I have said it before and I will say it again – I know that I am lucky. I know that I have nothing to complain about, really. Many more people – parents, co-parents, single parents and single people have things much more difficult than I do. Yet, I haven’t quite found my own key to lasting happiness just yet … have any of us?
Just like Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman, the bad stuff is easier to believe. The bad stuff is also much easier to remember. On top of that, it’s also easier to write about – in my opinion. Social media can be full of people painting false representations of everything from their appearances to their friendships to how they cope with the stuff which life throws at us. Yes, the wind is changing and many people are starting to be much more honest and real on social media than they may have done in the past. I wanted to be part of that and to honestly and truly chart my story right here on this website.
Writing as therapy
So, I started writing to show reality behind the filters. I wanted to talk about how I really found stuff. I chose to write about my search for the key to happiness, in whatever form that may take. In the absence of a healthy bank balance, writing is my therapy. I find it immensely beneficial to get my feelings out and into the open. I also hope that others can seek comfort in that if my story resonates with them and helps them to get to their next stepping stone too.
But, maybe I am not really painting a true version of my reality. I am not always sad, as some of my blogs may make it appear. For that, I am sorry. Actually, my cup is way from half empty. I won’t get cringeworthy but, you know, things for the most part are good. I smile, laugh and find pleasure in things almost every day. We all take the rough with the smooth don’t we? I just don’t shout about the great stuff that often. Is that wrong?
OK, I find coparenting difficult, I make no secret of that. Why am I coparenting? It’s because, even in the face of the demise of our relationship, TJ’s dad refused to walk away. He insisted on playing an active role in his son’s life. Lots of families don’t have that. So, both TJ and I are fortunate to have his dad around whenever he can be. They do lots of fun stuff together and their bond grows closer and closer as time goes on. The time when I am away from my son always always hurts. But, I know it is for the right reasons for us all.
There are so many parents out there who have things much more difficult than I do. Single mums when the dad doesn’t want to know. Widows. Those trapped in troubled relationships with no way of escaping … the list goes on. I have no cause to complain about the hand I have been dealt in how we move our family forward.
Rock my world
I also find co-parenting difficult because I love being a parent. My son is awesome and that just seems to increase as he continues to grow. Yet, this time of childhood innocence is finite and knowing I am missing some of that brings me inescapable pain. I am not the only parent who knows this feeling. Even if a family all lives under the same roof, work, life commitments and unavoidable circumstance mean you’re not around all of the time. So, instead of thinking about what I may be missing, I cherish what I do have – maybe more so than if it was a part of my life every day.
For example, last Friday, as I counted down the hours until I had to drop him off at daddy’s house, three-year-old TJ did all of the following:
Whilst watching Beauty and the Beast, at the moment when Belle says she loves the beast, TJ came running over to me, hugged my legs and said “And I love you, mummy.”
He held my hand as we walked to the post office to drop off a parcel. In his other hand, he insisted on carrying the (small and light) parcel for me.
We spent the afternoon in a soft play centre. During that time, as we scrambled up to the big slide for the 15th time, he turned to me and said “you’re the greatest mummy.” Then, later on, he gave me a hug and said “you’re my big, soft teddy bear.” His little mind is insanely cute, incredibly affectionate and very compassionate.
If I could go back in time, I would never change having TJ. Even with the separation and impending divorce, I would never want my life to be without his warmth. He is a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone he meets and I hope this continues throughout his life as he grows up and becomes the man who he wants to be.
After dropping TJ off with his dad later that Friday, I spent a child-free weekend with friends. Some of those people have been my rock through the toughest moments of the last few years. Largely, that has involved wine, laughter and honest companionship. Truly – lucky me.
I then got home and found my dad had popped into my flat to drop off some little presents for TJ and a bottle of Prosecco for me which he left alongside a little note. As I have said before, my dad is pretty ace and that’s something I will always be thankful for too.
Alone but not lonely
The Easter weekend was painful as three child-free days spanned out in front of me. I spent a lot of money on wine with girlfriends. One of those girlfriends was someone I met on a weekend therapy course with Divorce Coach Sara Davison. Over four hours in the sun, we swapped stories of dating, kids and coping with their dads. I told her all about TJ’s dad, his partner and how I have dealt with TJ being part of that. She told me that I should be proud of myself for handling it with style and dignity. Really, I don’t see how I had much of a choice. But, her kind words gave me a skip in my step and a boost of pride which was definitely needed.
It’s all so easy to feel sorry for yourself when the doors are closed, TJ’s room is empty and I am on my own, again. It’s also easy to think that those problems will be fixed by finding a partner. They won’t. That’s one thing which I have learnt throughout all of these ups and downs of dating in the last two years. Happiness should, could and can come from inside of yourself and not require the validation of others. (OK, can you tell I have been watching Queer Eye?)
So, like most people in life, there’s good weeks and bad weeks. There’s even good days and bad days, good hours and bad hours … really, it can change moment to moment. But, if you ever read my stuff and think that things are hard, that’s not always the case. I am OK – and you will be too.