Signed L J Willson

I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I took to blogging. That I’ve been able to record both events and emotions with such clarity for three and half years. You see I’ve had plenty of experience. As a teen I was a diary writer. Or a journal keeper, which ever you prefer. And I don’t just mean”5.30pm, drs appt“, or “17th May – Great day“. I’m talking pages and pages and pages of detailed (although thank god it’s not as detailed as it could be. Some details are best left in my mind!!!) accounts of the day, coupled with the emotional turmoil of this girl’s (and her buddies) teenage years! And I know I wrote like that because I still have the diaries. Every one of them.

I have read and reread them over the years. It’s fun. It reminds me of times when things were very different (many of the entries involve missed phone calls to the landline. Ahhh the days before mobiles!). My favourites books are the ones from 1995-1996. I was 17. I was single. I assume school was going OK, it tends to only get a cursory mention! I tend to talk about my friends, my relationships with them and what we got up to. Oh and boys. Or should I say men. As a 17 year old, I didn’t date anyone from school. I had some very close male friends in school, but really, my romantic sights were firmly set on those older than myself.

For years I would never have dreamt of sharing these diaries with anyone from school, but recently I’m feeling old enough and strong enough and far enough away to no longer give a shit. Is that maturity? Holy crap does that mean I’ve grown up? Possibly. Now instead of reading them with wistful rose tinted specs on, they make me giggle. That young girl, I know she’s me, but really some of the things she says!! Instead of dying at the thought of anyone reading them now, I can imagine getting my crew from school round and reading them aloud, while drinking wine and having a good old remember and a good old giggle.

Except for one bit. One story line. For the first time ever, in all the times I’ve read it, I’m only just seeing it for what it was. And it’s making me furious.

There is a very clear theme in my journals. I was pretty desperate for a boyfriend. I don’t think that’s unusual at 17. And I never thought there was any more to it until reading the diary recently, and realising, what I was desperate for was actually someone to care about me. Someone to take care of me. To love me. And I was convinced this wouldn’t happen for me. Actually, I think I was petrified this wouldn’t happen for me. And yes before you ask, my parents are divorced. Sheesh my therapist would be having a field day with this!

Anyway that makes me sad. Sad in a “ahhh honey, hang on in there, you are worthy”. And in a “girl you are so much more than you realise, a boy isn’t going make you the person you think you should be” way. But it doesn’t make me angry. No, the thing that makes me furious, for the first time ever, is my 17 year old self’s relationship with…. lets call him Nathan. Because that’s his name.

I met Nathan in a local pub. He was nearly 10 years older than me and over the course of a few weeks I became obsessed. Yeah he was pretty, he had his own car and he was much older than me (and therefore exotic), but I’d had other crushes like that. No, this was more than a crush, Nathan blew my mind. And I never really knew why. Until I re read my diary recently. Nathan was very charming. And an accomplished liar. And very good at keeping people exactly where he wanted them. He was in Sales after all. He knew how to manipulate me. And it’s taken a much more mature pair of eyes to look back on that and realise what was going on. I was head over heels for him and he knew I was. He said things and did things that gave me hope. Hope for something real. He gave me his carphone (remember this was 1996 people!) number and insisted I call whenever I wanted to. He would call me at home and sometimes come over “after squash”. We had numerous serious conversations about how nothing could come of the relationship, then he’d kiss me and insist we still saw each other.

You see, as I later found out he was married, something he very conveniently (purposely) forgot to tell me when we met (I only actually found out months into the madness when a friend saw his cheque book). I knew there was someone in his life, because he’d told me he was living with someone and they were breaking up. And that to me was hope. There’s that hope again. Not quite, but not not.

It was all bullshit, from the start. I see that now. But the thing that makes me angry is not that I fell for it, or that I let him manipulate me. It’s not even that no one stopped it, I probably wouldn’t have listened anyway. It’s that he did it at all. I was fucking 17, you prick. What the hell were you thinking? Every entry I read about things you did or said make me want to slap you. How dare you take advantage of this beautiful girl whose only mistake was to be so desperate for love, that she let you dangle her like cat toy. That and taking 20 years to realise what the fuck went on.

I’m not sure why he did it. I’m guessing the adoration of a beautiful young girl is a huuuuuge ego boost. Maybe he was so lacking in self confidence that having a plaything like me was the way to make him feel like a big man. Who knows. I do know I was used. I also know, through the local grapevine, that his marriage didn’t last. And that doesn’t surprise me.

I still have hope. Hope that he didn’t do the same, or worse, to anyone else.

And hope that he’s ashamed of what he did.

