The Good Parent Guide.

This post is actually going to come with a dedication. Why the heck not. This post is to everyone who has ever looked despairingly at their child(ren) or their own reflection in the mirror and thought “Am I doing this right?” Or even “I’m really not doing this right!”. But especially, this is dedicated to my friend Rachel aka Mummy Glitzer.

I have spent many, and I do mean many, many, many MANY hours in the last three years worrying. About my capabilities as a parent. I wonder if perhaps, I feel that burden weighs heavier on my shoulders as I’m a single parent and therefore I have to be two people’s worth of parent. Possibly, but either way, I’m sure you’ve felt the same at some point.

Let’s not lie or try to kid ourselves now. Parenting is HARD. It is really, fucking hard. Nothing prepares you for it. These kids, they come along, they rip your body apart (or if your a man, they fill your partner with such crazy hormones that she might just rip you apart), they deprive you of sleep, they make your house stink of something indescribably awful, they cry and shout and generally damage your hearing they make constant attempts to harm themselves the second you look away… its knackering.

So. I am here, Ladies and Gentlemen, to put your fears to rest. I have the answers you have all been waiting for. Here it is, my guide to parenting, my own Gina Ford Guide if you will, to this minefield we call parenting…

Rule 1: To Fail to Prepare is to prepare to fail. Be prepared folks. Arm yourself, for this war against the tiny people. Fill your cupboards with salty, sugary snacks, multi packs of them if you can, to fling at your children in self defence in times of need. Yes fruit, try fruit but I tell you, it will not save you. Jamie Oliver has staff. He is not a foot soldier in this battle.

Rule 2: Sleep. The Holy Grail. Again, stockpiling is your best option. Sleep should be embraced as your friend, your comrade. If that means snoozing on the sofa for 4 minutes at a time while the little darlings crayon in their favourite CBeebies characters directly onto the television then so be it. If you nod off on your commute, or in my case, stood upright behind the bar This Is Fine! Do not fight the sleep. Sleep loves you, let it caress you and care for you.

Rule 3: Wine. Or gin (tins optional). Whatever your poison, it should be readily available at all times. A good parent does not allow the stresses of the day to continue even a second past bedtime. Deposit the children into their beds and RUN, grab a glass and fill it, fill it to the brim! Gulp it down and Let It All Go. The housework will still be there tomorrow. Trust me. It’s pointless tidying, they’re only going to trash the place again tomorrow anyway and Kim & Aggie will not come knocking on your door. (They’re too busy trying to break down mine).

Rule 4: Coffee. Do not, I repeat, Do Not attempt to embark into the battlefield of a morn without this. But proceed with caution. Kids are aware of the power the brown nectar has over their parents and may try to consume your coffee to strengthen their own arsenal if you leave your cup within reach.And no-one wants a toddler full of caffeine at 6.3oam.

Rule 5: Be wary of how you man your platoon. Out there in the real world, away from the safety of the internet are the Uber Parents. You know the ones I mean. The ones who are always eerily On Time for things, who’s children are lacking in food stains or bogeys trying to get into their mouths. The ones who’s houses are as immaculate as their manicures, who, when you open their car doors no raisins cascade out onto the ground or chickens fly out of the boot. We all have real world friends. And we all know the ones I’m talking about. Be wary of the Mummy who’s little darling walked at 27 minutes old, who’s first word was ‘astronomy’ who has NEVER eaten ketchup or rubbed Wotsits into the carpet. They will not help you. Instead, embrace the honesty of others. Do not be afraid to admit, that last night you did not cook a Delia-Happy dinner for yourself and instead ate the children’s leftovers on bread while standing up in the kitchen. I suspect that many of the Uber Mummys do not have twitter. Or if they do, we’re doing a lot of fucking lying to each other out there.

Rule 6: Remember- you’re all they’ve got. So yes, perhaps in some respect, they’re stuffed. But hey, they don’t know any different and at the moment, they love you! Even if you were the perfect parent, we’ll all have to endure the years of angst ridden teenage hatred together anyway. Enjoy their unquestioning love while it lasts!

