Things I’ve Learned About Single Parenting

I have now been a single parent for just over a year. And while I am an utter newbie compared to some, I do feel that I have come a long way in that time.

When I first started out, I had absolutely no idea how I was going to cope. I was almost definitely sure that I was going to crash and burn within weeks. I mean, how do you meet the needs of three demanding children without splitting yourself into pieces?

It turns out, there’s only one way to do it. And that’s just to do it. And do it again. And do it some more. Then you realise that actually, you’ve been surviving for a while now, nobody has any lasting physical damage and you’re actually not all that bad at it.

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That said, I couldn’t have managed without learning some valuable lessons. Some came from friends, some just came into my head late at night when I was talking to myself (I do that a lot.)

I’ve taken the liberty of writing some of these lessons down. Not because I think they’ll be particularly useful to you, but more because they’re a little bit funny. And if I can’t let my various trials and tribulations stand as a form of amusement for you all, then what the fuck is the point?

Anyway, here we go!

1. Friends can teach you the most bizarrely useful skills

One of the handiest things I have learned this year was taught to me in the very first week. I was trying to declutter, which as anyone knows is at the top of the to do list in this situation. While doing so, I ran into a bit of a problem.

It was the children’s play tent. Or, as I like to call it, ‘the place where balloons go to die.’ You see, I have a slight… balloon issue.

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That is, I’m fucking terrified of them.

It’s not the balloons, per se. It’s all that potential they have.

Popping potential.

And they’re just so freaking unpredictable. You can sit a toddler of a weight roughly equivalent to a small boulder on one, and nothing happens. Breathe on it two seconds later and BANG!

So, you see my problem.

My solution for an unreasonable amount of time had been: shove them in the tent and forget all about them.

You know, you can roll your eyes as much as you want. It worked! Up to a point. For now, the tent was full. Of course, I could have just taken a pin and popped them all. But the mere thought of that made me do a nervous dance on jelly legs.

Which, by the way, looks goddamn hilarious. But is not an entirely practical method for completing the task at hand.

Luckily, there was a friend on the way to solve my problem. She taught me to snip the balloon next to the knot, so that it deflated slowly and, mostly importantly, noiselessly.

Life. Changed.

Yes, I am aware that everyone knows this trick. I apologise deeply for my lack of practical life skills.

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I don’t even care, problem solved.

Next!

2. A double bed containing one adult can fit three children in

Not comfortably, mind.

Between illness, nightmares and general fuckery, my bed can become like a conveyor belt at times. Big Girl and Little Girl tend to sleep through as a rule, while Squeak has maybe once? Twice?

Nah, I’m exaggerating again.

So, there’s always at least one child in there, snoring, sleeping with her eyes open and casually groping my boob.

Standard.

And when it goes wrong with the others, they have to do it simultaneously. In comes Little Girl, clinging to my back like a limpet, wheezing and flipping a 360 degree turn every time she coughs.

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Just as I drift off again, Big Girl pads in, quivering as she exits a particularly gruesome nightmare. A nightmare which, of course, she must tell me absolutely every detail of before passing out on whichever sliver of sheet she can locate.

It’s a full house! Or should that be full bed?

Hang on a minute. Does it still count as ‘fitting’ if I am lying rigid and glassy-eyed, sandwiched between two children who are attempting to reach temperatures approximately three degrees hotter than the Sun? How about if it takes me four hours to get back to sleep because I feel like I’m being slowly suffocated?

Ok, how about if I’m weeping? Twitching?

Hmmm, I might need to rethink this section.

3. Even my phone knows

I have to admit, this did amuse me just a touch! I was texting a friend, and for some reason I needed to type the word ‘kiss.’ No, I have no idea why. What occurred next clearly shows that I do not write it very often.

So tippety-tap I went. And up popped this:

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Whaaaaat? How did my phone know? Is this part of the new update?

It’s like my phone peeped at me through its creepy, stalker eye (what, you thought that was a camera?) and said, “Yeah, she’s got no call to be writing that.”

Judgy pants.

4. The evenings are quiet

If there’s one thing I can say about my house, it’s that it is loud. The usual; soundtrack sounds a bit like this:

“BANG! Ow! THUMP! Nooooo! SWISH-CRACK! Not my pigtails! CLICK-CLACK! Pikachu, I choose YOU!”

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It’s an eclectic mix.

