Tag Archives: love

5 things I learned about divorce|a little bird made me

5 things I have learned about divorce

My marriage ended 5 1/2 years ago when my husband announced, via email, that he ‘couldn’t do this anymore’.  At the time I truly had not seen it coming.  Looking back I can see that the marriage was doomed.  Ah the wisdom of hindsight.

Since then I have been through the ups and downs and ins and outs of divorce.  While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and while my first question to anyone I meet who tells me that they are thinking of leaving their partner is “Is there any way you can fix this?” there are a few things I have learned along the way that might help someone else going through separation and divorce, particularly if there are children involved.  I am not an expert, these are my personal experiences and learnings, but they seem, from discussion with friends, to be universal.

5 things I learned about divorce|a little bird made me

1. The grief process following divorce is the same as the grief process following death of a loved one.  I truly didn’t understand this until I read a blurb in the back of a vampire fantasy novel by Laurell K. Hamilton (I was hiding in bad literature at the time) where the author talked about thinking that nothing would be worse than losing her mother as a child until she got divorced.  That statement shocked me but also resonated with me.  The death of a marriage is more than just walking away from someone you have loved.  It is the death of your dreams, of your idea of who the other person is, of the idea of who you are, of how you fit into your community and family, and of your belief in your future.

Once I understood this I realised why I had been angry, sad, wanting him back, etc.  It helped me to heal and bounce back much more quickly when I realised that my reactions were ‘normal’.

2. Putting your children first in every decision you make about how to react to your separation helps.  When I remembered to look at my decisions through the lens of ‘how will this affect the children’ my decisions were much better than when I had knee jerk reactions of ‘I don’t want this to happen’, ‘Hell no way am I agreeing with you’, or ‘You need to suffer too’.  (All of which are completely normal but not completely pleasant reactions.)

5 things I learned about divorce|a little bird made me

3. Something that was a problem during your marriage will continue to be a problem after your marriage.  I know – really obvious huh?!  For example it took me a long time to realise that the issues that we had about money during our marriage were exactly the same issues we were having about money after our marriage.  In fact it has taken me 5 years to realise that there is no point engaging in those discussions as nothing changes.  The sooner you learn to change your response, the sooner the situation will change.  By not engaging in these pointless conversations I am more able to gain perspective, less frustrated and more able to just ‘let it go.’

5 things I learned about divorce|a little bird made me

4. Biting your tongue lets your children develop their own relationships and form their own views on their parents.  Look.  I am no saint, and I make mistakes like everyone else.  However I have tried really hard not to tell the children every thought, feeling, frustration or anger I have towards their father.  They need to be able to work out his role in their life themselves, untainted by my history and views.  I try to just give them simple facts, or direct them to him for their answers.  When it is really hard I simply say ‘I don’t really understand why he did that either. Maybe you should talk to him about that so that he can help you to understand.’    What I mutter under my breath, in my mind or to my friends when the kids aren’t around is something quite different!

5. There is no perfect way for children to share their time between their parents.  No matter what people tell you there is no perfect solution.  Week about, every second weekend, every Friday night, half of each week, just on school holidays, and all the other weird and wonderful arrangements that we can dream up will never give our kids the ideal balance or life.  They will always feel a little displaced, out of sync, and disrupted.  There will always be the drama of telling a teacher ‘sorry I left that at Dad’s house’, or ‘Mum won’t sign the form because that is on Dad’s week’ or any of the hundred ways that they are forced to publicly share that they come from a broken home.  All we can do is support them, listen to them, give them a voice (but not control when they are too young), and let them know that we understand.

5 things I learned about divorce|a little bird made me

Life is complex.  Learning more about how to lead better lives helps to deal with that complexity.  Do I sound sage or just weary?  Either way – time for a cup of tea while I contemplate the latest development in the household.

Be kind to yourself today.

Keeping it simple

A few posts ago I commented that I was aiming to keep Christmas simple this year. I almost forgot that decision and for a couple of days there was beginning to revert to my usual practice of saying yes to everything and over committing myself. I was imagining piles of homemade gifts for teachers and teaching staff, for friends, neighbours, family, etc. I was thinking I could squeeze in a bit more sewing for other people, to offer to have other people’s children over so that they could have some time to themselves, to be creating Christmas treats by the trayful, and to be putting on the most wonderful Christmas festivities we had ever seen.

