Mummy bloggers

Home / Family / Mummy bloggers

No, it’s not yet another post banging on about the rights and wrongs of mummy bloggers in general.
It’s a post about my mum and how I wish blogs would have been available to her as I was growing up.

I’ve just been reading a very emotive blog post from Mocha Beanie Mummy and one of the comments, by ‘Anon’ simply stated “I hope to god your children never read your blog”.
It made me wonder what kind of things I would have read from my mum as we were growing up.
I didn’t have a great relationship with her when I lived at home (funny how that childhood house will always be home, even when you have your own home, husband and children!) and during my teenage years, I often felt she resented me but I didn’t know why.
Of course, I didn’t ask her if my feelings were true and if they were, why did she feel that way? I just became mouthy and judgemental, as teenagers tend to do, and made the relationship worse.

I wonder, if she had written a blog, would it hurt me now, as a 35 year old mum to three children, to read that sometimes she wished she hadn’t had me or that she despised me?
In all honesty, I don’t think it would.  I know about depression now. I didn’t back then and I understand how it makes you feel things that aren’t true. I know now, as an adult, that my mum loves me and no matter what she felt back then, it was because she suffered from depression and none of those things she felt are a true reflection of her feelings for me and my siblings.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the hurt I felt back then can still sting sometimes but at least now I know why those things happened. It makes it easier to deal with when you understand the reasons behind an action.

One example of an event that happened when I was about 13 I think, worked to drive a wedge firmly between my mum and me.
Mum and dad’s friends were visiting with their two children. Usually, we got on really well and we’re great friends but this day, for some reason we had a falling out. I have no idea what the problem was now but it was probably something very insignificant, as most childhood quarrels are.
Dad was out and the other adults were in the house having a cuppa. I was outside with the two children and the boy went to kick me. I didn’t fight back, I just grabbed his leg to stop him from kicking me but unfortunately, the action caused his other leg to slip a bit and the hole for the drainage pipe was right next to his foot. His foot went in the hole and he shouted in surprise as he fell over.
What seemed like a split second later, all hell broke loose. He was crying, I seem to remember his sister shouting at me (could be wrong but it did feel like the whole lot of them were shouting at me!), his mum came rushing to the door with a furious look on her face asking what I’d done to him and my mum came rushing to the door shouting as well (can not remember to this day anything she said because I was so overwhelmed).
Even though the question ‘what did you do?’ was being shouted at me, not one of them let me answer and try to explain that I was stopping him from kicking me and it was an accident that he’d fallen. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, I just didn’t want to get hurt myself.
It ended with my mum dragging me to the bottom of the stairs and hitting me as we went. I was stuck at the bottom of the stairs until she stopped and screamed at me to get to my room.
Even now as I’m writing, I can feel the tears welling up at the injustice of it all. I spent what felt like hours sitting in my window waiting for my dad to come home.
I remember the visitors leaving and they looked up at me in the window. The girl looked like she felt sorry for me, the boy looked pleased (well he was a child and a boy, what else could I expect!) and I don’t think the parents looked but I can’t be sure.
This did happen over 20 years ago so my account of the whole story may be totally inaccurate. The others may remember it differently because people view and interpret things in different ways.
I was still quietly sobbing when my dad pulled up on the drive. He waved to me then noticed that something was wrong.
He came upstairs and I just fell into his arms and broke into huge gut wrenching sobs. He was the only one who listened to my side of the story that day and in my 13 year old mind, he was my hero.
I think, though I can’t be sure because I didn’t witness it, that the whole situation caused a lot of friction between my mum and my dad and from that day, the relationship between my mum and me went from bad to worse.
I felt guilty because I thought it was my fault that they weren’t happy with each other anymore.
Looking back, I don’t think that event started the downward spiral of their marriage but in my young mind, it was when I started to notice that things between them seemed to get more and more strained.

