Thursday, 8 June 2017

You Know That You Are Loved When ...

I haven't been near the blog much in weeks.

I haven't been writing, reading or commenting.

Sometimes you just need to take a break don't you?

It wasn't a conscious decision, just the way things worked out.  SD was on holiday for a week too so that meant I was busy with other stuff but I'm hoping to catch up with everything that my blog friends have been up to in the next week or so.

I've also been struggling a little with this divorce thing.  There has been a lot of re-visiting the bad times in order to give my solicitor as much information as possible.

It hasn't (and continues not to be) much fun.

This morning SD left me to lie in when he went to work.  I'm not much of a lie'er in and I dozed on and off until about 9:30am when I finally decided I might as well get up and get on with the day.

I came downstairs to find this on the kitchen counter:

A reminder from SD that I should eat breakfast.

I know he worries that I will go back to that time where I didn't take good care of myself.  A time where I lost far too much weight and generally wasn't in a good place.

I love that he cares, I hate that he worries.

I don't see myself going back there.  The support and care that he gives me means that I am in a very different place now and although I may struggle from time to time I know that I'm not alone and I know that I am loved.

So, what else have we been up to?

Well, there's been plenty going on at the farm.  We have been helping SD's Dad to get the vegetable garden in order.  It was becoming a little hard for him to manage so SD came up with the great idea of sectioning parts of it off by putting in paths.

This has given it some defined areas and parts of it have been put down to grass:

So now we have rows of potatoes and runner beans with a separate area at the far side for Raspberries and the Damson tree and the Apple tree are set in an area of grass as is the Lilac in the middle.

We've had to patch up a couple of areas where the chickens have been scratching around but it's all looking pretty good right now.

Another thing that's making me happy right now is this:


I LOVE Gooseberries and you really don't see them much.  I've no idea why but they just aren't a popular fruit for some reason.

Grandad used to grow big sweet yellow gooseberries the you could eat straight from the bush.   These are the greener ones that need to be cooked with a bit of sugar as they are pretty sharp but they taste SO good!

What else?

Well, the other weekend we went to a local village to watch a soap box derby.

Seriously, these guys spent a lot of time making these, some of them looked better than the stuff you see on the roads!

There was some fierce competition and it was lots of fun.

Then last weekend we headed for the Dorset coast and Lulworth cove and Durdle Door:

How stunning is this place?

We spent the morning mooching about Dorchester, one of my favourite towns where we visited an antiques market and picked up a couple of bits of kitchenalia for my collection:

The Tala hand mixer with it's enclosed wheel and the Spong mincer are both 1950's and make great, colourful additions to the collection.  They are both also in really good condition and cost less than a fiver each!

Finally, the weather has been ALL OVER the place in the last few weeks.  We've had brilliant sunshine, gales and torrential downpours but I have managed to snatch a few hours in the garden where I was joined by Chicken (the kitten who got caught up in the barbed wire) for a little bit of sunbathing on the decking:

This weekend SD and I are heading for Bristol Volksfest which really marks the beginning of the Summer fun for me.

Fingers crossed for some sunshine!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Friday Photos

SD suggested a walk last night.

I hadn't been out of the house much all day and it was a lovely evening so it seemed like a good idea.

We are so lucky in where we live.  We have the canal and the river literally at the end of the road.

Last night we settled on a walk along the river.

Our path took us through Goodlands Gardens

Into French Weir Park:

With views across Longrun Meadow:

Then back along the river towards the town centre:

I don't need to be told how lucky I am to have all of this on my doorstep.

I already know but it was so nice to spend a couple of hours reminding myself.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Chaztastic (Because There's Always Something To Smile About)

Stepping away from my story for a while because there's so much more to life than that isn't there?

Good things are still happening and it's important not to forget that.

There's been a lot of furniture renovation going on around here and there are a couple of projects I want to blog about.

The first one is this:

I've pulled these images straight from Ebay.

SD and I had been keeping an eye on this cabinet for a while.  It fits in with our style and the dimensions seemed right.  Finally we made an offer and it was accepted.

When we went to pick it up we realised that the measurements we had been given were across the front of the doors.  This meant that the base was slightly wider and about an inch or so too wide to fit in the alcove we had planned to put it in.

Fortunately the lovely man we bought it from has his own workshop and he took a section out of the base and put it together again to make it the right size.

So now it was ALMOST perfect.

Although I liked the fact that the shelves and inside had been left as bare wood it was going to mean that when it was in the alcove anything in it would just disappear, it was far too dark!