So once everybody is finally floating along the plane I like to call ‘sleeping with one eye open,’ I like to collapse and become one with the couch. And, you know, throw a couple of blankets over me and switch on Netflix.

The only problem is, none of these objects are particularly good conversationalists. Therefore, I spend a lot of time sitting in silence. Well, silence interspersed with the metallic tick of knitting needles, anyway.

It isn’t really that big an issue. I’m a quiet kind of person, so I savour these moments.

Aah, peace!

Then, the phone rings. Uh oh.

For anyone who’s not sure why this wouldn’t be absolutely fine, allow me to illuminate you. You see, it’s in this sort of situation that you can get a bit of a surprise.

Well, I can get a bit of a surprise. That is, my voice. It comes out sounding not exactly as I would expect it to.

In my head, I sound pretty perky. Energetic, even. And definitely female.

But out loud, after three hours rest? Well, my voice box tends to take a little while to catch up to the party.

So what actually comes out of my mouth is croaky. It’s grouchy. And it’s decidedly deeper than I anticipated.

Dammit, I sound like Yoda!

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Which is great for the self esteem, as you can imagine.

5. When a kid throws up on me, I have no idea what to do first

Stomach bugs. In a house full of bacteria-laden germ factories (or as some like to call them, children), they’ve just gotta happen. The last one we had hit Squeak harder than everyone else. The poor kid must have been puking for about four days!

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I know how to deal with a vomiting child. I have a handy checklist that goes a bit like this:

a. Comfort child

b. Clean up child

c. Stand up without dislodging revoltingness onto the carpet

d. Get changed

e. Put washing on

f. Rinse and repeat

Ta-da! Couldn’t be simpler. Except… where do I start, exactly? All of the towels, cloths and general cleaning paraphernalia are rather more than an arm’s reach away. Said child is howling, there’s a rapidly cooling pool around my nether regions and I’m doing battle with my over sensitive gag reflex.

I’m sorry,  that was a bit graphic.

Oh no, wait! Actually not that sorry.

I’d stand up, but the mess! But I have to stand up. But the carpet! I haven’t really figured out a successful method as yet.

Man, it was way easier when someone could just pass me a freaking towel.

6. Quick thinking is essential

So, at the moment, Little Girl’s most favourite and best activity in the world is building with Lego. That stupidly pointy shit spends most of the day strewn across the floor, repeatedly stabbing me in the feet because goddammit I don’t have time to look where I’m going!

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I did wonder if we would have any trouble with Squeak attempting to ingest some of the smaller pieces, but so far that hasn’t been an issue.

Mainly because Squeak doesn’t really dig predictability.

Therefore, when she came to me, whimpering and with her finger digging in her nostril, I guessed that things may have gone a little awry.

Fun fact: Did you know that the diamonds from Lego kits are almost exactly toddler nostril sized?

I know, right? Actually, strike the ‘almost.’ That thing was a perfect fit.

Obviously, my first thought was, “Shit.” Then, “I’m in the middle of cooking dinner on a school night!” And finally, “How the fuck do I get that out?”

I couldn’t drop everything and go to A&E. Well, I could, but it’s not really desirable to trail two extra, hungry children along with me.

At times like this, it’s not what you know. It’s who you know. And luckily for me, a friend of mine once had this happen with a couple of raisins and a much younger child.

Her story is way grosser than mine. But she taught me a little trick, which I remembered at this most opportune of times.

So I grabbed Squeak, pinched her empty nostril shut and blew in her mouth.

And it was out! That was it. From disaster to success in a second, all thanks to my ability to retain pieces of information that spend most of their time being utterly useless.

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Go team!

7. Changing a lightbulb involves risking life and limb

When it comes to completely this, the most mundane of all DIY tasks, the odds are stacked against me. Here’s why:

a. My ceilings are super high.

b. I am super small.

c. I am also terrified of heights.

d. My stepladder is a rickety freaking deathtrap.

But you know, you gotta do what you gotta do. And sitting in the dark isn’t exactly my idea of fun, either.

There be scary things in the dark.

There be scary things in the dark.

Even with this knowledge, it’s still no picnic. Changing a lightbulb when you can’t look at the fixture because you’ll freak out and fall off the ladder. Bracing yourself four times on the way up so you don’t fall off the ladder. Desperately trying to control your quivering legs so you don’t wobble the ladder over.

