‘Wine flu’

I know I am a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and that after a drink or two I am a little merry and tipsy, which usually results in me becoming giggly and sometimes flirtatious! I don’t often drink and when I do, it’s often just the one (so I’m definitely a cheap date!). 

However, last weekend I finally had the opportunity to celebrate passing my first year of my counselling training, and I was treated to a bottle of bubbly! The last time I drank champagne was on my 21st birthday, so it’s been a year or two!!!! It’s fair to say it went down very easily! The trouble is I’d not eaten a great deal, so it probably went to my head even more quickly than usual.

It felt really good to finally celebrate, though, as things haven’t been easy and at times it’s been hard to remain positive. For the first time since the first lockdown I went away for a couple of nights to the beach with my daughters and my Mum and had high hopes of us having a wonderful time as a family and the girls enjoying going to a farm and doing lots of things they’ve not had chance to do in over a year. However, unfortunately my youngest daughter had a sickness bug, and so I didn’t see any of the beach and instead spent the two days stuck in the hotel room. I didn’t even make it down for breakfast or get to paddle in the sea. 

Of course my priority was my daughter, but on the first morning after my Mum went out with my eldest daughter, I remember sitting on the bed crying like a baby whilst my youngest daughter slept in between being sick. I admit that I felt sorry for myself. Not only for missing out on making memories as a family but also having paid for a holiday which is a big deal for me. Then I felt bad for feeling sorry for myself when I reminded myself that there were people far worse off than me and that at least my Mum was able to take my eldest daughter out and that we’re getting to spend some quality time together and that at least I had a window with a view. 

I was also grateful for having my mum with me during the night as, although I would have managed, she helped me cope with looking after my daughter who was sick every hour and at one point I ended up having a funny turn which I think was down to pure exhaustion. On the bright side, I didn’t have to wash all the sheets and towels…although I felt bad about the cleaners having to wash them and left the room as best I could. The 48 hours of sickness felt like a lifetime, and it’s horrible feeling so helpless when your child is ill. Fortunately she’s absolutely fine now. 

Both of my girls have had their fair share of bugs since returning to childcare/pre-school, but from what I can gather a lot of children have as it’s the first time most have mixed in months. Then when we went to stay with family who we’d not seen in months my eldest had an ear infection which was horrible and this led to another weekend of sleepless nights and not being able to make the most of our time away. 

I love my children with all my heart, and they are most definitely my world. They give me strength and hope. They make me so incredibly happy every day, and they are without a doubt my greatest achievement. But I don’t think people admit or talk enough about how bloody hard it is to be a parent, let alone a single parent. I’m so lucky that my daughters are so well-behaved and easy going, but that doesn’t necessarily take away from how hard it can be. 

Being a single mum is a 24/7 job with no breaks. People have joked about work being easier, but I know of parents who’ve chosen to go back to work, not for the one by but for a break!! And that’s OK. At work, you get to have adult conversations and talk about things other than CBeebies or hearing the word ‘Mummy’ every second. You get to wear clothes that don’t resemble a decorators outfit from all the food, paint, snot smears etc. 

You have a reason to brush your hair and wear make up and can actually go to the toilet in peace!!! How amazing is that?! It’s a luxury that so many people take for granted! What I’d give to be able to go to the toilet, lock the door and have a few minutes peace! Instead, even if I manage to sneak off I’ll soon hear footsteps followed by ‘Mummy’ and then I have company. I read an article recently about a mum who locks themselves in the bathroom, so they can have a shower in peace, meanwhile their little one is constantly knocking at the door and shouting for them whilst they stand in the shower crying…crying because they feel guilty and also because it’s so incredibly hard. 

No matter how good children are, it is still hard work. There’s no time for yourself, and all other parents seem to want to talk about us children things. You overhear parents talking and it is sooo dull! It’s like a competition over whose child has eaten more vegetables or whose child was toilet trained the quickest… I can’t think of anything worse! I adore my girls, and I’m so proud of them, but I don’t want to sit with a group of strangers talking about that or to feel I have to compete or have my children judged. 

In fact, don’t get me started with potty training! I remember feeling so pressured and judged with my eldest that I was getting stressed about it! The best advice I was given was that they will do it when they are ready, and it’s so true! What I found most interesting is that children have very little control over their life, but that going to the toilet is pretty much one of the only things they can control. Does it really matter how old they are when they are potty-trained? Does it affect their lives? No! I’m 34, and I can’t tell you when I started using the toilet, and quite frankly I don’t care.

Sometimes I crave to feel like me and not just a Mummy, despite how much I love being a full time mummy. To feel like I can wear clothes that aren’t just for playing around in and have a reason to make an effort. Admittedly, if Mastermind did a category on CBeebies I’m certain I’d score highly!! However, I also need a bit of me time, we all do. 

I’ve learned that in order to be the best that I can be for my girls that I also need to think of myself and take care of myself, which is something I still find hard. Especially when it comes to spending money on myself, as I feel it should all go on them (which it pretty much does).

Starting my counselling training has given me something to focus on that is for myself as well as my girls, and as the world returns to some sort of normality I hope to be able to dip my toe back into life outside of being a mum. Like a lot of parents, I have been mainly stuck at home with my children for more than a year, yes there have been so many amazing experiences, but it’s also been tough. 

So, I nursed my ‘wine flu’ by snuggling on the sofa watching the men’s final of Wimbledon whilst telling myself I wouldn’t get hungover again! (Only time will tell!)