I set to with a pot of paint:

Giving the sides and the base along with the shelves 3 coats of moonlight white which was pretty much a perfect match for the outside.

As you can see, I didn't paint the back.

That's because I bought this:

How pretty is this paper?

It's got just a touch of glitter without being over the top and it will catch the light and reflect it back into the cupboard.

I'm not the best at papering as you can see but the bits around the batons that the shelves fit on won't be seen once the shelves are in place.

I also decided to leave the inside of the doors as wood.  When the doors are shut it gives a bit of a border which I like.

Then we put the shelves back in:

SD has moved the shelves slightly.  He has also made a half depth shelf that will go at the top but we are still waiting for the right screws to arrive so he can put it in.  The gap at the bottom has been left deliberately large as I have some taller things I want to display.

All we need to do now is to put the cabinet into the alcove and fill it with other chazzing finds.

Friday, 12 May 2017

How Does It Happen?

How does a mother who loves her children so much end up loosing them?

How does a mother who never raised a hand to her child, who rarely raised her voice, who took them into her bed if they were unwell.  Who attended every sharing assembly, every parents evening, every sports day.

Who was actively involved in the PTA because she cared about her children's education.  Who spent hours sitting with them helping them with homework.

Who fought their battles with them and comforted them when they were unhappy.

Who loved them so much she would happily lay down her life for them.

Who did nearly all of this on her own.

How did that happen?

HOW did that happen ...

How does that honestly happen if that mother is and does all of the above?

It COULDN'T happen could it?

Except, it did ...

Ex Lax and I separated in November 2009. In March 2010 he started a new job in Southampton.  Far enough away that I would only ever see him when he came to visit the children.

I was so grateful for that.  I was sad for the children and promised that I would do everything in my power to make sure they kept in contact with their Dad.

They were 11 and 12 at the time.

Master Mac took his fathers leaving particularly badly.  He focused on the fact that I had told him to go.  The very valid reasons for me doing this were irrelevant to him.  I made his Dad leave home and now he had moved away.

He didn't behave badly but he did become very withdrawn.  He spent a lot of time in his room playing on his Xbox.

I am guilty of not doing more.  I was very unwell both emotionally and physically.  I felt like I couldn't reach him.  I would put my arms around him and hold him close.  He would let me but he still felt distant.

I guess I thought that as long as he was fed, had clean clothes and was nearby then he was safe.

I guess I hoped that he would find a way out of all of this with my support.

He did to a certain extent.  He started having friends over again.  He started going out with friends.  He still spent far too much time alone in his room playing on the Xbox.

I should have done more.

He missed his Dad desperately.  I struggled to talk to him about his Dad.  I was still very hurt.  I was traumatised by things that had happened.  I was so bloody grateful that he had gone and Master Mac KNEW this and resented me feeling that way.

They saw very little of their Dad in the first year.  He had been adamant that if I claimed child support he would not see the children and he would tell them it was my fault he couldn't afford to.

I believed him so I didn't make that claim.

He saw them 3 or 4 times during that year.

At the end of 2010 he started a new relationship.  this wasn't the same person he had been seeing before I told him to leave (again, that's another story).

She seemed nice.  She encouraged him to have proper contact with the children.

At this time my finances were such that I had no option but to make a claim to the CSA for child maintenance.

Ex Lax was very angry about this despite that fact that he had had a year where he had offered no help.  A year in which I had been willing to make an informal arrangement with him.  He was furious that I didn't do as I was told.

Just after I made the claim I was at the supermarket with the children.

Master Mac got a phone call from his Dad.  I remember he was so pleased when he saw the caller display saying it was his Dad.  He didn't hear from him very often.

He walked away to take the call.

Very soon he was back confused and almost tearful.  He handed the phone to me.  I don't understand what Dad is saying he told me.  He's really angry but I don't understand what it's about.

I took the phone.

Ex Lax was almost incandescent with rage.

What have you told the CSA he shouted at me.

I had no idea what he was taking about at first then it transpired that he had applied for a 'shared care' arrangement telling the CSA that he had the children every other weekend.

Based on this they had reduced the amount of maintenance he was liable to pay.

I had received a phone call from them a few days before.  They had asked when he saw the children, how often they stayed with him.  I told them the truth.

I had no idea at the time that a 'shared care' arrangement existed.  I knew nothing about it and I didn't know what he had told them.

Based on the information I had given them they had contacted him and told him that they would not apply the shared care.  That until he had been having the children for at least 3 months on a shared care basis they would not review the situation.

