The New Woman

It’s taken a good while for me to write about this, The New Woman is now 9 months established, so I’ll be writing in retrospect. I think, with hindsight, that that’s a good thing as it’s been a very emotionally stressful time – for everyone. Much better to write with a clearer head, it’ll hopefully keep me out of trouble…

So let’s take it back. My first and last mention of the new GF was way back in The Day The Game Changed.

That was my first experience, post marriage breakdown, of how it felt when someone else was prioritised over me. After being together for well over 10 years, and despite being separated a year earlier, RB and I have maintained a close relationship since our split so I was used to still being the Significant Other. Yes, I know it’s weird. So, to suddenly find myself ousted from my position took a bit of getting used to. I had become settled in our new way of life and still relied on RB to be at the end of the phone or to ask a favour of. The introduction of his new SO changed all of that, seemingly overnight. 

Don’t get me wrong, I was (and still am) really happy for him. What I wasn’t expecting were my, totally unexpected, feelings of abandonment. I left him after all.

After that week it became clear that Miss A was going to be sticking around. Now, RB hadn’t had a string of short-term flings or one night stands. Miss A was the first date he’s been on since our split, so neither of us had experience of what it might feel like having a new woman in the mix, or what kind of emotions that would stir up. I’m not generally a jealous person and I was, and remain, genuinely happy for him. However, when it came to the kids, I was fiercely jealous. This new dynamic has undoubtedly been the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with in my life – accepting that, for half the week at least, another woman would be taking part responsibility of my children.

I remember the first time it hit me. It was like a gut-wrenching feeling of sadness. RB had been telling me about how great Miss A is and how they had discussed plans for a possible future together, and how she might slot into our little nuclear family. I think he’d been worried about how to approach the subject. He was very careful to explain her feelings of what her potential relationship would be with the girls and he uttered the immortal words,

“She doesn’t want to tread on your toes in any way, you’ll always be their mother, she’s just going to be like their best friend”

I felt sick. That’s MY job. I’m their best friend. I’m their mother. In fact, I feel my emotions rising as I write this as the memory of that moment comes flooding back. The innate need for me to provide all the love and care that my children need was RAW.

I was a bear and these are MY cubs.

The following few hours are bit hazy, I vaguely remember having a big row and leaving his house in an angry emotional whirlwind. It was a bit like being in a crazy jealous rage. How dare he! How dare he assume that MY children would like her? How dare he believe that MY children would let someone take Mummy’s place? How could he possibly assume I would let that happen??? They would never ‘cheat’ on Mummy. They love ME, there’s no room for anyone else. 

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Obviously, all these thoughts were borne from a totally unexpected psychological trauma – I had been emotionally punched in the solar plexus by someone who I had never met – of course I thought those thoughts. I’m not proud, but I do apologise for them. 

Generally, I always try to see both sides of the story, and make assumptions based on the full picture but there I was totally blind. I had no mental memory to fall back on, nothing similar has ever happened to me.

What I should of taken from the conversation was the part about Miss A not wishing to tread on my toes in any way, a totally positive and mature olive branch.

Now, I have to point out that these feelings were in no way a reflection on Miss A’s behaviour. Thankfully she has the grace and maturity to understand the potential distress that her involvement in the children’s lives might have on me. Throughout the whole situation she has been kind, respectful and always thinks about how her actions might affect the status quo. 

9 months in and we’re all still finding our feet in this new arrangement, and I still struggle not to want to put my arms around the girls and say, ‘NO, they’re mine, you can’t have them!’. But, as we all adjust to the new relationships that are forming, I’m learning that welcoming a sweet, gentle and caring woman into our lives is a positive step for our girls.

Causing friction will only drive a huge ugly wedge into the heart of what RB and I have worked so hard to maintain – a stable, open and honest environment for our children to grow up in. There’s no place for jealousy in there.

RB and Miss A have recently moved in together and I couldn’t be happier for them. The girls love her and she loves them. What more could a mother want?