It all boils down to the fucking ladder, essentially.

<looks up> Shit. Bulb’s gone.

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So, what parenting lessons have you learned this year?

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Things I Have Learned This Week

So I think it’s safe to say that the last almost-fortnight has been a bit of a learning curve for me. I have tapped into wells of strength within me I didn’t know existed, and begun to adapt and adjust our routine to work with only one adult in the house.

With that has come an unexpected education. I’d like to say I was learning about myself and growing as a person, but honestly, when the fuck did you think I’d manage to fit that in? No, I’m talking about the small things, the little discoveries I have made along the way. Some of them have been taught to me by the hellcats I call ‘my children,’ but some of them are all mine.

Here’s a few for you to sink your teeth into. (And by a few, I mean I was too lazy to count how many there are. Deal with it.)

Three In A Bath = A Soaking

This was my first welcome into our new routine. And holy hell, did it throw me in at the deep end (such a shit pun, sorry, but I can’t think of anything else to replace it with!) Big Girl and Little Girl used to be showered by their dad while I swished Squeak round in the kitchen sink. As much as showers are quick and convenient, this was never going to work now. I needed to switch it up, so all of them were trapped in the same place.

Did not anticipate how much more work three kids were in a bath.

I’ve bathed two before, many times. Yeah, it was splashy and stuff, but it had nothing on throwing an extra one into the mix. I have been fucking drenched every. single. night.

I don’t even know how it happens. They spend the whole time sitting down, playing with a few toys. There are no cannonballs into the tub, and certainly none of the sliding down the slanted side me and my sister used to do as kids. (Thank God!) But by the end of it, my glasses are misted with a thousand droplets of water and I need a full change of clothes.

And somehow, perplexingly, the girls’ hair is still dry at the end of it.

How? Just how?

You Can Turn A Grape Into A Raisin In Your Own Home

This one comes from the quirky brain of Big Girl. Although I suspect you guys may have already guessed that.

Just before Christmas, Big Girl took rather a shine to a grape at breakfast. She called it Pea, and stored it in an empty Christmas card box. You’ll note that I say this as if it was entirely normal. Well, I guess ‘normal’ is slightly skewed in our house, because it didn’t raise half an ounce of surprise in me.

Being the responsible mother that I am, I probably should have checked for mould, or some shit like that. But um, I forgot. So… yeah.

She checked it regularly for signs of dehydration, in the manner of a teeny tiny scientist. Surprisingly, it did not decompose, or sprout orange fuzz. In fact, it looks like an enormous raisin.

Big Girl is rather proud of her Pea’s achievement. It is no longer relegated to a dark cardboard box,  but has pride of place in a little tub on the kitchen counter. It has been joined by two green companions, but I’m not sure if they have names. Yet.

So it turns out that it takes almost two months for a grape to turn into a raisin without applying heat or whatever magic they do to make them shrivel up into rabbit droppings. Interesting.

Just one problem. Now, she wants to eat it.

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After Ten Comes…

Little Girl has been learning about letters and numbers at preschool. She’s doing great with the letters. She can recognise them all, make the sounds, sing the fucking annoying but irresistably cute Jolly Phonics rhymes for each one, and has even started trying to read a few simple words. For a child who still isn’t sure of the answer to, “Do you need the toilet?” I’m quite impressed.

But when it comes to the numbers, I’m not entirely convinced that she is paying attention. She knows them up to ten, and can show me the right amount of fingers for each one. But after ten, it all starts to get a bit… squiggly.

Instead of trying to explain it to you, I’ll just give you a direct quote. “Eight, nine, ten, one-teen, two-teen, swee-teen…” Hmm, not quite.

And you’d think she was sorted after that, because the next numbers at least follow the rule she’s established in her head. But no. Fourteen doesn’t exist anymore. Fifteen occasionally makes an appearance, and after that she just babbles nonsense until she gets the giggles.

We’ll work on the counting thing.

There Is No Time To Relax

Here’s one from me. It is something which is really confusing me, to be honest.

I have no time to sit down in the evening. At all. Except for the time I’m taking out to write this for you lucky people, and I think I may regret it when I have to stay up late to get everything ready for school tomorrow.

I don’t get it. I used to watch films, and play games, and sit staring at a computer screen for hours with my feet up and a nutritionally invalid snack beside me. Yet somehow the house was still passably tidy, and everything got done.