Are you ashamed Nathan?

Because you should be.

 

Am I ready for T2 Trainspotting?

A friend of mine shared this this morning

She said it was for anyone who had the poster on their wall, obsessively played the soundtrack on their CD player and “lived and breathed this film”. And that was me. I loved the original Trainspotting. It was probably the first film with truly adult themes, that I found and made my own. And I think a lot of my generation felt the same. We were obsessed. At the beauty and the horror. Because after all, what’s more horrifying than real life?

But that was 20 years ago. A long time past. I haven’t watched, or even thought about Trainspotting in years. In fact I think the last time it even crossed my mind, was on hearing that Danny Boyle was directing the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. A fleeting “wasn’t he the guy that directed Trainspotting” moment and I moved on. Because Trainspotting and everything about it lived in the past. My past.

So I was really thrown, when I found they’d made a sequel. A real sequel, with the same cast, playing the same characters dealing with real 21st Century shit, the way the real people do. 20 years on in their lives. I can’t say I was happy or sad or excited or reviled. Thrown really was the best way to describe it. And that surprised me.

Part of me really, really wants to see this film. I watched the trailer and it really does look like it’ll break you and entertain you in equal measure, as much as the first ever did. But part of me really, really doesn’t. That part of me just wants to believe Renton got away and lived happily ever after. I know life doesn’t happen like that, we never truly get to out run our past, but that part of me, that 17 year old, 18 year old part of me, who was innocent and naive and hopeful, she still wants to believe we can break away and start again. This film meant so much to me at the time. It broke my heart and gave me hope. Hope in a time when things were bad in my own life. Not as bad as those depicted in the dirty streets of Glasgow I’ll grant you, but bad enough that I wanted to get away. Far away.

And I almost want to protect her naivety. Let her live in blissful ignorance. That the happy ending is all it was and all it takes. I want to shout at the filmmakers “You pulled me in with my suspension of disbelief long enough to care about these characters. To care that good stuff happened to them. So why are you now trying to show me that actually life happened to them? I don’t want to see Cinderella arguing with Prince Charming or having to take a crap with the door open because the kids are screaming at her. I can see that in real life ‘ta very much!”

Or maybe it’s this quote from Robert Carlyle

“I tell you, this film is going to be quite emotional for people. Because the film sort of tells you to think about yourself. You are going to be thinking: ‘Fuck. What have I done with my life?’”

Robert Carlyle, NME

And maybe I’m just too scared of what the answer might be.

 

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End of an era

So here I am. Sat in my favourite Haslemere haunt. My plans for today much the same as the plans I’ve had most days since Oscar started preschool 19 months ago. Drink coffee, write words, catch up on social media. You know, stuff.

But today is different. In as much as it is the same, it really is different. Today is Oscar’s last day at preschool. They are having a big party in a local park tomorrow, but as far as walking him to the scout hut, dropping him off, and walking away, to any one of the local coffee hangouts, but more likely than not Dylan’s, alone, well this is the end.

I’ve cried this morning. I honestly surprised myself. I didn’t think I’d feel just so, well, sad. But I do. Wrapping the chocolates and writing the cards for his Keyworker and TA was hard. I guess that’s what happens when you leave these things to the last minute (typical me)!

Wrapped gifts

He felt it. Of course he did, he always does. He picks up emotions in the air like the smell of freshly baked bread. And it affects him. He cried and told me he was “sad”. That he was “crying from my eyes”. But he couldn’t tell me why. He doesn’t understand that he won’t be going back to his nursery again, and I don’t really know how to make him understand. I’ve all sorts of exprience of preparing him for things that are coming up, that are yet to be, but no idea how to explain the things that won’t be anymore.

The walk to preschool was harder than usual, but he ran in just as happy as ever. I feel like I should give him that. One last day when it’s all ok, all the same. Maybe I’ll regret not trying to prep him better somewhere down the line, but at the moment, for who he is now and what I know about him, this is the right way.

Myself, I thought I was prepared. I’ve been counting down the weeks, for weeks. And now here I am. And all that prep has made no difference. Because as much as it’s his last day, it’s kind of my last day too. The end of an era, the end of my routine. I will never be a preschool mum again. And while that is my choice, and a choice I still stand by, I didn’t realise it how sad it would make me feel. How lonely.

But I owe it to him to focus on the positive. So happy last day at preschool my beautiful boy. Let’s concentrate on the fun we’ll have this summer and the awesome school you’re starting in September. And mummy promises not to let you see her cry.

