Roots & Wings

Recently I have found my eyes welling up and emotions spilling out at the most inappropriate moments. For example; sitting on the bed, pegging the washing out, waiting at traffic lights, trying to park the bloody car in the narrow spaces in the car park, the self-service till in Sainsburys, signing in to reception at work, and while cooking dinner. For heaven sake woman…GET A RUDDY GRIP!

I’ve been a mother for 22 years. In fact, I don’t consider that I have been a mother at all- I have an aversion to the word and hate to be called “mother”, it sounds harsh & formal and hopefully not like me at all. Generally, I answer to a simple “mum”, but often Muma or Mumma, occasionally Mummy, Mumsie or even sometimes Mumma Evs, you get the picture. I adore all of those names and all of the roles I associate with them. I have felt loved by my children and a few others who might associate the labels to me.

For more than half of my time as a parent, I have been a single parent and no, it’s not been easy. I’m sure that even in a two parent family it’s tough as well. I didn’t intentionally set out to have a fundamental goal as a parent, initially I just had to cope & get by and I can’t imagine that this is any different to anyone else. Over time, and as life became clearer, the notion of giving my children Roots and Wings became part of our family values. I wanted to raise them so that they nurtured a strong sense of self and belonging, grounded in manners & respect for others, with a strong understanding of how everyone can be different, yet we are all the same.

I am incredibly proud of how they have taken our ground rules and flourished as individuals. They are both passionate in their own way, they will speak up for injustices even if their opinions differ strongly form their peers, that can be hard to do. If they ever have children of their own (the jury is very much out on THAT topic), then it will be interesting to see how that is passed down to future generations. Will they be as strong willed? Independent? Fiesty? Bold? Anyway, I digress.

So, one has already left home and the other, I doubt will be far behind her only yesterday he said “can she take me too” (more on that in a minute). Back to this concept of roots and wings; roots to know where you are from, wings to be bold enough to be your own person & follow your own dreams and ambitions.

Roots are not a place, but a sense of belonging, they are by definition what grounds you. A strong sense of home but not the actual bricks, more the people in your life who make you feel “at home”. Roots are the part of your core foundation where you soak up the unconditional love and innate sense of belonging, where you gravitate back to when the storms shake you. It is the understanding of family and of values. It is your safe place.

If you think of it literally, in terms of nature itself, anything will grow strong with the right conditions, food, water and care. Look at the trees, those with the strongest root systems will endure the drought, floods, wind & rain and still KEEP GROWING.

Wings; what the hell was I thinking about giving them wings. There are times when I have wanted to clip their wings. To keep my children forever by my side; to keep them safe, safe from all harm and not let them hurt or be harmed by anything. It’s damn hard not to clip wings!

To let them spread their wings you have to love them and trust them totally and unconditionally. You have to help them find their path but also let them choose their own direction even when you feel that the other way might be quicker, safer, and more secure. This is your ultimate gift to them. Unclipped wings.

This month has seen each of my children book a one way flight. Thankfully for now, the youngest is sailing from home and flying back, but the eldest has booked a one way flight to start her own journey. At the moment there is no end date to this particular journey and I have to keep telling myself that it’ll be OK. That she will be OK. That I will be OK. I will won’t I?

I love you both to the ends of the earth. Have the adventures & live the adventures but please, please, please come back & get your roots watered from time to time.

Mum xxx

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Situation Overload

Sometimes I think my life is so boring and other times I crave something more normal, with less drama and some tranquility. I have been quiet for a few weeks because the drama took hold of us. I’m not sure you would believe me if I told you the events of the past few weeks. My friend called it “situation overload”.

When someone asked me “how are you?” or “how’s things?” I could barely string a sentence together. I couldn’t even respond with the standard stiff upper lip of “fine thanks”.  At one point I literally went and hid when someone asked me.

My son had Situation Overload.

My daughter had Situation Overload

Me? I had Situation Overload AND Situation Overload by Default.

My advice to my children- you have to go through shit in your lives. You have to learn that it’s okay to feel negative emotions of anger, fear, sadness, frustration, doubt and guilt to name but a few. You have to learn that these feelings do generally pass IF you allow yourself time to feel these emotions and know that with strength and tenacity you will get through it.

I’m not telling them to pull themselves together; I’m definitely not telling them to Man Up (a phrase that I actually abhor). I have told them that they are awesome, they have conducted themselves with dignity, they have cried and smiled, and their relationship has developed another layer of closeness.

In amongst all of the drama here are some of the simple things that reduced Situation Overload to a mere Situation:

  • Watching Pitch Perfect 2 with the daughter- whilst eating vanilla popcorn.
  • Ice Cream- it’s always a feature.
  • Friends who touched base, but knew that I needed time- I am so grateful.
  • The Bali Squad and the huge hug I received- what a lovely evening we had making plans together and eating Chinese food.
  • Watching Untouchable for the third time- this is my all time favourite film.
  • Laughing so hard when I just overheard my 14yr old ordering pizza with his friend “do you want a stripper combo?”