Rule 7: With Rule 6 in mind: Forgiveness. Kindness is key in this game. All joking aside, honestly, I believe that but for a small few, we are ALL doing our best. If you love your kids, care for them, clothe and feed them, even wash them and said clothes sometimes, if you are there for them, making yourself accessible to listen to their troubles, their joys, to hand out cuddles and tickles, to get the Hula Hoops down from the cupboards they can’t reach, to change the channel over to CBeebies at their demand, then hey… that’s not bad.

And Finally….

Rule 8: Remember. Being in our childrens lives is not a right. It is a privilege We cannot, and do not, despite those of us who try, mould our children into what we would like them to be. They will choose their own paths regardless, our job, our blessing, is to be there to help and support them along the way. One day, they will be old enough to decide for themselves how big or how small a part they want us to play in their lives.

If you have ever been so exhausted after a night of broken sleep that even your skin hurts, ever given in and let them have some crappy snack of crisps or a biscuit before dinner, ever just let them watch TV instead of doing crafts or going to the park or whatever, ever let them come and sleep in your bed because its just easier to do that and go back to sleep that continue the battle through the night, ever panicked at the thought of visitors because the house is in disarray, ever done any of that and more. You are not a bad parent. You are a parent.

If you have ever worried about your parenting skills, ever feared that you’re not doing it right or that you should be doing more, or better, or differently then that is enough. Because in those thoughts is the desire to do the best for your children. To give them the very best that you have to offer as a parent and a family. No-one is perfect. But if you look at your child and believe that actually, despite being such little terrors, They just might be perfect, then you’re doing it right.




Babies. I’m obsessed with them at the moment. I’ve met the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, he feels the same about me.

And so… “Procreate, procreate, procreate!” screams my uterus. I have never experienced ‘being broody’ before. Chops was born out of a very different relationship under very different circumstances. I was only 23 then not very young granted, but younger than I saw myself when I looked into the crystal ball of my future. I’m almost 27 now and my little girl is two and a half. Not a massive different in numbers but a complete transformation in all other manners.

Although I’m also thinking about going back to work, Chops starting nursery and so on, if I’m honest what I really want is for G and I to have a baby. For a long time after Chops was born, I felt like I would never want another baby. It has been just the two of us for such a long time that I couldn’t see myself having another. I feared that that might somehow take away from Chops, that it would jeopardise my absolute commitment to her. But then I think about my own brother and sister and realise that I want that for her. I want her to have that friend in her life, that person who has always been there, remembers the jokes from her childhood the way I have with my siblings. And I want a baby with G.

When I was pregnant with her, it was the worst time of my life. My strongest memories I’m sad to say, are not happy ones.

I remember crouching on the floor, between my bed and the wall, with my bank card and my scan photo of our baby literally stuffed into my jeans so that her Dad could not get them, while he threw furniture around the room, breathed smoke and beer fumes over me, flicked cigarette ash at me and screamed and threatened me, took my phone and smashed it against the wall so I couldn’t call for help. He wanted more beer. He needed the bank card to go out and buy more, even though we had nothing left, the only money we’d had was £40 my Dad had lent me to help me out and most of that he’d already taken and spend on beer and cigarettes. He’d said before he’d tear the scan picture up if I didn’t give him the money, so I cowered from him, terrified, unable to more, holding my child as she kicked inside me and tried to stop him from taking them.

I remember crying in the toilets of Babies R’ Us, shopping alone for what my daughter would need because he hadn’t wanted to come, surrounded by couples and groups of Mums, Dads, soon-to-be-grandparents, chatting and squealing excitedly as they decided what to buy.

I remember trying to walk out of the front door during an argument and him wrapping his arm around my neck, managing to escape through the back door and running, but being too heavily pregnant to get very far. I shouted for help, people heard me but then he caught up. Convinced them it was nothing, we’d just had a silly argument.

