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Sunday, 22 November 2015

Winning Numbers.

I don't need to win the lottery to feel like the luckiest woman alive. It may be a tough road to clamber along occasionally but I seem to move with ease most of the time dodging pot holes, ignoring wet verges, hopping over rotten, wooden styles and always, without fail (may I add gratefully) coming home to the most wonderfully loving, honest and straight forward family. I had a winning ticket yesterday. I was given the opportunity to spend an extra day with my girls because the situation changed suddenly the night before. We woke up together. Three in a bed. This only ever happens when they have been upset but secretly, I love the fact that jumping into bed with me solves the situation enough for them to sleep well. We woke together and I drove to London and we held hands. We darted in and out of shops that I hadn't visited for a while and I spoilt them rotten. A favourite sandwich a (healthy but) fizzy drink for the way home, some scent (real grown up, rose petal scent), a new velvet hairband and anything (yes ANYTHING) they wanted from Peter Jones. 

"Why?" they asked. 

I looked at them with my post broken childhood heart and replied, "Because I love you, that's why." 

With lit up eyes and rushing before I might change my mind, they both grabbed exactly what I would have normally said 'No' to and we queued up to pay. 

Mary learnt a valuable lesson on friday night. She was asked a question by her father and hesitating she replied in a very quiet voice. She looked at me as he shouted down the phone and realised that her father is a liar.

"Why did he say that Mummy?" she asked me once the tears had stopped enough for her to speak.

"I don't know, darling" I replied full of regret that I ever considered him good enough.

We sat together for about an hour. I held her tight and told her that it would be okay. That he would calm down and that he didn't mean what he said. Not really.

Trouble is I know that he meant it. I had known from the moment I got pregnant and he shouted at me that he didn't want children that it would be a tough road to walk. There was a reason I left him when I did. There is a reason I rarely go back. It's okay though because even though he doesn't want her, I do. More than I have ever wanted anything else in my entire life. I adore my girls and no one or nothing will ever make me feel anything but the luckiest woman alive.

I really couldn't be happier.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Obvious answers.

It is only a matter of time before things turn out the way you expect. Especially when it has been over a period of almost a decade in one case and 11 years in another. Mothers instinct is always right but I was hoping to be wrong. Yes, I was. Hand on heart. I have been pleading, encouraging, hoping for shared responsibility of my girls forever. Not just with school plays, parents evening, bike riding, dentist appointments but generally wanting the responsibility to be willingly taken away, just occasionally. It never has been. Now as time has passed the choice of stepping out of our safe and secure family unit to spend time away isn't what they want. The girls want to be at home after a hard week at school. I don't blame them. I certainly don't blame me. I have tried my hardest.

Children are not trophies or puppets however often we watch them on stage at a school assembly. They are individuals with feelings and opinions of their own. I have to listen to them if I ask them a question. I might not like or approve of the answer but now aged 8 and almost 11, I respect their ideas and as the only parent standing by their sides in the school playground every morning, it is up to me to allow them to be heard. It might make my role more exhausting and more testing when I try and explain out loud elsewhere what my girls do and don't want to do (without be accused of wrapping them in cotton wool and making a rod for my own back) but I have accepted that. I accepted that many years ago.

I didn't want to be there so how can I expect my girls to want to be there?

The obvious answer is to change it but it isn't me that can do that. I have to park it. I's a very tough call for me because I want so much for my girls to have the father that I have never had. I want more than I have ever admitted for the fathers to believe that their girls are worth it, worth the time, the sacrifices, the drive. I am bang in the middle of a situation that I chose but one that I have not created. I have to let it go. I get silence from one and shouting from the other.  I'm being pulled and pushed from pillar to post. Do I go right or left? I go straight on. I keep walking forwards. Like I said, it's not me that can change this.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


If you could go anywhere in the world with one person, where would you go?

This was one of the questions that Nell had to answer yesterday in her interview with the head of the potential secondary school. Boy, it's a tough one. One person? Other than yourself obviously. And where? Anywhere in the world. 

She also had to answer a heap of other questions of what makes a girl the right candidate for the school. She seemed to answer well for that one. Words like enthusiastic and confident. Something I didn't have aged 10. maybe this is why I am finding the whole process so over-whelming? My daughter is behaving in a way that was so alien to me at the same age (often now in adulthood too) that I am humbled by her determination and courage. We had practised a few questions on the drive to Oxford like what she was reading, her favourite food, hobbies, after school clubs, musical interments, counties that she's visited etc.. "Not one question came up" she laughed as we both grabbed home-made chocolate chip cookies with relief before leaving. I was a bag of nerves chattering away in the reception area which was more like a dentists waiting room. I hope the other mothers were relieved by my distraction as the 15 minutes passed. The sigh of relief was audible as we walked out of the school front doors and I looked at her as she stuffed her biscuit into her mouth and asked, "Okay?".

