Dating Me

I read an article earlier about dating a single mum and while most of it rang true, some parts weren’t quite right for me so I thought I’d write my own.

I’m independent. Don’t assume that because I’m a single mum I am needy and desperate and looking for a daddy to complete my family and settle down with. Infact completely the opposite. I’m independent, I own my own house I pay my own bills and I look after me and my son, I don’t NEED anybody. I’m looking for a man to be my partner, to maybe take me out of my house on dates, to show me what I’ve missed in the last couple of years of parenthood, of play dates and nappies, to get to know me and like me and then and only then can he meet and get to know my son. If my son doesn’t like him, it’s out the door I’m afraid. It’s been the two of us before and it can be again, don’t think for one second you will ever be more important to me than him! 

I want someone who wants me. I’ve had bad relationships, well, one in particular, so I know how they go. I don’t want another one. I want someone who wants to talk to me, who wakes up in the morning and wants to text me, even just to say hi. I’m needed 24/7 by my son, it’s the thing I’ve missed most, being able to rely on someone to be there when I need them

Be reliable. Again, I’ve had my fill of ‘I’ll be there at such and such’ to turn up 2 hours later with a feeble excuse. If I’ve managed to get someone (probably my parents) to babysit for me then time is precious. I’ve made a decision to spend that time with you, the least you can do is turn up and spend it with me! 

Accept that I won’t be able to see you much. Time will have to be grabbed when it can be, and planned in advance, you won’t be meeting my son for months so I’ll have to get someone to look after him to see you. That means putting other people out and missing time with my son, both of which I hate doing, so you’d better be worth my effort.

Don’t waste my time. Time is precious and I’m not up for pointless dating any more. I don’t want to go out a few times for you to decide you don’t have time for this or can’t see a child in your future. I am looking for something special so if that’s definitely not you then please step aside so I can find someone it is.

Be honest with me. I don’t ask much, just if things aren’t going how you want or you don’t think you can deal with my son, for example, that’s fine, just tell me. If we can work on it we can try if not then we part ways, but atleast we will both know we tried everything we could and part ways on friendly terms rather than you getting cold feet about something and instead of talking it out, either going off and finding someone else, or ignoring me for days followed by a vague text that shakes my confidence and tortures me for months into wondering what I did. I’m too old and too tired for teenage games, I just want honesty, and I’ll return the favour, possibly too much. 

Accept my sons dad. I may not sing his praises, but he will be around and about us for the next 16 years (atleast). We are coparenting so he gets a say in all decisions, you don’t. Obviously you can express your opinions to me, but ultimately it’s down to me and his dad. 

Enjoy Us. Being a family is great, and if you accept all the above, we fall in love, my son accepts you, then that’s what we will be, a funny shaped, slightly kooky family, perfect for days at the beach, movie nights, theme park rides and holidays. 

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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!

 

Learning

I’ve learnt a lot since I’ve had Jackson. I’ve learnt that mess is part and parcel with babies, I’ve learnt that sleep is underrated, I’ve learnt that time flies when you have a little one, but mainly I had learnt that he isn’t mine

No I don’t mean his dad has staked a claim on him.

I mean he isn’t mine to own, he isn’t my property, and honestly if anyone is anyone’s, then I am his. 

I am his mummy. 

But he also has a daddy, grandparents, uncles and aunties and lots of friends whom also belong to him! 

This child isn’t going to be a mini me, however much he looks like me. 

He is a blank canvas, but he’s slowly being filled in. Each minute he spends with someone he learns. Sometimes it’s a trick, sometimes it’s a skill, but he’s like a sponge, always learning.

This boy is not mine. We are all his, we are his parents, his teachers, his friends, and we will all leave a mark on him in one way or another. 

Single Mum

‘So how often does Jackson see his dad’ is a question that is asked regularly, not only by people just finding out about our situation, but people who have asked before hoping for a new answer. 

My stock answer now is ‘a few hours a week’ and you see their faces change from hopeful interest to confusion and almost disgust. 

I know that their initial thought is ‘why’ and they wonder if that’s my fault, if I’m making it difficult, or discouraging it. Think Jeremy Kyle, possessive mum blocking access, but it isn’t me. I always have and always will actively encourage his dad to come and see him and spend time with him, infact I have wasted days upon days sat waiting for him to show up when he says he will, and then doesn’t.