I do remember times, after that, when they seemed happy and my dad would grab my mum and hug her and I’d think everything was ok again but it didn’t last.
When I was about 16, my mum and dad were going through what seemed like one of the worst of the bad times and late at night, I heard my mum in her room, crying to herself.
I went in, sat beside her and tried to put my arm around her. I asked her what was wrong and all of a sudden she started shouting, ‘don’t come in here pretending you care. I know you’re taking your dad’s side, if he leaves, you’ll go with him’.
She said more but I honestly can’t remember what she said. I was shocked at first then I started getting angry. I shouted back, ‘why do you think I’m taking my dad’s side eh? I know he loves me. He tells me and shows me all the time. When did you last say you loved me? I don’t actually remember if you’ve ever said it and meant it’.
At this point, my dad came upstairs and sent me to my room, not as a punishment, just to diffuse the situation. I was crying and felt all hard done too again because in my mind, she was being unfair.

When I left home a couple of years later, things started to get better between us
We were still a little wary of each other but slowly bridges got built and hurt feelings got buried.
I was visiting her one day and looking through a drawer to find something I’d left there, can’t remember what it was now, when I came across a notebook. One of those small ones with a paper cover. Nothing was written on the outside and I flicked through it.
It turned out to be a diary of my mums from a few years before.
I know I shouldn’t have read it and I didn’t read it all but the first line caught my attention; my mum had been advised by her doctor to write things down to help with her depression. I found out she’d been on anti depressants and suddenly, all those years of feeling like my mum never loved me, made sense. I understood now why she acted the way she did and from that day, I forgave my mum for everything I felt she had ever done wrong to me.
I worked on building our relationship to the wonderful one we have now and I’m happy to say, we no longer have any problem showing each other our love.

If my mum had been able to write a blog (as opposed to a diary which still makes me feel guilty for reading even the tiniest bit of it) and I was old enough to read and understand the way she felt at the time, would we have had a better relationship?
I’m sure if mum had been able to explain to me why she shouted at me when I didn’t feel it was deserved, and why I felt she was pushing me away when I needed a cuddle and reassurance that I was loved, I’d have been much better equipped to deal with it all.

I’m now a mum to an eleven year old boy, a six year old girl and a 4 year old girl and sometimes I get in moods where everything they do annoys the heck out of me.
The thing is, if I’m honest, it’s not actually them that’s annoying me. On a day that I’m moody, things that wouldn’t normally be any sort of a problem, become huge and make me angry. I don’t know why it happens and the moods only come every now and then. I wouldn’t say I’m depressed because I’m usually feeling fine and can cope with everything.
When they do come though, I don’t usually get any warning.
I snap at them, I start storming around shouting and I know it scares them when I get like that.
It’s really hard to stop when it starts and it makes me want to cry with frustration because I know I don’t want them to feel unloved and like I’m pushing them away but my actions are the opposite of my true feelings and I’m powerless for a while to make myself stop.
My head is saying, stop now, cuddle them and make it all better but it’s a huge battle in there between the voice of reason and the anger.
So after my experience with my mum, I’ve started to explain to them how I’m feeling and how sometimes, I have no control over it.
I tell them that I love them, no matter how much I shout and snap and whenever I can, I apologise and tell them I was wrong to have behaved that way towards them.
Obviously, it’s easier to explain to Aiden and he understands more but KayCee’s starting to understand now and Ella just needs lots of love and hugs to make her feel better when I’ve upset her. Luckily, none of them hold a grudge, yet, and apologies, hugs and kisses make up for all that I’ve done.

I hope, when my children are older, they’ll see this blog and know how hard I work to make them know, in their hearts that I love them with every little part of me, contrary to the actions made by me on bad days.

