting some of the credit and half of the enjoyment for doing nothing. But he isn’t an ungenerous man. Although I usually buy the majority he would also buy a few gifts to help and would enjoy doing so. Not this year and I figure that there must be a good reason for that. ¬†So, ¬†that is what he asked for and it was what the children wanted so I gave in. In return, I got the afternoon to tidy and prepare the house, the dinner and myself before the children were to return to eat Christmas dinner with me. Of course I didn’t want to be apart from them but my consolation was that they would come home to a calm and happy mother, a beautifully set table and a perfectly cooked dinner. I could keep myself busy for that.

But the best laid plans….. He arrived and watched them open their presents and didn’t say a word. I commented on his lack of interaction: he said he was just ‘enjoying watching them’. ¬†To me it was awkward. I don’t know if it was guilt – I certainly hadn’t started an argument about him not contributing to the gifts but he was probably well aware that I wasn’t happy about it.

Whilst I made pancakes I suggested he helped our youngest with the train set. Everything seemed a little better then. Until my family started to arrive to see our father and us. ¬†The atmosphere returned. I was really concious that our children’s excitment to see my family was eating into his time with his and apologised whilst trying to hurry them up into getting ready. ¬†He said it was fine, and meant it I think, but just sat there again. ¬†Eventually the children were ready and they left. ¬†The majority of the morning had felt strained and as it was now lunchtime, part of his time had been taken. I had reassured him that we were only eating at five so to just bring them back for then.

So, imagine my surprise when they returned at 3pm. ¬†He said they see getting bored and wanted to come home. He was emotional when he left. I just don’t understand! Surely he could have entertained them? Played board games or cards, gone for a Christmas walk, watched a Christmas film or played with the toys that his parents had just given them? ¬†I felt guilty again that some of his time with them had been taken by my family but then when would they have seen them? It is just so hard!

My frustration that the house and dinner were not ready on their return was quickly ¬†replaced by the pleasure of having my daughter help with the preparations. ¬†We had a lovely dinner and an evening of board games with my sister. I couldn’t help but think of my other half (when do I start calling him my ex- when we are divorced?) and how the day must not have gone how he had envisaged either. ¬†I ended up inviting him to see the children the next day too even though that had not been the plans either.

I must state at this point that a lot of the advice I have read states that specific visiting days/times are best for the children. My experience so far is that this is really difficult, particularly as he is currently still staying with his parents. ¬†Most of the time that he has with them still seems to be here which makes me feel uncomfortable and anxious ¬†and completely in the way (in my own home). ¬†There seems to be no set times despite my regular encouragement of them. ¬†I am trying to be fair – ¬†I don’t believe in punishing him through the children. ¬†Our failed marriage has nothing to do with his relationship with them. ¬†I want my children to see their dad regularly if that is what they want. But my need for structure and routine is completely at odds with him.

New Year is threatening to turn out in the same way. I have been asking him for some time now – “what are your plans?” Or “what would you like to do with the children at New Year?”. It is particularly complicated due to our middle child’s birthday being on New Year’s Eve. ¬†He keeps telling me that he is thinking about it. ¬†I don’t believe that he is being purposefully awkward – I know him well enough to believe that he truly doesn’t know yet. ¬†In the meantime, the hours and days pass with no plans being made and my stomach churning at my lack of control.

Is this how hard it is going to be? How am I ever going to reestablish my life as a single mother if ¬†I am still beholden to his wants? ¬†How do I keep it amicable and fair if I don’t? I feel the dawn of the new year and its promise of a kick start to my new life and yet I feel like I am still tethered to the old.

Any advice gratefully received.