Tinder, gone but not forgotten

I deleted tinder this week 🎉

Not actually a big deal, I could technically start again in ten minutes. Admittedly a minor faff to scroll through my gallery and find photos without a toddler photobombing but I’m ready to make that commitment. It does delete all conversations and matches, so if I get dumped I will have to start fresh…but that is definitely no hardship. It is probably a bit weird to pop up in someone’s DMs after 9 months like ‘hey…so I’m single and can’t be bothered swiping again, how about it? 🙋🏼‍♀️’.

Note that I put ‘if I get dumped’. Partially because I’m a bit of a pessimist and always half feel like I could get surprise dumped out of nowhere any minute. And also because I’m aware quitting things is not my strong point.

I remember one metaphor where someone was trying to justify their cheating by saying some people get off the sinking ship early doors and hop on the little dingy and have a shit time in the cold for bit – other people wait for a better ship to come by and jump straight over.

And there are people like me…

(to any non-Titanic fans, this is me going down with the ship)

Continue reading “Tinder, gone but not forgotten”

Where’s my bloody village?

An acceptable 3 miles from Dominoes but a frustrating 19 miles from Papa John’s.

I’m going to have another single parent rant over here…but it also applies to dual parent families.

Parenting is fucking hard all round. Gold star for you if you got through the week without questioning your sanity.

They say it takes a village and it is A THING.

I’m going to go off on a tangent here but I will get back to the point…

In terms of human history we have spent 5% of it as farming communities and before that we were chilling as hunter gatherers. I say chilling as we were quite literally chilling most of our lives. The labour hours were far lower, we didn’t have many possessions so didn’t spend much time cleaning, mending or looking after things. There would be a bit of the odd fire tending and weaving wicker baskets or gathering berries – but you would be doing it with a bunch of gals.

Your community would be somewhere between 25 and 150. Enough to be pretty pally with everyone, you don’t have to watch over your little ones like a hawk – no one can kidnap them, where would they even go? They would just be scampering around with their friends and all the villagers are half keeping an eye on all the little while chilling and doing the odd bit of work.

No one hoards food, the men go out hunting until there is enough for 2-3 days and then everyone hangs out on an evening, singing songs, telling stories and having sex.

One tribal group living this life still have a little ritual where the men bring the hunting spoils home and all the women do a little ‘give me your meat’ song and dance. In this scenario ‘meat’ refers to both animal meat and cock. Always good to know the penis jokes transcend time and place.

In this group the ongoing idea is the more actual meat you bring home the more your ‘meat’ gets enjoyed by the ladies. But in true village community spirit the men divvy up the spoils on the edge of the village before the hunt celebration. Everyone gets a nice bit of BBQ and sex in equal measure. Friendship is a lovely thing.

I am a big fan of the hunter gatherer lifestyle. The whole killing the smallest twin at childbirth thing takes the shine off a bit so I’m not fully on board…but still, sex and meat.

Then things got a whole lot shitter at the agricultural revolution. You’re working harder for less reward, farming is a cruel mistress. Yields are variable, for millenia the labour effort was insane and the nutritional content far lower than anything that had gone before.

Now to put things in perspective: if human evolution is the span of a human life of 80 years you spent your first 76 years as a hunter gatherer, four years as a farmer and about a week as an industrial revolution dogsbody.

But most industrial revolution dogsbodies have lived in multi generational households. You would also have your aunties, uncles and cousins in the same village. Your mates from the factory / mill live down the road. Basically there are a fuck load of potential babysitters if a disaster arises (as in…you want ten fucking minutes to yourself before you totally lose your shit). And you probably lose your shit less frequently because there is always someone to have a chat with. Yes the physical and medical dangers were far higher but socially, mentally and emotionally it was quite a different scenario.

But we aren’t living that life anymore. For most of us it became common to have both parents in the house working and to move away from extended family somewhere around (I’m guessing here) the 1980s / 1990s and after. So in evolutionary terms that’s two decades out of 6 million years. I’ve really not done the maths on this one but I’m going to say that’s what…ten minutes of your 80 year life?

So…do you think 10 minutes is enough for our mental and emotional comfort levels to adjust to such a radical adjustment to labour, social life and responsibility?

I can tell you from my stress levels the last couple of weeks it really, really is not.

Fuck me it has been hard.

But I have finally returned to my original point.

It’s hard, it’s so fucking hard.