While reading Mocha Beani Mummy’s post, I wasn’t judgemental at all but I did wonder if I could be that brutally honest out in the open like that and at one time, the answer would have been no.
I felt children should be protected from adult issues but after examining my relationship with a mother who suffered from depression, I now know that honesty is the way to go.
My husband has been through an emotional rollercoaster in his life and had to deal with depression, two baby girls dying and his wife dying, leaving him with six remaining children to raise.
He’s a firm believer in telling children the truth and helping them deal with it rather than trying to shield them from it. He’s learnt from experience that this is the best way to deal with tough situations and I’m going to make sure I stay close to my children and remain honest with them.

Thank you Mocha Beanie Mummy for your honest and thought provoking post and big hugs to you xx

School uniform

Home / Family / School uniform

I’m usually better organised than this. I tend to buy the uniforms at the start of the holidays so I don’t have to keep facing the ‘sorry, out of stock’ notice when I try to buy anything.
I’m way behind and this year, Aiden’s starting secondary school so he needs everything brand new.
The prices are astounding and I’m praying (not usually one to pray so it’s probably not going to do any good!) that we win the lottery tomorrow so I can afford school uniforms for three of them.

Thankfully, KayCee and Ella are at the same school and the embroidered cardigans we bought from the school last year are really good quality and they’ll be able to use them again this year.
The ones from ASDA however, are not good enough to use again and to be honest, I wasn’t very pleased with them after the first wash.
Now, I’ve been a loyal ASDA customer for years and usually swear by their clothes but the red wool cardigans we bought last year never looked the same once they’d been washed. They were also a night mare to iron and as Ant and I both dislike ironing, we knew we weren’t going to go through that again for another school year!
This means we’ll have to buy them each 2 new school cardigans in September when the school opens again because I’m not prepared to trust that the Tesco ones will be any different to the ASDA ones.
I did wonder whether it would be worth it buying 2 cheap ones from Tesco on the off chance that they’ll be better but then I figured, I already know the school ones are good and even though they cost about double the Tesco ones, it’s worth it if I don’t have to buy more next year.

I’ve just done a comparison of prices between Tesco and ASDA for the girl’s clothes. This is purely for my own information, I’m not affiliated with either company.

To buy:

2 coats
10 pairs of ankle socks
6 pairs of tights
1 pair of shoes (Ella already has a pair that we bought for KayCee last year but found they were too small)
12 polo shirts
3 trousers
6 skirts

from Tesco costs £87.50 with free delivery and £10 off at the checkout for orders over £40 so the real total is £77.50.

To buy:

2 coats
16 pairs of ankle socks
6 pairs of tights
0 pair of shoes (non available in KayCee’s size)
12 polo shirts
3 trousers
6 skirts
14 pairs of pants

from ASDA is £86.50 with free delivery to our nearest store and no discount at the checkout.

So from ASDA I get 6 extra pairs of socks and 14 pairs of pants (I didn’t bother with the pants from Tesco because I knew they were cheaper at ASDA and we can pick them up any time) but no shoes and pay £10 extra.

It’s a no brainer….I’ll be ordering from Tesco (just as soon as that lottery wins comes through!!) for the girls clothes.

Now for Aiden’s and to say I’m dreading this would be making the understatement of the year!

Tesco

1 coat-
2 pairs football shorts-
2 white t-shirts-
5 white shirts-
1 blazer
1 pair swimming trunks
1 pair shoes-
3 pairs sports socks
3 jumpers-
5 pairs of trousers-

Total cost, £78.45 with free delivery

ASDA

1 coat
2 pairs football shorts
2 white t-shirts
5 white shirts
0 blazer
0 swimming trunks
1 pair shoes
0 pairs sports socks
3 jumpers
5 pairs of trousers
8 pairs black socks

For the astounding price of £91.50 and free delivery to our store.

I still have to get his embroidered school blazer (£20.99) and school tie (£3.99) so it’s Tesco all the way for uniforms this year.

The offer of £10 off if you spend over £40 is probably only available once so the total cost of uniforms for this year comes to the grand total of……drum roll please!!

