Happy

I think I’ve forgotten what it is to be truly happy. To have no worries, nothing hanging over my shoulder waiting until I start to feel happy to loom out of the dark. No niggling fears. It’s been so long.

Honestly I think the last time I was truly happy was before I got pregnant with Effy. As soon as I got pregnant with her there was the panic of what I was going to do, how would I cope, then I lost her and I knew from then that I would never be completely happy again. Something broke or shut down or stopped feeling I can’t describe it but it’s almost like I go headfirst into situations now with the attitude, what’s the worst that can happen when the worst already has? Now a little bit of this attitude has to be good, but I can feel it taking over more and more. Obviously I won’t do anything life threatening because I still have Jackson, but I throw my emotions under the bus on a regular basis only for them to be cut up and handed back but apart from getting a bit grumpy and shedding a few tears about it all I don’t feel it. It’s like my emotions have been desensitised!

I have a sense of perspective that I guess most people will never have, that the trivial stuff doesn’t really matter. But what if I’m trivialising stuff that really does matter? What if things that look unimportant to me now really are and I’ll realise that down the line? What if I’m missing out on bits of life because I can’t be bothered to deal with people’s crap any more?

A colleague at work said to me the other day he admires how I always come into work with a smile on my face and just deal with whatever happens and not let it get to me. Well I never used to be like that! I used to let every little thing get to  me but again it must be down to a shifted perspective.

But to be truly happy? I’m not sure I know how. Sure I have moments of pure bliss, watching Jackson doing something or just marvelling at him, us, or our life, but then reality comes crashing down and nothing seems so stable and sure any more.

What I wouldn’t give to have one day, just one day of pure, unadulterated happiness again.

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The Right Thing to Say

I’ve always struggled knowing what to say when people are upset or in difficult situations, but you’d think that after losing a baby I’d be better but honestly I’m still just as likely to say the wrong thing or clam up!

I know how it feels and I know saying nothing is worse than saying the wrong thing, but I’m terrible when I’m put on the spot. I’m actually quite a cold person, I’m not a fan of hugs (apart from from my son with whom I welcome hugs and kisses any time of day or night) and being able to offer comforting words without sounding patronising is best done after some thought in a carefully composed message, put me on the spot and I’ll probably stand there awkwardly, come out with all the cliches they tell you not to say and then beat myself up for months after about how I handled it!

When someone mentions my little girl to me in person they act like I should get upset, but I don’t. I smile and tell them it’s fine, it’s not, it’s far from it, but my way of coping is a brave face and then the occasional day on the sofa in a zombie like state unable to smile. People seem confused that I talk about her all the time on social media but never in person, well that’s more to do with the fact people get uncomfortable when I talk about her in person and I find myself comforting them, which doesn’t help anyone!

So these posts where people complain about the wrong things to say, just spare a thought for those of us who have probably at one point or another, actually said those things, not because we are horrible people, or even that we don’t necessarily ‘get it’ but because we suffer from foot in mouth syndrome where our mouth knows we should say something and our brain doesn’t think fast enough so something terrible comes out!

Memories

I’m often coming up with things to keep and save to show to Jackson when he’s a bit older and when I mention them to people they tend to go ‘oh I hadn’t even thought of that’ so I thought I’d compile a list:

  • My pregnancy test! I just couldn’t bring myself to throw it away! The start of the journey.
  • The hat the hospital put him in – not that it stayed on for 5 mins, big head!
  • The sensors from the tests he had at the NICU that the nurse kindly gave to me.
  • His umbilical cord clip. I drew the line at the actual shrivelled cord and threw that out in disgust!
  • His first size nappy (unused!) even looking back now I cannot believe he was that small!
  • I wish I had managed to get a newspaper the day he was born but I only thought of this a week later and it was too late by then.
  • I saved the Argos catalogue from the season and year he was born (spring/summer 2014) so that when he is older he can look back at what was around when he was born, how old fashioned the people look, how low tech the toys are and LOOK at those phones, they’re huge!
  • His first size nappy (unused!) even looking back now I cannot believe he was that small!
  • His first shoes. Everyone does this right?
  • Any currency that disappears during his lifetime. I’m going to keep a purse filled with it, starting with the old paper £5 note. Otherwise when he’s a bit older he won’t believe that notes were once paper and we all hated the plastic replacements! And now I’m adding an old £1 coin, round and one colour? He will never believe it!

 

Have you kept anything else? I’d love to get more ideas, and I might add them to this list so please let me know!!

Why Being A Single Parent Sucks

Often when I say I’m a single parent I get met with ‘oh that must be really hard for you’ and ‘doing it all on your own’ well yes, it is hard being a parent on your own, but possibly not why you’d think.

