Dangers of Doing New Things

Content warning : Just a massive whinge including disgusting descriptions of my bum infection. Enjoy.

My recent blogs have been pretty emotionally neutral lately so I think I can justify a massive ranty moan.

Coming out of lockdown and deciding to try new things and be an “interesting” person has absolutely fucked me over.

Sleep deprived, life exhausted mothers of toddlers do not get to be interesting people who do fun new things. Those who try it get a bum infection the size of a golf ball that leaks blood and pus for three weeks straight (and I do NOT exaggerate).

It was all going so well a month or two ago, pole dancing and mountain hikes and art galleries. Steak for breakfast. I think a little potter around a museum followed by a coffee is not to blame.

Running is evil

During the long boring lockdown at the start of this year I tried couch to 5k. It is hard to find time to go running but squeezing it into lunch breaks and child free Sundays the odd time was relatively satisfying. However only a few runs in I got a cold that lasted on and off for six weeks. Not even a proper, time off work justifying cold. Just a feel crap whilst going about everyday life cold.

Pole dancing is the worst

Like a fool I decided cardio isn’t for me but pole dancing would be fun… as exercise that is fun doesn’t count as exercise and therefore cannot hurt you.

Wrong.

Pole dancers are insane muscle machines. And whilst my left arm can prop a chunky toddler up for a while, my body is otherwise a flimsy, exercise hating squish. I felt so wobbly and nauseous after the sessions and then the following days walking like I had an embarrassing bum problem. I then had a genuine embarrassing bum problem.

It started with a sore little red spot which I didn’t think much of one Saturday morning. Sunday morning I was getting sore and whiney. Monday and Tuesday I was sitting wonky and fighting the urge not to compain the office due to the piss taking that would follow.

All the time it was getting bigger and redder and more swollen. When I called the doctor on Tuesday they wanted a bum selfie so I had to balance my phone on the windowsill in the shower room and take the most unflattering photo of my life.

Trying to get back to my desk before anyone questioned what I was doing I forgot to clear my screen…so my colleagues may potentially have seen it. No one assumes you have a huge swollen growth on your bum cheek (and the GP wants a photo), so it looked like I was sending sexy photos with absolutely no awareness of what is in fact sexy.

The GP gave me a double dose of antibiotics with did nothing to reduce the swelling and by Wednesday I had diarrhoea and thrush to add on to the fact I could no longer sit down. So Thursday and Friday were spent lying on my side in bed, doing a single hand type on a laptop, while a hot compress balanced on my ever growing swollen bum cheek.

The swelling was so big and sore all I could do was waddle around the house in baggy jogging bottoms, swearing all the way. I assumed it was a boil, which can get really painful.

By Saturday I woke up feeling hot and sweaty and dizzy, my daily bum inspection showed that it wasn’t in fact one boil but a collection of four boils clustered together and the whole thing looked ready to burst. So I almost fainted. The pain was ridiculous, bearable lying on my side but walking around was comparable to childbirth. But I didn’t have to entertain and feed a toddler for the day during childbirth. So I called for reinforcements and my mum came over and I resumed lying on my side.

Finally in the morning there was a boil explosion and the pain relieved significantly. However there was a steady stream of blood for hours.

I initially thought I would wait it out, and frankly thought the sight of it would make me pass out if I moved anyway. After two hours diarrhoea joined the game so I waddled to the bathroom with a handful of kitchen towel to catch the blood. In the few seconds spent washing my hands when my bum was free it looked like someone had slashed a vein in my bathroom.

After most of a day spent waiting for my bum cheek to drain I gave up and put a dressing on but the story didn’t end there and I had three long, long weeks of changing dressings regularly as so much blood kept on draining out. Altogether I had about three weeks where I couldn’t sit down easily and only managed the two minute drive to nursery by balancing all my weight on my one healthy bum cheek.

So after three weeks of not sitting down, two weeks on antibiotics, three packs of Caneston duo and an unquantifiable amount of time on the toilet I finally had a healed wound.

Pole dancing doesn’t hate me, my body does

Before I give pole dancing a bad press, my tale of woe was not a result of rubbing my bare bum on a dirty pole. It was (and I should have learnt my lesson from attempting to learn to run) my body telling me to sit down and chill the fuck out.