£189.93 *sharp intake of breath*

Oh, nearly forgot….this doesn’t include the new school cardigans I have to get in September so you can add probably £20 to the total :'(

All I have to do now is wait for a cheque to clear and hope everything is still in stock when I place the order.
I wish I hadn’t started this post because now I’m all depressed at the amount of money we have to spend. I also have to check out our budget and try to make savings somewhere so we have some spending money for our holiday in October.

In the meantime, I’ll keep praying for that lottery win!!! (can’t believe no one told me I’d written pottery win instead of lottery win!)

 

Aiden’s room……Done :D

Home / Family / Aiden’s room……Done :D

I finally stopped putting it off and cleaned Aiden’s room! It only took me one and three quarter hours and I feel so much better now it’s done.
Like the girl’s room, there was enough space on the floor to just be able to get in the door.

 

I also cleaned our room, changed the bedding and hoovered all upstairs.
On reflection, changing the beds on the same day as cleaning Aiden’s room wasn’t very smart because now I’ve gone from having no laundry to having about 6 loads worth.
The following is just from Aiden’s room! You can’t tell from the photo how much laundry there actually is…believe me, it’s a lot!

What is it with boys and laundry? No matter how many times we tell Aiden to put his dirty clothes straight to wash, he leaves them on the floor in his room.
I end up with a mountain of laundry when I’ve been congratulating myself for keeping on top of it all week. Somehow, I fail to notice that hardly any of the clothes I wash are Aiden’s. In my defense, Ella changes clothes at least 3 times a day, sometimes more so I get swamped with girls clothes. My mind is then overtaken with ways in which to stop the little minx wearing so many clothes so I don’t have to do so much washing but no matter what I try, she still ends up changing, over and over again!

Back to Aiden’s room and a little story from July when he’d just finished school for the holidays.
I decided to empty his school bag and sort it out (I didn’t usually go in his bag as I figured he was old enough to sort it out himself now) seeing as it had in it all his work from the last year at primary school and I wanted to save it for him for when he’s older.

I took the first lot of books out then the smell hit me. Mould.
On closer inspection, the bottom of his bag contained 2 small lunch boxes which in turn contained left over, extremely mouldy bits of bread/banana skins/yogurt pots.
I couldn’t stand the smell so I handed the bag to Aiden and told him it was too disgusting and as he’d let it get that way, he could be the one to clean it.

Back to room cleaning day…he’d emptied his bag and sorted the lunchboxes that had been in it but he hadn’t brought down two more lunch boxes that were in his room and they had about the same amount of mould as the first two. He also hadn’t put his bag to wash so it was still stinky.
You know, I was wondering what had happened to all the lunchboxes I’d bought and I figured he’d lost them at school. Little did I know they were festering away in his bag and his room.

I had to soak them in bicarb of soda to get rid of the smell.

Suffice it to say, when he starts secondary school in September, I’ll be standing over him, watching him empty his bag every night as soon as he gets home from school.

So now his room is all nice and clean and I’ll be checking it daily to make sure he keeps it that way!

 

The only thing I didn’t do was to make his bed. There’s no way I’m going to try and get up there to make it so that’s his first job when he gets home on Sunday.

Brit Mums – What’s in your handbag

Home / Miscellaneous / Brit Mums – What’s in your handbag

I joined Brit Mums today after seeing a post on a friend’s blog about the contents of her handbag.
Here are the contents of my handbag:

Not much in there as I hardly ever use it to be honest!
There’s my Sony e-reader, Anais Anais perfume, soft and gentle deodorant, a nearly empty purse!, one 2nd class stamp, painkillers, two old prescriptions from the opticians, a few old Tesco and Asda receipts that don’t need saving, a piece of kitchen towel and a token from an arcade in Mablethorpe when we went on holiday last October!
Told you I didn’t use it very often! 🙂

The Gallery – Black & White

Home / Photography / The Gallery – Black & White

I wouldn’t say I’m good at photography; I would say that I’d love to be good at photography so when I saw a couple of new posts on Mumsnet bloggers network, titled ‘The Gallery’ I was intrigued.
I checked out the links then clicked through to the blog, Sticky Fingers that started The Gallery and decided I had to join in 🙂

This weeks theme is Black & White.