She nodded. She told me about the question of where and with who..

We carried on walking and I asked her what she had replied. More biscuit went into her mouth..

"I said Mummy and New York".

I smiled, my heart swelled and tears filled my eyes.

"Good answer" I told her and made a mental note.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

She did it.

I am still over-whelmed with love for my 10 year old daughter and her ability to go into a strange building with so many unknown faces and try her best. She was there from 8.45am until I collected her at 4pm. She did 4 papers. I know this is standard practise for anyone taking the 11 plus but it wasn't in my planning for either of my girls. We were simply going to get on, keep going and be happy with the excellent local schools that we are fortunate to have near us. It was only when I decided to go to an Open Day a couple of years back "just to see" that both Nell and I were open-mouthed at what could be.. So now we'll have to wait. She's done the hard part. I have done the hard part. I have filled in the forms declaring my reality and this week after a brief conversation with the headmistress, we will then sit back and see if the school thinks we are a match. Like I said, I am so proud that she was able to walk into a building without fear and sit a day of exams. That's my daughter. Together we did that.

Sometimes, you don't need a million cards or faces to know you have support. She knew that I was holding her hand all day long even though I wasn't with her. Her smile as she walked into the dining room at the end of the day and saw me was exactly why I put her in for the exams. It doesn't matter if she gets the place there or not, it was absolutely the right thing to do.

Worth every penny. Worth the sleepless nights and the worry. Worth the non-stop chat in the car on the way home. Never before have I ever known her so happy. That's my girl. All mine. Just mine.

Friday, 13 November 2015

You may begin.

Nell will hear these words as she sits on a wooden chair at a wooden table in a few hours time. It will be in a huge school hall that smells of floor posh and has vast windows that allows the light from outside to make patterns on the floor. She will sit there and lose herself in the safety of the exam yet the fear of not knowing making patterns in her imagination.

NOPE. That was me. That isn't at all how my daughter is, luckily and thankfully. I was reminded gently (again) yesterday that I have allowed them to be different. They are not full of fear. They are not scared. They are rarely frightened of anything. They dance on the back of horses (literally), almost always win races at sports day, thrive from standing on stage speaking out lines for assembly or from doing a violin duet. They are not me. They are confident, capable and happy children. She will be okay today. I understand her nerves and her apprehension but it is not fear like I feel or once felt.

I was reminded why I went to see Polly in the first place. She sat there and told me why I had made the initial appointment. "Really?" I replied. I smiled at her. "Well, that's worked!". She laughed.

She then insisted that I need to make a list of defence/ protection choices. When something goes tits up, goes the other way to what I hope, I must turn to my list to look after myself. I was intrigued. "Like what?" I asked presuming she meant tackling childhood abandonment issues or neglect.

"Like going to see a movie in the middle of the day on your own" she replied.

Brilliant. I'm making a list. It includes eating a bowl of noodles in bed, having an earlier than early night (8pm), not running if I don't feel like it, getting a girl to take my girls to school so I can have another cup of coffee in peace, walking the dogs when the girls are home from school.. That's it so far. I like my list. I have seen a movie this week and I was in bed by 7.30pm last night with pizza and my girls.

I was neglected as a child but they won't be. I might have chosen men to have as their fathers (unintentionally and unexpectedly on both occasions) who don't fit the shoes needed to walk the path of parenthood and I am allowed to get frustrated at their inability to love their daughters like I expect and hope but I'm parking it. Their loss. If they don't show up for parents evening, the carol concert or the end of term play it doesn't matter because I will be there. I don't need to make excuses or find a  reason  why they don't- there is no excuse for a no show over a period of 7 years. There is no excuse good enough to not want to see your daughter stand on stage and sing. One turned up once, a long time ago and complained the whole way throughout that he couldn't hear. He said it had been a waste of his time. Maybe all those days shooting without ear defenders over the last 30 years have been more so. Like I said, I'm parking it.

As for the 'Speed equals Distance over Time' father, he's parked himself so far away from his daughter's home that the only solution is to be grateful I am no longer his wife. He won't un-buy the new home by the sea with the 100 foot garden and 4 bedrooms. It just seems ludicrous to me that he has no one to put into the bedrooms and no time to run around his garden. I'd like to live by the sea, who wouldn't but not without my children. Never.

Nell will sit on a lovely plastic chair at a clean table in a small classroom filled with like-minded children and a smiling teacher. She will turn the page over and with her brand new pencil she will fill in the answers. She will do it like I never could. Already, I cannot wait to see her face at 4pm and give her the biggest hug for being so brave and so beautiful.