LB. Xx

The Day The Game Changed

Since our very amicable and relatively easy separation, RB and I have come to blows only once or twice. There have been heated words and many compromises, but great big dirty rows I can count on one hand. Compared to the last 18 months of our marriage, this is pretty incredible. And, I’d have to say I’m pretty proud of us for that. Give us each a gold flippin’ medal. If you could put a picture on our journey so far, it would look a bit like this…

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However, last week things changed. Forgive me, this post is a bit wordy, but it kinda needs to be…

The Background

If you have been following me over on Instagram and Twitter you’ll know that I am in the process of doing up my first house as a singleton. I’ve done a few projects before, so this is not new to me. It is, however, very stressful. Managing a team of self employed tradesmen who appear and disappear at will, while trying to maintain a schedule of works so the girls and I can move in, can get a little tricky. They are all working on top of each other one day, then the next two of them don’t show up, so the other three can’t do what they’re supposed to as they need the absentees to have completed various tasks in the timeline. Fairly standard stuff when you are managing your own build. However, it saves ££££’s so it’s worth it.

Now, I have been quite used to relying on RB, as we have remained close since our split. This all seemed to change last week though. Here’s the rub. We have a family calendar planner so the girls will always know where they are meant to be on any given night. We share our parenting roles 50/50, three nights with him, three nights with me. Simple!

It’s organised, the structure of the week remains the same, everyone is happy. We occasionally make changes to accommodate each others separate lives, but generally we try to stick to it. Yay us.

The Row

On this particular week RB asked me if I would mind switching things up a bit as he had a function to attend (It was a funeral, nobody he knew personally, but someone close to his new GF and he wanted to support her). Fine, no problemo. I am a generous easy-going zen-like flexible co-parent. It’s all part of the ‘amicable separation’/’conscious uncoupling’ game, right?

Fast forward to the next day when I required a similar favour in return. Going back to the building site timeline, I had some jobs to do so that next tasks in the schedule of works could happen the following day. I was hoping to work into the night to get the task completed. So, I asked RB if he would mind returning the favour of the previous day. A perfectly reasonable request I thought?

He said no.

 

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I was a little annoyed, but then he said it was because he wanted to work late, to make up the hours that he had missed the day previous. He had a deadline to meet before the weekend. Cue mini argument and a bit of mudslinging both ways.

During the back and forth of whatsapp arguing, I suspected that he wasn’t intending to work late at all. Why else would he be so difficult? Especially after me helping him out without any issue at all the day before. This was not the usual run of things, one does a favour for the other, and that favour is returned at some other point. It’s just The Rules!

Then it hit me, maybe he was actually going to spend the evening with his new GF. Duh! He continued to maintain that he was working late and that I was a crazy super bitch for accusing him of not putting the children first. I felt bad. Maybe I was wrong and blowing the whole thing out of proportion, in a slightly crazed jealous ex style? Was I?? Did I make the whole thing up??

N.B. I’m not the crazy jealous ex type – at all. Could not give less of a shit. But, when it upsets the balance of how we are managing our lives as co-parents. That gets on my nerves. A large part of maintaining an amicable separation is having respect for one another, along with a fair dollop of give and take. I felt strongly that this was not being reciprocated, whatever the reason.

The truth is he was flatly refusing to help me out.

Whatever the actual truth of the matter isn’t important, really. What the whole drama DID mark was the start of a sea change in our relationship. So that was it. I knew that things had changed forever. Gone was my reliable, if not slightly harassed, baby daddy. He had been replaced by an ex-husband. There was now someone else in his life and our journey was about take a totally different direction.

 

 

Top Image Credit Mark Williamson – www.mrandmrsw.com

 

 

 

The Beginning, the Middle, the End. In Short.

For me to write about my experience of divorce and co-parenting, I guess I should give you some history?

It all began way back in January 2004. I was 24 and had been happily single for two years but had come to the decision that it was time to think about meeting someone to share the fun with. Nothing serious. I was heading out with K and casually joked to The Mothership that I was off to find a husband. Little did I know…

Later on that very evening I slipped over on the dance floor and landed right in front of him! He was out with a couple of mates and we spent the next few hours chatting, dancing, laughing and drinking, then all went back to K’s house in the wee small hours. The party carried on and we had secret sex on the sofa.

