Two sides ?

Never judge a book by it’s cover is what they say and there are always two sides to a story, right? Or is it that it only begins with two sides ?

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‘You don’t look old enough’ is generally what people say when I tell them I have 4 grand children.  People are kind or say what they think you would like to hear.  We do it all the time, it just trips off the tongue, usually to make the receiver feel good, flattered and the giver feel appreciated, liked.  Sometimes, its just true!

I am certainly not too young to be a grandmother, being a 53 year old, but I do try to keep myself looking as well as possible.  I was married at 23 and had my first child at 24.  That was considerably old, if you compare it to when my own mother got married or indeed my grand mother.  In their day, 18 was a general ‘good age’ to be married by,  and have a baby within the first year.

These days lots of women are having careers before marriage and babies and lots are having babies from age 18, but without the marriage part.  My eldest was almost 19 having her first, not far off my mother’s age, when she had her first.  My mother was married, my daughter was not.  My daughter since married her childhood sweetheart and went on to have two further children with him and they are happy……. most of the time.

Can we be happy all of the time?  I think not.  I am married to my second husband for  23 years, love him dearly but at times could  quite happily commit murder.  We have, however, endured our ups and downs, swam rivers, climbed mountains and gotten over every bump in the road to arrive at a happy place together having raised our children.

Why couldn’t I have ‘endured’  my first marriage too? Met him aged 21, married him at 23, baby at 24, separated at 26.  We didn’t even get to a 7  year itch stage.  We had a grand total of 5 years, and did it all the right way round…. Met, bought house, got married, had baby and it all went wrong and no, no one else was involved, we just grew apart.  There was no real good cop bad cop, it just wasn’t ‘right’ and I guess I knew it never would be, so it was best all round, to walk away.

He will have his side, I will have my side, but then my daughter will have her side.  There can not be just two sides, can there?   What we do, as adults, will of course impact on the child, right?  It has to, it can’t but not impact, one way or another.  It will however, be up to the adults on whether that will be a good or bad impact, or a somewhere in between.

With all the best intentions in the world, there were times it was difficult.  Some of the times it was amicable, others, it was a battle of the wills.  I tried to never let it get in the way of her relationship with her father, no matter what I thought about him.  I always encouraged her to have a good relationship with him.     He loved her, as I did,  and she loved him and she loved me.  She was entitled to that.  I reasoned I wished her to grow up with two happy parents living apart, rather than two miserable parents living together.

The worst thing I could ever have said to him was that I was taking her away, to live, in another country.  I knew it would cut him in pieces as it would me if the shoe was on the other foot.    I cried at the thoughts of telling him, knowing how he would feel.  When I actually told him, I cried even more, after he had left my house.  She was 7 years old.  She wanted to ‘move’.  Did she know her mind well enough to know this, you might ask.  I asked myself the same question over and over again.

Of course, he took me to Court to try to stop it, as I knew he would and of course I couldn’t blame him. I would  have done the same if it were the other way round.    The funny thing about that was when I first ‘thought’ about moving to Ireland, I didn’t actually think I would, but because it was a thought,  I felt he ought to know.

Things of course turned fairly nasty, he was understandably upset, hurt and bitter.  I knew and understood that, but that all had an impact on our child and for the first time we found ourselves needing the courts to  ‘intervene’ .  I wanted to have the ‘choice’ to go back to my family in Ireland if I so chose in the future, even if it meant taking my child away from her father, as she too had expressed a wish live in Ireland.

She was 8 and a half when we moved and right up to the day of moving I asked her if she wanted to stay in the UK, so she could see her dad, as always,  I would unpack all the boxes and we would stay.   She said she loved him but wanted to move.

She is 29 now and though it was a very difficult time for her father, and of course I did feel a certain amount of guilt, I knew ultimately,  it was the right thing to do for us as a family.  What further made my mind up to actually move, was the amount of conflict between us that was generated from my first telling him of the ‘thought’ to go to finally being granted consent to go.    I was not trying to stop their relationship, indeed I still encouraged it and did so from the time we came,  in that she saw her father for half of all the holidays, and he could come see her whenever he wished,and ring her whenever he wished, which he did on a daily basis.

The distance between us turned out to be a good thing because the impact on our child was a positive one, in that she did not have to be caught between any crossfire.  She has loved living in Ireland and has had a nice life here.  She has continued to love her father and has never regretted moving here.    We will never know how things would have been had we stayed in the UK, but for our family, this had a positive impact.

The thing is with separation and family break down, even with the best will in the world, it is a very difficult road to navigate and know if you  are doing the right thing.  A child, however, must always be at the center of the situation.  If one or both of the  parents cannot reasonably  agree then of course, the courts will have to decide and in the meantime be very mindful of any impact and upset you are putting on the child in the middle of it all.

The Grand Kids

A Grandchild ….always in your heart and a reason to smile, every day!