I’d like to say I didn’t set out to be a single parent, I was engaged to who I thought was the man of my dreams and we were starting our family together, but things didn’t work out and here I am. 

Now people often think it’s hard because you have to do all the parenting tasks by yourself, cooking, cleaning, washing up, bedtimes, bath times, mealtimes, but honestly, most mums will say that they end up stuck doing those tasks whilst dad is at work so to be honest in that respect I see it as no different to a ‘normal’ family. Maybe they get an extra bit of help at bath/bedtime, and maybe dad gets up early one day of the weekend to give mum a lie in, I said maybe! But honestly all of those things have now become every day to me, it’s not there that I miss having someone to do this with.

When I have had a rubbish day and Jackson’s kicked off or not eaten the meal I’d slaved over, I sit on the sofa and I’d love to turn to someone else and have a rant, a grumble, have someone to reassure me that dinner was lovely, or that it sounds like Jackson was just in a mood today and you’re not a rubbish mum because he kicked off. 

When we go out somewhere to have someone to share those moments with, when Jackson squeals at a seagull or runs along a beach, kisses a goat or jumps into my arms, I see it all alone, I can’t look to someone else with that ‘oh wow did he just do that’ look because there’s no one there and out of all of this, the loneliness and the long days, that’s the bit that sucks the most, that I don’t have someone to marvel at (and grumble about) this little human with me. 

Missing Her

How can you miss someone who was never there? Well, I guess it’s hard to understand from the outside, but from the inside it’s simple. 

I miss the fact she’s not there all day, every day, stealing my food and snuggling up in my bed, I miss her first tooth, first word, first step, first day of school… I miss everything. 

So when I say I miss her, I don’t mean it how you mean it when you miss someone you’ve known a long time, that knowledge they won’t call again, make you smile again, but I do miss her, I miss, and will continue to miss everything about her for the rest of my life.

Life

My life isn’t what I was expecting.
It probably could have been, I mean, I didn’t want anything fancy. I never wanted to invent something amazing, own islands, learn to fly. I just wanted something normal, a family, a home, a place.

My life isn’t what my parents wanted for me.
It could have been if I’d made better choices earlier on, if I’d studied harder, gone to uni, got a decent career, met a man, fallen in love, got married then had lots of babies.

But it’s not. I tripped at the first hurdle and have been falling ever since. I find something, start something, get bored, get disheartened and stop. I meet someone, I like someone, I get bored, or disheartened and break up.

Maybe I expected too much from myself, other people, life.

Maybe though, it’s not too late to make something of this. I have a home and a family, ok so we are smaller family than the norm, but the love in it is the same. If I can raise my son to be the best boy that he can be, to make good choices and be happy then maybe my life can be almost what I was expecting, maybe just a slightly lonelier version.

To My Ex

We met, we fell in love. It should have been as simple as that. Happily ever after. We picked out a ring and I wore it with pride, happy to know I’d be spending the rest of my life with you sleeping next to you, carrying babies for you…

Then we lost our little girl and life changed, we changed. Something shifted irrevocably and here I am 3 years on laying in my bed on my own, waiting to be joined in the early hours by our toddler, the boy I did carry to term, the son I’ve dedicated the last 2 1/2 years of my life to. 

I love my life I have with our boy. It gives me purpose and grounding in a world that otherwise is terrifying and lonely, but some nights I can’t help but wonder what could have been if life had worked out how we had planned…  

So yes, some nights I cry about us, about how happy we should have been if loss hadn’t torn us and our plans to shreds. I cry for the daughter who should be in my arms and for the man who should be beside us. For the smiles and laughs and holidays that we should have had. 

I can’t look back too hard though, what good does that do? So come the morning I’ll be dry and steely eyed ready to face the day alone again.

But I do think of us sometimes, just sometimes I let my mind wander to us and the beautiful life we let go of.

Fantasy

I lay, scrunched up, in the toddler bed. My arms wrapped around my infant, eyes tight shut, feeling them breathe, listening to ‘Bing’ playing on my phone. Through my closed eyelids I can almost see the pink, floral bedsheets over us, the mousey blonde hair trailed over the pillow, the Disney princesses staring down at us from the walls and the vividly pink curtains lit by the headlights of the passing cars. Yesterday’s dress thrown carelessly on the floor and a doll propped up on the bookcase. 

I lay there totally absorbed in the fantasy that I am there with my three year old little girl, that she’s just had a busy day at nursery and we are relaxing together waiting for her eyes to grow heavy and for her to fall asleep.

I don’t want to open my eyes, to shatter the illusion I’ve created, but I must. ‘Bing’ is finished and my son shouts ‘Mummy!’ demanding that I put on another. 