I am a credit underwriter but lately I’ve been helping out the debt collection team making arrears calls. It’s not an easy time to collect money in, no one fucking has any because we are in the most significant economic shutdown since (or potentially eclipsing) the world wars.

And I’m trying to do it with a wild toddler in the background.

I’m also trying to stop my house falling apart, make sure we both eat well and get outside for some fresh air every day. Coupled with the fact that most nights I get woken up between every half hour and every three hours… I’m fucking tired.

But not just that, I’m lonely. I want a hug, I want sex, I want to sit next to my friends and family and colleagues – not waving into a camera.

And the thing is, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m bloody lucky! I have a house with two gardens (both small…but still counts). At the back of my garden there is a footpath leading out to various woods and fields to explore.

The only reason I can focus for enough to bang on about human evolution in the context of a human lifespan is because my ex has taken her for a government sanctioned day at his house.

I’m sat here drinking coffee from a new mug my mum sent to cheer me up, looking at some flowers my sister sent to cheer me up. I’m listening to Amazon music to chill myself out because I can afford the subscription. I’m really fucking lucky.

But it kind of isn’t about that. Celebrities have got some shit for sitting crying in their mansions about lockdown. It’s not fair, it’s hard for all of us.

Money and housing and all the rest can make sadness and loneliness a whole lot more comfortable but you’re still sad and lonely.

We are a species that needs human connection, if this makes you feel sad then don’t be hard on yourself, it is what we were designed around.

Here’s hoping this shitstorm will be over soon and all my fellow in a relationship but not cohabiting friends will get back to ALL THE SEX as soon as possible.

This former hunter gatherer needs the meat.

Shit mum awards

I wish I was writing a funny post about some amusing mum fail. I’m not. I’m just feeling shitty if I’m honest.

We had a good morning, soft play with some friends we haven’t seen in a while and their toddlers. We even managed a four toddler group photo with all little faces in the same direction.

But I always feel slightly on edge. The tantrums are intense at the moment. Last night there was a twenty minute stint of screaming and floor rolling on account of me opening a cupboard containing biscuits (which she isn’t allowed). I tried what I could: cuddles, soothing words, back strokes and everything just made her worse so I sat on the sofa and waited it out. I’m so anti cry it out but nothing was helping and I was at a loss. It was pretty shit.

Tonight we were breastfeeding to sleep but Emily likes to touch my skin, scratch and grip my collar bone. It’s even more annoying than it sounds and I don’t want it to become a habit…cue screaming. In the end she fell asleep in a exhausted grump clinging on to a plastic toy. Normally she falls asleep snuggled up to me, so although I should be happy that I could sneak away for some freedom I just feel a bit shit about the whole thing.

I’m trying not to fall into the self pitying hole of ‘poor me my child sleeps the worst / my child tantrums the most’ etc etc. But also…my child tantrums the most. I know this because strangers come up to me full of sympathy saying ‘oh dear, I remember the time my daughter did that’. I’m like oh yeah THE TIME your daughter did that? Yeah? This is THE TIME this morning and I’m pretty sure there is going to be another time again today. Maybe two.

But why do some toddlers tantrum more than others? Is she acting out because I don’t give her enough love and attention? Is she acting out because she is spoilt because she gets too much love and attention?

Oh my god there is so much potential for self criticism and guilt.

And then you can do the fun thing where you get to worry about the worry. Is she tantruming because I’m a stressy mum? Does my worry cause the thing that causes the worry in a stress – tantrum – stress cycle of hell?!

And I wonder, do we all feel like this? I’ve had a few mums tell me they ‘loved every minute of being a mother’. Congratulations to you women (dickheads). I certainly don’t love every minute of being a mother.

But then I remembered the Duchess of Cambridge interview with Giovana Fletcher (fucking loved it, it wasn’t even that exciting but…a princess!!). If you don’t know then Kate is doing research on early years development, she’s also raising three of the most privileged children ever AND she gets the mum guilt too.

If Cambridge Kate gets mum guilt, then maybe we all do. So maybe I should try and forget about it. Maybe acknowledging that some days are shit, we all have them and we all have shit feelings and we should accept them and stop worrying about it.

Any tips on ‘stop worrying about it’ are VERY welcome. Even more welcome are handy tantrum eradication techniques.

Or instead I’m eating an entire mini eggs Easter egg two months before Easter. I’m also watching a Netflix dating show where someone proposed after three conversations. YOLO.