Now, I’m running around as soon as the kids have settled down, until it’s time to collapse into bed next to a baby who I swear can smell me. It’s quite shit, actually.

I am hoping that once my routine is all figured out I’ll get a bit more time to vegetate a little. I am not naturally inclined to constant physical activity. In fact, I am positively activity-averse. So this set-up is not exactly working out for me right now.

It’s doing wonders for my muscles though. I’m going to be so freaking ripped in next to no time.

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Benefits Forms Are Epic

You know when you plan to have kids, and you work out how your house is going to work, and who is going to do what? Well, we agreed that I would be a stay at home mum, while the kids were small.

Well, when this kind of shit happens, that means that you’re entirely fucked over. Three children (and the accompanying phenomenal childcare bill that would go with them) and six years out of the workplace are not exactly an attractive employment prospect. I had planned to start looking for a job pretty soon but that, along with all of my other plans, is now on hold.

And so I have had to take the only option available to me, and claim benefits. And frankly, it really pisses me off. This is not how I expected my life to turn out. But when it’s a choice between eating and not, you just have to suck it up.

So I did all the right things, made all the phone calls and so on. And what landed on my doorstep but a couple of copies of War And Peace, or so it seemed. I’m serious. I could wallpaper the bathroom with the forms I was sent over the past few days. I mean, it’d look shit, but there’d be good coverage.

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And some of the questions are so confusing! I pride myself on being quite a smart person, but I was just baffled. Luckily, I have a couple of friends ‘in the know,’ who guided me through the process.

Now I’m just playing the waiting game as I hoard the money I have.

Lentils for tea, kids?

Squeak Can Understand “Sit Down”

I am blown away at the moment by the sheer amount of language Squeak can understand. My last experience of this stage of development was with Little Girl, who gave it a big “Fuck you,” and did her own thing. But Squeak gets so much. She knows when it’s dinnertime, and when I want a kiss, and I know she understands when I say I’m going to get her coat because she legs it away as fast as she can and hides behind the arm of the couch. (Hint, kid: you’re taller than the couch. I can see you.)

One of the things Squeak is really into at the moment is her ‘dooz.’ In people-who-don’t-shit-their-pants language, that means shoes, by the way. She loves her shoes. She fetches them herself every day and waves them in front of my face until I put them on her. And because of that, she now understands when I ask her to sit down. Incentivised learning, anyone?

It would probably be more successful if she was actually any good at sitting down. But she isn’t. She just bends her knees and prays that she will land on her bottom, rather than face-planting on the carpet.

Ouch.

Face-planting aside, it’s really fucking cute. But that is not what I’m talking about here.

The other day, I discovered that Squeak is capable to transferring her sitting down skill to other situations. More specifically, the situation where I inwardly shriek, “Oh my shit! The safety gate fell off the kitchen doorway again and she’s about to fall head first down the step! Fuuuuuuuuck! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down!”

Ok, the last bit was not shrieked inwardly.

But I can now say that Squeak can get down the kitchen step safely, thanks to her goddamn ‘dooz.’

Yay for Squeak.

Having No One To Say Good Night To Sucks

Go on, get your tissues out for this sad fucker!

Seriously though, don’t get to feeling sorry for me now. It’s not good for my image. And this is more of a little niggle than anything else.

Every evening, I put the kids to bed. I come downstairs and put some music on to keep me company while I do the thousand tasks that need doing. When they are done, I switch off the music.

And it is quiet.

All of the children are sleeping. The house is silent. I don’t even have a small bird cheeping in my ear any more.

I turn out the lights and head upstairs. Still silent. I tuck the girls in and kiss their foreheads, and slide into bed next to Squeak. She looks like she’s sleeping, but I know she’s faking it.

It’s not that different to how it used to be. But it is, just a little bit. And that little bit is just enough to make me feel a little maudlin, and lonely.

It is nice to have someone to say good night to.

People Are Wonderful

This is probably my most favourite discoveries I have made in the last two weeks. I knew that I had some fantastic friends and family, but I guess you never really know how good they are until your back is against the wall and you feel as if your world has fallen apart.

The support I have had from everyone I know, including you lovely people, has kept me going recently. I feel safe. I know that if I fall apart, I have people ready and willing to pick me up, dust me off and help me to start again. It is a very empowering feeling. I am stronger as a result of it. I can keep on keeping on because, all of the time, I remember the supportive messages, the hugs and the tears.

