High tea anniversaries and musings on single mummy dating (or lack of)

So my Aunt and her husband Mike celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary on Wednesday and were kind enough to invite me and Eliza to celebrate with them.

All in all it went well. Like our journey over here, a trip of two halves. I’m accepting now this is going to be the way. That after that cut off point when attention lapses there is very little that can be done to claw back the well mannered three year old from the now feral child smearing jam that was meant for the scones inside her new cream ballet pumps.

Despite the ridiculousness of how our civilised high tea unfolded. We must not forget why we were there.

What a wonderful example they are of when marriage works. It gives me faith that you can find that one person and spend your life with them. Mike and Chris met when Chris, already divorced, had her three year old daughter Lora and he went on to legally adopt her. They went onto have a second daughter Natasha and emigrated to Australia. I am sure Chris wouldn’t mind me saying but she had not had the best experiences with men up until meeting Mike and here there is hope for us all.

They’re wonderful together. A relationship that is lovely to see and inspiring. Definitely one of the notable relationships that gives me hope. The reality currently though is that I have yet to find my ‘Mike’ who is so mad about me he is prepared to accept I have my Eliza too.

Generally what happens is that somebody shows an interest but it is clear very quickly that she is a sticking point. This hurts a lot. When the ex husband declared he’d had an affair I can honestly say the rejection I felt was all for her, Eliza that is. How could he choose to leave her? A number of the reasons he cited for having an affair centred around me no longer giving him enough attention since her arrival. The fierce protectiveness was overpowering and this is what I feel now.

I can’t honestly say I have been open to dating and maybe this is the reason. I must be clear that I certainly don’t want to get married again. Divorce is too painful. It involves solicitors and money and this makes it turn nasty very quickly. I would like to meet someone though to share my life with eventually. Unfortunately so far I have only come across fuck boys (pardon the phrase) and people that although may be perfectly nice, they perceive their lives to be much more interesting without a three year old in tow. The reality however is that they’d be lucky to get to spend time with her and sleeping in until 12 every weekend is overrated.

Maybe ‘Mike’s’ don’t exist anymore? Maybe I need to accept that it won’t happen for me. I’m certainly happy now giving all of my energy to Eliza and making sure she is happy and healthy and having wonderful experiences. If I wasn’t happy with this maybe I would have put myself out there. I certainly don’t need a man and maybe therein lies another stumbling block. I love my own time. I’m self sufficient and maybe this isn’t particularly attractive. It should be but without the need for ‘saving’ maybe the Knight in shining armour will never appear? Just a thought…

I should maybe open up and go on at least one date before I make up my mind on the matter though. Who knows, there may be an emotionally intelligent guy who finds an independent, career focussed single Mum who likes to drink red wine and dance, an attractive option.

Below are pictures of Eliza pre and post smearing of the jam…

Oh and just in case you thought I was being crass with my earlier referral to ‘fuck boys’ they are a real thing. We all know one or a few even. Here’s the definition in case any of you have had the fortune not to come across one.

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fuckboy

Jet lag with a toddler…

…is totally shit.

I am aware that a lot of my friends have experienced this and so I’m not going through anything new but just thought I’d give my insight on the matter. The sum of which is that it is awful.

I’ve had jet lag many times and it’s not fun but this is my first time with another person to care for. I feel a weird sort of motion sickness, can’t eat and have struggled to sleep myself. The issues arise when you finally feel ready to sleep and the toddler decides that she can’t sleep and therein begins the hideousness.

I’ve unfortunately been smug too many times this trip. Smug on the plane and that back fired and smug after our first night here when we both slept soundly until 11! I’m learning very quickly that being smug only leads to double the disappointment.

I shall give you a summary of night two. I don’t expect sympathy, I am after all in Australia on holiday and yes my diamond shoes are too tight too! but it may be of interest to those of you planning such a trip in the future. Of interest only though. I must be clear that I offer no advice of any value.

Night 2- 12 am. I couldn’t sleep so drank three glasses of wine and wrote about the flight. Which although well received (thank you all) this was my first mistake. I should have gone to sleep with Eliza. As I lay my head down on the pillow I felt her stirring and was filled with dread. I stayed perfectly still (as you do) in a bid not to wake her but the rustling became more intentional and she was then staring me in the eye. Once there is eye contact you know there is no going back.

