Friday, 28 February 2014

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's back to work I go...

So after the weekend, I return to work after 6 months of maternity leave.

This is the third time I've done this, but in this case I'm not sure if the theory of 'third time lucky' or 'it gets easier each time' applies here.

Luckily, the baby has been pretty cruisy. By now I can pretty much breastfeed while doing housework and change a nappy while amusing one or two other children. But there's been a fair bit of other business going on in the last several months. . .like er, becoming separated. Most of you who have stumbled upon here know how time consuming and emotionally exhausting that is! In summary:

1. Be told my husband is leaving me. Not working on the marriage. That's it.
2. Go into shock.
3. Cry a lot.
4. Start going to the gym!
4. As I can't control my emotions and have no say in this separation, begin to try and control what I can - the other facets of my life. Go into overdrive doing a budget, organise government benefits, cancel cards, change beneficiaries, set up my own cards/bank accounts, change passwords, meet with the solicitor (you get the idea)
5. Decide I will not become a victim, but will use this heart wrenching experience as a journey for me.
6. Vow to myself (and to my husband) that I will be a better and stronger person a year from now.
4. Go through a whirl wind of emotions, which fluctuate and don't necessarily follow a logical order. Vacillate between wanting to stab a fork in his head, rail against the world and tell everyone who he left me for, to intellectually realising that the separation could be a whole lot worse and probably better it happen now and not even later in life.
5. Start to slowly pick up the pieces, start creating a new life, learn a lot about myself and others.

I regularly fall over - sometimes small slips, other times big slides into a dark cavern, but with time I'm slowly getting better at pulling myself back up, dusting myself off and continuing on.

So on Monday I make the transition from separated mum, to separated (paid) working mum. I've organised my wardrobe, implemented a fortnightly meal plan, transitioned my youngest two to day care and enlisted my eldest to do more chores in exchange for pocket money. I might just print me off some affirmations for the tough times at work and pack some tissues in my handbag.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

To the Victor belong the Spoils

Elaine: So I guess you’re not going to Todd’s party on Friday.George: Well I can’t now, Gwen’s going to be there.Kramer: Well she should be the one that shouldn’t go.Jerry: Well if a couple breaks up and have plans to go to a neutral                place, who withdraws? What’s the ettiquite? Kramer: Excellent question.Jerry: I think she should withdraw. She’s the breaker, he’s the                breakee. He needs to get on with his life.Elaine: I beg to differ.Jerry: Really.Elaine: He’s the *loser*. She’s the victor. To the victor belong                the spoils.Jerry: Well I don’t care, I don’t want to go anyway. I don’t want                to fight that traffic on Friday night.
(via The Lip Reader)
Elaine: So I guess you’re not going to Todd’s party on Friday.
George: Well I can’t now, Gwen’s going to be there.
Kramer: Well she should be the one that shouldn’t go.
Jerry: Well if a couple breaks up and have plans to go to a neutral place, who withdraws? What’s the ettiquite? 
Kramer: Excellent question.
Jerry: I think she should withdraw. She’s the breaker, he’s the breakee. He needs to get on with his life.
Elaine: I beg to differ.
Jerry: Really.
Elaine: He’s the *loser*. She’s the victor. To the victor belong the spoils.
Jerry: Well I don’t care, I don’t want to go anyway. I don’t want to fight that traffic on Friday night.

I was thinking about this - about winners and losers, about who gets what in the fall out of a separation or a new relationship. My ex and I have divided up the possessions in the house (and to be fair, I got to keep most of the furniture and appliances, being primary carer), which days he has the kids (and we have some flexibility there to suit both of us) and we've also worked out a draft property settlement that we just need to finalise with our solicitors.

However I'm now finalising the custody arrangements of the gym that I go to.

You see, she goes there as well, and she has been going there for longer than me. I've seen her there a couple of times, and the last time sent me into a downward spin that led me to have a bad week. Last week I pleaded to my ex that I can't have another week like that one, and that I can't afford to see her at the gym again.

So, through my ex as the intermediary, we easily negotiated when she and I would go to the gym during the week. Or, she specified the classes she goes to, and I agreed that suited me as that would be when I am back at work (which is in about 3 weeks - eek!). Knowing that I can go to the gym now without bumping into her or seeing her from a distance is such a relief.

However, the issue of weekend custody came up. I suggested I have Saturdays (which is generally the day I will not have the kids) and she have Sundays, but that is proving to be a sticking point. She wants to reserve the right to go Saturdays, after all as my ex says 'it's her gym'.

So it's not enough that she has managed to start up a relationship with my ex, but she can't give me Saturdays? Especially considering she is a SAHM and has more free time to go to the gym that I will have when I return back to the paid work force (disclaimer - please don't get me wrong here. I don't judge anyone for being a SAHM or a paid working mum. We all do what we need to/ can do. Except for her - I will judge her for anything!)