So I open my eyes and it takes a second to adjust to what I’m seeing, my two year old son, short brown hair, laying in his rainbow duvet staring expectantly at me completely unaware of the war going on in my head fighting to adjust back to reality. I put on another episode and hug him close staring around his rainbow room. 

My rainbow baby.

Hard

I’m not enjoying being a mum at the moment. And that’s horrible, and hard to say. Don’t get me wrong, after all I’ve been through I love and cherish him, I still watch him sleep and marvel that he’s here that he’s perfect and that he’s mine, but the actual task of parenting? Well that’s hard.

I’m barely away from him so every grumble, annoyance and irritance is magnified, I get that, but I can’t do right by him at the moment and it’s getting me down.

He learnt the word ‘no’ recently, and great as it is that his vocabulary is growing, this word has caused a number of problems. He uses it whatever he means. Even if he wants something he will say ‘no’, so you offer him something, he says ‘no’ and then will grab it off you, but if you bare that in mind and offer it again after he’s said no the ‘no’ becomes a ‘NO’ and he will scream at you…

He doesn’t go in his carseat. At all. We have had hour long tantrums over this on the drive outside. Neighbours coming out to see where the toddler was being murdered. But I’m not talking one offs (obviously some times are worse than others) but he will run off screaming as soon as he realises I want him in his carseat. It becomes a physical fight to get him strapped in, and as soon as he is his arms are wriggled out, I’m fighting a losing battle. Once he realises I want him in the car he will head off as if to walk instead, so I take him out for a walk, he doesn’t want to walk, he wants to be carried the whole way and if I try to make him walk the screaming ensues again, running after me down the street, hollering.

I’m pretty sure half my day consists of screaming.

Yesterday I got home from work and he wanted boob, I’m trying to stop him having it during the day, especially then, less than an hour before the roast my mum was cooking, he screamed for the hour. Solid. I hid in another room and he stopped. I ate my tea in another room and he ate his good as gold with my mum and dad. He sees me as a giant milk bottle, nothing more.

This morning he woke up at 6am and I stopped him helping himself to milk. He screamed for 2 hours almost solid, climbing over me, ripping at my clothes.

This has to be a phase. This HAS to be a phase and it really needs to be over quickly because I thought I was a strong person but doing EVERYTHING wrong in his eyes is breaking me.

Dating

I wrote recently about the possibilities of me starting to think about considering finding a partner, but how do you date as a single parent?

I don’t have an answer, I have no idea how to do it, but I would love to find a solution.

I posted before an ‘agreement‘ that I came up with and Jacksons dad agreed to, and though he hasn’t kept to his half of it, I still stand by it being best for Jackson. My mention of not introducing Jackson to new partners for 6 months until we are fairly sure it will last to stop people just walking in and out of his life is, in theory, the best for everyone, however I have no idea how this will work in practice!

Single dates are fine, I can arrange with my parents to have Jackson for an evening or two, but what about when you find someone you want to spend a bit more time with? I can’t rely on them, even use them to that extent, they have their own lives too, but Jackson doesn’t sleep through the evening or night in his own bed, so I can’t have anyone back here whilst Jackson’s here because he will just wake up and suddenly he will be introduced earlier than planned!

Does this mean that I cannot date until he’s 18? That I can only see people once a week, because I don’t know if that’s enough to know if a relationships strong enough to introduce them to him, and how can I know if a relationship is going to last until they have met Jackson?! I genuinely don’t know what the answer is!

Obviously once they have been introduced to Jackson things become easier and they become more a part of our daily life, with occasional dates needing babysitters, so do I relax the 6 month rule? Obviously making sure it is serious, but 6 months is a lot of dates to use my parents as babysitters for…

For that matter, at what point do I tell his dad that I am dating again? I was going with when it affects Jackson, ie. them meeting. We have been broken up for 2 years, so it’s not really anything to do with him except through Jackson, but I think he is harbouring a hope that we might be able to patch things up, a hope that I have kept myself, but it has been fading quickly as he has shown no interest in getting help for his issues.

I’ve never really dated anyway, but Jackson adds a whole new dimension to it, and the whole thing is really scary, I don’t want to get it wrong and have it affect him badly in any way, but at the same time I don’t want to be alone forever, or settle for second best!

Any advice will be gratefully received if you’ve been in a similar situation!

 

  • An 'Angel Baby' is a baby lost during pregnancy or early childhood, who sleeps in the clouds instead of our arms.

    A 'Rainbow Baby' is a baby born following the loss of an 'Angel Baby', a beacon of hope after a storm, while not denying the storm happened.

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