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Currently I have 4 grand children aged 1, 2, 3 and almost 10 years old.  I love them all to pieces and would do anything for them.  The only thing I don’t really want to do is to be their #childminder…….  I can hear all the sighs, tut tuts and even cheers of agreement and understanding.   Not wanting to be their childminder does not equal ‘I don’t love them or have fun with them.  It just means I want to hold on to my sanity and waining energy levels a little bit longer.  It means I want to keep my house in one piece, a little bit longer (I have just spent a fortune redecorating)!  It also means if I want to spend time pursuing things for myself, like spending a fortune redecorating the house or painting (art not walls) or just sitting on my arse enjoying some peace and quiet, I think that is my prerogative.    After all, I have already been to that mad crazy world before, raising their mothers.  I know what is involved…… the mess, the winging,the shitty nappies, the ‘no I don’t like that’ and the ‘no I don’t need to use the potty’, then two minutes later proceed to pee themselves.  And what about when I need to use the toilet and they want to come with you, really, I just want to pee in peace and in private.  ‘No darling, nanny won’t be long, now you stay there and don’t move’!    Try as you might to force that wee out as fast as you can, it’s seems never ending, especially when you suddenly hear a ‘thud’ or their footsteps on the stairs.    You are of course, thinking all kinds of craziness like they are going to/have fallen and have broken their arm or worse their neck and how do you explain that to their mother!  So no I can live without that kind of drama on a daily basis thank you.  I am already at risk of heart attack, having moved into that time of my life and crossed into  menopausal territory.

You see I looked after my first Grandchild when he came along.   His mother was still in college and of course, she needed to finish her studies and I was happy to oblige, he being the first and such a sweetie.  When she was pregnant with grandchild number 2, some years later, it dawned on me then, that if I mind this child too, my other daughters, would in the future, when they started to produce, say ‘you looked after hers, so why won’t you look after mine’ if I said no to them.  It could be a disaster as I have FIVE daughters.  I could see my life going from rearing children, to rearing more children.  when would i get to have a life????

I do, however, help out, you know whenever they need it, which at this moment in time is every time their mothers go to work  !……. Thank God they are only part time workers.

The fab thing about being a Nanny is there is a huge plus side.  Like going to places where it’s really just for kids but you like to participate too.  The park for instance.    My eldest grandson loves the swings, funnily enough, so do I.  He can swing himself now which means I no longer have to push him, at his squeals and request of ‘higher higher’.  I can hop on the swing next to him and have a competition to see who can go the highest.  Now, if I went there on my own, without a grandchild, swinging away to my hearts content, people would be ringing for the men in white coats.

My other favourite thing to do in the park is to go on the roundabout.  The faster the better.  Just before Christmas we had a family day out, which ended at the park.  Not only did I get a whip lash from the zip wire, I almost dropped my grand daughter in the process, who was clinging onto me for dear life as I was also clutching her as tightly as I could with one arm, the other holding on to said zip wire.  Next stop was the round about.  All four grandchildren, me and the son in law hopped on, while my husband gently turned us.  ‘Faster faster’, I squeeled, as he turned and turned some more.  Thoroughly enjoying the fun of it, I look down and see the children getting paler and paler with a look of utter ‘ what the fuck is going on’.  You know, the same look you have when you catch your children or grand children covered in sudocrem, or paint or poo cos you left them on their own for two minutes while you nipped to the toilet!

I love the fact that I can play silly games with them and make up silly songs and stories.  One grand child I have just loves saying things like, Mr poo poo head, or farty pants and even Mr bum crack.  I have NO IDEA where he gets it from 🙂

One thing I have always done is sang to my own children and my grand children.  Especially at nap or bed time.  They all love it and they all have a special song.  Yesterday whilst looking after my granddaughter I decided to walk around the garden with her, to sing her to sleep and get some fresh air.  The sun was shining but it was a cold, fresh day.  She was suitably wrapped up as was I with my nipple hat (my daughter calls it that because it has a pom pom), my pj’s and my fleece.    I start to feel a slight bit of frostbite nipping at my toes as I go around the yard, due to the fact that my slippers have holes in the soles.  I was kind of hoping for new ones at Christmas, but alas, they did not arrive.

My little dog follows me everywhere, and as it was still early (ish), his poop had not yet been scooped from the yard.   So navigating, successfully, the wheels to avoid going through the said poop, and being so engrossed in performing ‘you are my sunshine’ I accidentally stood in it just before turning the corner!

My mother used to always say ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss’.  She would say this because I was always moving or trying new things.  I would tell her ‘I don’t want to gather any moss, it is yucky, green and fuzzy.  Well as you can see from the photo, my wall has gathered the disgusting yucky, green fuzzy moss as it has not been painted for 2 years.  Also just on the ground by the wall is said yucky moss.  On this occasion however, I was especially pleased that we did, in fact ,have such an unpleasant looking growth, as it did serve a purpose in enabling me to wipe off the equally disgusting dog shit from my slipper with a hole in!

Note to self…… buy new slippers