Countdown to Christmas…let the extreme parent anxiety commence

BBC's Motherland: What is it about? When can I watch it?

(Picture: Colin Hutton/Delightful Industries/Merman)

So I have my lists from the RugRats for Christmas….well I’ll stop kidding myself, I had RugRat no 2s list and I freaked and no 1 is now refusing to write a list as he has been asking about a charity I have got work to support and now he feels he can’t ask for anything.

No1 is happy with her 4 things on her list…..which half I cannot get and also seems completely overpriced for what they are, but I fear I sound completely bah humbug.  So regrettably I have ordered them from some ridiculous waiting list and hope to god (not that I am a religious person….well I struggle with that) that they arrive on time for the usual 1am christmas morning wrap up.

I think I may have helped No 1 get his head round not feeling guilty writing a list ( we have sorted presents for the charity) and I have got him a few bits & bobs, but I am sat here procrastinating who to get what for the rest of my family whilst I help my mum source all the things she needs.

I can feel my anxiety levels rising minute by minute and I know it will all end soon, but on top of the Christmas shizzle, I have all the day-to-day shizzle to sort and that has its own anxiety levels attached…so I am on double whammy, about to run and hide under my bed with Moz the monster, anxious……I think you can get the picture now. But hang on…..I made the huge mistake of going through the RugRats school bags……the thousands of letters from the different schools PTAs about the various christmas events going on to the run up to Christmas Holidays for them and a letter has just landed on the mat to say I am due an MOT and service……do I:

  • run now and shout “every man & woman for themselves”
  • hide under the bed until New Year with Moz the Monster
  • reach for the Gin and stuff my face with cheese….

Well that gives you a flavour of a few options that have gone through my mind, but what is blindingly obvious is that I have to get my shit together and face it head on, but why do we put ourselves under so much pressure at Christmas, or any other day for that matter?!

I binge watched the BBC’s Motherland the other Sunday night….howled laughing but also thought it was a perfect parody of the life most mothers up and down the country actually have.  If you are a parent, you really need to get yourself hooked up with this on catch up and you will instantly connect with the characters, I dare you to take me up on this if you don’t agree, as I reckon you will like the little band of misfits on their mission to cope with daily life as a parent and the pressure you feel to make sure your kids feel included.

I have a slight girl crush on Sharon Hogan and when I learnt that her pilot was turned into a series, I waited with excitement.  Even the boyfriend got involved as he is a big fan of Father Ted and Sharon Hogan co wrote the script with Holly Walsh.  Needless to say, we sniggered and could not stop watching it back to back.

The writers have done an amazing job at portraying life with satirical humor in the playground and although I laughed a lot at Julia and her mum shouting and how each morning my life is like hers, okay without the husband, so a bit of Liz thrown in too, but  there came some uneasy viewing too with the perfect PTA mummy gang who are portrayed to constantly judge Julia, Liz and Kevin.  Kevin really wants to be in their gang but he isn’t cool enough to be in it as he’s a stay at home dad, Liz is a single mum and is suspected of trying it on with Amanda’s husband & Julia has sacrificed her kids for work.  So it stirs up those old feelings from not being in the cool gang at school or with the cool workmates that hang out without you, it makes you connect with the misfits and you cheer them on for standing up to the cool gang.

I loved Motherland, as you can tell, and it makes me realise, that with all this Christmas shizzle, I will try the best I can, but I don’t have to be insta perfect at it and I may have dark circles under my eyes, but to my kids, I am cool, so job done.  They won’t notice if I don’t make my own cookies or if my carpets need a clean, they’ll just love the fact that they got a few presents and spent time with mummy, sozzled on gin…..as apparently I am much nicer with a drink inside me (there’s your nod).

Now I’m off to bum fight over a Fingerling & then do more online shopping whilst I binge on Peeky Blinders…..TTFN

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I’ve become “that” obsessed doggy person and I am not afraid to admit it

So I have loosely referred to my beautiful dog in the last few posts, but I have never written a whole post on him.

Meet Bumble, he is img_8873.jpg

a Bearded Collie and turned 1 in September, he is my 3rd baby….yes I just referred to him as my baby!  When I first started to think about getting a puppy, I kept my plans to myself for a while….then I just couldn’t help myself and my plans would just fall out of my mouth.  Cue the comments from concerned family and friends….”are you mad”, “do you know how much hard work they are?”, ” how are you going to cope with a dog when you struggle to juggle kids and and work on your own”….I got them all and I seriously questioned my own sanity for a while.