Thank you.

Laughter Really Is Medicinal

When I found out that my relationship was over, I thought I would never laugh again. My heart felt dead. I was sure that never again could I feel any joy, never.

How fucking wrong was I?

I have laughed every day. It helps that the children are amazingly funny. I can’t help but take pleasure in the little things they do. The jokes, the funny faces, the dances and the general silliness.

For example, tonight Squeak experienced a touch of frustration, which led to her letting out an almighty yell and launching a maraca across the room. Big Girl took one look at her, raised an eyebrow and without missing a beat, said, “Think you’re angry? You’re hilarious!”

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Ahem. Someone’s been listening to her mother.

I can’t help but giggle at them. And I feel a little lighter every time I laugh. My body relaxes, my brow unfurrows and I genuinely feel happiness.

Also, it appears that I often use humour to get me through the tough times. I guess I just never noticed.

Tell me you spot the sarcasm there. Please.

So I can’t help but crack jokes and laugh with friends. It’s good because it’s normal. I don’t have to act differently, or be treated differently. I am still me, and I like funny shit.

There’s one other thing that is truly medicinal. Hugs. The feel of the girls’ arms tightly clasped around my neck, their cheeks against mine, the warmth of their breath tickling my ear… it’s just the most beautiful sensation in the world. And then there are the hugs from friends. I can feel their emotion and their love for me in them, and that makes me feel pretty damn good.

Thanks again.

Fingers Have Names

I’m going to close with another little lesson from Little Girl. I have noticed that at their preschool they have taught them the names of each finger. No, I don’t mean they call them Dave or something. I’m talking ring finger and all that here.

Well today, Little Girl decided to educate me a bit on the different fingers on her hand. Which led to her striding around the living room, middle finger up on each hand like some kind of miniature Eminem, chanting, “Dese are da middle ones!”

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I’m not going to forget that one in a hurry.

On Courting Disaster

People often say that bad things come in threes. I disagree. I would say they come in eleventy-millions. That’s how it feels at the moment, anyway.

In my opinion, going through such a trauma as what happened last week should give me and the girls a get-out-of-jail-free pass for… oh, a few millenia or so? But life doesn’t work that way. In fact, I’m starting to think that there is a seriously vindictive bastard out there somewhere, whose sole job is to fuck with me.

And I'm not even talking about the kids, this time.

And I’m not even talking about the kids, this time.

On Friday morning our pet budgie chose, with impeccable timing, to die. Half an hour before school. I mean, what the fuck? Cut a woman some slack here! Of course Big Girl and Little Girl found him, I expect you guessed that. What a fucking shitstorm.

Somehow I managed, tearfully, to get them into school. I was tempted to just keep them off, but I figured that they’d at least be busy and distracted all day. And it left me with only one child to occupy while I engaged in Operation Bird Removal.

Now there’s a job I would have usually passed over to my partner. But not any more!

I wouldn’t allow myself to be bested by an animal that doesn’t even have opposable thumbs. Not even if I loved him. So, through floods of tears, I slowly dismantled his cage. I sniffed and I sobbed and I howled. Was I crying about the bird? A little bit. But I suspect that mostly I was releasing a lot of the pain I was feeling about the loss of the life I had hoped and planned for.

Never did I think being a funeral director for an animal could be so therapeutic.

I placed him on a kitchen roll bed in a shoe box, and left him in the corner of the kitchen until the girls came home from school. That evening, we had a little birdie funeral. They drew him pictures, and we said our goodbyes. It was so fucking sad. But they were so brave, and just wonderful. When we were done, I pulled them into a soggy floor-cuddle, and there we stayed for a while. Then Big Girl looked at me and said, “I don’t want to cry any more. It makes my throat hurt.”

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Kid, I fucking hear you!

I am finding that I am really missing that little bird. Sure, he was a grumpy little shit who never let the theme tune of my favourite programmes go by without squawking his damn head off, but he was mine.

The next story is a touch funnier, although it wasn’t at the time! On Sunday morning, I took the kids out shopping for the usual mundane crap: milk, washing powder, yawn. Our little shopping centre has a bit of raised flooring, with steps and slopes and handrails. Remember the handrails, they play a big role in this.