I used to answer ‘a couple of times a week’ which though at the time also true, probably never equated to many more hours, and when I thought about it, a few hours is probably a more accurate answer. He won’t turn up until 2 or 3 in the afternoon when he wakes up, leaving again at any time between 6-10 depending how tired he is, whether he has work and whether Jackson’s asleep or not. That’s a minimum of 3 hours, and a maximum of 8 or so. But equally some weeks pass without a visit at all. 

When I first broke up with his dad at 7 months pregnant I almost felt it would be easier if he left and never saw us again, but the second my baby boy was born my world changed and I knew he needed his dad in his life. From then I have tried to facilitate him visiting as much as possible, but the hours have steadily decreased and his interest wained. 

This kills me inside far more than I expected it to. He has me, loving grandparents, adoring uncles and some fantastic ‘aunties’ in my friends, but he needs a dad. This boy won’t miss out on love, heck I’m pretty sure if he was any more loved he would pop, but he won’t know the role a dad is meant to play in his life. I know that with us being separated that was always going to be a difficult relationship to build, but it’s nigh on impossible when his dad doesn’t seem to try. 

Jackson was a planned baby. After losing our little girl we waited months for the doctors to give us the go ahead to try again and when they finally did I was hesitant. I wrote at the time that I was worried I’d never love another baby as much as I loved her, of course that all changed as soon as I found out I was expecting again, but it was him who pushed for it, who persuaded me we were ready, only 2 weeks later when I took the test and told him I was pregnant, he was less keen. He says it just took him by surprise that it happened so quickly, but really he wasn’t ready. He still isn’t ready, still hasn’t got past the grief for our little girl who should be in our arms, can’t get past that to see the special little boy who is. 

I spend my life running through this in my head. Screaming internally that how can his dad not want to spend every waking hour with his son. How can I facilitate it so he might want to see him more, what more can I do? I literally feel like I’m bashing my head on a brick wall and getting nowhere. 

Jackson does need a dad. However you look at it, it’s a special bond that cannot be easily replicated. Maybe one day I’ll find a partner who loves Jackson as much as I do, who accepts him as his own and becomes a father figure to him, but will that be too late for Jackson to create a strong bond with him? I don’t know. I grew up in a 2 parent family and I planned the same for my son. It breaks my heart that he isn’t getting that stable, happy, easy start in life. 

Maybe his dad will read this post and come to his senses, get some help for his grief about losing our daughter and step up and be the father Jackson needs. But then again, it’s been 2 years of me telling him all of this and nothing has changed so far so I don’t hold my breath. 

As a mother trying to do my best for my son, nothing kills me more than seeing a situation arising that will hurt him and being able to do nothing to stop it.

A Pot Noodle Family

I’m a single mum of a gorgeous boy and I own my own house, and I have a part time job that pays the bills. We are a premade family waiting for someone to come along and sweep me off my feet, but not only that, someone who will love my son as much as I do, who will fit into the life we have built together.

Of course, if I had to live with what I have and nothing else for the rest of my life I would be more than happy. I am so lucky with what I have, but isn’t it human nature to always want more? To have someone to love you is just natural though, isn’t it?

But who wants a pot noodle family? Just add a man? Who wants to take on the baggage of an exhausted single mum and someone else’s son? Someone else who is still around and who will continue to be part of their sons life (don’t for one second think I’m complaining, I know Jackson needs his dad) but doesn’t that just add to the complication of dating? Your ex coming round once a week or so to see his son? 

I know the modern world sees things differently and families come in all shapes and sizes, but there are so many single girls my age without the stretch marks, the emotional baggage of losing a baby, the toddler running round their ankles and the ex still in the picture, that surely I don’t stand a chance! Put in their position I probably wouldn’t be able to date a man with a child, and I don’t know why, but I’d totally understand any rejection of me because of my son.

So this is why I am terrified to take that plunge back into dating, I don’t want to be rejected, but that’s all I can see happening. Who would want me, us? As gorgeous as my son is, wouldn’t it be easier for them to go and start their own family rather than joining mine, as ready-made as we are?! 

‘One of Those’

Yesterday I became ‘one of those mums’ you know the ones, those in the supermarket with a harassed look in their eyes with their shrieking toddler running away from them while other adults look on with amusement, understanding and pity.