He had clearly thought that they would take his word for things, that they wouldn't check with me.  If he had thought they would I would have heard from him before.

I stood in the supermarket as he ranted and raved at me.  The children could hear everything he said.  He said again that if I didn't call the CSA and tell them to apply the shared care immediately AND to have it applied to the arrears he had accrued while the case was being sorted out that he wouldn't see the children and it would be my fault.

Both of the children were so upset that I went straight home and did what he told me to do.

Again he was happy for his children to go without, I needed every penny of that money just to keep us afloat but he didn't see why he should have to pay at all.

Because of the circumstances he wasn't given the option to pay voluntarily.  The money was deducted at source from his salary and paid to me.  He was given no choice.

He never forgave me for that.

He did start having the children every other weekend.  Sometimes his girlfriend would pick them up in the car I had bought.

At this time I quite liked his girlfriend.  She seemed to care for my children and I thought she made him a better Dad.

He was often 2 or three hours late to pick them up.  They would sit with their bags packed and ready asking me when he was going to be there.  He never answered his phone or texts when I asked him how long he would be.

Master Mac in particular found this very stressful.

If I became angry about it, if I confronted his father and said it wasn't fair he became very agitated, he worried that his Dad would stop coming at all.  He told me to stop always having a go at his Dad.

I couldn't really win.  He could behave exactly as he wanted and I wasn't allowed to complain.  I just had to pick up the pieces.

During the next year he had them on most agreed weekends.  There were times when he cancelled, times when he brought them home early and, on two occasions he brought them home early and, when I wasn't there, left them on the doorstep with their bags and drove off.

I had issues with the care they were receiving.

I knew that he and his girlfriend both drank, he heavily and her, well, I'm not sure.  I rarely drink and I never get drunk.  It's not something I do but I was concerned that on more than one occasion the children came home not having been fed because both Ex Lax and his girlfriend had been in bed all day.  I was also concerned the Ex Lax might still be over the limit for driving when he brought the children home.

Miss Mac suffered a burn on her arm from an iron whilst in his care.  I am sure this was an accident but I wasn't informed and no first aid was given.  She still has a small mark where the burn was.

One weekend Miss Mac left here with strawberry blond hair past her shoulders.  She returned with cropped hair dyed black.

I had NOT given my permission for this and Ex Lax took great delight in telling me he didn't have to answer to me.

I have no doubt that Miss Mac had said she wanted this hair style.  She was a big fan of The Saturdays at this time and it was similar to the hair of one of the girls in the band.

But she was 11.

It wasn't suitable, it wasn't appropriate, I hadn't given permission.

It was also clearly going to be expensive to maintain. It was an asymmetrical cut, closely cropped on one side and longer on the other.  It was also BLACK.

Within weeks it looked terrible.  The colour and the cut were growing out.

I didn't have they money to maintain this style.

Ex Lax refused to help.  Miss Mac's hair has a natural wave but for this style it needed to be straightened.  She was 11 years old for Christs sake. Far too young to be worrying about this.  My straighteners were designed for long hair, they were far too wide for her hair cut.  Ex Lax wouldn't buy her an appropriate set.  He wouldn't pay for her hair to be cut.  He wouldn't pay for her hair to be coloured again.

She got teased a lot at school.

I paid for it to be done once.  After that I simply couldn't afford to and she had to wait it out and let it grow.  I did get it trimmed as often as I could to cut out the colour and even up the cut but it was a nightmare and she was very unhappy.

Possibly the worst thing that happened was during the summer of 2011.

It was a hot weekend and Ex lax and his girlfriend had taken the children to the beach.

When they got home Master Mac said he felt unwell.

He was very hot and had clearly spent far too much time in the sun.  His shoulders were badly burnt.

I rushed out to buy something to help with the pain.  I put him to bed with plenty of fluids and eventually he went to sleep.

The next morning I went in to see him and I was horrified to see blisters beginning to form across his back.

I took him to the doctors and was given some cream to apply.

The blisters got worse.

Master Mac had suffered 2nd degree burns across his back and both shoulders.

I text Ex Lax.  I asked him how this could have happened.

He told me it was Master Macs own fault.  That he should have taken more care of himself.

My son was 12 years old.  What 12 year old applies sunscreen even if it is provided without being nagged?  I don't even know if it WAS provided.

Ex lax and his girlfriend denied any responsibility.

I sent him this photo:

This was only a small part of the damage.

