20 years …

1 April 2020

Today could’ve been my 20th Wedding Anniversary!

My Wedding Day 1 April 2000

But obviously it isn’t! Instead I find myself very much single, very much a mum and very much stuck indoors in the middle of a national corona virus lockdown! Covid -19 does, however, leave me with far more time than usual on my hands. In consequence I elect to battle upstairs with the rusty ladders, sway unsteadily into the loft and root around for my old wedding pictures. Eventually, I  unearth them, buried in an old black briefcase and I sit down with a coffee to dwell upon life. Let’s face it, life never quite turns out as you planned!

Look at me all smiles, white frock and flowers. Blissfully unaware of the tidal wave that was to come crashing through my life just a decade after saying “I do!” Marital breakdown is a terrifying time. I felt as if someone had just swept into my life, torn it into pieces and cast them from a tall building, to see if they could find a place to land. The pain, the heartbreak, they were body blows. The dawning shock that I was now a ‘single mum‘ was difficult to comprehend. I remember the horror of having to tell people and trying not to cry.  I hated being cast as a victim, and feared everyone’s pity. I remember the challenge of rethinking how to live every part of my life, how to maintain stability for the kids and how to pay for it all.

But I made it through. I rebuilt my entire world. I learned that if, like me, you don’t like being a victim then don’t be one! Take back control! The teens are successful and seem, at least for the moment, to be very happy. I have kept a roof over our heads. I have held down a full time job. I have managed, with a few personal sacrifices, to provide the kids with many of the opportunities I enjoyed as a child. I run, I read, I write, I play music, all of which is a joy. I still shudder when faced with a DIY tasks or an over-ambitious cooking quest. I still shed the odd tear over the sheer grind of daily life when you are the only adult in the house. But, having battled through the complexities of  the family law courts, give me any official, legal or financial  dilemma and I rise to the challenge better than most.

Do I miss the companionship and closeness? Do I miss having a ‘partner in crime’? Do I miss having a husband? In one sense, yes I do. I miss the husband the girl in the picture above was dreaming of. The daughter of a cinema manager and musician, weaned on films and tales of romance, I fear that she actually thought that life was destined to be ‘like the movies.’ Somewhere deep inside, I suspect she believed that ‘true love would conquer all,’ and that with marriage came the guarantee that everything would end ‘happily ever after.’

But no marriage breaks up because it’s happy. Towards the end of our alliance, life was very miserable for both me and Ex-hub, And I am sure that neither of us misses that at all. Life is strewn with cliches, possibly because they are wise old words, and this one always strikes a chord with me

It is better to be alone that in an unhappy relationship’

So whilst I did not make it to my 20th anniversary, the last 2 decades have certainly not been wasted. I emerge with great strength, determination, multi-tasking talents beyond compare and three incredible children. And I’m ready to make the most of … tomorrow! Forget anniversaries and landmarks, I have learned that it’s best to take life one day at a time …

Who wants to be a Millionare?

Sunday 7 April 2019

That’s it! After one week of stay-at-home holidaying with the teens, I realise that drastic action is called for. Five days of cooking, cleaning and ferrying children around the relentlessly grey North West, to school-trip drop offs and school-trip pick ups, to dental appointments, to piano exams, to College, to volunteering, to friends’ houses and back again, has left me convinced that there has got to be more to holidays than this … for me! In particular, when the Summer holiday arrives, I simply cannot survive 6 weeks of this thankless servitude. We all need to get away, ideally on a plane, ideally to somewhere sunny and definitely to a place where someone else gets my meals ready. There is a slight snag however. My bank balance suggests that a day trip to Morecambe, with a Macdonald’s tea on the way home, is about all we can afford at the moment! It cannot be! I need some funds and I need them quickly. There must be something I can do…

I’ve tried Ebay-ing. It’s been quite successful recently and, my summary tells me, has netted me a profit of … £53.74. Hmmm… would that even pay for the taxi to the airport? I don’t bother with the National Lottery, as the odds are insane. In any case, I choose to support the Asthma Lottery and the Bury Hospice Lottery I’ve never won a penny on either, but I suppose my luck might change? I have a small monthly dabble on a betting site, but when I say small I mean really small. ‘Never bet more than you can afford to lose!‘ is my trusty motto. Wise words as these undoubtedly are, that equates to not a whole lot of money in my case! Whilst my betting summary shows that I am ‘Up‘ in all but one of the last 6 months, sadly it’s never by more than £20.36

Let’s face it, none of this small fry financial activity comes close. A family holiday is a 4 figure sum. I need a new approach. I need … a TV Gameshow? The kids and I discuss various possibilities.

Apply for them all mum!” cheers an enthusiatic Prom Dress daughter
Catch Phrase?” suggests my eldest

Now several years ago, I did apply for ‘Bargain Hunt’ and never heard a peep from them, so maybe I’ll just clear out the garage tomorrow. Who knows, there might be some priceless treasure buried somewhere in all that chaos? On the other hand, could Jeremy Clarkson hold the key to our Summer Holiday success? For the rest of this evening I dream of TV stardom, winning my fortune and perhaps becoming a Millionaire …