Boils and carbuncles come from bacteria that lives on the skin naturally somehow getting into the skin, potentially from a small nick, ingrain hair or spot. If your immune system is struggling anyway it can turn into an infection, which is common for people with HIV or diabetes. And apparently exhausted mothers.

I’d like to say that this is almost an old memory but my ‘nurse’ Emily is constantly asking me ‘if my poorly bottom is feeling better’ which is one of the more embarrassing things a child can announce on public. So the fun just keeps coming.

And whilst I have had all the joys of being able to sit on my bum for the last month I’m now in a cycle of getting a nasty cold, feeling ropey and spending a weekend in bed, getting to the point of being nearly a well human and then getting ill again.

I can’t even find anyone to blame my most recent cold on, I’m just a mucusy, pissed off, barely functional zombie nowadays.

Excluding a trip to the cinema, every Sunday planned out for ‘fun new things’ has been spent in bed or on the sofa trying to pull together enough energy to survive the coming week.

So all in all I’m feeling a bit fed up and pessimistic about there ever being a time when my body will approve of working full time, with a big commute, managing a toddler alone and getting horribly interrupted sleep.

The good news is that my default mentality would be to wallow in self pity thinking poor me, poor single mother me, no one doing regular overnights so I can sleep, my life is so unfair. But I’m so bloody tired I just can’t be bothered with self pity anymore.

I just mindlessly scroll tik tok or find a ridiculous dating show on Netflix and then watch the more ridiculous reunion of the ridiculous dating show.

So becoming a functioning zombie with poor taste is a…kind of silver lining. Two years ago I was doing a lot of angry crying and getting jealous of 90% of the people on social media so I’m going to take functional zombie as progress.

Don’t fuck it up

TLDR: single parenting / step-parenting / blended families is a fuck load of effort (I assume) so choose your sperm provider wisely.

Many months after declaring my social media addiction over I have decided acceptance is best. I am too heavily invested in the lives of strangers from the Internet. I will instead add to the time spent on my phone by ranting about them, the healthiest way to spend time.

Instagram is obviously my main thing because the influences have got me hooked. @mre.souer has 45k followers and a clothing range which isn’t Sainsbury’s sale and is therefore too cool for me. At some point she started dating someone and this triggered a stranger (who I can only assume is a genuine stalker) to message her saying she was ’embarrassing herself’ for calling herself a single mum online and then dating someone in real life.

This triggered a debate about when you stop being a single mum. Obviously every sane person agreed that shagging someone and going out for dinner is not the equivalent of your child’s biological father living with you and sharing the practical / mental / financial load.

Now there is always the odd knobhead popping up saying they consider themselves single parents even though they are married and living with the dad as he doesn’t help. Yes this is a twatty situation but unless you pay for everything and do every single thing in that household and for those children then no it isn’t the same. And if you are doing all of those things the only sensible choices are to kick him out or shut up whinging to genuine single mums (strong emphasis on the first option).

After that there seems to be a grey area of confusion. Is it when you are in an established relationship (when even is that?)? When you cohabit? When you cohabit and they help out like a biological dad would?

In my opinion it is never. Once a single parent always a single parent. Unless you are in a situation where the biological dad was never present / abandons legal responsibility and the step dad adopts, I can’t imagine that is a huge proportion.

And this isn’t driven by my desire to be a martyr or a desire to claim lifelong whinge points, but rather a healthy level of pessimism about step-parent families.

Hanging out with your ex

Assuming you cohabit with the most child-friendly, desperate to be a step-parent, person possible you still have to navigate a co-parenting relationship with the child’s biological parent.

You still probably have the logistics, negotiation and all round hassle of shared custody and missed Christmases. But you also get the awkwardness of your ex regularly seeing your current partner and/or you seeing your ex’s partner. A particular kind of small talk hell the nuclear families will never know.

Children are dickheads

Even an enthusiastic partner is still definitely not a biological parent. That step child didn’t know them from day one, they’ve seen the evil step parent fairytale, they can throw out the ‘you’re not my parent’ line on a whim.