His response was to send me several abusive messages and a series of photos of himself with other women with very few clothes on.

Master Mac had a week off school.  A week of intense pain.  A week where nothing could touch his skin.  A week of me having to try to carefully apply cream to his burns.

A week where I lay in bed beside him being careful not to touch any part that hurt, we just looked at each other not talking much.  He couldn't do anything, he even lost interest in his Xbox the pain was so bad.

All I could do was hold his hand and be there.

Ex lax didn't phone or text once during this time.

None of this really explains what happened next.  I didn't realise it would be such a long post so I'm going to stop now and tell you more another time.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

"We Are All A Little Bit Broken

But last time I checked broken crayons still colour the same"

That's a quote by someone called Trent Shelton.

Now I don't know where or when I heard it and I had no idea until I just googled it who had said it.

It turns out that Trent Shelton is a former American football wide receiver who is currently the founder and president of a Christian-based non-profit organization, RehabTime.

I don't even know what a football wide receiver IS.

I once bought Miss Mac a thing that melted broken crayons and made them into new ones.  You could mix or swirl the crayons to make a multi coloured new one.  You could save up all the small bits when the crayon was worn down and make something usable again.

I don't know if you ever saw them but a few years ago there was a craze for lipsticks that changed colour as you wore them.

They didn't colour the same ...

And what about people who are colour blind?

Some of them are going round colouring grass in red.

So, while I think that is quite a cool quote (and other than Winnie the Pooh, Groucho Marx and the odd Erma Bombeck quote) I'm really not a huge fan of quotes and I still think it's a bit bollocks when you look at it closely.

Where am I going with this ...

God, I don't really know.  I think when I started it was all about how people see things differently.

If you asked Ex Lax his story it would be very different to mine.

He would colour his grass in red.

In a previous post I talked about Master Mac.  A son many of you may have had no idea I had.

Master Mac was born in the early morning on 11th March 1997, 9 days late.

This was the first indication that he would do things in his own good time.

The very first time I looked into his face I was struck by his eye lashes.  They were SO long, so dark and curled up at the ends.

The kind of lashes that women spend so much money having infills, perms and extensions to have.

So long that when his eyes were closed they cast a shadow half way down his soft, plump cheek.

He was perfect.  He was beautiful.  I felt (as I have with all my children) that I was born to be his mother.

I fell totally and completely in love with him.

Nothing that has happened and nothing that will happen has or could ever change how I feel.

Master Mac was a happy child.  He loved his little sister who was born when he was just 13 months old.

But, as I said before, he did things in his own way and in his own time.

He was a little slow to walk and talk.  Nothing too concerning but I guess that it was more noticeable because Miss Mac was in such a hurry to do everything.  The gap between them often seemed less because the distance between childhood milestones was often less than their age gap.

Master Mac didn't have any developmental problems, he just did things when HE was ready.

I guess one of the most noticeable thing (and he probably wouldn't thank me for telling you this) was toilet training.

I tried several times to toilet train Master Mac from the age of about 18 months but he wasn't interested.  It didn't matter too much.  I wasn't in a hurry.  I didn't feel the need to compete in the way some Mums do.  He just wasn't ready.

In fact, when Master Mac was about 3 and able to talk to me, to tell me how he felt and what he wanted I asked him why he didn't want to use the toilet.

'I'll do it when I go to school' he told me.  'I'll be a big boy then'.

You know, that's exactly what he did!

Right up until the very day he started school aged 4 and a bit Master Mac was in nappies.

The morning he went to school he worn proper pants and never wore a nappy day or night from that day. 

Never once did he have an accident.

Master Mac decided when he was a big boy.

The other thing that was a little different about Master Mac was that he spoke to only a very few people.

I don't know how or why he decided who he would speak to.

I suspect now that he had some kind of selective mutism , something I knew nothing about until much later and, at the time, it was just seen as one of his little quirks, no one flagged it up for concern, it was just Master Mac.

In the entire 2 years or so that he was at nursery he spoke to no one there.  He was well behaved.  He played with other children. He pointed to things he wanted.  He appeared happy and content.  He just didn't speak.

Again, before he started school I spoke to him about this.  I didn't understand it and obviously neither did he but I did ask him how he felt about talking to people once he started school.

'I'll be fine' he told me.  'I'll talk to people at school'.

And he did!

He was never a big talker.  He struggled a little to express himself at times.  He was never going to be a chatterbox but he was fine.  He spoke when he needed to and he spoke when he was spoken to.  He was well behaved and played with other children.