I guess that's the difference.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Just goes to show.

I have so little time. The time I have I fill it with extra chances and this week, I have been happy to stretch myself that little bit further making and delivering food to a man I love who is very ill indeed. I love his wife too. "Why are you doing this when you have so much to do already?" she asked me yesterday as I delivered a bowl of soup for them both. I smiled. I hadn't got time to go in for a chat, I wish I had. Why do I do it? Because I can.

Another friends mother is fragile and I love her too. She got a bowl of soup in a small saucepan to make the heating up of it easier. I didn't have time to get out of the car to deliver that one so I passed it through my window to a grateful smile. "Thank you" she said with more than words. 

I was on my way somewhere. I usually am.

We had Parents evening this week. I won't bore you with fine details of my talented children. We all have talented children after all. As long as they are happy. I wonder if one day they might call it something else like Childrens' evening seeing as more and more fathers seem absent. Funny how the mothers never fail to turn up. Like at a school play, nativity, concert or carol service. I really did pick the shittiest of men as role models or maybe I didn't. Maybe I've taught my girls the reality already? It would have been better if I had been asked since. I haven't been asked. Both fathers have forgotten. Or maybe they just don't care.

It's been an unusually busy week. I sit here with my most precious cup of coffee and I wonder how I will get through today. The list is longer than normal. Pop a trip to the vets at the bottom of it and an early night for my girls (fingers crossed) and by then, I will just be preparing myself to wake up tomorrow and deliver one to a friends for the day and take the other to her exam day at a school. She has a friend there. Such a relief. I am certain she will see many friendly faces. Have I done enough? Have I given her enough opportunities I wonder for the school to see passed her inability to do some of the work yet see the child I have educated the best way I thought possible and her ability to shine? I wouldn't put her towards this hurdle if I truly didn't believe the school would suit her. I loved it from the first visit. I just can't afford it. Come on karma. Please make this right.

It's time for me to wake my girls. I might have another silent cup of coffee first as I prepare their packed lunches and ignore someones ironing. I'll do that tonight or maybe tomorrow. I'll apologise. Sometimes, something's got to give and it's rare that I don't finish my list.

The hamster is on his wheel behind me. Running like crazy with that sweet look on his face. Determined to get somewhere yet I haven't a clue where he thinks he's going. That's the difference I guess. I might be a human hamster going as furiously fast behind closed doors to get things done but I know where I want to be. It would be a worry if I didn't. Right, back to my reality..

Happy Friday.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Just sometimes..

I can't do it. Whether it be writing my will and making monumental decisions of where my girls will go and with who and what if.. If, just if, I might leave this earth before I expect to or want to or should.. Or paying an overdue speeding fine when the initial fine didn't arrive so I get a court summons and with blood running cold and no shoulder to lean on, I admit the crime before I realise that actually I am entitled to a chance to pay the regular fine not get a bigger one for someone else's mistake. Or for applying for a bursary for my daughter to get a chance of an education that I might be stretching her towards just a little bit too much with absolutely no input from her father or even an opinion from any family member because they have no opinion with every finite detail of my low income, bank balance and benefits. The shame that I cannot pay for the fees following generations of fee paying parents but I cannot. I am now the staff that they used to pay, call upon and if lucky, I might get a turkey for a Christmas bonus. Making sure I order enough oil to last the winter ahead and check my tyres, get enough dog and cat food, pay my bills and keep my job. Organise tooth fairies, wish for Father Christmas, explain the importance of Remembrance Sunday, teach bike riding, shoe lace tying, whistling and skipping. Sing a song loudly out of tune, dare watch my girls have a hobby on a horse without a hat and doing tricks, learning times tables and peeling spuds. Just sometimes, I would love to able to sit with my mother and laugh over names like Doreen and Chantalle. It was a private joke. She would get it. It wasn't a bad thing, it was just ours. Just occasionally, as I add to my story I am able to remember her brilliant sense of humour which just about overtakes her change of mood and neglect. Why oh why didn't you love that little girl? That tiny, skinny little girl who needed you to love her so much. I still don't understand.

Just sometimes, as the sea crashes against the wall and I feel free and exhilarated, I wonder if you would have stopped me wasting my time. I have wasted so much time. I have believed such lies and listened to enormous bullshit. I look at faces and see laughter and kindness. I ache for solidarity and support but I cannot off-load my lot nor will I ever step aside. I am so tired. Full of sea air and a rare days sun, wind in my hair and walking up hills, I reminded myself why I love my family and what I need to make it all better. Trouble is, will I ever trust anyone ever again? Will I ever be able to hear the words and believe them? I hope so. One day. Maybe. It's doubtful but maybe.