I love taking Jackson out without a pushchair, he hates being confined in it and on the whole is really good walking around holding my hand. He has his moments when he wants to go and look at something and I want to go another way, then we have a screaming tantrum and he eventually comes with me normally after I’ve picked up the snivelling wreck. 

He also doesn’t get on with reins, he likes his freedom and the slightest tug from me being on the other end of the reins and he is kicking off.

Yesterday we went into a shop and it defined every reason I love having him walking with me. We went down the clothing aisle and as always happens in discount stores, there were lots of clothes on the floor. I didn’t want anything so just started walking down glancing side to side and noticed Jackson had stopped. Turning back he had picked up a pair of wellies that had been strewn on the floor. He looked around and then headed back a few metres to where these wellies were hanging up and tried to hang them up. He struggled getting the hanger the right way round and needed me to turn it the right way but he wasn’t going to give up until they were hung in the right place. Ok so he’s a neat freak. That’s from my mum not me, if only he was like this at home! I beckoned him down the aisle and he stopped again at a pile of clothes that had been dropped on the floor. He then proceeded to pick them up one by one and hang them up. My heart swelled with pride and wished that the whole store could see this, that this 18month old was tidier that all the other shoppers who had just walked past (including me).

That however was the polar opposite of the next store. Within minutes of walking in he had run off. He was out of sight. I came out the end of the aisle, nowhere. SHIT! My stomach sank. Where the hell was he? Down the next aisle, nope. The next, a little blue coat disappearing round the corner. He was there. This was repeated multiple times in the next 15 minutes we spent in that shop, inevitably he was squealing in excitement and then screaming and wailing when I caught up to him. By the time we reached the checkout I was about ready to lose my shit! I was keeping my cool but it was a knife edge that must have been visible to everyone in the vicinity. I paid and got out of there as quick as possible.

Strapping him into the safety of his car seat and as I sat in the drivers seat breathing to calm down I looked back and saw he had fallen asleep. And that reminded me: he’s a toddler. Full of energy until he drops. I can’t blame him for being fed up of shopping, he didn’t want to look at pencils and Easter decorations, I can’t blame him for wanting to run and play and I certainly can’t blame him for being tired! 

I suppose I will have to be ‘one of those mums’ every so often, and if you tell me your child is ALWAYS a little angel when you’re out and about you must be in denial, I work in a supermarket, I know!! 

Shuddering Episodes

That moment when you know somethings not right, when panic sets in, when you try to remain calm and do things right but inside you’re screaming ‘what’s happening?’

19th January was a normal morning, I had decided to have a quiet one, stick the tv on and just relax after a weekend working, we were both in our pyjamas and Jackson was playing with his toys when he stopped, and stood staring at me, trembling, shaking, shivering? I’m not sure how to describe it. He had done it before, but always with a huge grin on his face, almost in a ‘cheese, Gromit’ way, and we had always assumed it was excitement, though in the back of our minds it was always there it might be something more, but this time there was no happy smile, he didn’t seem to be there. I grabbed his arm and he was rigid, I started sternly telling him to stop, nothing. Eventually he seemed to release from it and a look of panic came across his face and he burst into tears. I pulled him up onto the sofa and cuddled with him, unsure what to do, wishing he could talk and tell me whether he had done that on purpose, though his face told me he had not. I didn’t want to call anyone as I wasn’t sure exactly what had happened or what to say! But sat on the sofa with me then, he did it again. This time I handled myself better and tried to keep him calm, and when he came out of it he was less stunned. I knew I had to see someone because this wasn’t normal, so I rang my GP surgery. 

After about 10 minutes on the phone waiting, with me being ‘first in the queue’ I gave up and thought I’d call 111 to see if they had any ideas or even could put my mind at rest about what it was. A friendly lady answered the phone and asked what was the matter. What was the matter? ‘I think my sons just had some kind of… Fit? Seizure? Episode? All those words were scary. I described what had happened to her and while she was reading through her script of questions he did it a couple more times. She then passed me onto a clinician for a second opinion who told me ‘I have dispatched an ambulance to you, I don’t mean to worry you and you could make your own way to A&E but if he did it in the back of the car you wouldn’t be with him and if he does it in the ambulance then a medical person can see it.’ That seemed fair enough, though terrifying, and I quickly threw some clothes on us both and packed a snack for him. 