Much. Thank you card from Gin Bunny Prints

Finding my blogging niche – and why I won’t be bothering

I’ve been doing this blogging lark for a while now. When I started out, this blog was supposed to be nothing more than a place to dump my thoughts and to get stuff off my chest that simply had no where else to go. I never set out with an agenda. I didn’t start this to be ‘a blogger’ I started to give myself ‘a space’. The lack of a derivative of the word ‘mummy’ in my blog title should tell you that. My blog is me.

So imagine how alien I find the concept of finding ‘a niche’ for my blog? But this is what successful bloggers are advising now. I can understand why. The market place is crowded for one. Having a ‘thing’ will make you stand out in the, to be honest, noisy crowd. And I don’t know, maybe people want to to be able to compartmentalise their lives in these days of ultimate connectivity. A case of ‘I get this from her’ or ‘that from him’? I guess. But, do you know what, I don’t buy it.

I want to read about people. About everything in their lives. I don’t follow a blog for their niche. To be honest I don’t really follow any blogs that I don’t enjoy reading. I want that person to speak to me, to hear their voice in their writing. And it doesn’t matter how much you pigeon hole yourself, if you can’t write a coherent, interesting piece that speaks to me, regardless of subject, I just won’t come back.

The best compliment about my blog I’ve ever received was from distant family member. They told me they’d been reading for a while and had absolutely no interest in the topics I was writing about but just couldn’t stop reading. It blew me away, but confirmed to me that I don’t need to pin my colours to any one subject.

Yes I write about being a parent. My stay at home life means parenting is a huge part of what I do. And in that I also write about Autism, what it means to our family, the dizzying highs and the stomach churning lows. But hey I write about me too. I am more than my family, my child, than his diagnosis. I refuse to squash my square life into a round blog hole. It’s messy and confusing and full of heartbreak. Just as it’s bright and exciting and full of achievement.

My niche is me. And no one else can write about that.

Square peg in a round role

The Mummy Tag

I have been tagged by my gorgeous friend Maria over at Suburban Mum to do the Mummy Tag post. The idea behind it is to answer these questions and to find out more about the blogger behind the writing, as mums and as people!

So, without further ado, this is me:

1. Are you a Stay at Home Mum or a Working Mum?

Stay At Home. I have been since Oscar was born. It wasn’t planned that way. I fully intended to go back after my mat leave finished, but we couldn’t make it work financially. Daycare (at least where I live) is ridiculously expensive. It took me a long time to come to terms with not earning my own income.

2. Would you have it any other way?

Even though I struggled terribly with the idea of giving up work, I am glad I’ve been able to be here for his early years and I like to think it meant I was able to jump on the situation when Oscar’s development clearly wasn’t matching that of his peers. Now that he has a diagnosis of Autism, it’s been good for him that I can be around consistently and focus on getting him the best support possible.

However, to be honest, I do have days where I still miss going out to work dreadfully. People keep asking whether I’ll go back to work once he’s in school, and if he didn’t have the issues he does I may well look into it, but it seems cruel to put him through all the changes at school to only change everything at home too! So for now I plan to use that time to focus on my blog more. And whatever happens in the future will always have to fit around Oscar.

3. Do you co-sleep?

No, never. Not even when he was tiny. I was sent home from hospital absolutely petrified of falling asleep and squashing him. They really did one on me. I wish I hadn’t been so scared. But do you know, he won’t even try and get in with us now, even if I offer, so I maybe it wouldn’t have worked for him anyway. He likes his own space and he’s a good sleeper. I like to think that’s partly due to us starting good bedtime habits very early on.

4. What is your one must-have item for your baby?

My baby is four now, but as I don’t drive, something I wouldn’t have been without from day one was a decent buggy. We’ve had two buggies in our time. We started with the Mothercare My3, which we used as a pram for the early days and then mama facing for nearly a year. He grew out of that when he was about 20 months old so we switched to a OutnAbout 360. And good god I love that buggy. It doesn’t do mama facing, so I wouldn’t have wanted it when he was tiny, but I love how much sense everything about it makes. It’s so manoeuvrable and has a tiny turning circle for such a big bit of kit. And it folds down really flat! It’s also tough and up to the job of a feisty boy, which is lucky as Oscar’s Autism has meant we’ve used it a lot longer than we anticipated. He’s nearly 3 stone, but the 360 still keeps going. Yep, I wouldn’t have been without a decent buggy for all the tea in China!

The OutnAbout 360 in all its new glory. Doesn't look quite this clean now!

The OutnAbout 360 in all its new glory. Doesn’t look quite this clean now!

