Surprise! I'm a single parent

Un-Valentines Day
February 6, 2014, 11:41 pm
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I love flowers. I have a patch of clover unmowed on the lawn so the beeple can buzz around and make their honey with it. I leave a few of my artichokes to make the amazing purple thistle head that a bumble bee can bury itself in. I love apple blossom for its delicate beauty and its promise. Oh and the precise waxy elegance of a lemon flower and the blowsy extravagance of elder flowers.

I wheeled past a display today – they are getting geared up for Valentines day. I don’t have to wait. I bought myself flowers and put them by my bed and I thought to myself: I love me. I’m ok. I can have flowers whenever I like, happy un-valentines day.

still a single parent but …. less surprised
January 5, 2014, 11:31 pm
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I started this blog because I didn’t like the fact that I kept talking about the end of my relationship. I felt sorry for people who had to listen to me. I thought if I started this blog I could dump stuff here and get on to new and interesting conversations with other people. Heck, I might even be able to listen to other people. I was pretty tired of listening to me.

It’s a few years on and I think I’ve found that ending a 15 year relationship with two kids involved (and a dog) is a lot like peeling an onion. There always seems to be another layer.

During these years I haven’t always been single. I’ve had a crazy distance relationship for one thing. I put up with the crazy part because I really loved the person and because I think I thought this relationship gave me the space I needed. Probably because we were never properly together we never really got to test out how compatible we were and I put up with stuff that I probably wouldn’t of if he’d lived in the same town. We broke up quite a few times but he was incredibly good at wooing so we also got back into orbit a  few times.

Anyway I’ve just had my one year anniversary of being single! I think this was a great thing for me to do. A year off relationships. It actually stretched out to about two years. I just got busy with other stuff. I wrote books and did a masters. Now I’m starting a new job and I’m thinking maybe I’ll look out for another relationship. It’s nice to share life with another adult.

June 24, 2013, 3:27 am
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Sometime between the morning of the 18th and the evening of the 19th of June a thief broke into my bathroom window. It was raining and he (or she) made a muddy footprint on the vanity. The tread revealed a preference for Converse sneakers. Later the policeman who came to take prints told me he also wore gloves.

Possibly he went to my youngest daughter’s room first where he helped himself to the small change in her purple piggy bank and then gathered up her lap top and iPod. With greater fortitude than the rest of us he lingered in my eldest daughter’s messy room long enough to collect another iPod. By this time there was a lot to carry so he must have been happy when he found the backpack in my wardrobe.

I did not realise how many drawers I have in my house until I came home and found them all emptied, the contents heaped in piles as our belongings were assessed. In one corner I retrieved the heart shaped shard of gravel my daughter found when she was tiny and offered me as a precious stone.

My grandmothers pocket dictionary landed on a pile of underwear. The nondescript brown book would not have seemed much to burglars I guess but inside the cover is my grandmother’s maiden name and the date 1923. Then comes my mother’s name and in the 70s I added my own. It has been in our family 90 years now.

The thieves did recognise my lap top as precious. We see the value differently though. To me the hardware wasn’t the value. It was the words and numbers contained inside. A lover of data, there was a file in there called ‘my life in debt’. It tracked my debt and repayment from the purchase of my first house in 1994 for seventy eight thousand dollars and the resulting mortgage of forty eight thousand dollars to the jagged height of a graphed debt mountain of just under one million dollars when we were juggling a few houses. My plan was to pay off my mortgage and have the graph framed. Perhaps I would have a grand daughter who would love that I’d tracked that. I love data as much as I love fiction and the lyrical quality of words.

Inside my lap top were poems and stories and data. Four novels. Three backed up. I let myself cry in the shower about the one that got away. No matter, there is no deadline. I can write it all again. It will be different and that is ok. It wasn’t perfect at all.

So what have I learnt? Well, backing up data is a good thing to do (I did have photos on a USB yay me!) and also that I still have the most precious things – my kids. The heart shaped piece of gravel really was the most special stone in my jewellery box and I’m really glad I still have it.