Even if the child likes that person my guess is that no kid ever goes for a step parent when they wake from a nightmare, the step parent doesn’t take the day off work when fever hits and they probably aren’t stressing about nursery drop off hours or vitamin intake.

I also think there is something about being that child’s parent and watching them grow from a tiny baby that gives you a whole other level of patience that a new partner on the scene is not going to benefit from. Toddlers are unique twats. There is no logic, no persuasive skills on earth that can tempt them out of the worst tantrums.

Parents are somewhat blinded by love, and the sensible ones are also playing the long game. You don’t want to be a ‘naughty step’ dictator or send them to their room too hastily and give them abandonment issues in later life. You don’t want to make bribes a regular thing or you will end up with a teenager who requires a cash offer in order to get out of bed on time. The end goal is to raise a decent human being and if they push you to the point of insanity some days that’s the price we pay.

Would someone who isn’t lifelong connected to that small person, who isn’t blinded by an unconditional bond going to be quite so chill? I find staying calm during the worst times beyond testing and she is my daughter. Absolutely no criticism given to anyone who realises they are not equipped to deal with high stress situations with another person’s child.

Part of me also thinks it is the sensible / only reasonable option. As a biological parent you can be the bad guy, lay down the law with your kids and still be loved at the end of the day because you are their mum or dad. Is a new person on the scene going to be forgiven quite so easily by a grumpy child? I feel like it could easily be added to a list of resentment that won’t end well.

Financial nightmare

Here’s what happens when you date in your twenties, find a person, pool your little bit of savings until you can buy a house together, potentially get married, have a baby together. They probably earn similar before having a baby, they probably put the same into the house – even if they didn’t, the plan is to die together so who cares. Maybe one person earns less after babies and part time work but they are raising that other persons child so they balance it out so they are as well off as each other.

Here’s what happens when you date in your thirties. Most people have children: different amounts of children, children of different ages, children costing wildly different amounts of either child maintenance or direct expense. The person you date probably owns a home, they may have hugely different equity to you. As you’ve had more time for careers to progress (or be delayed by pregnancies) you’ve got more chance of big disparities in income. You’ve got more chance someone got stung in a divorce.

How do you even work out what is right or fair in that big mess? I don’t know.

Fuck off

The woman criticising mre.souer for calling herself a single mum when she’d started dating someone can fuck right off.

I think this riled me up so much because I do like my single mum badge. I am proud to be a single mum because it means I do most of everything. Right now other than a Sunday daytime I am responsible for all of everything (excluding childcare hours when I’m working and THANK GOD FOR CHILDCARE).

I know this long rant doesn’t fit most people’s definition of a single mum, and yes if you cohabit with someone it does make life easier. Cohabiting couples (you’d bloody hope) share out housework and running costs of the house.

However it is in no way the same easy division of work and sharing of the emotional load that comes with being in a nuclear family.

As a person who is disproportionately obsessed with the world being fair I find this hard to come to terms with. Because I had a child with the wrong person my life will, in many ways, always be harder as a result.

So to state the obvious, when you are deciding who to procreate with : don’t fuck it up.

Matt is a knob

An unexpected side effect of becoming a parent is unnecessary smalltalk. As an introvert I probably languish in silence for longer than other people find acceptable.

Now I’m not a knob (like Matt) I’m quite willing to go along with whatever bullshit chat / make believe Emily’s ‘new best friend’ at the playground wants me to go along with. But I also don’t see the point of mundane parent chat with a stranger for the sake of it. If my child is happily hanging with her new mate and doesn’t want me I would rather waste my attention on the black pit of social media, thanks.

Matt doesn’t agree, I can’t even remember what boring chat Matt got into with me…just that he can’t for shit make a decent job of pretending to eat the ‘chips’ our daughters had kindly cooked for him.

What I do remember is that Matt and Matt’s wife were tag teaming parenting that day.

Oh man I get jealous of the parent tag teamers. They get to go to the toilet when they want to, they get to drink coffee inside when the other one is on duty in the rain, the joy! I was quite happy when Matt tapped out and I got new best friend’s mum instead. She could role play, she could hide and seek.

