I went out one evening the other week for a drink with colleagues after work, a non-alcoholic one since I was driving, but nonetheless a sociable drink…in the week…on a school night…when I had Ellie.
Now I realise this doesn’t sound like a big deal, but this is the first time I have been out like this with colleagues from my office since I went back to work over two and a half years ago. As I sat in the bar laughing and talking, I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy. I did, without doubt, check my phone on rather a lot of occasions in the time running up to the usual bedtime of 7pm and relay some of the sweet, reassuring messages from my boyfriend to others at the table (no eyes were rolled!), but I wasn’t worrying about getting back and I really did enjoy myself.
This is a big deal because it was symbolic of the fact that following our recent move Ellie and I have joined my boyfriend and his son to live together as a family. I am officially no longer a single parent – eek and wow to that!
There’s no doubt that there have been occasions where being a single parent was tough and there are lots of things I will not miss…paying the a baby sitter so I can go to the dentist is quite frankly depressing and knowing you’re out of petrol but can’t just pop to fill up until the morning…when it will make you late – is irritating.
Most memorable for me in recent months was when I attended the pre starting school parents evening – it was a rare occasion where I suddenly felt very lonely and really wished I had someone else there to share what I was worrying about. I ended up getting a little emotional and making a total prat of myself by crying as I left the school! I could try to explain but it would sound totally pathetic so I will save myself the blushes.
What’s strange though is that when I think about it I have to be honest and say that there are things about being a single parent that I know I really am going to miss. For one thing there’s something quite empowering about not having to explain or agree in any way your parenting choices to anyone else, and just being able to do it your own way without discussion or negotiation. For another thing Ellie and I have developed our own routine and pattern to our lives – adjusting this is a big change (for me probably more than Ellie!). I can’t deny that I’ve become just a little set in my ways!
Bidding farewell to being a single mum isn’t going to be easy. In our newly joined family we’re already discovering things that we do differently … the so called ‘chocolate cereals’ that Ellie eats are met with some horror, the fact that Ellie shouts about doing a poo and never closes the bathroom door is clearly a little distressing for the other half of our new family, and our really quiet time before bed is more difficult to achieve …to name but a few examples.
So there can be no doubt that as I look with excitement and anticipation to our future as a family, it is a fond farewell that I give to my time as a single mum.
There is an endless list of things about being a mum which I will never know nor understand … mostly they amuse me, occasionally they frustrate me. The last couple of weeks have been a particularly busy period in finding things that sit neatly in this category of what I shall here forward refer to as …mummy mysteries.
Mummy mystery 1: When and how did Ellie master her ‘annoyed with mummy’ face so well?
This is the face that Ellie now seems to regularly pull when I ask her to do something. I don’t mean anything too onerous – concentrating on eating her food rather than just gazing at it, or making sure she’s wearing pants for school are both requests that apparently deserve the annoyed with mummy face.
The same facial expression appears with even more enthusiasm when I suggest she stops doing something such as standing within a millimetre of the TV screen or sucking her toothbrush rather than brushing her teeth.
This face has snuck up on me – I did not teach her it or see her practising it, so how did it suddenly become a regular part of our lives? This…is a mystery.
Mummy mystery 2: Where have Ellie’s bright pink Hello Kitty PE bag, PE kit and pumps gone?
This does not represent a good start on the ‘keeping hold of your stuff’ challenge for Ellie. These items were very clearly labelled and actually placed on her peg at the start of term by her teacher. Even more mysterious is that the fact Ellie hadn’t actually used them yet – not once!
I had been warned about the phenomena of disappearing clothes but to lose the entire kit, in one shot, has surpassed my expectations. Is it really possible for things to disappear into thin air? Apparently so.
Following a bit of a twitter/facebook rant I did however get some hints as to the truth and apparently everyone is affected by the classroom gremlins. I am now wondering how I might catch them.
Mummy mystery 3 – The unattainableperfect balance between being mummy and being at work.
This isn’t a new topic to my blog and in many ways I’m really lucky with the balance I have right now. I get to drop and pick Ellie from school once a week, most weeks and thanks to the flexible working policy of my employer I can join in some of the school activities. I’ve joined the parent council, already been to Ellie’s first class assembly performance and am hoping to join Ellie for her Christmas lunch. I can’t do everything of course…and there are still moments where I feel like I haven’t seen Ellie in a day and have no idea what she’s been doing at school. Indeed, when she did her reading with the child minder and not me the other day I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sadness – despite the fact it was the most practical thing to do.
This is therefore counting as a mystery because I genuinely believe that I will never find the perfect balance or even more importantly, know if I have!
Mystery number 4 – Ellie’s memory
It’s a funny thing, because when I ask Ellie to remember to wash her hands after going to the toilet, to remember to take her shoes off when she comes in the house or to remember to say good morning…her memory often fails her.
Her memory is however a mystery in itself because she always remembers the art work that she’s created at school. Ellie is now bringing back a vast quantity of work from school on a daily basis. As a show of my dedication to this blog I laid it out and took a photo to show you… all 73 pieces of work brought home in the first two (yes two!) weeks of school:
Now obviously these don’t normally belong on the living room floor and are stored in Ellie’s room, but they are taking up a lot of space. I have been desperately trying to pick out the best bits to keep and … well … bin the other bits! Unfortunately, Ellie’s memory does not fail her here and she remembers literally every piece. I’m banking on her memory failing in a couple of weeks, but there’s no doubt she’s keeping a keen eye on the size of the pile in her room.
That’s it from me for now, but I’m fairly sure that I’m not the only parent who discovers things that I will never know or understand…so I would love to hear yours! Please drop me a message either via the comments below or via twitter @sharonmsmyth