What was interesting to experience, is that when you think about getting a dog and you start to tell people your plans, a lot of negativity comes out, well it did in my experience and it made me question my own judgement and whether I was making the right decision.  I have come to realise that when you get a dog, or any pet for that matter, you get hounded by everyone’s opinions on how you should handle and bring up a pet. One person suggested that I was being selfish and even had the audacity to presume that I would regret within the first year of getting a dog as it would hinder my social life….well let me tell you, I have loved every minute of Bumble so far.  I watched in horror on a local Facebook community page after a young woman asked for advice on which breed of puppy she should look at.  The poor woman must have received over 80 responses and 90% of those were the most judgemental, patronising comments I ever read, but unfortunately, from my own experience, it didn’t surprise me. I rarely comment on these posts, but when I saw her being lectured by people who were assuming she hadn’t a clue on how to bring up a dog along with the responsibilities, I had to comment and assure her not everyone is quick to judge.  To my relief, it encouraged others to do the same thing and I later received a private message from her thanking me for the positive comment.

Ok the puppy stage is hard and being house proud makes life harder when you have a dog, but no-one & I mean no-one gets me like Bumble does.  All you doggy owners out there reading this will know what I mean.  In fact, as I madly type this blog, he is lay at my feet.  Every time and even today, I realise he doesn’t leave my side, particularly after the RugRats dad comes to pick them up.  He just senses and seems to know I adore his company.  I can have the worst day or I will be walking into the house after picking up the RugRats and they will be talking over each other and arguing about who should have sat in the front this time & telling me off for not getting it right and up his fluffly little head pops from his dopey snooze and with a cock of the head, he makes me smile instantly and in that moment all the worries and RugRat arguments disappear.

Yes, I’m in love with my dog and I really don’t care and you can tease me and mock me, but I am and he has been there and comforted me at some really shitty times, when no one else has.  I tell him my worries, I moan to him about the weather and I ask him if he thinks my boyfriend is the right choice and it really doesn’t matter he can’t talk back and this is probably why dogs are seen as being so theraputic, they don’t judge!

Some of you may think I love my dog more than the RugRats but it isn’t the case that I do, it is just that he gives me an uncomplicated relationship and he makes me feel calm at times when I never thought possible.  When I find myself being on my own and a little low, he is there and makes me get up in the mornings when I don’t have the RugRats and has made me stop and realise that I live in a pretty part of the country, whereas before, I may not have seen that.

I was recently having a chat with a colleague and old friend and he admitted to me that when I told him about getting Bumble, he thought it was the biggest mistake I’d have made to date.  He hadn’t voiced this to me at the time, he kept it to himself, but it was pretty big of him to admit this to me recently and he made me smile as he said, “I have to eat my own words now and I am sorry, but he really isn’t the biggest mistake, it was a genius move for you and the kids”.  You see, for all you doubters out there, this wasn’t a quick fix and patch up from a divorce, as from experiencing having a dog as a little girl, what also happens is that they teach children an important lesson in life, responsibility.  I felt as a mummy to two RugRats, that they needed something to anchor to when they had experienced an upheaval, but also at the same time get back a way of communicating to them in terms of teaching them life skills, with the help of a puppy to reinforce the message I wanted to give to them.  Sounds deep, but it really isn’t and felt like the right way to teach them discipline at a time when rules seemed blurred as they were getting used to different terms in their two homes.  The RugRats know that Bumble needs feeding, walking and playing with, but they also have learnt the discipline you need with a dog in terms of training them and working as a team so Bumble knows where he stands in the family (or pack to him).  It is working and they also relate to people in their day to day lives better in terms of feelings and empathy towards others around them.

What is most special of all, Bumble has brought laughter back in the house.  There have been some fraught times, but he has brought back the RugRats magical giggles and I love how they beg me for him to have a sleepover in their rooms now he is older & I know that they will have their moments where they will use him as their own sounding board and get comfort from him when they don’t feel able to come to me or their Dad.

So I may not have the savings I once dreamed of having as my money now gets spent of the dog and RugRats and I have to plan my holidays wisely, with or without the dog and taking into account dog sitters and vets bills, but I really don’t regret my decision one bit and would go as far to say “up yours” to the doubters out there.