So we got all the stuff we needed, and began to make our way home. The girls always want to go up the steps and run down the slope. It was quiet, so I just left them to it. Big Girl made it down with no problem. But not Little Girl…

Can you see where this is going?

I was chatting with Big Girl when I heard a shriek of epic proportions. I looked up, hoping and praying that, just this one time, the sun would shine on me and give me a break.

Nope, still cloudy.

At first, it was hard to see what the matter was. So Little Girl helpfully clarified with a high-pitched yell of, “I STUUUUUCK!!!”

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Fucking hell.

She had decided that, instead of running down the slope, it would be an excellent idea to walk between the handrail and the wall. It was not an excellent idea. It was a spectacularly shitty idea, in fact.

But I think she’d worked that out for herself by then. Because she was absolutely and completely wedged in there.

It was at that exact moment that I decided that someone, somewhere, seriously had it in for me.

I tried to calm her, but she was freaking out. I tried to get her head out, but it was really stuck in there. And how many genius ideas did I have to fix this problem?

None. My mind was completely blank. All I could think of was the humiliation of having her cut free by firemen. I know a few of my friends would be positively delighted with that occurrence, but that’s just not how I roll.

Thankfully, someone with a functioning brain passed by, and suggested that I walk her backwards until the gap widened a bit and she could escape. Which was really fucking obvious, actually. I mean, she had to get in there somehow, right? So we did it.

And, thank God, it worked. She sobbed and clung to me, and I may have shed a few tears as well.

Now just to put up with the four months of repetitive telling of the story from Little Girl, every time we go shopping.

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Yay.

There was one more, fairly trivial but extremely irritating thing which happened this week. My hoover developed reflux.

Yes, reflux. Oh, you know what I mean. You spend ages hoovering the carpet. Then you stand back to admire your handiwork, turn off the hoover, and sigh as everything you just picked up is regurgitated from the end of the nozzle.

So fucking annoying.

I wasn’t going to let a little plastic piece of crap get one over on me, though. My carpet is clean now, and the hoover has been relegated to the rapidly expanding rubbish pile.

This much.

Fuck you, hoover.

As much as I feel buried under the enormous, cascading pile of shit that has been thrown on me recently, I will endure and try to focus on the positives. There are small victories, and I am grabbing them and holding them close to me to keep me going. Here is one.

Little Girl really, really hates mushrooms. With a passion. If one accidentally passes her lips, it results in a reaction akin to cyanide poisoning. Retching, gagging, the works. (I’m pretty sure that’s not how people react to cyanide poisoning, but take a look and see if I care.)

Well, I wrote that a bit wrong. Little Girl hated mushrooms.

The other day, I made a lasagne. And I put loads of mushrooms in, because Big Girl and I love them and it just wouldn’t be the same without them. I think she can always pick them out if she hates them so much.

That day, however, she surprised me. She shoved a mushroom in her mouth, chewed, swallowed and declared, “I like mushrooms now!”

Man, my kids are so fucking awesome.

Just like their mum.

Just like their mum.

Now We Are Four

Hello, everybody! You may have noticed that Awesome Parenting Is Not What I Do has been unusually quiet this week. Well, we have been going through some rather dramatic and unexpected changes.

I’m not going to hash out the gory details, but I am now a single mother to Big Girl, Little Girl and Squeak. Their father has left our home, to live with another woman.

This was something I could never have predicted. Less than a week ago, I was making plans for our future, and slogging through our daily routine with a smile on my face. I did not ignore the warnings because there weren’t any. So you can understand that I am in shock. As are my poor children.

I know that some of you will be shocked as well, because you know all of us. All I can say is, sorry! If I’d known I woulda clued you in.

But this post is not about him, so I’m not going to go on about that bit. It is about me, and my wonderful daughters.

Before this week, I would have said that there was no way that I would be able to cope as a single mother. I needed the support of a partner to survive. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I would juggle all of their needs and safeguard their emotional wellbeing.

As usual, I was full of shit.

Because I am being fucking awesome at it. The girls are fed, clean and attending school on time. They are still smiling and playing, and have gone to bed without a peep since he left. My house is tidy, the washing is done. I have begun to apply for all of the money that I am entitled to, as much as it irks me that I have to.

I am not saying that everything is fine. Everything is far from fine. My entire world has been ripped apart, and I feel like I’ve been hit with a brick. If I was alone, I can guarantee that I would have fallen apart by now. I would be collapsed on the couch in three-day-old clothes, weeping my heart out and listening to some blubby love songs from Cher, or some shit.

