Category Archives: Divorced parents

Building our family – two and a half years on

I’m the sort of person that is forever writing things down – sometimes they become posts and sometimes they just get forgotten. What I really like though is when I re-discover them and they get me thinking! Take this for example, which I re-discovered yesterday:

“In many ways I’m starting again. I know myself better now than ever before and of course I’ve got my amazing little girl, but there is no getting away from the fact that at 36 years old I am beginning again – settling down with Richard and his son in our new home, as a new family.

I try not to think too much about my decisions in the past and especially not to look back and regret. Although some people say regrets mean you’ve lived – I think regrets feel a bit like I wish I hadn’t done something. I don’t regret being married. I don’t regret having my daughter. I don’t regret calling off an engagement. I’m sad that all those things didn’t turn out how I hoped – but right now I feel overwhelmingly hopeful for the future.

I’m hopeful for our family, hopeful for our happiness and hopeful that Richard and I will grow old together. I love the balance that we bring to each other and I already love the home and family we are building together.”

Unbelievably it has been two and half years since I wrote that and since we moved in together. As you’d expect, reading that again sparked the obvious question – how do I feel now? Well time has truly flown – we got used to each other, got married and firmly settled as a family of four. It’s definitely too early to comment on the ‘growing old together’ bit! That said there is no doubt that we are incredibly happy as a family.

The truth though for anyone out there considering doing something similar is that it hasn’t always been easy – we were (and are) both very independent people, the children were (and are) both very different children and these differences made (and make!) life a real challenge.

I recall a moment in the first few weeks after we’d moved in together when I literally told Richard we had made a mistake and I meant it.

Yet here we are two and a half years later. Of course we still don’t agree on everything (who does?) but with a little patience, a lot of respect for each other and a bucket load of love we’ve come this far.

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Being away from Ellie

I knew when Ellie’s Dad and I divorced that I would have regular times when Ellie is away from me and I knew it would be hard. By and large we’ve always had a regular pattern of every other weekend and some holiday weeks going to Daddy’s and it’s worked pretty smoothly.

To begin with, as I dropped her off, I always had a tear in my eye as I walked away. (Usually walking away as quickly as I could so that Ellie didn’t see.) I always knew she was in good hands and I always knew she’d have fun – but it was still always sad. That said, once I was home and busy it was fine and I can hand on heart say that when she was little those breaks were my single chance to have a little ‘me time’ and rest. Don’t judge me – I missed her of course, but I also truly needed and enjoyed that time.

Fast forward several years and this half term Ellie was once again away with her Dad. This time though, as the week went on, I realised something quite surprising – I really wasn’t coping with her being gone very well at all. I found myself sitting in her room thinking about her, daydreaming about what she might be doing and counting down the days until she was home. I’ve always missed her of course, but as I thought it over I discovered something I really didn’t expect – Ellie being away isn’t getting easier – it’s getting harder. I truly didn’t see that coming.

When I think about it, there is actually some logic in it. For a start, I’m less in need of a ‘break’ these days – partly because she’s older and partly because we’re now part of a bigger, supportive family of four. More than that though, and whilst I’m not suggesting we don’t have our moments, I think the crux of the matter is that time in each other’s company nowadays is just simply brilliant time: we laugh, we cuddle, we play and mostly – we just enjoy it.

I’ve no idea if it getting harder is the ‘norm’, or how I’ll feel as Ellie get’s older and hits new interesting phases (eeek Teenager?!) but right now there’s no getting away from the fact that when my girl comes home I’m simply whole again.

cuddle new

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Wow…time flies

So this might be a sign of my getting old, but there’s no denying that as we hit the half way point in our second week of the school holiday, time is simply flying.

If I’m brutally honest I was wondering as the holiday approached, how long it would be before I was wishing school was back on. I’m aware that might sound really sad, but it’s the truth. Of course that moment might still come but – with a week and a half down already and two weeks where Ellie will be away with her Dad fast approaching – I’m now thinking the holiday will just not be long enough!

More than time flying though – I’m shocked at how I’m already forgetting what we’ve done so far in the holiday! How pathetic does that sound?!

We’re having such fun and I want to make sure I not only enjoy every minute of it, but I remember every minute of it too. So here’s some pictures that represent our first week of the summer holiday…

A home made box for the loom bands has been created and the loom bands sorted!
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We went to Rosliston Forestry Centre to enjoy the fresh air, open space and bouncy castle.
rosliston forestry centre

We enjoyed yet another day out with the National Trust, visiting Wightwick Manor.
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Believe it or not we have actually had some time to relax, which in Ellie’s case seems to mean constant snacking.
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I guess that’s a pretty good summary of our first week of the summer holiday – so let’s hope this post aids my failing memory; and reminds me that the days haven’t just disappeared in that ‘getting old time warp’ but have really been enjoyed.