These are my dad’s parents, Mama Heather and Grandad Geoff. Sadly, they’re no longer with us.
I love these photos and have used them in a tutorial for paint shop pro, back when paint shop pro was my obsession! (the tutorial is for an old version of psp though….I stopped writing at version 10 and they’re now on version 13!).
I used them to show how to remove the scratches as part of an online learning group for paint shop pro but I decided to use the originals here because I think the scratches give the photos more character 🙂

Missing

Home / Family / Missing

The girls haven’t been away for 2 full weeks before and I find myself thinking about them more and more as the time goes on. I’m used to all my children being away from me; Aiden’s dad and I have shared joint care of him since he was born and the girls have gone with Aiden most weekends since they babies, but the longest the girl’s have been away for is a week.

I miss Aiden too, don’t get me wrong but it’s different with him. He’s older for one and I know it’s only fair that he gets to spend as much time with his dad as possible.
When he was 4 and we moved to Lincoln from Derbyshire, I missed him everytime he went away but you have to make yourself get used to it, otherwise, you spend all the time he’s away, pining for him. I’m sure if you did that for years, it would have a detrimental effect on your mental state!

The girls are only 6 and 4 and their dad is right here with me! You’re probably asking, why then, do they go every weekend and during the school holidays?
The answer being, Aiden’s dad lives in the area I grew up in and all my family, mum, dad, sister, 2 brothers, brother-in-law, sister’s-in-law, grandmother, aunts, uncles, cousins and numerous nieces and nephews all live very close to each other. I had a great relationship with all my extended family when I was growing up.
So not only do the girls get to form close relationships with aunt’s, uncle’s, grandparents and cousins, they’re not treated any differently to Aiden. By this, I mean that, we discussed when KayCee was a baby the fact that if Aiden was going off, on his own to his dad’s every weekend and in the holidays, she was going to feel like there were 2 families and she was only part of one.
Luckily, Aiden’s dad and I have remained close friends throughout Aiden’s life and he wanted to have KayCee to stay when she was a baby and Ella when she was born.
He loves having them as much as he loves having Aiden and luckily, again, his wife loves them also!
The girls really enjoy going but Ella’s getting ready to come home now. She said as much the last time I spoke to her on the phone. It made me miss them even more!

I was fine last week. I missed them occasionally but for the majority of the week, I was setting up a shopping cart for a florist business so I had plenty to occupy my mind.
This week, I should be cleaning Aiden’s room and our room but instead, I’ve been sat here, reading blogs about other people’s children and missing my own more and more!

I have more work to do on the website tomorrow so my mind will be concentrated on that but I really can’t wait till they’re all home at the weekend.
We’re going to do all the crafty things the girls had for their birthdays and no doubt cake making will fit in somewhere.
Aiden will probably be out all day, every day with the friends he hasn’t seen for a few weeks so I won’t get to see much of him anyway!

I sometimes wonder whether I’d look forward to the long summer holidays as much as I do if I had all 3 children home for the full holidays. As it is, they spend about half of the holidays in Derbyshire and half in Lincoln so I don’t have as long as other parents do to keep them entertained!

Saying that, I don’t remember my parents organising activities to keep us entertained over summer. If we could afford it, we’d go on holiday to Mablethorpe for a week, and the rest of the time, we’d just be at home for the whole holidays and would be out playing with our friends for most of the day. If we went home and said we were bored, dad would suggest things for us to do *cleaning our bedrooms/weeding the garden/washing the dishes* that we really didn’t want to do so we’d clear out of the house quick sharp before he could make us; a technique Ant used with his, now adult kids and with our 3, to great effect! Must be a generation thing…Ant’s about the same age as my dad!.