I know that I could bump into her at any point, such is the double ended sword of living in a big town/major regional centre - doing the shopping, popping down the street during my lunch break, when I go out for after work drinks - but I'm trying to put in place tools to help me manage this, or minimise this happening.

And to make matters worse, both my ex, and her ex are quite well known in town. Yesterday when catching up with a friend for coffee, I found out that some people in her ex's circle are already talking about the break up of our marriages, and that there are rumours circulating that my ex and her are seeing each other. (deep breath) I'm the kind of person that flies under the radar - I don't like the spot light at all.

So more reason for me to get my safe havens where I can.

Postscript - I've just been given Saturday mornings at the gym. Yay me!

Picture and extract from

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Too much of a (not so) good thing

"Do you think you're spending too much time with him?" asked my girl friend last Friday night at the pub.
"No..well, yes we see each other regularly, but that's really for the kids...". She looked at me hard.
"I just think you need to think about separating yourself from him a little more. Just discuss stuff you need to about the kids, and that's it."

I thought about the past week. Last Sunday had been his birthday, and he'd come over for lunch.  Monday after work he mowed the lawns and stayed for a quick dinner (at our eldest's insistence). Tuesday morning he dropped around some emergency supplies ( chicken soup ingredients) when our eldest was sick. Thursday he took the boys to his place. Friday morning he swung by to pick up the baby to take her to day care. Friday afternoon he came around to mind the kids so I could go to the pub (see above). Saturday morning he picked up the kids for a couple of hours. Sunday he minded the kids so I could go to an appointment. Then tonight (Monday) he minded the kids so I could go to the movies with some girl friends.

Er...yes I realise that doesn't look very good in print. Last week was pretty unusual. It was also a very bad week for me emotionally which I'm starting to come out of...oh, now I see what my girl friend was getting at....

"How often are you seeing him?" asked a friend/natural therapies practitioner who is helping me with some meditating at the moment.
"Oh, the plan is for him to have the kids for two nights and almost half a weekend each week. But other things come up during the week...I'm probably seeing him a couple of times a week".
"That needs to stop. It's natural for you to want to see him and talk to him, but it's continuing to make you vulnerable."

I know if someone were in my position, I would be tempted to give them the same advice I've been getting from several friends. Keep it about the kids. Don't ask about work, mutual friends, don't make the idle chit chat like you used to, or like you do with a friend.
But it's so hard. Like a habit. And because, deep down, I still care for him. Sort of. I think. I don't know. It might be just the pain and the ache of missing someone talking.

On Friday night, when I felt at my most vulnerable, I had put my heart on the line and made it clear that I still felt for him. He knows me too well, so knew it was coming, and understood. Of course, it changed nothing, I learned nothing - oh, except don't do that again!

Tonight while I was getting ready in my (previously, our) bedroom, he came upstairs after arriving to say hi and talk about a problem with the sprinkler system. I lost it. I became angry. You don't get to leave me, and then still come upstairs and behave as if it is an ordinary evening pre-seperation.

When I came downstairs he apologised. It was just a habit for him, it felt natural, he wants us to be friends. I know that, and it felt nice, but it also hurts too much as it reminded me of our previous life. Those little interactions - sitting on the bed talking while someone is getting ready, asking to get zipped up or getting a second opinion on an outfit - they are now for him to have with her.

I believe he genuinely want us to be good friends, and there is also the advantage that it may also help to assuage his guilt. A large part of me really wants us to be good friends too, but my head knows that right now I can't. He doesn't get to leave me, start seeing someone else, while continuing to be my friend in almost the same capacity as when we were living together. I can't allow him to pick and choose the parts of our relationship that he can keep, when he's decided that I'm not good enough to stick around for.

I hope we can be good friends again. But right now we need to interact with each other as the parents of our children, and that's it. I told him that, and while I saw him wince a little, he understands it's the best thing for me right now. I just hope I can keep remembering that...

Monday, 3 February 2014

Detour off the High Road

I admit that lately I've been giving myself some small pats on the back. Aren't I good that I haven't bad mouthed my ex? How I've been restrained and not posted anything inappropriate on Facebook. How I've managed to not let slip to the kids that daddy has a new 'special friend'.

But today I made a little slip. The vulgar tongue came out.

Why are some days easier than others? I know that's part of the journey, and the harder days make you appreciate the good days even more (insert sunset photo here to turn this sentence into a meme). While I sit here at the end of the day, watching the wonderful QI with Stephen Fry and having a glass or three of white wine, I realise there were a series of triggers today....
Seeing the back of her at the gym this morning.
Then wondering how I would react if I actually bumped into her at the gym.
Thinking about him being with her in bed at night while I'm in bed alone/nursing sick baby/being kicked in the back by one of my lovely sons who keeps crawling into bed at midnight.
Missing the smell of the back of his neck and the feel of his arms.

Now don't get me wrong on the last sentence. I don't miss him per se, but today I missed the comfort of someone dear. That wonderful combination of someone that you discuss dreams with, the ordinary trivialities of life with, of being comfortable passing wind in front of, but still have great (albeit very occasional) sex. Yeh, that last sentence won't be turned into a meme anytime soon...