Then reality hit, I began to get overwhelmed, and I was forced to remember that this year I can’t do all the things I normally do – and that it won’t matter. So teachers received bought gifts, (with two exceptions that I will come to in a minute), I have made a donation to my charity of choice instead of making/buying gifts for my girlfriends, I have accepted that the kids don’t count their gifts and it won’t matter if one is getting one more than the others as they receive so much anyway, that a pile of fresh stone fruit (including mangoes) is better than plates of fudge, and that instead of sitting at the sewing machine I can sit at the table or on the couch with my chicks and give them the best gift of all – time. I had a practical conversation with the chicks about whether they wanted to participate in the Christmas eve mass or just attend this year (participating involves two rehearsals) and quietly cheered when they all decided to simply attend. I asked their Dad to take the eldest chick to a birthday party being held within a very busy shopping complex so that I didn’t have to navigate the other two through the crowds, and also asked him to take the chicks to see the Christmas lights at a house that has broken a world record for the most number of bulbs, so that I don’t have to try and deal with a crowd and three chicks on my own, and I reminded myself that the only person who expects all of this from me, is me.

The results? During the week I had time to sit with the middle chick and make an origami dress Christmas ornament. (We both agreed that if it was a real dress we would want to wear it!)

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I finished the last of my Christmas orders today with pleasure instead of pressure.

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I had an afternoon of craft with the middle chick and the boy, experimenting with embedding objects in resin to make Christmas ornaments (and will hopefully have results to show you in a day or two!) The eldest chick and the boy and I played Monopoly for over an hour before it got too much for the 7 year old boy.

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(Yes that is his piece sitting on one of my railway stations….about the time he realised that I had become a slum lord and started to go off the game!  Must remember not to be so competitive when playing against someone soooooo much younger than me!)

The situation was saved though when three chicks had a water fight to cool off after the heat of the day and I was in charge of the hose, with instructions that I wasn’t to be a target! (Still can’t believe that I got away with that one!!) In other words – by keeping it simple I have had a wonderful day with my chicks with no anxiety attacks, no yelling, and no crying. (And that was from all four of us!!!)

My body is giving me clear signals when I have pushed too hard, or taken on too much. I can’t pretend for more than a few hours that I will be able to juggle lots of balls as I normally do. It just won’t let me anymore. Initially I was resenting this restriction, and feeling constrained, inadequate and that I was a failure. Now, however, I am starting to accept that there are benefits to keeping things simple, and stripping Christmas back to the things that are important – family, love and joy. Time to just enjoy my chicks instead of being worried about tackling the next thing on my list. Time to have them cuddle up to me on the couch while we watch a dodgy Christmas DVD with Danny de Vito in it. Making little things for each other instead of going out and buying more and more and more.

With that sense of simplicity I can share an image of the only handmade gifts that I presented to teachers this year.  The middle chick’s fruitastic design on the linen-cotton canvas from Spoonflower made into tea-towels.  I might have to make some more!!

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I have learnt a lot this year, about my passion for creating things, about my need to find a proper balance in my life, about the challenges of raising a child with special needs, about the fact that superwomen run out of puff after a while, and about the importance of family.  This lesson about stopping to enjoy time with my family instead of feeling the need to do everything, and do it well, is possibly the most important lesson I have learnt.  As we go into Christmas it is my fervent hope that this is a lesson that I remember, and apply, every day from now on.

I hope that you are able to find the simple joys in your Christmas or holiday celebrations, and that you are able to feel the joy that it is meant to bring, instead of the pressure that so often accompanies it.

Silver linings

My brain is full to the brim at the moment, teasing out new ideas and strategies to support my boy. I have moments of intense clarity, and then moments when I feel like I am swimming through custard (which sounds tastier than it feels!). Thinking about starting new sewing projects seems a bit overwhelming when there is so much else to think about. Instead I have finished one project (the beautiful pile of capes – more detailed photos will follow after the recipients have tried them on), and played with the camera on my phone to capture some of the colourful and positive things happening in our lives. We have much to be thankful for, despite my feelings of gloom.