There is a fear of the robbers coming back. Maybe they will figure I have had time to get a new lap top but just as equally they might be off to pastures new. I had a dream I was chasing one of them and he kept gaining on me and laughing. I do possibly have one last laugh on him though: I had let some mince go off in the fridge but didn’t want to put it in the bin the day after rubbish day so I stuck it in the freezer and was aiming to put it out with the rubbish this week. They stole the meat in the freezer. I also had a crayfish in there we’d accidentally defrosted and I’d refrozen thinking I’d plant a tree on it some day. Also gone. I really hope they enjoy that meal…

10 reasons why it’s better to sleep alone
July 15, 2012, 11:50 pm
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1. You can make the room the exact temperature you want

2. Wake up when YOU want to

3. Complete control of the remote and switch it off when YOU want to

4. No snoring

5. The sheets stay fresher longer

6. All the bonus space on the other side of the bed

7. Nobody puts their cold feet on you

8. Nobody pulls the sheets off you

9. Nobody leaves stuff on the floor around the bed to hurt your feet

10. A great night’s sleep

My darling
May 5, 2012, 8:09 pm
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I hear the earth more than feel it

You are already leaning in the doorway

Chatting smiling you welcome me there

Your first impulse as I arrive to shelter

Is to embrace and breath me in

You smell funny you say

Its an earthquake I explain

As if anxiety has a smell

Perhaps it does, it propelled me here

But now I feel the earth gifted me this

Your sure welcoming shelter

Little daughter stronger than the doorframe

And then its over for you, you continue singing weaving

the word shake into your song and dancing in the light

as I hold to this strange gift

Four and a half years in the making – sharing the kids expences!!!
April 10, 2012, 4:02 am
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It says in our separation agreement that we will split expences for the kids. It does not say how. This is one of the things-I-would-do-different.

But, drum roll, news just in, the suggestion I made a few years ago – that we get a joint account and put money into it – has been enacted. We agreed to get the account in January – and it is now April and we both have $80 per pay going into it.

This makes stuff so much easier!!!!

The account is in my oldest daughters name and we both have rights to use it. I rang the bank and described what we wanted and why. This was their suggestion. So far I have paid some extracurricular fees out of it and will be paying the school fees (donation my a*s) in a few installments.

I forsee some potential issues – we haven’t agreed exactly what is to be included as joint expences and what isn’t – but this is much better than me paying for every little item because twenty bucks here and forty bucks there just isn’t worth arguing over.

I will be getting an email of the bank statement and logging what each withdrawl or tranfer is about. So we/I have record keeping as we go.

I didn’t realise it but my kids have obviously been feeling very awkward about the financial situation. They never ask for anything. Now I’m all happy about the joint account they have both made tentative suggestions for things they’d like me to buy. I’m glad they are acting like normal blood sucking finance draining children ….. for now.

Mystery and richness at Christmas
January 6, 2012, 9:21 pm
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A few days before Christmas my daughter came in with a big bunch of flowers that had been dropped off by a courier. The card wasn’t for me but they did have my address. There was a name. My sleuthing skills kicked in straight after my disappointment – if someone had sent me flowers I’d be gutted if I didn’t get them. First I tried some neighbors but nobody knew her, next I tried the phone book Bingo! there she was – same road but the last two numbers of our address were transposed. So I spoke to her answer machine and said I would drop them off.

Later I drove my daughter to a party and we popped them on the verandah of the lucky lady. Yesterday she rang me.

It seemed to start off badly: I have just found a dessicated bunch of flowers on my doorstep – did you leave them for me?

Oh dear – in a flash I realised she must have gone away and I had been advertising her absence like a floral neon light to every burglar that ambled by her gate! Luckily she hadn’t been burgled and she wasn’t mad – just emotional.

I think the card said the flowers were from your brother? Yes, that’s right, she said, only my brother didn’t send them, he can’t do anything like that. He lives in a home, he is really disabled. The flowers – they look like they were really nice? Oh yes, I said, a lovely arrangement I’m so sorry you didn’t get to enjoy them. And then she told me that she was enjoying them, she said that having a brother in care she always worried about how he was being treated – and seeing the thoughtfulness of this gave her faith that if the people who cared for him could be so thoughtful on his behalf to her, they were treating him well.

My mother has a tradition that we always make a wish when we bite into the first Christmas mince pie. For nearly 20 years I have made the same wish. My hand goes out and Im thinking of material things like a phone I can see the key pad of, carpet, painting the house, taking my daughters overseas and then as that pie nears my mouth there is only ever one thing important to wish for on the slim chance there is some kind of mince meat fairy out there listening in and doing her best to bequeath those wishes to us. That thing is good health.