Achievements

It has been a very challenging 10 months, what with living through a global pandemic, court cases, getting divorced and the first year of my counselling course amongst other things!! 

I questioned whether to even apply for the counselling course with everything going on, and doubted my ability to get offered a place, let alone anything else. However, after a very intense and demanding interview, I got offered a place. I knew in my heart that my passion lies working with children and young people, and I found out about a local charity that offers counselling and different forms of therapy to young people and their families. I decided to get in touch to see if they offered placements (not expecting anything to come of it) and I got offered an interview. 

I had no idea what to expect, so I couldn’t really prepare for it and I remember feeling a little daunted as I was interviewed by 3 people including the founder and director. However, I loved the fact that her dog was also part of the interview panel, and although I was grilled we also had a giggle, and they made me feel very comfortable. I had no idea what they were looking for or how it went, but then the director told me that they have a secret code to say if they like someone and that they had used it, meaning that they’d like to offer me a place. I remember feeling myself grinning from ear to ear, and I was so happy. Not only had I secured a placement early on but also my dream placement! 

The course itself has been challenging as we spent the first 8 months online, therefore we’d not met anyone on our course, and we didn’t get that interaction that you’d normally get in the classroom or when meeting for a drink as we were in lockdown. We also had to work in triad groups practising our counselling skills online with strangers, bringing real material, and it was scary. I was very lucky that everyone I worked with was very supportive, and I have no doubt that they’ll all go on to be amazing counsellors. Despite the challenges I became comfortable having sessions online and could keep quiet in the background but this all changed when we had to go back into college and I admit I wasn’t looking forward to it. 

However, in the 2 months that we spent in class together, I think has seen the biggest change in me. I’ve certainly come out of my shell more and when I had my end of year tutorial with my tutor she commented on how much she had watched me grow personally and within the group and what a pleasure it had been to watch. It was lovely to hear such comments, on top of which, I also got told that I had passed all my assignments, case study and skills sessions meaning that I can go onto my final year in September and that I can officially start my placement! 

I am very proud of myself and everyone else on the course. We’ve had so much to learn and do in such a short space of time, and without the support of each other, I think we would have found it even harder. It’s hard to believe that in a years time I will have (hopefully) completed the course and be a fully qualified counsellor! 

It’s a shame that when we all went out after our last day in college that we couldn’t really celebrate as we didn’t have our results, but that just means that we’ll have to arrange another night out during the summer!!!

I don’t think we acknowledge our achievements enough, particularly as adults, yet I believe it’s important. We should feel proud and enjoy celebrating our achievements, however big or small. I feel that quite often achievements are taken for granted or just expected, but every achievement requires hard work, effort, strength, courage, resilience…to name a few. 

Sometimes just getting through the day can feel like an achievement and so that should be celebrated too, even if you just acknowledge your achievements and say well done to yourself, it’s worth doing as those positive affirmations are a vital part of our mental health. 

It can be useful to remind ourselves of what we’ve achieved by writing it down, as it’s all too easy to get swept away with life. Before I sat and wrote down everything I’d achieved since September, I didn’t realise, yet seeing it in front of me gave me a sense of pride and belief that I am stronger that I think.

I’ve not had chance to celebrate passing my first year yet, but I intend to! 

I’m very nervous at the idea of starting my placement, yet I’m also incredibly excited to be closer to achieving my dream of being a counsellor.

Lockdown part 3….Week 13

Happy Easter!! It has certainly felt like summer is on its way recently which has made a pleasant change.

I arranged for my girls to go on an Easter Egg hunt this week and luckily, we picked the nicest day of the week. I liked the fact that you had to book in advance and that there were limited tickets available. As it was being held in the gardens of a local hall there was plenty of space for everyone to spread out too. The sun was shining, and the grass was full of daffodils in full bloom! We enjoyed running around looking for hidden Easter Eggs with letters on for us to unscramble. I couldn’t believe how much my 4-year-old daughter has grown up and was running around finding the letters and writing them down all by herself. There wasn’t a prize at the end, so I sneakily hid an egg for them both to find! It’s a good job I was prepared!! My girls finished the trip by discovering the joy of rolling down hills…again and again!

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I left my abusive partner 25 months ago and this week I finally got the best email ever from my solicitors!

I had never been so excited to read the words, your decree absolute has come through, congratulations you are now divorced!! I squealed and did a happy dance!!

I’d had a bottle of champagne ready for a while but finally I could pop it open to celebrate! I can’t tell you how happy I am to be free; I feel such a sense of relief.

As my parents divorced when I was a child, I never wanted to get divorced myself and never thought I would, let alone be happy about it. However, I am free to be me and to live my life.

It has been 2 years of pretty much constant emails, phone calls and paperwork and has been an incredibly stressful, anxious, and emotional time. If it wasn’t for lockdown restrictions, I would be having a divorce party!!

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The pressure is building for my counselling course with 2 assignments due this month which we must pass before we are allowed out into the big wide world on placement as trainee counsellors. I also want to try and fit in some me time – well needed self-care. I used to love baking but haven’t really done much in the last couple of years, mainly due to time restraints, loss of interest and money being tight, but I have been challenged to bake a cake. So, I dug out my Mary Berry books and set my sights on a rainbow cake! Let’s see if I get round to it and how it turns out!

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Wow! I now have more than 70 followers!! Thank you once again to each and everyone of you who has read my blog, I can’t tell you how much it means to me!