Our perfectly simple wedding

For anyone who read my ‘wedding negotiation’ post it won’t be a surprise to know that just over a week ago we got married. For anyone who didn’t read that post, you can read it here!

The plan was to have a small affair which was romantic, easy to organise, not costly and well … soon. This translated into a wedding day just two months in the making and, I swear, very little stress.

Originally we invited just parents so with our children, us and both sets of parents the wedding would be just 8 people. As we prepared for the wedding though we soon realised that whilst we wanted a small affair, we did want to share it, so we invited siblings and their families. I was also lucky enough to have a friend who was happy to just come to take some photos at the ceremony.

Essentially we picked what parts of a wedding we wanted and what we didn’t. Here’s how it went:

11.30am – registry office ceremony in the beautiful town of Lichfield. We chose our own music and some personal promises but kept it simple. We surprised the Dads by asking them to be witnesses and my step son gave us the rings. It was all very relaxed but still felt like ‘an event’.

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nice family

12.30pm – after photos in the park we headed to Ego just across the road – a Mediterranean restaurant – where we’d booked a table for us all. They were fantastic – menus printed with our married names on, great food that suited everyone and brilliant service.

2.30pm ish (i wasn’t checking the time!) – went back to our house which we’d lightly decorated for Cornish cream tea, wedding cake and later some sandwich platters we’d ordered from Sainsbury’s.

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The cake was Madeira bought from marks and Spencer’s – it tasted great but assembling it had needed the help of a friend who could fix the fact the layers didn’t fit together!

Finally everyone left about 7pm and we put the kids to bed before heading off for our wedding night at Hoar Cross Hall. It was something Richard had booked in secret and only told me about at the registry office in the morning. He equally hadn’t told Hoar Cross Hall that it was our wedding night so I have to say all credit to the man on reception who didn’t skip a beat when we turned up in our wedding gear, but simply said congratulations and quickly sorted out an upgrade to our room!

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This was our room (well part of it!):

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Hoar Cross couldn’t have been a more perfect end to the day. We sat on our private verandah drinking champagne and prosecco we’d been bought as a present and could not stop smiling. The hotel was quite simply a beautiful setting in which to end our day.

People worry about having to spend a fortune getting married and there’s no doubt that a small, low key wedding isn’t what everyone wants, but for us this was an intimate and relaxed day. It was our perfectly simple wedding.

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Wedding negotiation

A couple of months ago Richard and I decided we were going to get married. We agreed it would be a small affair and that would enable us to make it: romantic, easy to organise, not costly and well…soon. The latter being simply because there didn’t seem any point in having a long engagement and not, as everyone seemed to assume, because I was pregnant. I’m not pregnant.

rings crop

I then gradually discovered that even a small low key wedding involves an element of negotiation and thinking. Who knew! From finding the local registry office not being able to even see us for over 6 weeks, through to the fact that if you mention wedding anywhere the price of the item you’re looking at is doubled. The funniest bits though, as always, have involved the children.

When I asked Ellie if she’d like to be a bridesmaid. The conversation went like this:

‘Would you like to be a bridesmaid Ellie?’
‘No.’

awkward pause
‘Oh… there won’t be many people there if that’s what’s worrying you, but you don’t have to if you don’t want. You can just wear a pretty dress.’
Pause
‘I have a dress at daddy’s that I can wear.’
At this point my spidey senses were tickling…
‘What dress Ellie? When did you wear it before?’
‘It’s really pretty…I wore it for Daddy’s wedding.’

I am so utterly proud of myself that I didn’t blurt out – er no darling, you won’t be wearing that. Period. Instead I calmly said ‘oh no – we can get you a lovely new one.’ It’s highly unlikely the dress she’s referring to would fit her now anyway – but that wasn’t a risk I was going to take.

Several days and lots of ‘you can choose what you want’ comments later, Ellie finally got with the programme and started talking about getting her new dress. She’s also now decided she is going to be an official bridesmaid.

My step son has been equally entertaining. When asked what he wanted to wear for the wedding he paused and then very clearly, with a huge grin and look of steely determination on his face, stated: A suit, a bow tie and a sombrero.

I genuinely don’t yet know if he was serious but I really don’t mind what he wears (except no blue jeans), if that’s what he wants that’s what he can have. I was slightly more concerned though when my other half announced he would match the outfit and wear the same. I guess time will tell…

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