11th June: Painty little feet

Do you see this dog? This dog looks like a dog who isn’t allowed in a cafe. I knew that from its optimistic little face as I opened the floor, but the cafe was empty when I arrived so of course I let my new friend take shelter from the rain with us.

Unfortunately the cafe owner soon arrived and sent doggo back out to wander the garden centre. Mean.

I was supposed to be meeting a friend in the afternoon but she was poorly so we didn’t have any plans. I had meant to rush out in the morning to get baby hand and foot prints on pottery for a (grand) fathers day present. But now we had a free schedule we had a chilled out morning and wandered off at lunchtime.

We went to The Potting Shed and had a little jug made with hand and footprints for my Dad. As I was feeling kind I made a mug for my ex as well with a hand and footprint that said Daddy. Not entirely selfless, I’m mostly hoping he remembers this when it rolls around to mothers day next year. But obviously he is a man so it’s fairly unlikely.

Anyway here are some photos I took before the cafe was bombarded with a coach load of pensioners shouting ‘Joan can you believe it’s £2.30 just for a cup of tea?!’ and lots of ‘look at that little boy’ (Emily)

I didn’t take this until the cafe was full and more than one person made a point of the fact I was taking a photo of a wall:

They have a good outside play are and plenty of tables so it would be a good place when Emily is toddling around:

(as an aside those pink cars were my ultimate goal when I was little. A goal I never achieved)

So if you’re interested in the pottery there is a studio fee of £3.50 plus the cost of the pottery. A mug was £9 and I think the jug was £15. It will take four days to be available as once they are painted they go on the kiln. I got onto kiln chat with the lady and it gets to 1000 degrees and she has to leave them a full day to cool before she takes them out.

She helped out (pretty much did) the foot and hand prints and then gave me a box of letter stamps to do the writing. You can always freestyle but if you’ve ever received a card from me you will understand why I did not.

Then we went home, I was absolutely exhausted after all the stress of the weekend and babywearing all over York on Monday (I’m a cheapskate and park by the racecourse for free which extends the effort). Emily is fairly good at amusing herself at home as the living / dining room is quite baby safe and full of toys so I just let her get on with it and drank tea and read It’s called a breakup because its broken. My friend recommended this and it’s a nice easy read. These things do really help keep my mind on the right side of sanity. A regular reminder not to be a crazy ex wife.

And then the baby sensed my tiredness and went to bed at 8pm without starting a fight with the bedroom blind. Win win win.

Books for a divorcing single mum

Here are a few books that I’ve enjoyed since finding out that ’till death do us part’ actually meant 2.5 years and a baby. I’m not bitter, I’m not bitter at all.

(I’ve actually read way way more as I’m constantly reading but not constantly reading about divorce, do message me if you like a bit of book chat)

Split, a story of love betrayal and divorce. Suzanne Finnamore

I so enjoyed this book, it was both funny and heartbreaking but always honest. The woman is a gorgeous media type living in California, she is well off with a beautiful home and friends to casually drink champagne with over brunch. You wouldn’t think it would be relatable but the lines like this one you realise we all have the same struggles:

“I am drunk in front of the television, chain-smoking. I have not bathed in two days.”

(before the mum shamers see this – as a breastfeeding non smoking woman I substitute alcohol and cigarettes for donuts and cake. Not ideal but not worth calling social services for)

But it isn’t all stark truth bombs on falling apart, there are some inspirational parts and it really ends on a high:

“You learn that it can be a life-enhancing gift, and not just a wound taken in a heart-game called marriage. Finally, you understand that the game isn’t to get your husband back, or to get a new one. The game is to get free”

She is also very amusing, I would like to have her as my friend.

The Kick Ass Single Mom, Emma Johnson

I don’t think I would like Emma as my friend. I think she would judge me and my pessimism. She is one of those people Americans would call a Type A personality. The book is quite money focused which is fair enough, money makes the world go round and all that, but I think she is absolutely coming from a place of priveledge which we can’t all tap into.