I tried milk. Yes, she’s three and still enjoys a bottle of milk at bedtime. Judge away. Or if you’re an honest parent do a little nod of acceptance. I’m pretty sure this doesn’t means she’s going to have oral phase issues as an adult and her teeth are perfect so really couldn’t care less. Anyway I digress, basically I tried milk but to no avail. She was up and I wanted to vomit.

We were awake from 12-4. An unfortunate true story. She drank copious amounts of milk and after endless attempts to keep the light off and get her to sleep with the usual tactics I relented and put on the iPad. Yes I know… feel free to judge now. Oh and usual tactics generally consisted of rubbing her tummy but that appears to have stopped working now. No one warned me she’d grow out of that.

So apparently I’m Tim… from Topsy and Tim. This revelation came at about 2.30. I would normally let such a comment pass me by but on this occasion I felt it needed challenging. Why am I Tim? He’s such a whining shit! I felt very upset I had been likened to him and unsurprisingly Eliza didn’t have a valid reason why. I thought it prudent at this time to point out how making comments like that without any basis could be hurtful. When this was met with a blank stare I realised I needed the sleep more than I had imagined.

The night went on. I tried everything and the whole time feeling like at any moment I was going to be sick. Oh to only have yourself to think about at times like this. I’m not ashamed to say I cried again. I was mindful not to let Eliza see though. Some thing about me not wanting to permanently scar her by visions of mummy crying at bedtime stopped me. I also took this picture.

Yes she’s eating rice cakes in bed. I couldn’t have cared if she’d wanted to eat a roast dinner if it meant she would sleep. Sadly, she only wanted the pathetic rice cakes that provide zero sleep power. I sent it to the ex husband and it was met with some advice on jet lag. Something along the lines of ‘you should have gone to bed when she went to bed’. So generally unhelpful but annoyingly true.

Suffice to say Day 3 was not as easy or fun as I would have liked following our lack of sleep but we did see Kangaroos at the side of the road so it was all worth it.

Nb. The above statement is a lie. It wasn’t worth it. I spent the day wanting to crawl into a dark hole.

Update: Just woken up after night 4. We are now up only between 12 and 2 so things are slowly improving. No doubt we’ll be skipping through meadows in another day or two and the tone of my posts will improve.

The flight.

So I imagine you’ve all been desperate to hear how the flight went…

Well the first eleven hours from Manchester to Hong Kong was a dream. My Eliza surpassed all my expectations. She was the perfect child. Quiet, mild mannered and a pleasure for all to be around. Some of the comments I received were the following “I can’t believe she is only three, how proud you must be” and “what a great traveller you have there”.

I was beaming with pride. My hard work and supreme parenting skills had paid off and were evident for all to see. We practically skipped off the plane in Hong Kong. I was a smug Mum and nothing could break me. Another two fingers up to the ex-husband as I text him to give a run down of our perfect journey.

I’m not even exaggerating she was amazing. Not one tantrum. The flight was from 12.20- 11.20 though so every parent reading this can imagine what happened next…

Hong Kong to Sydney. Only eight small hours and I wanted to die. I actually considered pressing the call bell and declaring to the air hostess that I couldn’t in fact do this and would she please take Eliza for the duration of the flight. I cried. I actually cried at one point and asked her to do “good listening” between sobs and clutching onto my own sick bag during the endless turbulence. My perfect child who was by now sleep deprived was pure evil and there was nothing I could do. No amount of redirection worked. None of my meticulously pre-planned activities worked. When we hit a real low point was when she deliberately poured orange juice on the book and phone of the guy sitting next to us. I wanted the ground to swallow me up but instead I put on my most defeated look (I didn’t have to try hard) and apologised. He hated me. I hated myself. There was a lot of hate in Row 40 that night.

So in summary you can say it was a journey of two halves. The first amazing and the second totally shite. So you could say just a typical 24 hours in the life of a three year old who is kept awake for those 24 hours.

Pictures below of Eliza and I on the first leg. There are no photos of the second. That will just be etched in my own memory for all time.

Note the guys face in the third picture. He actually loved us. He’s lived in Hong Kong for 6 years but was doing a masters in sport science in the uk. I know this because we had a full conversation about it on the first flight over a glass of wine. Good times…

Why Australia?