It made me laugh when I went to a conference last week, which actually inspired me to blog again, as an entrepreneur Sam Jones spoke of his blog on having a dog in the office and how it caused a dramatic split in opinion and it was the most commented blog he’d produced to date.  Becoming a dog owner and asking for people’s advice really does seem to open you up to passionate comments from both sides of the fence even when you are a dog lover.  But what Sam recognises is, there are so many articles on dogs being good for office morale and people’s well-being, it is hard to argue against those pros and to me the far outweigh the cons.

To close, I may rock the boat further by making this statement, but if you are planning on getting a puppy and people tell you having a puppy is like having a baby, I am sorry but I really don’t agree.  I know I refer to him as my baby, but I didn’t have to get up with every 3-4 hours and change his nappy and breastfeed him, like I did with the RugRats.  He has learnt to fit in with us and along the way he has taught us some pretty amazing lessons on unrequited loyalty and he is the bestest friend I’ve ever had & he may have even inspired me to write about his adventures…..now just to try to convince work that he will boost productivity too!

Where did 2017 go?!

img_8987-1So my last post was New Years Eve and we are fast approaching the end of November.  I have blinked and nearly a whole year has passed me by!

I have kept myself to myself this year.  It felt like the first year since my divorce was a frenzy of change and adjustment and I was riding the crest of a wave in terms of feeling positive and reading back on my last post, I know I was experiencing delayed reactions to the reality of what had happened.  I felt guilty for feeling upset and confused why I only started to feel that way.

The thing is, I know I felt empowered as a woman to free myself from a relationship that I knew hadn’t been working for a long time and I felt grateful that I had managed to keep a certain status quo for my RugRats by not having to move, but the thing is, I didn’t allow for the reality of everything to hit me when the dust had settled.  I read something recently (the blog fails to come into mind as I type) that it generally takes 2 years for you to come to terms with the after effects of divorce; by looking at the timing, I would say this is pretty accurate.

I have a theory…..when you go through a divorce, you have your core friends who are there to keep you going when the chips are down, then you have your outer circle who dip in and check on you now and then and then you have the rest of your friends, who you realise are just your, dare I use the Stacey Forsey terms from Cheshire Housewives, your “social friends”!  So the social friends are the ones that scamper!  You don’t hear from them and there are those awkward moments in the school playground or the local shop, that you bump into them and you are feeling hurt and they are clearly embarrassed that they haven’t a clue what to say to you……bin those mates!  Just bin them now (obviously I’m not saying be rude and blank them, you can still maintain the pleasantries) as they will be the people who make you anxious and question yourself….stop that now.  Believe in the theory that when this happens, it is about THEM and not YOU and is a clear indicator to their own insecurities.  This has taken me until fairly recently to realise that and it has made me question everything I have done and made we reflect and wonder if I have done something to offend them…..the theory my best friend & I came up with is that they have questioned their own relationship and also my best mate also reckons they think I may hit on their husbands & therefore clearly don’t know the real me!

The outer circle and inner circle friendships are all people I have been friends with for a long time and know me well, but as time goes on, people have their own lives to lead and it starts to become quite awkward when it comes to dinner party invitations or couples nights out and those slowly drift and you begin to feel isolated.  You used to have the “sympathy invitations”, as one of my single mum friends recently referred to, and as a close friend referred to me recently, “showing girl power”, and your married friends or friends in long-term relationships would invite their recent single girlfriends, but the reality of it is, it makes it really awkward when you have hit your mid to late thirties and the new going out, is the new staying in and cooking like you’re all competing for Come Dine With Me. Even the invitations to days out with the kids as a family begin to drop off as it’s just me with the kids on the weekends that I have them, and some girlfriends begin to feel awkward as they want their husbands to join them and think it may make me feel awkward. It doesn’t at all, I value every friendship I have, including those I had in marriage and in reality, it’s not any different to how was back then when I was married!

I’m not trying to sound ungrateful here or play the “my life Is harder than yours” card, as we all have our own issues and I certainly don’t take my friendships for granted and I certainly don’t think life revolves around me, I’m simply saying that there comes a time when it hits you that you are facing the reality of life as the single friend, and to married couples with young families, you are seen to have a different & new reality.