Her general view is that children should spend their time 50/50 between their parents and as such there is no need for child maintenance to be paid. She also thinks that if you work hard enough you can absolutely make enough money to be very successful in life to support yourself and your children easily and well without any help. My view is that my little baby should have one primary carer and spend the majority of time with me so that she feels settled and attached. Also my soon to be ex husband planned this family with me and is the only father she has so he can bloody well pay child support.

“A Kickass Single Mom never plays victim. You are responsible for your life. You are not allowed to blame your ex… when times get tough. You are never, ever, ever entitled.”

I however do agree with her views on dating and sex. Pretty much go out and have sex and have fun. No reason to pretend to your children that you aren’t dating as they aren’t stupid and will see through it. Just don’t introduce a man to them until you know its serious. Don’t date twats; you are better off single. Don’t waste time being self conscious, there are probably less attractive women than you out there dating and having sex and a fabulous time – think like them. Fair enough.

“If a person does not add to your life and bring you joy when you are together, he or she must go.”

Playgroups and Prosecco

This is funny, I was enjoying it when I thought it was her own real life story and then I thought hang on there are too many funny goings on here and I googled it and it’s basically chick lit. But the author is a good blogger (Slummy Single Mummy) so at least she has experienced being a single mum.

She doesn’t know, but I once saw her crouched behind the sand table, eating loose Wotsits out her handbag, so I recognised a kindred spirit.”

Wild, Cheryl Strayed

Now this one isn’t specifically about divorce and she isn’t a single mother. BUT her life was at a very low point after a divorce but she picked herself up and did an insane cross country hike up the west coast mountain range in the US.

I think she is pretty inspirational. After reading this you will be like YEAH I CAN DO ANYTHING. And maybe want to buy some hiking boots and get walking.

I feel like this quote is pretty symbolic for life in general:

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”

It was, however, written about a lost hiking boot (this book will ring a bell if you’ve seen the Gilmore Girls Netflix reboot when Lorelai almost did the hike but couldn’t pack her bag).

Confessions of a Single Mum, Amy Nickel

No divorce here, just a twatty boyfriend type person who dumped her when he found out she was pregnant. It is a funny personal account of her life:

I totally excuse them for not being mega turned on by swollen everything (and I mean EVERYTHING – thanks to my waxer for letting me know that little titbit)

The Unexpected Joy of Being Single

The woman who wrote this writes for cosmopolitan and uses that amusing glossy magazine style writing. However it is jam packed with psychological input, various studies and links to many other experts and books so you can absolutely go off on a tangent on whatever takes your fancy like I did here.

There are loads of interesting facts like this:

“experts at Rutgers University said that a break-up causes an incredibly similar reaction to drug withdrawal. Brain-imaging scans showed similarities between romantic rejection and cocaine craving

“Ingrained neural pathways are the route of least resistance” so basically your stupid brain just goes off towards your ex not because he was the love of your life but because its used to going off that way

But she also has some funny anecdotes of her dating past, such as this text she once received:

‘You’re undeniably lovely, but crazy. Goodbye. P.S. Please stop calling me.’

If you’re only going to read one book I say read this one because it’s brilliant.

The Cool Girl Monologue

I know this is SUPER famous but I’m reading a book that referenced it and I just remembered what absolute literary gold this passage is so I have to share it on the off chance that someone hasn’t read it before (because of course it is brilliant). And if you don’t like it then GO AHEAD SHIT ON ME.

It does however make me want to eat a chilli dog whilst hating men for the shallow and predictable creatures that they are. I know that sounds horrifically sexist but read this passage and tell me the average man doesn’t want Cool Girl.

It’s from Gone Girl, if you haven’t watched / read this then I recommend you do so in your preferred medium right now.