This Christmas was a little hard this year – I have been doing major work on my house and had just finished and then, as always, there were a few extra bills. I told my kids to have low expectations but there would certainly be things to unwrap under the tree. Then we put our heads together and looked around the house for anything we could put on trade me. Its amazing what you can find to sell. Our best sell was a shower unit that has been under my bed for years. It was bought with the idea of plumbing in a shower to have a second bathroom in our spacious second toilet which was probably once a laundry. I looked it up online and you could still buy the same unit.

The people who bought it were stoked and we were too – it paid for our trip up north, presents and food for us all. I know you can’t keep expecting to find treasure under the bed but it was good to know we could be a bit resourceful and a good lesson for the kids that things don’t just happen.

pre-nup alert alert alert alert
October 1, 2011, 2:38 am
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Lately I seem to have been running into people (women actually but I’m trying to be gender neutral) who have lost their houses and property because they didn’t have a pre-nup or they didn’t have a very good one.

I’m thinking it might be a good idea to try and hunt some examples out and make them available.

It’s pretty well known that single mothers are among the poorest in society. Women tend to spend time out of the workforce having kids and missing opportunities on the career ladder, women tend to be averse to positions where they might have to boss others around and women often want part time hours to fit in with school and day care. That might be OK when you have a partner and can pool your resources but when the pooling ends…. but that’s another blog.

If you have a  pre-nup and /or you have pre-nup awareness don’t be shy – share with us :-) share the love insurance :-)


August 1, 2011, 6:45 pm
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A small part of me likes to be sick. I don’t have to do anything. My to do list is about ten thousand miles long most days. When I’m sick it can pretty much just sit there. It is a great way to prioritise.

I did have a boyfriend at the beginning of feeling sick (I think that was Sunday) but half way through being sick I realised he shouldn’t be. So: I’m single and sick.

Being sick is, I suppose, a kind of germ attracting lottery. Kind of like dating. I try and do the right things – wash my hands and eat fruit and veges and get exercise. But I keep attracting cold viruses and before you know it Im flat on my back thanking the god I do not believe in that I had had the foresight to freeze a few meals so I only have to give my kids instructions on how to heat stuff up.

Then there is work. When people ring me at work and tell me they are sick I think ok. I do not think they are faking it.  I do not think they are slack. But when I’m sick I find myself asking me: are you really? And on day two I say to myself: come on I think you are milking it now – get up and have a shower and pretend you are going to work. And then I usually trick me and say: well you’re up and dressed now – how about you just go in to work and you don’t have to try too hard. Just keep on top of things.

So because of the tricking and the not believing I am sick enough to stay home I have to pull a swifty on myself, put myself in a coworkers shoes and ask myself: would I like to have to sit within 5 feet of me today?  And that is my benchmark. And that is why I am home sick today.

you don’t send me flowers anymore
July 27, 2011, 3:44 am
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If guys knew just how uplifting, exciting, fascinating flowers were, they would send them all the time. But I don’t think they do. Women know though. The other week I invited a friend around for dinner and she brought me a pot with three tulips in it. They were still buds. I placed the pot in a blue bowl and put the bowl in the center of my dining table.

Oh my goodness every time Ive walked past the table Ive seen those buds maturing. What colour would they be? The outer petals of the tulip is green but as it flowers they turn into the colour that the flower will be. How classy. How magical. How interesting. How beautiful. How dynamic.

Maybe its because women focus on the small indicators of childrens growth and their ever changing beauty that we relate to flowers so much.

The tulips were orange. Not a dull one sort of colour of orange but a flickering of yellows and warm ochre and hints of sexy red. Joyous and bold and brazen and changing every day on my table – lighting it up and enjoying center stage.

A while back I started buying myself flowers every now and again – I don’t buy a big $50 arrangement with lots of paper and plastic and roses that last two days. I buy my flowers at the market and the supermarket. I love daffodils and daisies and something I get with a mass of blue flowers like a hyacinth but not. Theya re not on my list of esential items that I try and stick to. They cost maybe as much as a glossy magazine but I think I get more entertainment from them and more visual delight. Magazines have me thinking about more things Id like to buy and how I need to change me but FLOWERS are about being perfect right now – and when their blooms finish its like a little life you’ve known thats done its thing. You’ve cheered them on and now they can go out into the compost bin and be a different sort of beautiful.

I still love that song that Barbara Streisand sang “You don’t bring me flowers…” such a great number. How fleeting is courtship between lovers sometimes, but we can have flowers whenever we want Barbara.