My reality is now juggling a full-time job, my beautiful RugRats and all their social activities and hobbies and running a home and not having someone to sound off to at the end of the day, apart from the dog! In amongst that, I am trying to date!  Yes I said the other “D” word!  God almighty, this raises another topic of discussion that generally includes you but is never spoken in front of you, just that you know it has been discussed, when you get to that long awaited catch up and a few drinks have been had and it is let slip what a mutual friends concerns are that you are dating and your choice of (dare I use this term) partner has been fully discussed & dissected at length.  Again, I hate to sound like I am being ungrateful, & I love my friends dearly, but can you imagine how it feels a little disheartening that somehow you have entered this realm of reality that when you become the divorcee or that single friend, it feels that some people (& this includes family) take it as an invitation to express their opinion on your life choices, as clearly I have made totally shit ones before and in their minds they really are trying to help.

It’s not just me though, I have friends who feel exactly the same way who are single and haven’t had kids or been married before. The sad thing is, when I have chatted with these friends, it seems that like me, they yearn for inclusion and it feels quite isolating when you learn of other friends being invited to social events and you haven’t been included as it was deemed as “all couples”.

I get it, I do & I know it comes from a good place generally, but the reality of it is that I am hard on myself as it is……I just feel doubly shit knowing that I am being judged by others too & it only deems to make a friendship feel awkward  & that makes me recoil!  I can honestly say, I would never sit with my friends and judge their relationship choices, let alone voice it.  We are all grown ups and we make our own choices in life and if that is with someone we wouldn’t be with ourselves, then that doesn’t mean it is the wrong choice for them. The same goes for the career paths we take or the decisions on new purchases. Everyone is entitled to make a decision without being judged and measured against the social measures that are constantly being placed, especially now in the age of Facebook and Instagram.

I have watched a lot of friends through the years navigate through their different relationships, whether it be family, romantic, friends or work colleagues and we have had many a deep & meaningful chats over a few G&Ts about the individual complexities each of these can throw in our way, but what I have learnt through my own experiences, is never to assume and try not to judge.  We all have our own shit going on & there will be fall outs and make ups along the way, but I will never ever openly judge or voice a judgement, as to be fair, we all judge, but some do without hesitation and we need to all learn that lives can be so complex at times and everyone is allowed to change their minds otherwise you look at life in black and white and if you do, you never open yourself up for change. Sometimes change may not feel a positive experience at the time, but it will do at some point, as without change, you will never experience new opportunities.

I have always valued the friendships I have & I do not mind admitting that I have been hurt in the past when I have realised that other friends may not hold the same value in our friendship, but as I have blogged before, as I have grown older, I know that friendships ebb and flow and sometimes you may be closer to some over others & then it can change again, but it doesn’t mean I value that person any less.

It may not surprise some of you, but I am one of those people who Google’s the crap out of stuff and I have to admit, I have googled the hell out of divorce and friendships when I have felt any my loneliest and lowest. I came across some brilliant blogs and a lot of on Huffington Post. It would seem I’m not alone in my thoughts and there are pages and pages of blogs where we’re pouring our hearts out on the effects of divorce. In fact the Huffington Post has a whole section on it!

I have also taken great comfort from a blogger called Jackie Pilossoph and she wrote a great article on the issue of divorce and friendships and articulates my experiences much better than I can in her post “Divorce and Friendships: It’s Complicated”. In it she says:

I think that when it comes to divorce and friendships, you lose some friends because of the divorce, but you make new friends, or people you didn’t know very well become good friends. Throughout our lives, friends come in and out of our worlds, and it largely depends on our circumstances and how much we have in common with those people.

So this year, I kept myself out of the world of blogging as I feared I was being judged but I kept a little diary to help me process my feelings whilst I did this and I know that writing makes me feel better and I may not be up there in the heady heights of your published bloggers, but I can’t help but feel it is time to put my toes back into the world of blogging (most people would say feet, but I am incapable of walking on the whole of my feet and choose to tiptoe) and see if I can put the world to rights. Some of you might think I’m moaning and some of you might judge me for publicising my private life but if that makes you sleep at night, go ahead, I don’t judge you, after all, I’m just like you. I am winging it every day like everyone else and trying to be a good mummy, a good daughter, a good friend or a co-worker. Just like you, I’m constantly working on myself, fighting my own demons, sometimes I win them, sometimes I lose, but at the end of the day, I really am just like you so let’s all start being easier on ourselves. If you can’t be then get a dog, I can highly recommend it and they are amazing for boosting your emotional well-being.

xXx TTFN xXx