{Note to Children – If you read this when you are older, don’t ever sleep with someone on the first night that you meet them. It’s very bad behaviour.}

The morning after we swapped numbers and arranged to meet up a couple of weeks later. Now, despite being a sensible girl, we didn’t use a condom. I was on the pill, it didn’t matter, right? Well, I thought to be doubly sure I’d get myself the morning after pill, Just In Case. Life went on, we met up a few times, things were going well! Until a few weeks later. Yep, you guessed it, no period. Shit. What??? Oh. My. God!!! I was so careful!

I told RB and he was a dream. From that moment on we were thick as thieves and quickly fell in love. We had made the decision to terminate the pregnancy very early on, but then that decision was taken out of our hands anyway. The foetus wasn’t growing properly and I had a lot of pain. I had a miscarriage at about the 6 weeks mark.

Had we not had this massive emotional journey at the very beginning of our relationship, who knows what would’ve happened. Maybe we would’ve stayed together, maybe not. It may sound odd, but I’m glad I had that very early pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage, as it meant that we stayed together and now have two beautiful children who we both adore.

Skip forward a few years…

2007 – Marriage

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2008 – Baby Emilia

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2012 – Baby Ella

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And that’s how it all began.

About a year after Ella was born, the cracks began to appear. If were are honest with ourselves they were probably always there, but life moved so quickly that we didn’t notice the flaws in our relationship. Small nuances in each others characters that were previously accepted, gradually became very clear differences in our personalities. We ignored it, we didn’t really discuss it, just hoped it would go away. But it didn’t.

Over time it became glaringly obvious that we just weren’t compatible. I feel pretty emotional writing this down, as I’m really proud of how great our relationship now is, compared what it would’ve undoubtedly descended into had we stayed together.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share a more in-depth explanation of the process that we went through. I call it a process because thats what it was like. Once I had made the final decision to end our marriage, things just happened. It was devastating, emotional, terrifying, and guilt ridden. However, we both made it to the other side of our personal Armageddon. And, although we both sometimes have to bite our tongues, and there are usually a few incidences a month where either one of us will quietly tolerate a gripe, things are good.

I am not an expert on ‘how to leave your husband’, nor am I a psychologist. I appreciate that everyone’s relationships are different, so I hope my stories don’t come across in any way other than the way that they are intended – as honest tales of my personal experience of marriage breakdown, and how we make co-parenting work.

What’s the story?

So, what is That Girl Thing all about? And why now?

It has taken me a very long time to pluck up the courage to write this blog, but now that the dust is settling on my total life reset, I’m ready to share.

When my babies were born, I was well aware that I might be affected by the thing that many pregnant women dread, post natal depression. And, just as my own Mama predicted, I was. It happened differently with both children, and wiped me out for two years both times. I won’t lie,  it was horrendous. I’ll go into more detail in the posts to follow, find them under Wellbeing.

Yep, that.
Yep, that.

So why now? My youngest is 4! Well, after the initial PND induced fog had cleared, I also lost my business and livelihood during the recession, and then decided to leave my husband. It’s a long story, and one I will be sharing, but yes, I’ve been a busy girl!

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I am also a very lucky girl. My ex (RB) and I have a fantastic relationship now, and we are one of success stories of amicable separation. This is my second reason for writing. I am very proud of my decision to call time on our marriage, and doubly proud of how we have both dealt with it – but it hasn’t been easy. There have been lots of compromises, bitten tongues and tolerance on both parts. We are now at the stage where we are both open to meeting new partners, this is the next step in our journey as co-parents, and one that I hope will continue to be easy and open. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting.

And then there is the horror of realising that I am now a 36 year old single woman, who might need to get naked in front of a new man at some point. RB and I got together early 2004 – twelve years of easy street! You get lazy, I’m sure you know what I mean. It scary! I have now idea of The Rules?? Well, I’m about to find out about the new world of dating, sex and love. It is both exciting and terrifying in equal measure…

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That Girl Thing is about loving the girl/woman within. Putting her first (sometimes) and respecting her for all her awesomeness. After all, a happy mama equals happy babas. So, today is the day. Today is the day that I took my last antidepressant. And I like the date, 1.11. It feels like a good day for day 1.

N.B. // A parenting blog, this ain’t. I’ll happily admit that I’m not the best parent in the world, but I’m not the worst. My kids think I’m OK so that’s fine with me, although I feel that I could be a lot better at it. There is always room for improvement, so I suspect there will be the occasional ‘imperfect parent’ post along the way…