Sunday, March 23, 2014

This single life

I can't believe that the Six Nations has come and gone and I haven't had time for a quick blog. It was a great tournament with a really exciting new England side. We didn't win the tournament but we took home the Calcutta Cup, the Triple Crown and our very own Wiltshire boy, Mike Brown, won player of the tournament. Bring on the Rugby World Cup, we are ready!

One of the reasons I haven't had time to blog much, or indeed work on my next book, is because I have had to go back to work full time, not by choice but by necessity.  The law in this country stacks the cards against the single parent. Having previously spent most of our joint income on raising our children, the Ex is now only required to give me the equivalent a day's pay. He earns more in a week than I do in a month, yet I am still expected to shoulder the lion's share of the burden of paying for our children, hence the need to return to full time work.  Although I have always worked, bar a few years when we trotted around the world with him in the good old days of the film industry when they put you up in nice hotels or apartments, it is a long time since I have worked full time. It has been a bit of a shock to the system and for the past two weeks my house has looked, for all intents and purposes, as if it has been burgled. I could really do with a cleaner and someone to do my ironing as I don't get home much before 6.45pm but there is no money for that.

Lack of time aside, I have been lucky to land a great though not spectacularly well paid job working in child protection. It makes me realise just how many feckless parents there are who are completely unable to prioritise their children's needs above their own. I know all about that!

A year, post-separation, I am loving life and the new found freedom I have. No more walking on eggshells, no more pandering to someone else's moods, the children are happier and we have made our lives as a unit of three, not four. We have no contact with The Ex's family, all bar one of whom didn't even bother to send us a Christmas card. Bizarre behaviour after 23 years. His tenuous grasp of the truth means that I have had to suffer emails from his siblings asking what I have done with all his money (a few home truths were exchanged on that one!) and constant excuses for his shabby behaviour. To be honest, I'm bored with it all.

The Ex remains nothing more than an occasional visitor in the lives of his children and to be honest, we quite like it that way. He barely knows his children any more, who are more inclined to send his calls straight to voicemail than answer them. They didn't even acknowledge his birthday. Statistics show that 1 in 4 children lose contact with the absent parent within two years of separation and we are well on the way to that. But who is the loser? Not us. The Boy and Girl have been saving their  money to take me out for lunch on Mother's Day, the Girl and I went on a road trip to Brighton to see Haim and I've just booked tickets to see Elbow at the 02 in London with a friend.  I am back in contact with many old friends and my free time, such as it is between ferrying the children around, is my own to do with what I like without having to ask anyone else's permission.

My ukulele group continues to be a source of huge joy and friendship and as we are becoming better known, the requests for gigs are coming thick and fast. I love the gigs. They are so much fun! Last night we did a charity gig for WaterAid in Bath.  It helps me channel my inner rock chick!

The future feels very positive, despite the financial strictures of being a single parent and the emotional strain of being the only parent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I feel I have re-found the real me. The one who loves new adventures, loves to laugh and believes that life is for living, not merely existing. The past year has also empowered me to ditch other people in my life who were dragging me down so what I'm left with is a fabulous core of truly great people. If you are one of them, thank  you!

The idea of being single in your middle years can fill some people with horror but I'm here to tell you that it's actually pretty great. My children are spreading their wings, getting ready to fly the nest and make their own mark on the world and I am ready to write the next chapter of my life story.