I’m going to make myself enjoy the last few days of having all this time to myself (well, apart from getting the shop live) before they come home then enjoy all the time with them together, before they go back to school.

Do you enjoy the long summer holidays or do they cause you nothing but stress, what with childcare/bored children/extra expense, etc?

New paddling pool….

Home / Gardening / New paddling pool….

Well, that’s what the hubby calls it!

We (well, I say we, I actually mean Ant!) got loads done in the garden yesterday 🙂 The path is finally down. He was out there for most of the day….

 

 

 

and *insert excited grin here* we’ve now a working waterfall and rockery.

 

 

 

 

 

He was out there for the best part of the day then went out again after dinner to do more until it got too dark to work.

It’s not switched on in the picture but we’ve had it switched on a few times and it looks lovely. I can’t wait to get some plants to put in and around the rocks and I’ve just ordered 2 bog plants from Ebay to plant in the spaces on the waterfall.

We ran out of pebbles so we’ll have to make another trip to B&Q soon.

It feels like we’re moving forward again and it makes me smile when I go outside and see the rockery 🙂
I found some shiny, sparkly stones that we had near the old pond and got excited when Ant suggested we put them in the bottom of the pool areas on the waterfall. They’ll look lovely when we get the underwater lights in.

The birds used to come and bathe in the old pond and I’m hoping they do the same again in the new water feature. I used to love sitting out, watching them flit backwards and forwards, drinking and flicking the water on their backs using their wings. It made me happy 🙂

Talking of birds…..something was going on with them this morning and I have no idea what it was.
I went out to take a short recording of the progress in the garden and noticed that there were, what seemed like hundreds of birds in the trees in our garden.
The noise was amazing. The film doesn’t do it justice because you can’t hear how loud it actually was but it gives an idea of what I was listening too.

I went back indoors to load the washer and unload the dishwasher and when I went back outside, they were still at it! I sat and tried recording again and after about a minute, they all stopped suddenly and flew away. It wasn’t until they stopped that I realised how loud it had actually been!

It was very strange. I can only imagine that they’d got together to complain about the man who was chopping down a huge tree in one of the gardens down the street!

Lantana – Lucky Sunrise Rose

Home / Gardening / Lantana – Lucky Sunrise Rose

A trip to B&Q today ended with me falling in love with a plant I’ve never heard of before and I intend to have loads of them growing in my garden in years to come.

We’d gone for a can of paint to give the plastic waterfall another coat and I suggested we look at the plants while we were there. Ant smiled, rolled his eyes in a ‘I knew this was going to happen’ way and off we went….he knows me well! 🙂

We picked up an alpine plant for 70p. It looked a little sad and droopy but I’m confident I can get it growing again. There were loads of plants I liked but the garden isn’t ready for planting yet so I had to be sensible and stop myself from buying them; until that is, Ant pointed to a plant as we were on our way out and as I said, as soon as I saw it, I fell in love with it. Those tiny pink, orange and yellow flowers compliment each other perfectly and it called to me, begging me to take it home!
I had to have it and said as much to Ant. He smiled and we went to pay.

I’m going to plant it in the border tomorrow and hope to see lots more flowers on it before the summer ends.

I read that if you grow them from seeds, you get different coloured flowers so my next stop is Google, to find an online supplier of Lantana seeds 🙂

Writing workshop

Home / Miscellaneous / Writing workshop
shell lipstick gif

I found a new blog last night while perusing the list of links from the Mumsnet Blogger’s Network; Sleep is for the weak runs a writing workshop every week and I found myself getting excited at the thought of joining in.

When I started writing this blog (properly writing, not the 2 or 3 posts I did in 2009 then missing out 2010 completely!) I worried that my writing would be too stilted and I’d have nothing interesting to say. I figured the only people who would want to read it would be Ant and maybe the kids when they’re older.
I know that after a few weeks, when I started to wonder if anyone, other than Ant was actually reading my blog, I had fleeting thoughts of giving up again. Then Ant gave me a confidence boost when he told me that not only did he enjoy reading my posts, he thought I was a good writer and he liked my style 🙂
I stuck with it and started to look forward to posting each day. I came to the conclusion that even if no one else ever read it, I got enjoyment from writing it, my husband got enjoyment from reading it and in the future, my kids could read it and be reminded of happy childhood memories, which is all the incentive I needed.