I remember him telling me I should get rid of the baby in my fourth month, so he’d never have to look at either of us again.

Being pregnant is supposed to be magical. You know, apart from the vomiting, the sexy waddle you start to do, the extra weight, the aversions to every bloody thing, the worrying, the extra hair all over the place (not just me right? Right?), the not being able to reach parts of your body with a razor to remove said hair, the loss of sleep, needing to wee every 30 seconds, the boobs leaking milk at a nappy display in the supermarket… I won’t go on.

Anyway, it’s supposed to be magical. I didn’t experience any of that. I want to have a baby and enjoy my pregnancy. I want to do the ‘normal’ things pregnant women do. Enjoy my new massive boobs, eat my body weight in creme eggs, demand my loving partner go and fetch me chinese food at 3am, be a ratty, moody cow and it not be met with violent anger.

Just once though. I am absolutely certain I will have just one more child. See, that feeling of not wanting to jeopardise the relationship I have with Chops has not completely gone away. So I will have just one more and here’s why- if I have one more child I will have one Chops (who doesn’t know her natural father) and one baby with G. Chops and future baby will be as equal as they can be. I won’t have any more after that, because I don’t want to have two, three, however many children with G, two or three children who know and have the love of both natural parents and then for Chops to be in the minority. Does this make sense? I know I might be over-thinking it, that in all likelihood my children would probably never even think about that, but to me, that seems like the best decision. I wouldn’t want two children who have the same parents, know and live with them, are loved by them, but Chops be the only one who is a step-child.

G knows this and he understand. He knows that being with me means just one more baby and Chops to love as his own. This is a big ask of course. How can anyone love a step-child as much as they love their own? It’s a huge challenge. But then, G is an exceptional man. And if she is going to have that love from anyone, it will be from the man who on his days off from his 70+ hours a week job, will let me sleep in, collect my daughter from her room, take her downstairs and play guitar and dance with her, then demolish my kitchen making pankcakes to bring me breakfast in bed a la toddler.

I once though I had my family, just me and Chops. But now that we have G I see how much we would have been missing. I have three quarters of my family now and hopefully, it won’t be long before I get to carry the final piece and make us complete.

The Shreddies: End Of Week 1

Evening all! Tonight was my first proper weigh in at Slimming World. It’s the second time I’ve tried their ‘Healthy Eating Plan’ *Stress NOT a diet*. I lost 8.5lbs on it over the summer but since then I’ve put 8 of them back on. I’m not fat, I don’t think that I am, but I’m only 5ft tall so there’s not much of me to hide an extra couple of pounds on! I’m currently right at the top end of what is considered a ‘Healthy Weight’ for my height. I want to lose about a stone, then I’ll be slap bang in the middle of that healthy weight bracket and my jeans will have a lot more give in them!

I’ve done 4 days of Julian Michaels ’30 Day Shred’- I confess I’ve been lazy with it on certain days! Day 1 I found the workout ok, I was sweating & out of breath by the end of it but I could manage it. The next day, I couldn’t even move my arms! I hadn’t realised just how hard it had worked my muscles so on the advice of the other ‘Shreddies’ ladies I swapped from using my 2.5lbs weights to using tins of beans! I’ve only done 4 days but honestly, I feel that the workout is noticeably easier for me to complete.

Seeing as it’s my second time with Slimming World I have been taking it easier than this time- I find that if I try to be too strict and keep food diaries then I spend all day thinking and obsessing about food so end up missing the naughty foods much more! I’ve not given up my wine, I want to try and change things slowly so that if I hit a bit of a wall and my weight loss slows down I’ve got a few things I can change fairly easily- swapping wine for a G&T for example!

So tonight, I am pleased to report that I have lost 1.5lbs since last week, hurray! Next week I’d love to lose 2lbs and I’m going to do a bit more meal planning to try and keep me on track…

Progress chart

Wish me luck!

Sara xx

P.S Click on the link below to find out how the other Shreddies ladies are getting on!