The ambulance turned up blue lights flashing, and I explained the situation to them, they took all his obs and nothing came back abnormal. They decided he didn’t need A&E but booked him in to see the GP later that afternoon. Between a paramedic, a EMT and a junior doctor they all drew blanks on what was wrong with him. The lack of quiet sleepiness after basically ruled out epilepsy and it didn’t seem to fit any other classic symptoms, but my GP might have other ideas.

That afternoon we headed to our GP who drew the same blanks as everyone else, it didn’t seem to fit any classic fits, but worth a second opinion, she rang the on call paediatrician at the hospital who didn’t know but said to come in tomorrow so they could check him.

The next day we headed in to the rapid assessment clinic at the children’s ward, I had managed to capture a couple of snippets of video, but as the episodes weren’t very long and happen with no warning I only caught the ends of them. The paediatrician again said she wasn’t sure, and that I needed to get a better video if I could. Easier said than done when you’re on your own! She gave us a blood form and said she would book him in for an EEG to measure the electrical impulses in the brain. The blood test was awful, he didn’t seem to mind the needle, but having me and a nurse holding him still and another one taking the blood was too much and he screamed and cried, though he was fine soon after, I can’t say I was! 

I got the letter through the post for the EEG which wasn’t until 19th February, though I was working so I rang up and changed it to the 22nd. 

He was still doing it, though not as insensely as he had that first day, I had made a note of when they’d been happening and he would tend to have a few on a day and then none for a few days, but no particular patterns that I could see. 

Yesterday I got a call to book an appointment with a paediatric neurologist – a bit odd I thought and asked if he needed to have had his neurology appointment first, no she says, so we booked it in for this morning because she happened to have had a cancellation. 

We turned up at the clinic and a nurse came out to take some measurements. I stripped him down to his nappy and first she wanted his length, ‘just lay him on here with his head touching the top’. Well. He kicked off! I ended up holding his top half still while she tried to quickly unbend his leg to get some kind of measurement! Next was his head circumference. Nope! He wiggled and shook his head from side to side every time she tried, again I had to hold his head still so she could measure, all the time he was howling and probably terrifying the kids in the waiting room wondering what was going on! Last was weighing him, by this point he was in such a state that there was no way he was going to sit, he wouldn’t stand still so she had to weigh me holding him! Seriously I have no idea how measurements can be so traumatic! 

Then we were called in to see the consultant who asked ‘do you know why you’re here?’ Great. She explained she was a neurology paediatrician who specialises in epilepsy and would normally see him after the EEG, but ok we have an appointment lets go through it all again. I went through the whole story again, demonstrating the movements he does, showing her a couple of videos I’d managed to capture and she goes ‘well it’s not epilepsy.’ PHEW. This wasn’t ‘it’s not classic epilepsy’, not, ‘we need to test x, y, z’, it was NOT epilepsy. She continued to say they’re known as Shuddering Episodes and though not common they’re not uncommon either. It’s a learned behaviour that’s almost a tic. He will grow out of it, don’t worry! It is a behaviour rather than a condition so just ignore it or keep him calm when they happen and he will be fine. Well, I breathed again after holding my breath for weeks! There is something happening, but it’s not life altering, heck it’s not even a condition, it’s just a thing he does and should grow out of. 

She did offer they could still do the EEG to put my mind at rest but she seemed so sure that I decided not to put him through that for the sake of it, so that’s been cancelled and after coming home and googling it it’s spot on. There are videos of children doing exactly what he does, if only I’d known about it so I knew what to google, I could have found this and put my mind at rest. That said, a call answering clinician, a paramedic, a junior doctor, a GP, and a Paediatritican were all flummoxed so I don’t feel so bad. 

So, if your child starts impersonating Wallace (from Wallace and Gromit) have a look at Shuddering Episodes. I would still suggest seeing your GP, but it might be something a lot less scary than your first panicky thought! 

A Break

I’ve not posted anything on here for over 6 months now and for that I apologise. 

I suppose the reason for this is twofold.

  1. I have an 18month toddler running circles around me, he hasn’t grasped the idea of bedtime yet and I rarely get a chance to sit and write anything! 
  2. I haven’t felt the need. I occasionally think of something to write about but by the time I get round to it (see point 1) it doesn’t seem so important any more. 