The girls were having such a good time that Emily got promoted from new best friend to sister after just a couple of hours (my daughter is excellent company). I thought this was super cute but it seemed to trigger a load of only child guilt in new best friends mum who seemed fucking knackered by parenting and entirety unenthusiastic at the prospect of doing it all again (I hear ya).

I obviously never miss a sob story so when I was asked if Emily was a single child I said yes, my husband moved out when she was a baby. I got the initial ‘oh wow you’re doing so well’ thing which suddenly got flipped into a ‘lucky you at least you don’t have to parent a man and a child at once my life would be easier without him’ speech. Wow.

I don’t normally shy out of the self pity Olympics / my life is more tiring than yours / I sleep less competition. I actually refrained from the desperate urge to point out all the time she spent in the peace of the indoor coffee area of beautiful silence while I stood in the pissing rain playing make believe with woodchips.

Instead I did a VERY BAD THING and excused her husband on the basis of it being hard for all mums as toddlers always want mum first. Which is a shit move on my part as:

  • Not all toddlers want their mum over dad, that’s massively sexist and a result of the fact mums tend to do more parenting. Some toddlers prefer their dad (granted, a minority)
  • If her toddler prefers her to Matt (as do I) then maybe Matt should do some other fucking work instead, rather than having his hard working baby mama feel like she is caring for both a toddler and man child.
  • I should have pointed out that what she described is absolutely not cool. She should only be raising her actual child and if she feels like she is happy with one child then that’s the only child she should have (no more babies, no more Matt).
  • The fact her little girl is so capable at making friends suggests she is doing just fine as an only child, that contrary to popular belief only children do just as well (if not better), in almost all respects than their siblinged up counterparts (see One and Only by Lauren Sandler)
  • The fact that it isn’t an absence of siblings that damages little girls but the normalisation of a loveless, resentful relationship becoming the benchmark of what to aspire to. That mummies do all the work and that’s just what happens.

Being a single parent is hard but if you genuinely think that your partner makes life even harder than that then seriously, buh bye Matt.

I know I am coming from a place of privilege in that, even as a single parent, I earn enough to afford childcare so that I can work. Also I live in a house I own and other things lots of women won’t benefit from if they were to go it alone. But seriously, an unhappy marriage will destroy your soul.

Now I know souls aren’t measurable but life expectancy is and marriage increases a man’s life span but knocks a year off a woman’s life see here if you don’t believe me.

The bastards steal a year from us! And yet men who don’t marry are bachelors, when we are spinsters or left on the shelf? Errm, shall we rephrase that single men are prematurely aging and single women are winning at life?? We are literally winning more life.

(by single I mean non-cohabiting, as Katherine Ryan cleverly points out we are all far too young to have men in our homes. Sex is still non life threatening as far as I’m aware.)

And the one year life loss is just an average, stats are still pending on how much life they sap out of you when things get so bad you start slagging your man off to strangers at the playground.

So now I’m a guilty feminist again. The avoidance of social awkwardness won out, I should have told you to leave your baby daddy (or at the very least insist he acts like a parent/adult). Hopefully the next mum she complains to is both a feminist and an extrovert with a higher capacity for brutal honesty than me.

My wholehearted apologies to my daughter’s sister’s mother.

Tinder, gone but not forgotten

I deleted tinder this week 🎉

Not actually a big deal, I could technically start again in ten minutes. Admittedly a minor faff to scroll through my gallery and find photos without a toddler photobombing but I’m ready to make that commitment. It does delete all conversations and matches, so if I get dumped I will have to start fresh…but that is definitely no hardship. It is probably a bit weird to pop up in someone’s DMs after 9 months like ‘hey…so I’m single and can’t be bothered swiping again, how about it? 🙋🏼‍♀️’.

Note that I put ‘if I get dumped’. Partially because I’m a bit of a pessimist and always half feel like I could get surprise dumped out of nowhere any minute. And also because I’m aware quitting things is not my strong point.

I remember one metaphor where someone was trying to justify their cheating by saying some people get off the sinking ship early doors and hop on the little dingy and have a shit time in the cold for bit – other people wait for a better ship to come by and jump straight over.