I’m writing this after watching tonight’s Panorama about Jimmy Saville. About the possibility of unspeakably dark things going on within the BBC, that were gossiped about and suspected by dozens of people. As with anything like this, I watch, I listen, and I think of my beautiful daughter who is asleep upstairs.

I won’t pretend to have the monopoly on loving my child. I believe that the love I feel for my daughter is the greatest love ever felt by one human for another. But of course, I realise  each of you parents out there feels the same. But despite the unease this programme has given me, tomorrow, I will be woken by my child. We will go downstairs, I will make breakfast for us both, prepare coffee and put on CBeebies for her. The knowledge that the bright, colourful, musical entertainment my daughter enjoys so much is brought to us by the same organisation that has covered up and turned a blind eye to such monstrosities chills me to the core.

It is no revelation to any of us, the idea of a ‘corporation’ as something hungry for money, something corrupt, something where what is presented to us as consumers is rather different from the inner workings of the machine. But here’s the thing- I pay for this.

I can choose not to visit the coffee shops on every high street, not to buy from any shop I dislike the ethics of, I can choose to buy fairtrade, to support the charities I believe in and  not put my money into most companies I consider unethical should I choose.  Even our gas and electric suppliers concern themselves with offering ‘green’ tarrifs, by supporting charities, by being seen to care. But the BBC… Every year, if I want to watch my tv, listen to radio, watch programmes being streamed online I have to give them money. £145.50 a year. No choice, no negotiation. Like a tax, if you want this service you have to pay for it. Even if you don’t want the BBC’s services directly, you still have to pay them. If I don’t then will be prosecuted as a criminal.

The irony that I am appalled and revolted by the allegations of sexual abuse of young girls- children still, so many of them- by Jimmy Saville, propped up by the BBC , but I have never seen so much of the BBC until I had Chops isn’t lost on me. CBeebies gets a lot of airtime in this house.

Watching this programme, I feel disgusted, I feel saddened, I feel angry. But above all, I feel helpless. It seems that everywhere I turn, in every direction my daughters life could take, there is such danger. I want to close my laptop, go upstairs, carry her out of her bed and into mine and sleep with my body curled around hers where I know she is safe. I want to hold her hand tomorrow and every day for the rest of her life. I know I cannot do this. I know all I can do is to teach her, educate her as best I know how to be safe. But then what do I know?

How can I protect her from so many dangers? Drunk drivers, a boyfriend who seems so kind and gentle but with a terrible, concealed temper, sickness… so many kinds of sickness… people we know perhaps, someone in her life she trusts who means her harm, would try to take advantage of her, hurt her in any way. A stranger, a chance opportunity when she leaves my sight for just a second. Her own mind, God knows that my own mind can be my enemy, how can I protect her from the same dark shadows that plague my mind? The wrong time, wrong place, anything could happen.

How can I keep her safe? The weight of it threatens to bury me. So many parents out there, who thought their children were safe when they were not.

I know what will happen when I publish this. You will read it, some of you will comment, offering your shared feelings, recognising, sympathising, ‘being positive’ I thank you for that. Some of you will mull your thoughts over in your mind but leave no comments. But if you read this, and you have children you will know that feeling I’m writing about: What chance do we stand when there is so much, so very, very much in this world that could hurt our babies?

Dear Louise…

Dear Louise (Yes. Louise. Remember that?)

First of all, I miss you. It’s been a lot longer than usual since I last saw you, not since the day after your wedding. I hope you’re ok and bump is doing well. I can’t believe how fast it seems to be going this time.

Secondly, I hope we can manage to talk about all of these things and start talking to each other properly again. You’ve been my best friend for 10 years, I know things are bound to change and our lives are very different to how they used to be, but I miss speaking to you the way I used to.

I feel like, to be honest, you probably have little or no idea why I’ve not been to see you lately, why I’ve pretty much stopped calling. I have to tell you what’s on my mind because I don’t think I can keep pretending these things aren’t bothering me. I hope you understand.