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)

How to feel a little bit better when you’re feeling really shit

Note that I put ‘a little’, if you read a few posts you’ll find I’m not overly qualified for feeling ‘a lot’ better…but here are my two cents anyway:

Put your phone down

…not this second. Read my blog first please. Then put the phone down. For lots of reasons you should put your phone down. The blue light makes you feel stressed and stops you sleeping, the notifications distract you, the social media makes you feel less. I KNOW it’s not easy so if you can’t quite put your phone down I suggest you:

  • download Twilight app to filter out the blue light to help your eyes and your sleep
  • download Offtime app to assist your willpower (it basically locks down your phone apart from selected apps for a specified time)
  • unfollow any perfect dickheads on social media who make you feel like you or your life isn’t enough. Fuck them
  • use apps that make you feel good such as Headspace or Calm
  • follow lovely people on social media who cheer you up (I follow a lot of accounts with landscapes and nature, plus one or two inspirational quote type people)

Pick a book up

Speaking of quotes I really like:

“reading gives us somewhere to go when we have to stay where we are” Mason Cooley

I spent many (many, many, many) hours laid with a sleeping baby in a dark room, unable to move without waking her. After my husband left me I could have gone completely insane with all the thoughts whizzing around my head. Instead I used my Kindle app to take me somewhere else where I wasn’t a scared, anxious and angry single mother.

I know some people prefer TV and movies but I find you can watch them passively and drift into your own world whereas reading a good book is all encompassing. Even if you’re not a reader now I think you should start. Kindle does £1 daily deals and older books can be downloaded for free. Also charity shops sell a lot of books for 50p each and you know…libraries are still a thing. No excuses now.

Put your shoes on and get outside

Even better, if you live somewhere it is possible to then walk up a mountain or hill. The sense of achievement is wonderful, the fresh air clears your head, you don’t feel like a disgusting sofa dwelling animal anymore and… something about endorphins? I don’t know. Just get outside and get walking (or running or cycling or whatever your thing is). Breathe in the fresh air, look around you, notice things you don’t normally see and be mindful.

I’m also going to tell you to take a flask of tea with you. No scientific reason. Just that I think a hot cup of something when you are sat outside mid walk is just a lovely feeling so give it a go.

Pick up a pillow and punch it

Then chill out and get on with your day like a sane person. This is Rita wisdom (my counsellor, and not her exact phrasing). I told her I was struggling with a lot of anger and resentment and she told me I needed to let it out (with the pillow technique) or it would become habitual. If it becomes habitual you will basically become an angry person. You don’t want to be an angry person and no one wants to be around an angry person. Give it to that pillow. As an aside I got angry in the car the other day, I didn’t have a pillow. I punched my hand as an alternative to a pillow and learnt I am better at punching than I anticipated, so I recommend you just wait for a pillow to be available.

The same goes for crying, you can’t just push your feelings away. You need to get them out but once they are out and you’ve had a good cry think fuck that, that’s me done for the day. If I want to have another cry tomorrow I will but now I get on with my life (hopefully by reading or walking 👍).

Prioritise your pals

If there is one thing I learnt from About a Boy it is that no one is an island. Not even Will / Hugh Grant. (I love that movie. SINGLE PARENTS ALONE TOGETHER yeeaah)

Seriously though sometimes you just need to talk to someone. But try to pick the person wisely. Some people are happy to talk but can subtly encourage you to feel sorry for yourself or angry at others. Be conscious of how you feel after you speak to that person (both immediately and in the days and weeks that follow). If they aren’t uplifting then don’t go to them in a crisis.

Pull out a drawer and sort it out

I remember years ago reading an article by a divorce lawyer who deals with high profile Hollywood splits. She said her clients would often call her having a complete meltdown and she never knew how to help them (divorce lawyer…not counsellor) then she started telling them to find a messy drawer, tip it out and tidy it. That small distraction / achievement is often enough to take a person away from a bad mental space.

P P P Pick up a Penguin

Ah Penguins, remember those chocolatey biscuits with their little jokes on the wrapper?! Fond packed lunch memories 🙂

You probably don’t have any Penguins and I know people say have something healthy blah blah blah but I feel better after a treat. I don’t feel better after binge eating so maybe just have the one Penguin / donut / cinnamon bun or whatever takes your fancy. But hell so what if you do inhale an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange and packet of Percy Pigs in one sitting at 11pm next to a sleeping baby. It’s probably not a habit you will continue every night for the rest of your life so don’t waste your energy feeling guilty about it. Rita informs me that secret eating is far more common than anyone realises so don’t feel bad about being as greedy as the rest of us.

Positively Perky People

I didn’t intend to do self help via subtitles starting with P but that is where it took me. Anyway I hope my plog may help you get out of a grumpy funk at some point.