I wrote before about cutting myself off, leaving groups and not joining in conversations, well I’m back, kind of. 

I’ve found myself looking through the #BabyLoss on Instagram and revisiting the baby loss half of my Twitter recently. It’s hard to know where I fit now because the pain isn’t so raw any more, I don’t cry (much, anyway, of course I have my moments), but I still feel I need a connection to this world, the exclusive group I never wanted to join but can never leave. 

And my need to write has returned. I find myself thinking of new titles and things to write about, I just hope that I can find the time to breathe life into these post ideas! 

So bare with me, (I seriously admire blogger mummy’s who post daily- how do they do it!?) I may not be regular, or prize worthy, but I’m here and will be writing if you want to read! 

Regrets

I’m trying to stop myself regretting things and I think it’s finally sinking in.

I have done lots of things in my life I should regret, I’ve lost friends, left jobs, liked people I shouldn’t, bought things, spent time on people I shouldn’t but if I hadn’t then my life wouldn’t be where it is now. Without each small mistake I might be in an entirely different place right now. I might not have met the people who make my life so great today, might not have Jackson, so I can’t regret anything. This boy is worth all the pain all the upset, all the time I’ve spent thinking about my mistakes. I’d do it all again if I knew he was the result.

Up until I had him I didn’t know why I was here, what life was all about. I never wanted a career, I never got really passionate about anything, I’m not religious and I’ve never been so in love with someone that I could pour my whole heart and soul into that, so I never really ‘got’ life as such, but here it is, here he is, my reason for being here, for life. My friend put it quite well, she pointed out that when everyone at school was filling in their personal statements for uni, I didn’t, because I knew what I wanted to do and here I am now, doing it! Being a mummy!

These last 9 months have made me happier than I have ever been in my whole entire life! I’ve never been a happy person, especially not since losing Effy-Mae, but I haven’t had a day that I haven’t cracked a smile since Jackson was born. I have barely taken a photo in which I’m not smiling (and trust me, a picture with a smile in was rare before!)

However grumpy or shouty Jackson is he is the best thing to ever happen to me! I have bad days where I’m not as smiley and bubbly, of course I do, I’m human, but I will always find a reason to smile in the end, even if it is just because Jackson giggled. (The most incredible sound in the world, by the way!)

So I can’t regret anything in my life because every tiny decision in so far has led me to where I am now, and I have never been happier.

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Photos I WISH I Could Capture

I often wish I could have a photographer follow me around constantly for days just to capture a prize few shots – there are a few moments that happen that I think ‘I’d love to have this photo.’

It’s now becoming common to take photos of a groom when he first sees his bride enter the church to capture the look on his face, well I want someone to capture my face when I see Jackson for the first time in a little while and he’s asleep (eg. when I’ve been driving). Not when he’s awake because that’s an exaggerated, big smile, for a reaction from him, but when he’s asleep it creeps onto my face because I’m so happy to see his face. In that moment I am feeling pure happiness and love, so that look has to be pretty special, right? But it’s fleeting, maybe a second, so capturing it would be nigh on impossible. Shame.

Similarly, his face when he wakes up from a nap in my arms and sees me. He always looks so pleased, but not in a beaming smile way, in a quietly contented ‘I couldn’t be happier anywhere else’ way.

Again, my face, but when he’s giggling, (with him giggling in the background of the photo too would be amazing!) Because my face breaks into an uncontrollable smile. I catch myself doing it again and again and I love it! Even if I’m busy doing something and I hear him giggling in another room I beam away to myself, the sound is like magic!

The moment when I throw him into the air and he leaves my hands for a split second. I would never dare stage this, besides I don’t have a fast enough camera, but I would love to see the looks on both of our faces, mine, worried and concentrating, his, pure glee!

This ones rather sadder, but the look on Jacksons face when I’ve gone out of sight round a corner. His face fills with concern and he cranes his head as far round to see if he can see me. It wouldn’t be a happy photo, but it would show our relationship – each being lost without the other. (either that or it’d look like he was playing peekaboo!)

You’ll notice that most of these are looks on either of our faces because actions I can easily capture, maybe even stage, but it’s the subconscious almost reflex reactions that are harder for me to capture. (Maybe I should attach a go pro to mine and Jacksons head!)

  • 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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