The stress of trying to find the right support for my beautiful boy has triggered some fairly intense anxiety moments, so I have decided to use that for good and not evil, and today began the room by room clean up of the house that has been required for so long. Nothing like finding the silver lining in this cloud! The other silver lining? Everything I am doing to support him this week is working. He was so proud to report to the paediatrician today that “I have made good choices for four whole days!”. Yesterday morning I went to wake him up and he wasn’t in his bed. I presumed that he had snuck into my room to use the ipad. Instead I found him sitting on a chair in the lounge, cuddling the dog and having a gentle morning chat to her. Moments like that melt my heart and remind me of why I am fighting for him, and why I can’t give in or give up.  My two girls also need some extra love and support at the moment.  Thank heavens for Miss N the au pair who is proving to be just the beautiful soul that we all needed in our lives.

So please bear with me while I have a break from regular crafty blogs and instead provide the occasional photo of something that is making me happy. You never know – I might even finish cleaning the house and start sewing furiously! It has happened before……..

The holiday is over. The chicks are back in the nest, ready to return to school tomorrow. While I am delighted that they are back, healthy and happy, I did like my little break while they were away! The chance to only worry about me was truly like a holiday. So today we are back to the usual Sunday night routine. The eldest chick has baked cookies for their morning tea at school this week, the clean laundry pile is threatening to hide half the family room, and I am turning my head to the week ahead and trying to recall what I want to share about the week just past.
One thing that I can report is that we have returned to Geocaching after a long, unintentional break. I introduced one of my colleagues to it a couple of weeks ago. He took his family away on holiday and found 23 caches in one week. After one year we were only sitting on 46! Being the competitive creature that I am…..that was enough to spur me on. So while on the road trip to collect the chicks yesterday we found three (and searched in vain for a fourth). Today we went for a walk, with some friends, up the mountain that we live on and found three more. Given that there was a threat of snow and the temperature didn’t get above 6 degrees C, you might start to get a picture of how determined I am to keep ahead of him!! We haven’t stayed true to our aim of achieving 365 this year, but staying ahead of him should keep us going for a while! One of the caches we found yesterday was a delight. It contained ‘licences’ including the laminating pouches for them. The chicks are so proud to now be licensed as follows:

I do hereby grant myself permission to use multi-million dollar military satellites to find hidden Tupperware.  Furthermore I certify that this license is issued in accordance with no known legal requirements in any jurisdiction whatsoever.  This license expires with its owner.

My plan for the time while the children were away was to sew, sew, sew. Although I don’t regret the things I did do (a story for another day) I didn’t get to sew very much. So I set myself a target, (and told my Facebook followers to make myself accountable) that I had to make one colourful bag this weekend. I have done it! And once again I feel like my groove is coming back as a result!

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The return of my chicks has been a little confronting in some respects. I have debated writing about this for a while, but think that to not do so leaves an unexplained gap. Everything in our life is so intertwined and so much results from the issues of my chick, that I think it is better to write about it than to not.

Having a diagnosis for my chick with ‘issues’ just before they went away means that I have had time to think about the implications, to research the options, and to contemplate it all in isolation. It also meant that I have had time to doubt the diagnosis, to think that maybe we (me, teachers, doctors, etc) have all been over-reacting and that I haven’t tried enough, or used enough strategies, or been a good enough parent, or, or, or……… But upon their return, with my eyes wider open, I can see that the professionals are right. My boy, who I describe as all boy, who is always on the go…..is really always on the go. He climbs the door-frames, can’t sit still on the couch, can’t play without talking non-stop, can’t shift his focus to listen to me, including to stop stepping out in front of cars on the road. He gets one idea in his head and can’t be shifted from it, and he moves, non-stop, even in his sleep. My boy, my beautiful boy, who comes into bed in the morning and answers my question of ‘what are you doing’ with “Coming to sleep with you Mummy because I love you”, my boy who loves hugs, and animals, and his family and his friends, my boy has Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder. There. I have said it out loud.

I love him. I love him with my whole being. But he exhausts me. And I am still not sure how I have managed to care for him for nearly 7 years without realising that this was more than a behavioural reaction to his father’s absence, or because I work full time, or because he went to daycare, or because he has anxiety issues, or because his diet needs improving, or, or, or…… That this is biological, and not a minor glitch.