And there are people like me…

(to any non-Titanic fans, this is me going down with the ship)

Continue reading “Tinder, gone but not forgotten”

13th May: Champion eater award please ðŸ†

I wanted to rush and get the food shopping done before my Dad arrived to help us out for the day. This is dangerous as if my car goes near a McDonald’s before 10.30 it automatically pulls into the car park. Once I was out of the car staring at the golden Ms there was no choice for it but to have a breakfast.

As I am a champion I ordered the pancakes and syrup, flat white, sausage and egg mcmuffin (single, I’m not a monster) and hash brown.

I’m sure you will be pleased / disgusted to note that I finished it all. Whilst I did this Emily was very slowly working her way through courgette and apple (unseasoned and microwaved):

She was getting a lot of praise from an old couple next to us and the manager. Babies get praise for very little. I had just eaten two breakfasts and nothing. Then one of the McDonald’s guys came around with a tray of cheese bacon flatbreads.

Now even a glutton like me is aware this is bad news. It’s 90% cheese and bacon for gods sake. And I’d just eaten two breakfasts. Anyway the baby is obviously on a mission to have a squishy comfy mummy for all the babywearing and ate her food so ridiculously slowly that I was forced to take one to fend off boredom.

I’d like to say I was stuffed, that I regretted my actions and felt sick for ages. However my body is accustomed to this. I felt fine. And that thing about not going food shopping on an empty stomach…I came back with nearly 30 chocolate bars anyway.

Non, je ne regrette a rien.

6th May: Rainy Monday

It feels quite appropriate to have rain on a Bank Holiday Monday. Very British.

We had no buddies today and didn’t want to be bored at home all day so set off for Fairburn Ings. It is an RSPB reserve but I’m cheap and didn’t want to pay for parking when we weren’t staying long so we parked on Cut Lane in the village.

We planned to do the red loop but there was a massive downpour so we turned back for one of the birdwatchers huts. I had thought that we would have a little picnic and I could set Emily down on my scarf to eat her snacks. Instead she had to eat snuggled up inside the sling. I got very cheesey in the process.

It’s a nice easy walk with views of the water on both sides. There must be some interesting birds (as there was a lot of binocular excitement all around) but I have no idea and only spotted swans and ducks.

Other than a few kissing gates that might be difficult for a massive pram it’s an easy pushchair friendly walk. We were of course using the sling. Now that Emily is gaining a fair weight I felt like a bit of a packhorse with baby on front and rucksack on the back. With all the snacks, baby gear and drinks the bag was really uncomfortable. I have a Pacapod Saunton which I love as it’s fairly hand bag looking but it is quite big and can be a handbag / shoulder bag / rucksack. But I carry a ridiculous amount of stuff and it’s not really a hiking bag. The band keeping the straps attached is looking a little precarious so I think I’ll have to stop loading it with flasks and picnics.

But…look at what a pro rucksack this is (above). We went to Junction 32 at Castleford as there are plenty of outdoor shops there. First of all I learnt there are different names for these things: daybag (little rucksack), backback (medium rucksack) and rucksack (big, maybe with a frame on to keep your back cool) . At 30L this one is maybe a rucksack as it’s fairly big with a bit of a frame? Still confused.

I like it though, it’s big but doesn’t look like I’m going on my gap year. It’s grey and I like everything to be grey. It’s waterproof but doesn’t feel it. It has a frame to keep the heat off my back if I’m going proper hiking. It was £30 reduced from £80 and I also got the water bottle for £2 down from £10 and the headband (as I get very cranky as soon as any kind of wind hits my ears) for £2 as well. Excellent bargains.

Other than the Tog24 buys I just went to the Cadbury store. I personally think it isn’t that cheap. The only thing worth buying (when I compare it to Home Bargains prices) was a multipack of 8 mixed bars for £2. I’m happy for 25p per bar. Not all eight bars survived the 15 minute journey home unfortunately.

I also finally got around to visiting the car wash place. I have a very comfy down Joules winter coat that I misplaced months ago. I last remembered seeing it in my car before we went to the car wash but had never got around to going back to ask. I half expected them to have gotten rid of it as it had been so long but I was finally reunited with my old coat.