The grass is green as fuck over here

Last Sunday I was having a fabulous time. That morning we had the farm shop to ourselves, I was a bacon sandwich, a jammy dodger blondie  and a flat white in, the tantrum count was zero and the sun was shining.

I had a rare moment of wow my life is so much easier than it could have been. If you know me than I’m sure you’ve heard me complain about how hard being a parent is. Normally in response to someone casually mentioned they are a bit tired (“think how I feel… I am TWO YEARS worth of tired my friend” etc). I’ll roll out my single parent sob story and when I get a hint of sympathy I nod, like the martyr / hero that I am.

But actually, I’m just being a bit of a dickhead. Whilst I’m not entirely lying, being a single parent is genuinely hard – and I genuinely have not had a decent night’s sleep in two years, it is kind of better than regular nuclear parent familying would have been.

And because I like a good list (and I suspect dwindling attention spans also appreciate a list format) I’m listing this one out:

1. Super chill spontaneity. When did I decide I was going out for brunch? Just before I left. I didn’t have to convince anyone, no one was annoyed at me for not doing the housework first, no one was nagging me to get the food shopping home quickly. I’m the boss of my own bacon sandwich schedule and it is a fine place to be.

2. Is it wrong to list not being a parent as the second best part of being a single parent? I’m doing it anyway. On Saturday I was not a parent between 9am and 5.30pm. I went to the cinema, I went shopping without anyone sweeping the shelves clean, I went bouldering. The best bit of my day was a hot bath, it was really full hot bath and the house was silent. I’m not sure many married mums get a day of peace a week. Come join me on the dark side ladies, leave your husbands and gain a bath time.

3. I’m the boss, and not just of bacon sandwiches, I’m the boss of parenting. Kind of. Obviously Emily is the boss of a lot of things – because she is a toddler and I’m too smart to waste my time negotiating with terrorists. So I don’t really mind letting her needs dictate things, I’ll hang out in the car for as long as she needs to nap, I’ll eat dinner on the floor with her if she’s not in a table kind of mood. We are flexi living, Gina Ford hating, routine resistant non-conformists. Everyone has their own ideas on parenting and I’m doing zero compromise to make mine align with another parent’s.

4. Bit reluctant to put this one, as it sounds like kids in nuclear families don’t love their mums (which is a stupid thing to put). But also, it’s my blog so whatever. When I was a newly single mother so many lovely women who grew up in single mum & only daughter families told me about what an amazing bond they have with their mother. Maybe I’m biased by having watched all 153 episodes of Gilmore Girls at least three times over, but growing up in a mum & daughter family seems like it could be lots of fun.

5. The single bit of single mum. Dating is FUN. You (obviously) don’t get to date when you’re married. Unless of course you’re non-monogamous married – which I suspect very few mothers of toddlers can be arsed with. So many women say they lose their identity a bit when they become a mother but when you start dating and chatting to people you don’t feel like a you’re just a mum anymore. I know we should all love ourselves / be our own soulmates blah blah blah BUT it is pretty fun knowing that someone new desires you.

6. I went off on a rather lengthy and misandristic rant on emotional labour on a blog post last year. I stand by that. Whilst I acknowledge that there are some marvellous men who have developed the capacity for initiative (lol JK). I do think that a lot of the mental load of household and child management goes to the woman in the house. I know that most men do pull their weight, but when there are a set number of tasks and two people to complete them there is inevitability an amount of planning behind it. Yes I have to do everything myself but I’m wasting zero energy telling someone else to do anything / checking it has been done / negotiating what should be done (resenting them when it hasn’t).

7. Masturbation. Why the hell not include this?! I have a single friend who eschewed men for a bit in favour of enjoying a solo glass of wine and a wank with her favourite sex toy each evening. Fine life choices being made right there. Whilst I get that married people can masturbate too…do they really just go off of their own for an evening to watch shit TV in peace and then wank at their own convenience? I didn’t. I was wanking on the sly when married. No more. Now anytime post 8pm can be wank o’clock if I so choose it to be.

So I’m not sure if I should have done more than seven reasons. But I’m actually pretty damn tired now (as I may have mentioned) and I feel like wank chat is always a good place to end a conversation so goodnight reader.

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.