It’s this business with bringing Chops to the wedding. I feel like I’m lying to you by pretending it was ok in the end. When I got that message from you, I couldn’t believe it. The timing was pretty bad, seeing as only the day before, I’d received our invite which had both me & Chops named on it and I’d spoken to you about how excited we were and everything. I know it wasn’t your idea, I know it was your husband.. I’m going to change his name to Alan for the sake of privacy. Why not? I know it was Alan’s suggestion and I understand why… sort of. But I still can’t get my head around it. You had five bridesmaids. Four of us had children. The other three bridesmaids children were invited, there was never any question of that. So to be asked not to bring my daughter, when I would already be coming on my own with her and one of your only guests that wasn’t with a boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife etc was horrible. Surely if I’m important enough to be your bridesmaid then it should have been ok to bring her even though she isn’t ‘family’? If I was getting married, I would never invite you and ask you not to bring your children. If Chops would be there and G’s nieces and nephews would be there (or even if they weren’t), your children would be there. And if G suggested that you come on your own, I’d tell him no. It wouldn’t matter if he thought his friends might be upset that your kids were there and theirs weren’t. We’ve known each other longer than I’ve known him or you’ve known Alan. And I think that any of the other guests would have been able to figure out that she was there the same as all the other bridesmaids children were.

The other thing is… and I know this sounds petty… the dress. That dress cost so much money mate. I know that in the end P bought it for me, but that was because when you told me how much it would be I rang him in tears, because I had no idea what to do. £150 was the same amount I had budgeted for Chops’ Christmas presents! I know you did everything to get them as cheap as possible but here’s the thing- no matter how much I wrangled the price down, when you were on your own with your son, I would NEVER have asked you to do that. I would not have asked you to spend money you didn’t have on something you would wear for 8 hours, on a day to celebrate my relationship. I just wouldn’t. And the shoes… you said we could pick our own, so that we could pick something we could each afford… but then you changed your mind and picked the exact pair you wanted us to buy… and we bought those too. I wouldn’t have done that to you. You said that you felt bad that you couldn’t afford to buy them for us, and I believe you.

But then here’s the thing. You couldn’t afford to buy the things you expected us to wear for your wedding, we had to pay for them ourselves, but then Alan went to Amsterdam for three days for his stag do? As well as the trip to Ibiza for his-friend-who-I-cannot-refer-to-by-his-proper-name’s stag do while you were meant to be saving for the wedding? I know it’s Your wedding, and of course, Alan works bloody hard, he should have a good stag do. But can you see how I’d feel, paying money I really don’t have for an outfit for your wedding because you can’t afford to buy them, but you can afford to do that? It wasn’t fair.

I love you Louise. I love your children and I love Alan. (I hope you’re still smiling at that line even though this isn’t particularly pleasant reading)You are an amazing person and you deserve to be happy more than anyone I know. God knows you’ve been through more than anyone should ever have to cope with. Which is why I have said nothing. And on the day I pretended it was my choice to not have Chops there. But it wasn’t. I didn’t want to upset you, but I felt wrong being there without her. And when people asked- a lot of people asked- where she was, I had to lie. I told them I couldn’t have managed with her on my own during the speeches and so on because I didn’t want to admit that actually, I couldn’t afford to buy her a new dress that would go with the ones the other girls were wearing, I felt embarrassed. And that you two had asked me not to bring her because she wasn’t family like the other kids. I know you backed down. I know you said I could. But I didn’t want it to be an ‘Oh okay then’ invite. It felt insulting, that I’d had to fight for her to be there. And I suspected people would agree, so I did’t tell anyone.

When Alan rang me about it, because you were passing messages back and forth, I told him that I would rather not come to the wedding, than be anywhere where my daughter was not 100% welcome. Of course, you can say it’s not about her being unwelcome, it’s about trying to prevent anyone else being upset that my child was there and there’s wasn’t, but the bottom line is, if you’re asking me not to bring her, she isn’t welcome. And when I said that, he said “I think you’re being very selfish”. Which after making sure I had that dress, those shoes, had the weekend off work (which I don’t get holiday pay for) had a new bag because unlike the other bridesmaids, I couldn’t put my phone or my purse etc in the baby changing bag or leave them with my boyfriend, because I came on my own so I had to buy something, felt horrible. Maybe it was selfish. It’s your wedding day after all. But it is just one day.