Walks. Coffee and cake in a birdwatchers hut. Bargains. Chocolate. Coat reunion. All in all not a bad day.

How to feel a little bit better when you’re feeling really shit

Note that I put ‘a little’, if you read a few posts you’ll find I’m not overly qualified for feeling ‘a lot’ better…but here are my two cents anyway:

Put your phone down

…not this second. Read my blog first please. Then put the phone down. For lots of reasons you should put your phone down. The blue light makes you feel stressed and stops you sleeping, the notifications distract you, the social media makes you feel less. I KNOW it’s not easy so if you can’t quite put your phone down I suggest you:

  • download Twilight app to filter out the blue light to help your eyes and your sleep
  • download Offtime app to assist your willpower (it basically locks down your phone apart from selected apps for a specified time)
  • unfollow any perfect dickheads on social media who make you feel like you or your life isn’t enough. Fuck them
  • use apps that make you feel good such as Headspace or Calm
  • follow lovely people on social media who cheer you up (I follow a lot of accounts with landscapes and nature, plus one or two inspirational quote type people)

Pick a book up

Speaking of quotes I really like:

“reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are” Mason Cooley

I spent many (many, many, many) hours laid with a sleeping baby in a dark room, unable to move without waking her. After my husband left me I could have gone completely insane with all the thoughts whizzing around my head. Instead I used my Kindle app to take me somewhere else where I wasn’t a scared, anxious and angry single mother.

I know some people prefer TV and movies but I find you can watch them passively and drift into your own world whereas reading a good book is all encompassing. Even if you’re not a reader now I think you should start. Kindle does £1 daily deals and older books can be downloaded for free. Also charity shops sell a lot of books for 50p each and you know…libraries are still a thing. No excuses now.

Put your shoes on and get outside

Even better, if you live somewhere it is possible to then walk up a mountain or hill. The sense of achievement is wonderful, the fresh air clears your head, you don’t feel like a disgusting sofa dwelling animal anymore and… something about endorphins? I don’t know. Just get outside and get walking (or running or cycling or whatever your thing is). Breathe in the fresh air, look around you, notice things you don’t normally see and be mindful.

I’m also going to tell you to take a flask of tea with you. No scientific reason. Just that I think a hot cup of something when you are sat outside mid walk is just a lovely feeling so give it a go.

Pick up a pillow and punch it

Then chill out and get on with your day like a sane person. This is Rita wisdom (my counsellor, and not her exact phrasing). I told her I was struggling with a lot of anger and resentment and she told me I needed to let it out (with the pillow technique) or it would become habitual. If it becomes habitual you will basically become an angry person. You don’t want to be an angry person and no one wants to be around an angry person. Give it to that pillow. As an aside I got angry in the car the other day, I didn’t have a pillow. I punched my hand as an alternative to a pillow and learnt I am better at punching than I anticipated, so I recommend you just wait for a pillow to be available.

The same goes for crying, you can’t just push your feelings away. You need to get them out but once they are out and you’ve had a good cry think fuck that, that’s me done for the day. If I want to have another cry tomorrow I will but now I get on with my life (hopefully by reading or walking 👍).

Prioritise your pals

If there is one thing I learnt from About a Boy it is that no one is an island. Not even Will / Hugh Grant. (I love that movie. SINGLE PARENTS ALONE TOGETHER yeeaah)

Seriously though sometimes you just need to talk to someone. But try to pick the person wisely. Some people are happy to talk but can subtly encourage you to feel sorry for yourself or angry at others. Be conscious of how you feel after you speak to that person (both immediately and in the days and weeks that follow). If they aren’t uplifting then don’t go to them in a crisis.

Pull out a drawer and sort it out

I remember years ago reading an article by a divorce lawyer who deals with high profile Hollywood splits. She said her clients would often call her having a complete meltdown and she never knew how to help them (divorce lawyer…not counsellor) then she started telling them to find a messy drawer, tip it out and tidy it. That small distraction / achievement is often enough to take a person away from a bad mental space.