Master Mac has always been popular.  People like him, other children liked him.  I don't know if it was the air of not really being concerned if people liked him that drew them to him.  He DID care but he didn't push himself forward and so people came to him.

He formed some very close friendships in those early years.  Four or five other boys who became almost like family to us they were here so often.  He still maintains those friendships.  I still have a huge soft spot for those boys.

Master Mac idolised his Dad.

He saw him as big and strong.  The life and soul of the party.  The fun parent.

It's very true to say that Ex Lax could be ALL of those things.

He wasn't all bad all of the time and I fully understood my little boys adulation.

In 2012 after a very difficult year, after court case after court case. After some terrible things happened.  When I was worn down, very ill and completely broken.  Both of my children went to live with their father.

I will blog the full story soon but for now I'll just leave it at that.

Miss Mac very quickly wanted to come home.

Master Mac chose not to for so many very convoluted reasons.

I desperately wanted them both home.

Master Mac never came home.  I miss him every day.  I love him more than words can say.  He knows how I feel.

Since April 2012 the only contact I have had with Master Mac has been through others.  I've seen him on a couple of occasions when circumstances have meant we are in the same place.  He doesn't acknowledge Christmas and Birthday presents although Miss Mac tells me he receives them.  We have no direct contact but I know he is ok, I know he is well and I have learned to cope with that.

That's not entirely true ...

I DO find ways to cope with it.  I have to so that I can function.

I even understand why he does this.  I know it's not because he doesn't love me and I know he knows I love him.

It's incredibly complex but one thing I do know.  I don't apportion any blame to him.  I understand.  I love him unconditionally.  My door is and always will be open to him.

He is and always will be my 'Best Boy'.

I love you best boy

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

If You Only Do One Thing Today

Then go and read this post.

Before you do I will tell you that this lady (who I find seriously funny) doesn't mince her words.

I'm fairly sure that no one who reads my blog is easily offended by the odd expletive and I'm fairly sure you all share my sense of humour so I am certain you will find her funny too.

Even in the midst of a pretty crappy time there is always something to make you smile isn't there and she certainly does it for me.

I'm am realising that I have many more reasons to smile than I have to be sad.

All of the supportive comments you've given me lately are reasons.

The book Audrey gave me and the lovely ring from Miss Mac, more reasons.

This beautiful hand made card that popped through my door yesterday from the wonderful Sarn with such a touching and positive message inside really made my day!

Sitting in the van waiting for SD last night in a quiet country lane, breathing in the scent of newly mown grass and listening to the song of a thousand birds.  The sun warm on my face.  A pheasant wandering down the farm track on the other side of the road, the golden light of a late afternoon in Spring.

This sunset over the farm on Saturday evening (the photo doesn't do it justice, it was so BEAUTIFUL!)

These are the things that keep me going.  These are the things that will be there long after this horrible time has past.  These are the things that no one can take away.

These are the things that REALLY matter.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

It's The Little Things

I've so much more to say but time is short today and, to be honest, cathartic though it is to tell my story, it's also draining. 

Having to remember painful things from the past, things I would rather not re-live but things that are always there spoken or unspoken is hard.

I have to remember these things even if I don't blog about them.  The blogging part isn't the hard part.  The fact that they exist to be blogged about is the hard part.

There are distractions though.  Small things that mean so much.

The book that Audrey gave me.  I'll treasure that book and I'll use it.  I'm going to keep it in the cabinet I'm in the process of renovating (blog post on that and other things soon).

Yesterday Miss Mac was late home from college.

I know she's 18 now and I know she has her own life to lead.  I don't think I'm an over anxious parent.  I like to think I give her just the right amount of freedom while still showing an interest in her life.

But I like to know where she is, that she is safe, that she is happy, that she is ok.

So I send her a text.

'Hey Pops' (Pops is my nickname for her) 'What time you home xx'

'Won't be long' she replies  'just having a wander around town,' and I breath easy again.   She is ok, she is safe.

An hour or so later she is home.

'I bought you a present' she tells me.

'You've been so sad lately, I wanted to cheer you up - I hope you like it but, if you don't I can change it'.

What's not to like?

What's not to LOVE about the pretty, delicate silver ring with tiny flowers?

I don't like to think that my Pops worries about me but I know she is grown up enough now to understand, to be told what is happening and how I feel. 

I don't want her to feel responsible for me, it's still my job to look after her but I do love the beautiful, caring, thoughtful young woman she has become and, like Audrey's book, this ring is something I will always treasure.