And here’s the thing: You refused to go to unspeakable-friends’s wedding without your daughter. There were No children at that wedding at all, and you wouldn’t go without her. You weren’t in the wedding, you were there with Alan who was of course, but you wouldn’t consider not taking her. So that’s what I don’t get- how did it get to the stage where it was ok to ask me not to bring my daughter to your wedding, when all the other bridesmaids children were invited?

I might be selfish. If I am I’m sorry. But if you weren’t with Alan, if it was still just you and your child (which you should understand, you’ve been there) living on your own and I was getting married. If you had to buy a dress for that wedding and shoes and a bag you couldn’t afford, but would find a way to get because it was my day and you want me to enjoy it and not cause unnecessary problems. If we’d talked about this wedding and then, when I was upset because my fiancée had gone on a holiday we couldn’t afford on my birthday, you’d come to my house with a cake and balloons and tried to pay to take me and my children out for lunch to cheer me up (I know your Dad ended up coming with us and he paid for it in the end but I still quite literally chased him up the road with the money), if you’d regularly made the over an hour journey to visit me on public transport with your baby which is not easy as you know, even though I had only come to visit you three times in over two years because I said it was too difficult to make that exact same journey with my baby… If that’s the way it was… and then I asked you to come to my wedding without your child, even though he’s my godson, and G’s sisters were my bridesmaids and their kids would be coming… wouldn’t you feel hurt?

What should I do? Just forget about it? I’m trying. I don’t want to feel so bitter about this that it ruins our friendship. But I can’t pretend I don’t need to tell you I’m still upset. I’m sorry.

Sara xx

Viva La Onesie!

Ladies and Gentlemen. Well. Probably not gentlemen… possibly Spencer & his slanket and one or two others but I’m reckoning, mainly, LADIES!

If you follow me on twitter, you will have seen that in the last week, I have made a purchase that has indeed changed my life. You will have heard me refer to it on a daily (who am I kidding, several-times-a-daily) basis. Yes, I refer of course, to my Onesie. Mixed reactions have been made to said purchase, from the shared joy of fellow onesie owners, to the inevitable questions of those who have not yet taken the plunge (“don’t you get cold when you go for a wee?” Umm, well, yes), my boyfriend has been frankly, worryingly encouraging about me getting one and me, well to be honest I’m now thinking one just isn’t enough. I need to start (dare I say it) a Collection of Onesies. So I bring to you my fellow bloggers, tweeters and folkel of the web, photographic onesie joy. I stand bold and onesie clad before you, wearing my onesie with pride and accompanied by my Chops(also in a onesie) to guide you on your journey to understanding… The onesie is not to be feared. It is to be embraced. I encourage you to to join me, stand side by side (pretending we don’t actually need the toilet) and celebrate this all-in-one revolution. Post your own photos on your blogs/twitter and declare yourselves fellow lovers of the onesie. (Kate at Makeshift Mummy and Chelsea at Ms Mummy of Two I’m looking at You!!)

I provide you with a badge that you may display with pride, go on, dare to bare, VIVA LA ONESIE!!*

Nothing But Words And Wine
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*I’m well aware I could be on my own with this by the way. But that’s ok. I understand that not everyone is a natural onesie exhibitionist and this may prove the worlds least popular meme type thing. Ah well.

The Shreddies

Blatantly stealing the title of this blog post from the lovely Alison at Five Go Blogging, today was my first day of attempting Jillian Michaels “30 Dy Shred” DVD. I’d love to have another Shreddies joke to hand but unfortunately I’m just not that funny *sigh*.