So I was feeling a little flat today, as we all do from time to time for no real reason. He came around after work to mow the lawns. (side note - yes it is good that he mows the lawns. But it's also in his interest so our back yard doesn't turn into a jungle before we sell the house later in the year). And again, like yesterday, I found it hard to look him in the eye. I didn't even want him in the house, which funnily enough is probably one of the first times since our separation I felt this. But our eldest wanted him to stay for dinner, so he did and I pushed aside the pain and acted 'normal' - back by popular demand!

In snatched moments away from the kids, I made it clear how upset I was feeling today, and that she certainly has some balls still going to the gym knowing I also go there. Yes P, I know it's her gym, but isn't it enough that she has helped to split this family up and is now sleeping with you, but that she can't stop going to my gym? Has she no class? I also mentioned that I can't wait for the day he tells his parents how quickly he had taken up with her after he left me. I know they will be devastated even more about our separation when they hear this, and P knows that too. I don't want them to be upset again because I love them dearly, but perversely I want them to feel upset again towards their beloved son.

After he left I called him up and let more clangers fly. This is not the behaviour I want to display, but I gave myself a leave pass given my good behaviour. So I called him up. Swore like a sailor. Asked if he ever felt guilty about being in her bed when I was home with our kids. That he watched me labouring with our third child, knowing he was about to leave me. Also inserted lots of expletives beginning with the letters F and C.

So I accused. Ranted. Swore. I heard the pain and hurt in my voice. Repeated that I had lost trust in him and a lot of respect to. That I believed in karma and at some point he would get his. That yes, I know I will be a better person out of this, and yes I know the circumstances could be a lot worse, but this situation is fucked and painful and the cold hard facts do not reflect well on him at all. And true to form, he listened, bit his tongue and took it in.

I spat at him, that of the two of us, I was actually the braver one. I after all had raised that there were problems in our marriage about two months before I gave birth. He didn't want to work on it or talk about it, because as we know now, he had some fresh pussy to go to. (Yes, I said that-see how angry I was!) Where as he didn't raise that there were problems during our marriage, and instead waited until I inadvertently opened the door, so he could leave and go to her. What a bloody coward. It's at times like this I remind myself how noble he was for not leaving me while I was pregnant. That he stayed with me, even though he pulled away from me whenever I went to touch him. That he made even less eye contact with me. That while I was labouring, he could barely sit further enough away.

I spat at him that one of the good things to come out of this separation, is that he will have to actually man up and be a more involved dad. That he can't rely on me to play with the kids, oversee their homework, always be the one to bathe them and put them to bed and get them ready in the morning. That when he has them he will have to do this and more. That he can't sleep in while I get up early, morning after morning, despite my lack of sleep and that I too had a full time paid job to go to. That on his birthday, I almost passed out when I saw him playing cricket with our eldest outside, albeit for about 10 minutes.

I hate that feeling of hurt. That sound of hurt. I cringe now thinking about it, but golly it felt good at the time.

So tonight I took that detour off the high road. I'm sure tomorrow I'll get back en route. Pun not intended.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Happy Birthday to you!

This morning I baked a chocolate and coconut slice, roasted a chook and veggies, made a salad, and helped the kids make a birthday card.

The card was clearly signed from the three children. We made it clear that our eldest had chosen the presents from Target. There was nothing from me, no name on a card. Oh, except for the lunch and a hollow 'happy birthday' as he arrived.

A good friend asked me last night why I would bother doing anything for his birthday. Which is a bloody fair question.

I had wrestled with it for a little while in the last couple of weeks, but I knew it was right that I do something. Mainly for the kids. I didn't want to do anything in public with him, but by it being on my ground I could feel reasonably ok about it.

It went well. As well as a birthday lunch for your recent ex can go. I tried my best with the chit chat, mindful that the kids were near and trying not to remember that while I'm nursing an unsettled baby whose currently vomiting at night and feverish, that he's spending his nights in someone else's bed. But I digress...

I can't work out what I feel about him. It often changes, and I'm accepting that it's going to continue for a while. Sometimes I think it comes close to extreme dislike (I think hate is a very harsh word reserved for cockroaches and mosquitos. Insert your own disparaging comment here), but I think is more like Nothing with a Tinge of Disdain. I could barely bring myself to make eye contact with him today. It normally really bugs me when people talk to you and don't make eye contact.

He was genuinely appreciative of the lunch. Our three year old insisted on getting out the candles and putting one on the cake along with a Happy Birthday sign. I sang Happy Birthday with somewhat reserved enthusiasm with the kids.

I was pleased with myself that I managed to bit my tongue a fair bit today. Until after he blew out his birthday candle and our eldest asked if he made a wish. Our son continued "did you wish for a wonderful family" - I'm still trying to work out what he meant by that - but under my breath I said to my ex "there's no need for you to make a wish because it already came true for you". Eek. But yeh, it did feel a little good too.