5. How many kids do you plan on having?

Just the one. You can read a who post about my thoughts on families who chose to have only one child here.

6. Date nights? How often do you have them?

We love a night out and so try to arrange one whenever we remember and or can book our lovely babysitter. Not having family close by means no free babysitting, but we still occasionally need to go out of the house together without the boy so make the effort to book and pay someone. We don’t have a regular date night though – I think that would kind of take the fun out of it!

7. Your child’s favourite show?

Honestly, it changes every week, sometimes every day! He will always have a soft spot for Thomas the Tank though.

8. Name one thing you bought before you had the baby and never ended up using?

A very expensive Organic Merino Wool swaddle and hat. It was beautiful, but Oscar refused to be swaddled from day two. It was such a shame. We managed to get one picture of him in it and that was it. I sold it in the end!

Very nice but pointless

Very nice but pointless

9. Your child’s favourite food?

Other than chocolate? At the moment Pancakes or Jacket Potato.

10. How many cars does your family have?

One. I don’t drive, although I am currently learning. Once I pass my test (whenever that may be), we’ll definitely have to get an additional vehicle!

11. Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now?

I was seriously overweight before my pregnancy, I always have been. During my pregnancy I actually lost a stone and half in the first two trimesters as my tastes changed completely. However, in his first year, I found it so hard to concentrate on anything and lived on toast. ALLLLL the toast. And cake. And gained huge amounts of weight. I joined Slimming World when he was 1 and originally managed to lose 6.5 stone. After his Autism diagnosis I struggled to stay on plan and gained some of the weight back, but I’m back trying again now. Weight is complex issue for me, but I’ve blogged about that a lot and that’s been incredibly helpful.

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12. Dream holiday with your kids?

My husband and I used to love going to the Greek islands, particularly the quieter islands, before we had Oscar. It was always our plan to take our child over there once we had one, but so far we’ve not been brave enough to fly with him. But I would dearly love to one day.

13. Dream holiday without your kids?

Ben and I had our honeymoon in the Maldives and it was the best holiday of my life. I’d love to go back. But to be honest I would be happy anywhere I could have a break from being a mum for a few days. Especially if it involves a spa and being proper looked after by an amazing hotel.

14. How has your life changed since having kids?

What a strange question. Surely it would be easier to answer what has stayed the same. To which my answer would be, errr, I still like black winged eyeliner?

15. Finish this sentence: “It makes my heart melt when…”

Oscar calls my name. His speech delay meant I didn’t hear the word mummy until he was three and half, so any time he calls me is special. Even at 6 in the morning. I might seem grumpy, but inside I’m melting!

16. Where do you shop for your kids?

When he was younger, most of his clothing would be second hand, either hand me downs, or from eBay or Facebook or NCT Nearly New Sales. However as they get older they get harder on their clothes and in the last year or so I’ve found it more difficult to find him decent second hand stuff. So now I’d say most of his clothes come from Next. Their clothes seem to last and last and because he’s skinny and tall I find their fit suits him too. They also sell on well (if he doesn’t trash them). Other than that I get him occasional pieces in the sales of brands such as Joules or Boden or if I can I love supporting small businesses I find on Instagram.

My happy boy in his Magnificent Stanley original.

My happy boy in his Magnificent Stanley original.

17. Favourite make-up and skincare products?

My make up bag is such a hodge podge of brands, but I must admit I do love MAC (particularly for foundation and blusher). When I remember to use it (which is sporadically at the best of time) my favourite cleanser is Liz Earle’s Hot Cloth Cleanser.

18. Huggies or Pampers?

Pampers all the way. We didn’t get on with Huggies at all despite buying some in his early days. When they discontinued the nappies when he was about 1ish (I think) I wasn’t surprised. Love Huggies wipes though!

19. Have you always wanted kids?

Yes always and when I was told in my early 30s that I had PCOS and might struggle to conceive I was heart broken. As it was it took us no time at all, which I will forever be thankful for.

20. Best part of being a mum?

Being the parent of a SEN child is seriously hard work. Physically and emotionally. But it has also taught me real appreciation. When Oscar does something we didn’t think had could (or would), even if it’s something small like holding my hand when he’s asked, my heart nearly bursts with pride and love. I’m also amazed by the people you meet being a mum and the friends I’ve made since having Oscar, both online and in real life, are some of the best things about motherhood.

My wonderful NCT group

My wonderful NCT group

I would like to tag/nominate

Catie over at Diary of an Imperfect Mum

Natalie over at Diary of an Unexpectant Mother

Alice over at Three Men a Little Lady and Me

If they’d like to join in I’d love to read their answers