I’ve never done any exercise DVDs before but have heard a lot of people talking about this one, frankly it’s the fact that it claims to get results in just 30 days from doing a 20 minute work-out that sways me. I borrowed a friends zumba DVD to try out at home but honestly? It just went on for too long. I could handle the work out, but I couldn’t keep Chops occupied for that long so had to stop and start too much. Think I only tried it three times and gave up!

In addition to this I’ve re-joined Slimming World. I was a member back in June/July and I lost 8lbs in about seven weeks but then I jacked it in when we went on holiday. This time, I’m attending a different group with a different consultant and already I’m feeling way more positive. Last time I felt totally thrown in at the deep end. I arrived at the group and I’d been weighed and had my money taken from me before I had any idea what Slimming World was about, the consultant didn’t bother to go through anything with me, just said that everything I needed was in the pack.

Needless to say by 9pm that evening I was on the sofa with a glass of wine eating crisps and chocolate, thinking it was all far too stressful. This time, my new consultant took a good half hour to chat to the three new members, made sure we all felt confident and answered our questions. We were weighed and paid at the end of the group Only when we felt happy with it. Much better!

So here we go. I have joined forces with (well, invited myself/elbowed in on) a team of co-30-day-shredders on twitter who are at various stages on the Shred.

Introducing, #TheShreddies!








You’ll find us on twitter, in various stages of despair  motivating each other and comparing our weary limbs newly toned and fit bodies. Possibly wearing lycra and doing stretches.

Have you done the shred? If you have and your reading this you must have survived so please let us know how you got on!


Is anyone else always tired?

I am ALWAYS knackered. I don’t know how long this has been the case. I suspect since I was pregnant. It worries me a little. I know I’m a single parent and all that but there are tons of other single parents out there who seem to manage way more than I do and just seem to get on with it. The amount that I can sleep when I get the chance is scary. I can quite easily get up in the morning and it take me two or three hours just to get myself off the sofa. If we’re at home in the afternoon when Chops takes her nap, I will put her in bed with me and sleep next to her, only waking when she does even if that’s over two hours later. I make plans with friends to do things with our kids in the mornings, just to make sure I get out and do something with my day, or I can quite easily find myself still in my pyjamas at 3pm.

I work part time and the hours of my job doesn’t help as I finish work at around 1.30am, but that’s only one or two nights a week. G is here probably four sometimes five nights a week so that obviously doesn’t help because I’ll wait up for him to get home, even though its usually around midnight when he gets home.

And yes, for the last seven months or so, Chops has been waking every night and refusing to go back to sleep unless I either put her in my bed or I go to sleep in hers, and it has been taking till gone 9pm to get her to sleep most nights, even with me in the room with her. But we’re starting to get over that. She’s been going to bed without me there and has slept through pretty much for the last week now. But I’m still waking up completely knackered.

Is it because I have a combination of things in my life that just aren’t compatible for getting enough sleep, or am I just lazy? Before I had Chops, I was a grumpy cow if I’d not had a good eight hours sleep. I rarely get that now, but when I’m tweeting away in the mornings and I read what everyone else is up to, so many of you are off out on the school or nursery run, already well into your morning commute and I wonder what the hell will happen when I start a job that I have to be at for 8 or 9am?

This tiredness, it feels like more than a few good nights kip will sort. I am bone tired, weary to my core all the time. Is this just a symptom of being a mother? Am I destined to just need to invest in more and more expensive under-eye concealer as time wears on? Or am I in fact, part bear/woodland creature, and should in fact, be donning my onesie and going into hibernation for the colder months so as to be sprightly and fresh in the spring?

Absent Familiy

You probably know if you’ve read my blog before (I thank you) that I’m not in contact with my daughters father, (if not it’s here if you need bringing up to speed). I’m very lucky in that I have both of my parents nearby, Mum in Buxton, 5 minutes away from me and her husband, and Dad in Manchester with his wife and two step-sisters. My sister lives in Buxton, as do my Aunt and three cousins. My brother has been living on the Isle of Skye for the last 7 months but now he’s back and living in Buxton too. So I’m lucky. Her Dad might have opted out but I’m not lacking in support and my little girl is more loved than you could quantify.