I’d forgotten how much I actually enjoyed writing and it made me think of Mrs Bourget (hope I spelt that right) who was my favourite teacher at secondary school; she taught English and she helped nurture the love of reading and writing I’d had since I started to learn how at infants school.

Other pupils would groan when Mrs B. announced that we had to write a story from a title she would give us but for me, that was my favourite kind of writing. I would let my imagination run away with me and I would always get great encouragement from her.
I dreamed about being a writer, until the teenager in me took over and made it seem more important to be out with my friends, having a laugh and staying out late, than for me to be at home, working on my writing.

When that teenager left me, I found it really hard to write again. You know the old saying, ‘use it or lose it’? Well I figured, after a few years of not using it, I’d gone and lost it.
I was a bit sad at the time but I made myself believe it didn’t matter because I wasn’t good enough to be a writer anyway.
If I’m totally honest with myself, I still believe that I’m not good enough to be a writer in the professional sense of the word but as a hobby, it”ll do me just fine!

I’m going to do the writing workshop because I feel it will give me a challenge and maybe I’ll get back some of what I ‘lost’ from those wonderful English lessons with Mrs B.

I looked back over some past prompts and picked the first one that jumped out at me.

So here it is, my first entry to the writing workshop.

1. Write something to say thank you to some who has made a difference to your life, whether from your past or present.
– Inspired by the Moiderer’s ‘People I’d like to thank
————————————-

It was an easy choice and probably a predictable one for the people who know me best.
I don’t think I can ever thank my husband, Ant, enough for the major changes he’s brought to my life.

When we met in 2003, I was a morbidly obese, single mother of a 3-year-old boy. My self-esteem was low, as it had been since I started to realise I was different to all the kids in school.
I made a show of being strong, confident and happy with my life but on a few occasions, when I was honest with myself, I knew I wasn’t and I wanted more.
In my mind, everything that was wrong with my life was because I was fat. I wanted to be thin. I ‘knew’ that if I was thin, I’d be happier. If I was thin, it would solve all my problems. if I was thin, I’d get someone to share my life with. We’d have more children. We’d work together to ensure they’d grow to be healthy, happy adults who make positive contributions to their society and we’d grow old together.

Every day, I hid the real me behind a layer of make-up and a fake smile. I had a few close friends and all my family lived near by so I wasn’t alone, but I was lonely.
When I discovered the Internet, and more importantly, MSN groups, I felt like I’d found a place just for me. No one knew I was fat because I never put my photo up. Hiding behind the screen, I could be the strong and confident person I was pretending to be in ‘real life’.
My weight didn’t hold me back when making friends because it was never an issue.

Ant and I met in one of those MSN groups. It was a group for parents and from first joining, I felt at home there. I didn’t plan to meet someone romantically, that’s not why I joined. I was there because in the evenings, when Aiden had gone to bed and the friends had gone home, I was lonely.
I posted on the boards and knew I wouldn’t get ignored; I went in the chat room and chatted for hours sometimes. Ant would be in there quite often and he’d tease me about being a Freeserve tart (for those who can’t remember, Freeserve was an internet service provider and I was a nightly visitor to some of it’s, ermmm, chat rooms….I was hooked for a while and really thought I was going to meet my soul mate there. I have to be honest, the conversations I had with most of the people, ok, men, in there turned into them trying to get you to go on webcam and well, they weren’t really soul mate material!) because as well as being in the group chat, I’d have a few MSN messenger conversations going on at the same time with the people I’d met on Freeserve.
Through my time in the group, I got to know some wonderful people who I’m still in contact with today and who I class as friends, whether we’ve met in real life or not.

