2 July 2014

A Court Case, a Conference and a Cremation.

Normally when I'm very quiet, people know something is up and some kind souls will message me to ask if I'm OK.

Normally, I'm just coping with stuff and conserving my energy for dealing with it by having early nights and letting time socialising on-line be the thing that needs to give.

Normally, though, there aren't three super-challenging events in the space of seven days, preceded by several weeks building up to them.  Thank you to all of you who showed you care.

It's usually good practice to keep things close to my chest because then I don't have to face them all the time that way, but, sometimes stuff happens and it's just complicated, overwhelming, about the children in a way I don't want to make public or a combination of all three.  Sometimes, I'm just making a lot of noise elsewhere or consoling myself with a quiet coffee or even, perhaps, weeding the garden with extra gusto and wondering how to secure myself a proper job.  Sometimes, other things are a priority.

We lost my lovely Nana.

Some of you will remember me writing about her earlier in the year - 97 1/2, wonderful, loving, supportive, gregarious, bright as a button, so switched on she sussed the childrens' temperaments in an instant, funny, warm and an inspiration.  Her massive heart wore itself out and, very, very sadly, it was her funeral last week.  She would have loved to see so many members of our family come together like we did, the beautiful flowers and hymns and the playing of her gorgeous Il Divo.

This followed hot on the heels of the Britmums Live conference where I'd been Head Butterfly, holding peoples' hands to help them hold their nerves.  It was a great event and an opportunity to spend time with people who I know love me, who knew I was being brave and was grateful to be distracted.  They knew my heart was breaking and they were kind and tender and funny, something appreciated more than anyone can imagine.

Other positive things happened too.  I attended mainly writing sessions and after the one of them, a publisher handed me her card, saying she found me informed and engaging.  Please don't any of you put her right ;) so I will shortly be following up her lead, plus, I was advised that a recent research has found me in the top 10 Most Influential Single Parent Bloggers in the UK - which comes as a surreal surprise seeing as I deliberately don't hang my hat on that hook.

Having said that, however, there are two half-written posts in draft which are centred around being a single mum and as soon as the time comes, it makes sense to accept my fate, and, perhaps, capitalise on their other shocking announcement that now one in four families are headed up by single mums or dads.

Immediately prior to all this my ex-husband had decided to take me to court for increased contact with the children.  He has always been allowed more or less as much as he wants in a supervised environment but has battled against this since the beginning.  I find it infuriating, not to mention utterly inconvenient, hypocritical and a shoddy waste of time and energy, that he doesn't just play ball and build up trusting relationships with them so that the authorities (who are the ones who stipulate it) and I can see that they will be safe, emotionally as well as physically, but he doesn't seem capable of it.

So, instead of resenting any more moments he takes away from me, my life or them, with the inordinate amount of paperwork involved - something he has consistently necessitated for years by not using a solicitor, preferring to exploit me and mine, thereby shooting up costs and depriving the children still further of resources than he already does by refusing to pay any maintenance for them - I decided to take the rather more helpful view that each and every second is spent rightfully defending and protecting our boys, keeping them in an appropriate environment and facilitating their relationship with him in as healthy a way as is possible, but the truth is that it's difficult to ascertain how and what is best for them and I am happy to let the courts decide after their ruling that a further report is required regarding his mental health.

Being a Britmums Butterfly was an honour and a privilege and we, as a team, made it possible for lots of bloggers to meet up en route, or in a coffee shop or bar, ahead of the start of the conference, so that they didn't walk into a room of 700 other people not knowing anyone, if they weren't comfortable doing so.

I like to believe that firm, real life friendships were begun or cemented, the kind where people already know you without always having yet met you, the kind demonstrated to me in the midst of all this, where a sincere hug is given without any words being spoken except, secretly, 'I'm sorry for your loss, your Nana sounded incredible,' so that you can take a moment to accept a caress of comfort, but get on with your work without everyone else knowing your private grief, or 'I'm sorry that your shitty ex is still giving you such a hard time - he's such a tw*t.' And you can take another one to seize some solidarity, allow yourself to laugh and get on with your life.

That's what she would have wanted.

'Night 'Night Nana.

The boys and their Great Nana (1916-2014).