And finally… getting the opportunity to write some thoughts down. Breathe.

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Unite & Be Awesome

A weekend coffee share

If we were having coffee (or if I was having fruit tea), I would tell you that I have been really out of sorts this week.

If we were having coffee, I would want to talk about what had been happening in your week. I would want to avoid so much of what has been happening in my world.

It’s not major stuff (well actually some of it is), but I would hope that instead of dwelling on it we could sit and chat and put the world to rights. So much dialogue goes on in my head that it would be good to sit and just talk!

I cancelled our coffee date last week because things were getting on top of me, I took a rain check and rescheduled to this week to see if it would help my mood. It didn’t.

I’m feeling angry and tense, it’s been hard work getting my life back together and in one fell swoop someone called me “needy” and I lashed out. If I was needy do you think I would have spent all these years alone? Do you think I would have done something about the loneliness before now? If I were “needy” maybe I would have looked for a man to supplement my less than living wage income? Or maybe just had casual sex, if my needs were not being met by a man? If I were needy do you think I would have coped so fucking well with bringing up my children?

But then I got to thinking…What if being needy wasn’t an insult?

Surely it’s part of the human condition to want to be with someone else? We can tell ourselves that we don’t, but there is so much research out there that proves otherwise. Wait a minute…I used the words ‘want to be’ NOT ‘need to be’. Therein lies the difference.

So what else has been going on? Would you like another coffee? How much time do you have left?

If we were having another coffee I would tell you that I resigned from my voluntary position. I didn’t want to; I wanted to make a difference. I think I did for a while, but to make a difference even on a small scale you need other people to help you. Yes NEED.

I would also tell you that linked to that decision was the fact that my son is anxious again and that means that I don’t get much sleep. A fourteen year old will pace the house into the very early hours if he is troubled and anxious. He will lash out at you because you are the one who is always there, He NEEDS you.

He’s anxious because his safe place, with people he trusts, and activities that he enjoys, and is very good at, is under threat. Why is that? He’s anxious because the social situations are challenging him. He sees only black and white, he’s extremely literal. He can’t easily identify that he’s being bullied by someone because they might see him as a threat; they might resent his single minded drive to achieve. They most definitely do not understand any aspect of autism.

If we were still drinking coffee, I would tell you that I fought back. Publicly, on Facebook. I NEED to protect my young. I NEED them to know that I have their back. They NEED to know that I have their corner.

So this happened- I took over my son’s Facebook account.

But then the messages of support for him started pouring in…

Matt’s a cool guy and if anyone is doing such ridiculous things we’re always here even though we don’t speak a lot!
Here for u Matt…you’re a nice guy and them who bring u down don’t let em cuz u will achieve something and will gain things mate
People only need to bully if they are lacking I’m their own lives, it is no true reflection of Matt, as the entire Evans family is frankly nothing but kind and genuine.
Luv ya Matt
Always here for you Matt u was was one of my first friends at school
You know how proud I am of you (from his sister)
 I’m here for u m8 
Unite and be awesome my friends (my personal favourite comment) 
Do not listen to them they are just being dicks ur a good person and a good mate  
stay strong ma friend

…And so it went on and on without a negative comment amongst them. He NEEDED that. I NEEDED to see that happen.

So the way I see it is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with needing other people. And thank you, I really needed that fruit tea and chat.

’til next time then xx

Looking Into the Eyes of Strangers

CharacterSo despite telling myself emphatically that I would not return to the world of internet dating, I have done so.

It has taken a build-up of weeks and a gentle push from a friend for me to do this. The first step was writing my profile. I find expressing myself on paper relatively easy WHEN I have the right inspiration but in this case I was certainly lacking. I kept my blurb short & sweet with a view to expanding it if or when I become more comfortable with the idea.

In the meantime, if they want to know more, they will have to ask!

In the interest of keeping a sense of humour about all of this I shall share with you a few snippets of a conversation that ultimately led to me hitting the send button on this ‘adventure’.

On taking the plunge: They are your rules to make.

On casual shagging: It’s a bit like eating crisps; you really fancy them, they’re good while they last, then ultimately they are unsatisfying and best forgotten. (I haven’t got the time or the inclination for that.)

On grammar and poor choice of words in some profiles: Dominant? Or dominate? I’ve just choked on my tea (either way it means ‘deploy barge pole’).

On appropriate response to inappropriate suggestions: Send a message to him immediately- You disgust me you repellent arsehole, no wonder you are single.