So, after struggling for 20 months, he has started on the prescribed medication today. I was so scared. I thought it would change my boy and stop him being the boy that I know and love. But I need to give him a chance to sit in class for a whole day. To not be labelled the ‘bad’ kid. To learn and succeed. With much trepidation I started……….and nothing happened!! We are starting on a low dose and building, in accordance with the doctor’s instructions, so I expect that there will be some gradual effects. However after being so worried and feeling so guilty and alone this morning, it was almost a disappointment that there was no effect! Talk about a very silly mother! I will persevere and keep loving him and advocating for him and trying to balance his needs against those of his sisters who have suffered so much as a result of the issues we have faced over the last year or two. And I will keep sewing, and making things, and staying as calm as possible. He has a long life ahead of him and we have much to do in order to ensure that it is a good and happy life. I predict many, many bags being sewn over the next few years!!

This week starts off with the hope of things to come, of great opportunities, of colour and creativity, and of love and strength. In other words, back to normal in the nest! I hope that you have a wonderful start to your week, wherever you are.

A decade of love

My eldest chick turned 10 today.  I tormented her by saying that it wasn’t her birthday until the time she was actually born – 5.15pm – but we actually spent the day celebrating in a number of ways.  She climbed into my bed early this morning – most unusual for her – and we had quiet cuddles.  Once her brother and sister were alert we opened presents.  She loves her homemade presents as well as her other presents!  We then sat down with the photo album and went through the photos of when she was born and the first 6 months of her life (after which we moved to a digital camera and there are no more albums!!).  The three of them loved seeing her and all the familiar faces (although younger!!), while I sat there quietly looking at my beautiful big girl, and trying to work out where the 10 years has gone.  That first day when she was bruised and battered from her delivery by forceps, and I was so exhausted from a 36 hour delivery seems like yesterday, and yet we have seen and done so much since then, and here she is in year 5, with so much maturity, wisdom and silly giggles.  So today while the rest of the world celebrated love in all its commercial and non-commercial forms, we celebrated a decade of love because she has only brought love into my life since day one.

Of course now I can share the photos of the presents I made her!  She is a big fan of Doctor Who.  I am amused because back when I was at boarding school and we only had two channels of TV, Doctor Who was one of the only shows that we got to watch – and that was in the early 1980s!  The fact that it is all trendy and shiny now is great as a whole new generation gets to discover the Doctor.  I also thought that turning 10 is that first step towards independence and being her own person, so I made her an overnight bag.  She can use it on sleepovers, on school camp, for visits to grandparents, etc.  I ordered the fabric from Spoonflower.

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I used the tiny tossed Tardis fabric for the lining and gave her a zipped pocket and two slip pockets on the inside.  I used a pattern from Gingercakes for the bag and it was a great pattern to follow.  It comes with a cottage industry license, so I may make some for my shop down the track.

Then I used some of the leftovers to make the iPod touch cover that she wanted.

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She promptly put her ipod straight into it.

Her brother and sister gave her a travel bug ‘trackable’ for use in geocaching.  It is a tag that can be registered, and then when she releases it into a cache she can track where it goes.  The two stones represent her siblings, and she can decide what the target for the cache is.  Her thinking so far is that she will see if it can go to 10 countries and then end up in a cache around the corner from her grandparents house in a country town in New Zealand.  It will be an adventure to follow it – and to see what else it picks up along the way!

 

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She also received phone calls, text messages, emails etc, so was feeling very loved.  Her father delivered presents from himself, his partner and his parents and included a Lego set, so she spent the afternoon building the lego, very carefully, much to the displeasure of her little brother who wanted to be playing with it instantly!!

The birthday girl requested her annual heart-shaped cake, chocolate with dark pink icing, so I obliged.  I did cheat a bit and just add cocoa to a gluten-free packet mix, but it turned out well, so I don’t feel too guilty!  I made her wait until about 5pm before we sang, blew out candles etc.  She was quite tickled by waiting until “I am actually 10 years old”.

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So a decade of loving my funny, smart, loving big girl has been celebrated with much colour and joy.  It overwhelms me to think of the next 10 years and where she will be in her life by then, but I know that it will be a journey that will be made with love and support, so I am trying to just breathe out!

I hope that you have had a day, week and month filled with love.