Anyway, to cut a long, long story a little shorter, Ant and I started chatting privately through email then on the phone. I can’t begin to describe how nervous I was when he suggested talking on the phone.

He was very charming and soon calmed my nerves. We ended up being on the phone for hours at a time. We’d met in person (at an engagement party of two other members of the group who had fallen in love), before we started getting really friendly so he knew what I looked like. It helped that he knew because I didn’t have to face the horrible moment when they ask what you look like and you have to either describe yourself *groan* or send a picture and wait for a response *double groan*.
The pressure was off and even during those first few phone conversations, I was able to be totally honest with him about my weight and how it made me feel.

He came to my house about two weeks after we’d started emailing each other and kissed me in a way that I’d never been kissed before (that song is going to be in my head for the rest of the day now!).
I was in love and that’s the first thing I have to thank him for…..he loved me as I was.

He then went on to slowly increase my confidence. He started by addressing the issue of my make-up.
Now if I’m totally honest, I’ve never really been into make-up. My mum didn’t wear it everyday and I found it such a pain to have to spend that amount of time, every day, applying it. As well as not really liking the cost of buying it.
In time, Ant made me believe that I didn’t need make-up anymore. He preferred the natural look, and by that I mean the face nature gave me, not a make-up ‘style’ from Avon!

It was a relief when I finally decided that he was right. I wasn’t putting it on for him because he didn’t like it, I wasn’t putting it on for myself because I didn’t like it either so who, exactly, was I putting it on for? I was putting on for those people in the street, who I didn’t know, who judged me by the way I looked.

I finally realised I didn’t care what they thought anymore. I have Ant to thank for that.

Don’t get me wrong, this didn’t happen overnight. It happened over a few years. A few years where Ant showed me everyday that I was loveable. That there was someone in this world who wanted to be with just me and who was proud to be with me, even when I wasn’t proud to be, well… me.

I have to thank him for our girls. He’s 18 years older than me. He’d already raised a family of six children with a wife he adored and who had sadly died.
He knew I wanted more children and I knew that he was at a point in his life where he was ready to relax and enjoy seeing his grown up children marry and have families of their own.
I made a decision to be happy with everything I had; an adorable son, a wonderful man and step mum to six very special people.
He made a decision to become a father all over again, twice, because he knew how important it was to me.

He’s a wonderfully thoughtful husband who does his best to keep me happy all the time, even when he’s not feeling it himself. He smiles through his bad days, unlike me. I grump and snap on my bad days and he puts up with it.

He supports me and encourages me in anything I want to do and he’s always there to help me if I try to give up when he knows I can do it.

I was watching a program last night that said, ‘marriage is hard work’. It got me thinking about my marriage and wondering where the hard work was? We’re equal partners and we treat each other with the respect each deserves. We don’t shout, scream and argue, in fact, we hardly ever have a disagreement and if we do, we tend to reach a compromise fairly quickly.

We don’t undermine each other’s authority with the children and we always show a united front so they know that what one parent says, the other will too; even if we disagree, the only people who are aware of it are Ant and I. We discuss it in private and decide on a course of action if the situation arises again.

I know this sounds too good to be true and people tend to believe that what you read on the net isn’t a true reflection of real life but our marriage isn’t hard work. It’s easy and reliable and importantly, it’s fun; another thing I have to thank my husband for.

I’m not saying we have a perfect life. We’ve had hard times, same as everyone.
We went through some serious money problems a few years ago when I lost my job, just after Ant had gone self employed. We struggled for 2 years and are only just getting our head above water again.
Ant has suffered with depression for many years, and we’ve both had to deal with a serious illness. Ant had a heart attack and I had a blood clot in my leg which travelled to my lungs, ending in a pulmonary embolism. I thought I was going to die.

Through everything, Ant has kept me strong.

For that, for more than I have time to write and all of the above, I thank you, my wonderful, darling husband xxx