P P P Pick up a Penguin

Ah Penguins, remember those chocolatey biscuits with their little jokes on the wrapper?! Fond packed lunch memories 🙂

You probably don’t have any Penguins and I know people say have something healthy blah blah blah but I feel better after a treat. I don’t feel better after binge eating so maybe just have the one Penguin / donut / cinnamon bun or whatever takes your fancy. But hell so what if you do inhale an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange and packet of Percy Pigs in one sitting at 11pm next to a sleeping baby. It’s probably not a habit you will continue every night for the rest of your life so don’t waste your energy feeling guilty about it. Rita informs me that secret eating is far more common than anyone realises so don’t feel bad about being as greedy as the rest of us.

Positively Perky People

I didn’t intend to do self help via subtitles starting with P but that is where it took me. Anyway I hope my plog may help you get out of a grumpy funk at some point.

21st April: A beach bunny

Emily’s first trip to the beach was SO MUCH FUN. I was a bit worried that going to Aldeburgh beach on what was supposed to be the hottest Easter Sunday on record might be a bit stupid. It turned out to be a wonderful day, not too hot and as you can see it wasn’t too busy. Excellent.

As it’s a rocky beach my very organised sister brought three massive ikea mats to spread down. She also brought a blow up paddling pool and we put another baby mat in and lots of toys to (theoretically) keep the baby from crawling away / choking on pebbles. The rascal only sat in it alone for a couple of minutes but it was still handy if we went with her to avoid pebble negotiations.

I’ve included some Aldeburgh pictures because it was bloody beautiful. Alongside Bamburgh I think it’s my favourite seaside town. As well as the huge beach and pretty painted houses there were some good shops like Joules, Seasalt and L’Occitaine en Provence. Parking was pretty easy with lots of spots right next to the beach. There were lots of cafes, pubs and a gelato shop.

We just chilled on the beach, tried to read magazines (but Emily also wanted to eat them which made life difficult) and ate loads. I even let Emily eat a chip at the end of the day, she loved it the little potato head.

Feeling like a failure

Some days I own the title single mother with pride. Single mothers do everything and that makes them extremely capable and strong, who can’t be proud of that! When I read other women’s stories of how they became single mothers I think well done, you had a tough situation and you got through it and thrived. Not that I can say I’m thriving yet. Ultimately I just feel like I’m surviving and the real test will come when I go back to work almost full time and have to manage my time very carefully with a house and clingy co-sleeping baby to deal with.

But other days, to be honest I am embarrassed. I feel like I need to justify myself. I feel like I need to tell people I was happily married, as if to justify that this was a carefully planned and wanted baby. Given that my husband left me quite soon after she was born I worry that people think I am some very irresponsible woman who had a baby with a man she didn’t get on with. Maybe they would judge me more if they knew the truth, that I thought the marriage was strong but ultimately my husband didn’t. How stupid am I not to realise that?

The joke is that when I think of the single mothers that I admire, some of them didn’t plan to have the baby at all. It’s the fact they didn’t plan it and life threw a surprise at them and they not only coped but did a great job and didn’t let it stop them pursuing careers and relationships and happiness.

I wouldn’t judge other single mothers so why do I judge myself? Maybe because I am generally a conventional person in what I want out of life. This is so far removed from what I ever wanted or considered possible that I think I judge myself for letting it happen (not that I really had a say in the matter). One of the things I liked about my husband was that he was dependable and loyal and a family man. Obviously I didn’t really know him, people must be thinking that either I was stupid to not realise that having a family wasn’t for him…or that family life is for him but that I’m such a nightmare that he felt he had to get away from me.

At the end of the day I’m wasting time worrying about what people think as the famous saying goes:

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do”

– Olin Miller

And ultimately since sharing with people that I am a single mother I basically have had an outpouring of support. So many women from all corners have offered a shoulder to cry on / ear to moan at. People I barely know have been so kind including generosity from friends online sending an amazing care package to people from my past I haven’t seen in years sending their love and sympathy.

I’ve always had the opinion that people are on the whole good so I don’t know why I waste energy thinking they would perceive me badly for being a single mother. And those that do probably aren’t worth having the good opinion of anyway.

I know a brilliant supporter of women who would be telling me to dust off my crown now so I guess I will.