So we all know that I like a man who smells nice and since the internet hasn’t yet identified a way to determine this, these are some of my first thoughts:

  • It feels like catalogue shopping.
  • I can’t get past a profile that doesn’t use at least some basic punctuation.
  • Why post a photograph in which you are not smiling or at least hinting at a smile, Mona Lisa style?
  • Why post a photograph in front of a fast car? ‘That don’t impress me much’ – Shania Twain
  • Why post a photograph in SPEEDOS?

And finally for the moment, I totally dismiss anyone who hasn’t taken the time to hit ‘rotate’ on their photograph.

I don’t understand the need to have identical hobbies, likes & dislikes. People are interesting, I like interesting people. They don’t have to like the same food as me, or have the same taste in music. I don’t want a clone of me. I want someone to complement me (compliments are nice too). In my experience the best guarantee of any relationship, be it romantic or otherwise, is a basic moral similarity and values that are harmonious. <This may have to go in my profile.

No. Wait. Before you go. One more thing… I have been categorised by my income, job and ambition and other personal statistics and that is fine except for the fact I am so much more than that. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Wish me luck!

Pondering the Purpose of Slugs

Yesterday didn’t end well, I had issues with my ex during the evening. I got into my nightwear and decided to put the rubbish out. On my way to the bin, barefoot, I stepped on a slug. I emailed a friend and finished off saying “and yet the world still turns” This was her response…

Oh my !
That definitely counts as a ‘not ok’ sort of day.

Yes the world still turns- but how dare it when slugs and exes join forces against you.

Still, as we know slugs and exes occupy a similar place on the evolutionary scale and are better off ignored or fed to birds or even drowned in beer- who cares as long as they don’t impact on those we love.

Thinking of you and very much hoping today is slug free xxx

It diffused everything!

(No picture on this post because slugs are gross)

Friends – I Bet You Think This Blog Post is About You!

Writing this blog and joining Twitter was my way of trying to expand my network of friends or at the very least learn how to reach out to others. As a single mother over the past nine, nearly 10 years I have been responsible for my children 24/7, 365 days a year and opportunities to meet new people are few and far between, I don’t get alternate weekends off like some divorced parents do!

At times of stress and emotional turmoil I withdraw from contact with others and the last 10 years or so have been full of stressful, emotional events. Without a doubt this started with my father’s death. It was sudden, shocking and very unexpected. I withdrew from my then husband and this behaviour was undoubtedly a contributory factor in his affair that followed. This is the part that I take full responsibility for.

From then on my withdrawal was like a snowball effect. The other woman was known to us and one day I even spoke to her and commented that her ‘new man’ must be good for her as she was looking glowing and well. Why is the wife the last to know? My self imposed alienation from my circle of so called friends (so many of them had known of the affair and not told me or even hinted) just grew & grew as I tried to escape the gossip and keep my pain private. I value the people in my life highly, but I value trust and loyalty too.

This isn’t a poor me post though.

There are always friends that you haven’t met just waiting to be found. When this gossip and speculation by the Playground Mafia was rife, one person who I had never spoken to before made the effort to talk to me every single school day and if she didn’t collect her four year old daughter, then her older seventeen year old daughter took her place. They were both friendly faces in a sea of people who I no longer trusted. Ten years later I am still in contact with them both and I remain incredibly grateful that they reached out.

My personal circumstances also resonated with someone who I met at the same time through my work. We spent many evenings chatting online about partners, life, sadness and eventually dating. Without his support and encouragement I would never have had the courage to set up my online dating profile, met my partner and experienced the love we shared. He’s also held firm as a friend despite moving thousands of miles away and has remotely ‘been there’ for me over the last couple of years since my partner went to work in a war zone and has not been seen since.

Then there was a fellow ‘dance mum’, who I had previously passed the time of day with, she was also experiencing divorce. We have shared so many similar life events since (apart from the one where she gets married) and have, I am sure, many yet to share!

What about when I became ill and ended up in hospital, there was the friend and her husband who stepped in, visited me, taxied my Mum to hospital to see me all during the extreme winter of 2010/11? Not only that, they offered me work afterwards enabling me to escape the corporate job that was making me more and more unhappy every single day. Their entire family, although we see less of them now, has been rock solid for me and my children.

So my friendship circle got pruned. But like the overgrown shrubs in my garden that I mercilessly and viciously attacked earlier this year there are new shoots sprouting again in places where you wouldn’t think possible.

It’s very true that strangers are friends that you haven’t met yet.

WP_000061 (2)(taken on ‎21 ‎August ‎2012, ‏the last full day that I spent with my partner)

A stranger reached out to me recently and gave me hope that there are still new friends to be made. I can already feel the difference that this one gesture has bought me, some of the unhappiness has lifted and life looks more positive. It gives me more confidence to make bolder moves towards others that seem to be offering friendship where perhaps I haven’t been very open.

These people change your life and sometimes they don’t have a clue how much.