Thankfully, I can’t do that. And more importantly, I don’t want to. Because I am surrounded by three needy, funny, odd, intense children.

And by surrounded, I mean like a team of fucking snipers. Duck!

I cannot press pause on my life. They need to eat, and bathe, and be read to. Homework has to be done and lunchboxes filled. And that’s just the practical shit. On top of that, I have to deal with all of the emotional fallout from them. The tears, the questions, the insecurities.

That is hard. Fucking hard. I would never do anything to hurt them and yet here I am, bolstering their self-esteem and showing them how much I love them.

There’s a good bit though. Children are really resilient, and even when faced with an enormous change they can still find it within them to be fun, to play and to laugh. And I get to see all of that. It is a warm bath for my poor broken heart when they say something funny, or do a funny walk, or throw their little arms around my neck and squeeze.

I’m talking about hugs, dude. They’re not trying to kill me!

This time.

You’ll be happy to know, I still have some funny shit to talk about. Even in the middle of a disaster, stuff happens that makes me laugh my ass off! For example, the story of the first triple child bath.

I haven’t run the bath in my house for fucking ages. Mark used to shower the big girls and I would bath Squeak in the kitchen sink, as it was easier. And by easier, I mean there was less chance of discarded food showering my carpet as I legged it to the bathroom.

Just so ya know.

But it’s not that hard, right?

  1. Turn on taps to correct temperature
  2. Put in plug
  3. Wait until water fills to correct depth
  4. Switch taps off

I fucked up at around about point 3. I just forgot babies were so goddamn short! When I put her in, the water reached almost up to her armpits. Probably at this point, I should have poured some water out before continuing. But do you know what? I’m just a bit bloody laissez-faire, I guess, and I figured it was only going to be for a few minutes.

And it was totally fine, for the few minutes. It all unravelled when I decided to wash her hair.

Squeak is at that blissful stage which is only a few steps up from completely bald. Her hair is thin, wispy and grows straight upwards in the middle of her head. But it means that all I have to do is dump a few handfuls of water on top of her head and it is clean.

So, that is what I did.

But you know when you do that, and they duck their heads when the water trickles onto their faces? Yeah, that happened.

Unfortunately for Squeak, rather than ducking into a pocket of air, she sploshed her face directly into the water.

Oops.

She recoiled from the water with a porcine grunt. Then repeated it as the water trickled on her face. I swear to God, she did it about five times before I called it quits on the whole hair thing. Snort, recoil, snort, recoil, snort, recoil. Over and over again.

Fucking hilarious.

Um, I mean, totally not gonna do that again!

And let’s not even mention that yesterday Squeak insisted on bringing a fart machine on the school run with her. Flatulent echoes battered my eardrums as I prayed that she would fall asleep before we reached the school gates. She did, thank fuck!

So, here I am. My old identity is gone. I am not who I thought I was last week. And that is going to take a fair bit of getting used to. But I am going to carve a brand new identity for myself, right here in my safe haven with my beloved daughters. This week has shown me that I am strong, strong beyond measure. Strong enough to shoulder their pain and mine, without crumbling. Strong enough to push on when I feel like crawling under my duvet and hiding for a while.

And through the tears which I shed at random throughout the day, I am smiling. Because I have some really good shit going here. I have my daughters around me, who adore me and keep me going when the day seems dark. I am making new plans, and dreaming of a new future. One where I will feel less vulnerable and hurt and confused.

I am a strong woman, surrounded by strong women (and a few strong men as well!). Never in my life have I had greater support from my friends and family. I am not alone. I know that every step I take, someone is behind me urging me on, with arms waiting to catch me if I fall. Together we can laugh, and cry, and rage. And somehow, I will get through this.

I feel like Awesome Parenting Is Not What I Do may take a slightly different turn from now on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to write the funny shit you guys all love. In fact, I have one such post currently swirling around in my mind tubes, waiting to be created when I sit down for long enough!

But also, I will be talking about my life, and what is happening, and how I am feeling. Because this blog is my life. And sometimes life just isn’t fucking funny. I am hoping, though, that it’ll help me to pick out the funny bits. To laugh and enjoy the small achievements and hilarities.

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That’s what life is about, isn’t it?