What I don’t really get is the other grandparents. M’s parents are still married, they live near to where we lived when Chops was born. When Chops arrived, his Mum, Julia came to the hospital to meet our baby girl. I was very aware then that this was not a first for them. You see, Chops is M’s third child. He has two children from his relationship before me who now live down south with their mother. While we were together, I was lead to believe that despite his best and continued efforts his ex was bitter about their break up and was refusing him access to the children. And I believed him. Why wouldn’t I, I suppose? In turn, I was lead to believe that she was also refusing his parents the opportunity to see them, although I asked considerably fewer questions about that.

When Chops was born, his Dad never came to see her. To this day, he has never laid eyes on my beautiful child and to be honest, it seems unlikely that he ever will. How strange to think that my parent love her so dearly, G, who is no relation to her, adores her, the women who work on the checkouts in our local supermarket bloody love her and yet, those to whom she is related by blood have turned their backs?

While we were together, M claimed that it was because of me his Dad had not visited. He blames you for C taking the other kids away. M claimed. He thinks it’s your fault they can’t see their other grandchildren.

It was only during that all telling conversation between myself and Julia, the first night I finally left and came to my Mums house that so much became clear. Without provocation she told me “Don’t believe it’s anything to do with you why Nigel hasn’t been to see the baby. It’s M. He’s washed his hands of him. He wants nothing to do with him.” So not me in fact. M’s parents had had enough of his lies as well. We spoke for 10, perhaps 15 minutes, and in that time so much fell into place. I learnt it wasn’t just me he’d stolen money from, that I wasn’t the first to tell his mother about his drinking, his temper, his gambling, the debts he’d run up in his own name and mine. I wasn’t the first to have had the experience I’d had with him. But the first time she hadn’t believed it.

The next few days were simply hell. My family were great, arranging to go to the house for me to collect my things, helping me look for somewhere to live. But the phone was ringing every hour, day and night, M trying every known tactic to get me to come back. That was in August 2010. By October, 2 years this month, I had had my last contact with him. It had dwindled swiftly from constant calls, to texts, to email… then nothing.

That is one thing. But here’s what I don’t understand. M made it perfectly clear that he wasn’t going to be the sort of family that Chops needed. He had done nothing but let her down right from the start. So in a way it was no surprise when I stopped hearing from him. But what about his parents?

Chops is still their Granddaughter. I respect that and although it would have been a bloody nightmare, had they have requested to keep in touch so that they could have a relationship with their Grandchild I would have done. But I have heard nothing from them either of them. Chops has never had a Birthday or Christmas card of him or her Grandparents on his side of her family. The phone has never rang with a call or a text to ask how she is. I shouldn’t be surprised, I know that they have no contact with their other two grandchildren from him either and they had had far more involvement in their lives before that relationship ended.

But how do you do that? How do you see your Grandchildren regularly, live nearby, watch them growing up for four years and then nothing? How can you know that your son has had a child of his own and make no effort or show no interest in meeting that child, regardless of what is going on between the parents? It bewilders me. It also worries me for the future. I know that out there my daughter has a blood family she knows nothing about, that she is far too young to understand and it feels like a ticking time bomb. One day I must explain to her that these people exist, that she has a half-brother and sister, who knows, by then it could be more. Where do I even begin with that?

For now, Chops is oblivious to all of this. She is happy and she is so loved, by me and G, by my brother and sister, my parents, their partners, their partners children, my aunts, uncles, cousins. My friends love her, my colleagues, her own friends love her. The people in the local shops where we live love her! She is such a wonderful, happy and friendly little girl, I am not exaggerating when I say that every single day, someone will pass comment on just how remarkable she is. She has more love in her life than she will ever understand. So I do not fear she is missing anything by not having M or his family. But their decision to turn their back on her and decide not to have her in their lives weighs heavily on my heart every day.