So people have asked “why Australia?” Despite the obvious, wikitravel describing it as:-

‘world famous for its natural wonders and wide open spaces, its beaches, deserts, “the bush”, and “the Outback”‘

I also have a personal reason. Well actually a couple…

I have always wanted to go but it never made it onto our list. When I say our I mean mine and my ex-husbands. We met at Uni and so were together from when I was 21. He had spent a few months backpacking around Oz in his gap year and so it never factored highly for him to go again. There were too many other places to see together so a compromise I was happy to make. There had been talk of him wanting to return to watch the Ashes one day and so I was happy to put my desire to go there on the back burner. I was pleased when he announced we should to go for the 2017 Ashes series and we’d been saving for that.

Turns out that he went anyway with a friend the month after our divorce came through. It was therefore only a matter of time before I made it possible for Eliza and I to go. And yes, a rare chance to put two fingers up to him at the same time.

We also have family there. Much more important. It’s actually a really interesting story. I’ll save that for another time though. I definitely need to get my Aunt to do a fact check first before posting!

The Aunt I am referring to is Chris… Christine. She is my mothers sister. 18 years her senior and I have only met her once. She will factor highly in our journey so I will be sure to post more about her and our ever growing friendship. For now though here is Chris and Mum in 2014 when she last visited England…

Little did we know Mum would not be able to make it over to Australia to see her or that I would be coming here so soon on my own with Eliza . Life is ridiculous sometimes…

The start of our adventure

So the start of our actual adventure dates back to the 15th of November 2016 when my world as I knew it fell apart. Eliza and I moved back to Yorkshire. I started a new job. We moved into our first home as a pair rather than a trio and embarked on a new life together that looked like it was going to be pretty steady. Until September 2017 when my world really did fall apart.

Up until that time I truly thought that going through a divorce was the worst thing that could happen to me but it was nothing compared to losing my Mum. Didn’t even scratch the surface.

It turns out the divorce was a blessing. What I’ve traded for an unhappy marriage is an exciting new life with Eliza and the possibility of finding a new ‘someone’ I can invite in to share it with us one day. For now though we are happy on our own and although what comes with that is fear and yes, loneliness sometimes, I really think that we are not only ‘making the best’ of this new life but we are actually living it to it’s fullest. It’s very easy to get bogged down with work and daily life and forget that we must step outside our comfort zone to live that best life that everyone seems to be referring to. That thought brings me to the purpose of this post. To announce the start of our travelling adventure which has taken some planning and saving but it’s finally here. The start of our adventures around the world together. Just Mummy and Eliza.

First stop… Australia

When three became two

20th of August 2018.

So apparently I had the intention of starting this blog back in March 2017. These are the pictures I had put up for that very first post. I didn’t get any further than that. I am so glad as the posts would have read very differently and the tone would have been much less positive. I was incredibly angry and hurt at that time. I won’t pretend I’m not still both of those things at times but the feelings are fleeting and much less intense. It is likely I would have used this as a platform to rage at my now ex-husband and that’s not what this is about.

For clarity though this is a heavily edited summary of the last 21 months. In November 2016 when Eliza was just 17 months old my husband of seven years, partner of eleven and best friend of fourteen announced he was having an affair. Cue dramatic move ‘back home’ for me and Eliza. I got a new job as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist at the local Hospital and lived with my parents for three months while we renovated my grandpa’s house (he had sadly passed away in the August) which then became our home. The next few months were a blur of working and Eliza in full time nursery while just trying to navigate through a new life that terrified me. The divorce was relatively straightforward. A signed confession of adultery always helps in moving things on swiftly and we were divorced within the year. I believed this was the worst thing that could happen to me but in September 2017 my Mum passed away after a six week illness. The ‘illness’ turned out to be lung cancer.

So I think I can be forgiven for not taking up the blog. A new pain entered my life and while trying not to sound too dramatic it is still as fresh nine months on as it was the day I watched her die and so that is all I will say about that at this time.

So here we are. August 2018 and thriving amidst the heart shattering loss. A life that I would not have imagined but that is mine and can go in whatever direction I choose. Mine and Eliza’s adventure together started when I took that pregnancy test in 2014 and we shared it with her Dad for a time but now it is just us two and it has already been unbelievably rich and exciting. My aim is to make her life as full of experiences as I can within my capabilities, while working full time in a job I love. Totally doable. I hope you enjoy reading my posts and that my poor grammar is not too off putting. Despite having a Masters in Speech and Language Therapy a linguist I am not. My undergrad degree was Psychology and so there is my defence. My one regret about not having my ex-husband in my life is that he can no longer proof read for me. He was good at that.