Feeling like a failure

Some days I own the title single mother with pride. Single mothers do everything and that makes them extremely capable and strong, who can’t be proud of that! When I read other women’s stories of how they became single mothers I think well done, you had a tough situation and you got through it and thrived. Not that I can say I’m thriving yet. Ultimately I just feel like I’m surviving and the real test will come when I go back to work almost full time and have to manage my time very carefully with a house and clingy co-sleeping baby to deal with.

But other days, to be honest I am embarrassed. I feel like I need to justify myself. I feel like I need to tell people I was happily married, as if to justify that this was a carefully planned and wanted baby. Given that my husband left me quite soon after she was born I worry that people think I am some very irresponsible woman who had a baby with a man she didn’t get on with. Maybe they would judge me more if they knew the truth, that I thought the marriage was strong but ultimately my husband didn’t. How stupid am I not to realise that?

The joke is that when I think of the single mothers that I admire, some of them didn’t plan to have the baby at all. It’s the fact they didn’t plan it and life threw a surprise at them and they not only coped but did a great job and didn’t let it stop them pursuing careers and relationships and happiness.

I wouldn’t judge other single mothers so why do I judge myself? Maybe because I am generally a conventional person in what I want out of life. This is so far removed from what I ever wanted or considered possible that I think I judge myself for letting it happen (not that I really had a say in the matter). One of the things I liked about my husband was that he was dependable and loyal and a family man. Obviously I didn’t really know him, people must be thinking that either I was stupid to not realise that having a family wasn’t for him…or that family life is for him but that I’m such a nightmare that he felt he had to get away from me.

At the end of the day I’m wasting time worrying about what people think as the famous saying goes:

“You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do”

– Olin Miller

And ultimately since sharing with people that I am a single mother I basically have had an outpouring of support. So many women from all corners have offered a shoulder to cry on / ear to moan at. People I barely know have been so kind including generosity from friends online sending an amazing care package to people from my past I haven’t seen in years sending their love and sympathy.

I’ve always had the opinion that people are on the whole good so I don’t know why I waste energy thinking they would perceive me badly for being a single mother. And those that do probably aren’t worth having the good opinion of anyway.

I know a brilliant supporter of women who would be telling me to dust off my crown now so I guess I will.

For fucks sake men (a rant on emotional labour)

(slightly edited since publishing, with the intention of not being a dick)

The burden of organising many things is left to women, social commitments, holidays, childcare, appointments… most men even expect their partners to organise everything for their own family’s birthdays. They’ve literally spent every year of their lives celebrating their parent’s / sibling’s birthdays yet somehow expect their spouse to be the one to remember and find the perfect gift?! Seriously, come the fuck on.

I read a good article about this and the ridiculous story behind a woman’s request to have the house cleaned as her mother’s day gift. In summary he left it till last minute, phoned the first cleaner he found, decided it was too expensive and cleaned the bathroom himself whilst leaving the rest of his crap lying around the house. It’s totally stupid but exactly what many wives would expect from their husbands in the same circumstances and it’s fucking annoying. She ends the article saying “Our sons can still learn to carry their own weight. Our daughter can learn to not carry others” but REALLY, do we really have to wait a generation to fix this bullshit?!

And it’s not just the coordinating what happens, women are still doing most of everything! If you want to continue getting irritated then read this from the Guardian stating how in the UK in 2016 women did 60% more unpaid work and the progressive Sweden shockingly had 45 more minutes of housework done by women DAILY. Imagine getting an extra 45 minutes a day, the health benefits of using that to run / do yoga / have a long bath and meditate?! I mean I’d obviously not do that and just eat crisps and watch Netflix…but still it should be my choice and it would be fair to spend that time how I wish!

Yes single mothers end up doing 100% of everything in the house but at least I am doing it for me and my daughter so there is zero resentment. Also it is up to me what needs to be done, maybe we have a lovely hot homemade dinner then talk at the table or maybe it’s a floor picnic listening to Cyndi Lauper 🤷🏼‍♀️. Zero obligation for anything (above the obvious).

Yes my ultimate goal is to have another relationship, I like the companionship (not to mention someone to split the bills with and have sex with me). But the annoying thing is this seems to affect the majority of men and until you cohabit it’s hard to tell who is an expert in ‘outsourcing’ or simply assuming it will get done (and I think quite often having no awareness that it needs to be done). It’s a long time since I’ve done online dating but is there a checklist for ‘is able to book appointments, manage housework and remember dates independently’. It will probably be a while before I consider dating again but if this can be added in as a screening filter I would love that.