Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Leaping, staggering, from one tiny island to the next

on December 18, 2012

Today is Big Girl’s 3rd birthday. However, as she is at her dad’s house all day, we celebrated on Saturday. She opened her presents, we took her new scooter (or ‘scooper’ as she pronounces it) to the park so she could ‘scoop’ (for about 5 minutes, insisting on going uphill) and had lunch in the park cafe (I don’t know why I maintain this belief, against all evidence, that taking my children out to eat will be fun for anyone. It isn’t). And then we rushed home to get ready for her party.

Fortunately, all the adults coming to the party were good friends, rather than just parents of Big Girl’s friends. And I knew they would help. And I know they don’t judge me. However, I do still have a little bit of pride. So I made a mental list of everything that still needed doing, and then did them in order of the things I would least like people to see or help with. Am I happy to ask my friends to make sandwiches? Yes I am. Do I really want them to see the bag of dirty nappies waiting to be put in the wheelie bin which contains more nappies than could reasonably be amassed in a day? Not really.

We had a fun party, even if it was a bit chaotic. I was very proud of Big Girl when she congratulated the winner of pass-the-parcel: “Well done, Marc!”. She is three and already she’s a better loser than her mother.

So today I have been without my Big Girl. Saturday felt like her birthday, but it’s been hard being apart from her, and from Little Girl. I am finding this time of year difficult. Last Christmas I was in crisis, trying to survive, trying to cope with two very small children, and there was no time to think, and I felt like a hero just for getting through the day without crying. This year this feels more like my life, and I have got better at it, and yet I am still grieving. My children are not with me for Christmas. It’s just one more shitty thing in a whole year of shittiness. I am still grieving. Some days it is a challenge to bother to eat or get out of bed, let alone be awesome. My children are a driving force, making me do things, requiring care and love and happiness. When they are absent, it’s hard to find a reason for much of anything. The fact that they are gone is a recurring reminder that Ex-Husband left me, that the life I expected has gone, that I have lost the joy of loving and being loved.

So no, this is not a cheerful month. And it’s not easy. But still, even when things are awful, there are little islands of happiness – enough to jump from one to the next and just about make it. I have just been to see The Hobbit and walked out in a little bubble of Tolkien-inspired joy. Last night I went to a pub quiz and we won. I even knew some of the answers. Big Girl is SO excited about Christmas. Little Girl is delighting in her increasing vocabulary and mastery of light switches (“Dark!” “Light!” “Dark!” “Light!”). I made a dinosaur birthday cake. And I am surrounded by people who tell me that they love me, that they believe in me, remind me of how far I’ve come and encourage me to keep going.

And thankfully, this seems to be enough. Happy birthday, Big Girl!




7 responses to “Leaping, staggering, from one tiny island to the next

  1. Myn says:

    Awesome cake!

    • Thank you! It was actually really quite tasty, although I don’t like buttercream icing. And Big Girl liked it, which was the main thing. It made me realise quite how many novelty birthday cakes my mum has made (I’m one of 5 children…) and birthday parties she has organised. I would like to officially recognise my mum as some kind of hero.

  2. Sending you big hugs and wishes for a wonderful New Year!

    • Thank you! I am looking forward to getting past Christmas and into a new year. It feels like a positive thing that there will be a whole calendar year between Ex-Husband leaving me and my current life. And I am so glad that it will be starting to get light again!

  3. Shell says:

    I sat and read your blog from start to finish in just one sitting. It is like I am you…. Only a year behind. My life, marriage etc crumbled, much like yours did exactly one month and one day ago. The only difference being mine was destroyed by gambling. Gambling that I knew nothing about for our entire 7 year marriage. Just devastating. I have a 5-yr old and 2-yr old.

    Anyway just wanted to say you are amazing. I love your blog and have been inspired to start my own after reading yours. Everyday feels like a trial at the moment. If I get through it without crying until bedtime I feel a massive sense of achievement!

    • Hi Shell,

      I am so sorry you are going through this. I’m glad my blog has helped – I hope it can give you some hope (that things will get better), some comfort (that everything you are thinking and feeling is normal, as much as anything is normal), and maybe some ideas for how to cope.

      Getting through a day without crying is a huge achievement. I remember the first day I managed to go all day without crying, and my mum rang, and I told her I wasn’t going to talk for long because I really wanted to not cry all day. Cry as much as you need to and as often as you want. I think getting the crying and the grief out helped me to be able to move on. (And don’t feel like you have to move on at other people’s timetables – until this happened to me I had no idea quite how massive it was – and over a year later it is still huge).

      I found things started getting a little easier around the six month mark, and getting past the first year was a huge deal. But then there are always the difficult times, like now, and new things to deal with. Having children with someone means they never bloody go away, and everything feels like a huge deal and you suddenly don’t agree about anything and it really really matters. And it is SO HARD to separate how you feel about your separation from your husband from how you feel about arrangements for seeing the children. I have worked so hard at trying to work out what is best for the children and I think I’ve done pretty well but I’m still not always sure I’ve got it right.

      Find your friends. I am so very fortunate to have amazing friends. And there are people who have become incredibly good friends because they’ve been there for me through this. When people offer help, take them up on it. And ask for help. I have a friend who has come to solicitor’s appointments with me to help me make decisions, friends who have listened, friends who have looked after my children so I could go to mediation or sleep or be ill by myself, friends who have listened, friends who have washed up and cleaned my house, friends who have brought endless supplies of chocolate, friends who have encouraged me and kept me going beyond what they probably know. I am indebted and I am grateful.

      I would also recommend Homestart ( They match volunteers up with families with children under 5, to help with whatever you would benefit from. I have a volunteer who comes once a week for about 3 hours or so and plays with my children so I can get on with some housework, or very occasionally sleep. My children love her and I value the time so much, but also the friendship – she’s a great encouragement and is behind me 100%.

      Gingerbread ( is another great source of advice and information – they have a really useful helpline and also run groups for single parents to meet up – I know a few single parents and have met some more online and it’s brilliant for helping to normalise what feels like a completely abnormal experience.

      And be kind to yourself. This is hard. Really hard. It will be hard for a long time. If you are getting through the day and you are feeding your children and getting them dressed, you are doing amazingly. Eventually you can raise your aspirations to perhaps hoovering occasionally. I wouldn’t know about that…

      Let me know when you’ve started your blog – I’d love to read it.


      • caspar70 says:

        Thank you so much for your kind words. They made me cry but as any random act of kindness has me sobbing these days don’t take offense!

        Thanks for the links. It looks like we have some Homestart centres in my area so I’m going to contact them after Xmas and see if I can get some help. Some days I feel as if I am drowning in the enormity of it all and have no idea how I am going to cope. But I’ve survived a month so now my next goal is to ensure the children enjoy Xmas and everything else can wait until the New Year.

        I’ve started my blog. Its called Sunnier Days Blog on the same site as yours. At the moment its random ramblings really but it is helping to put some things down in words so I’m going to use it as free therapy for now. Please do read and stay in touch. If I can conduct myself with the same dignity you have over the last 12months then I feel I would have suggested in something.

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