T’was the fight before Christmas..

I think my heads right; I think I can write; let’s see.

Co-parenting is a challenge. I’ve written as much before. If you’re lucky enough not to be in such an arrangement, imagine trying to share something you love with someone you don’t. That pretty much sums it up.

You don’t see eye to eye becuase if you did, things would’ve worked out between you. Instead, you agree to come to an agreement over the most precious things in your life. Whilst not ideal, when it works, it works.

But what about when it doesn’t..

I had the rug pulled from under me recently which has caused me to take action. A text that told me Christmas plans were changing, as the cubs had asked for them to. It was due to be with me this year, mother invited of course. The text was to ‘run the idea past me’.

My objection by reply, was met by an ultimatum; that if all future Christmases were to be at hers then that’s how things will be. But I was welcome to join them. All heart.

As an individual, I like to respond, not to react. I try to distance myself from a knee-jerk, even with something as emotive as this. These are my children too and we have an arrangement; alternate Christmasses, with the other partner invited.

Here’s the connundrum; the weight of leverage of a loaded statement such as ‘it’s what they want’ should not be underestimated. However, when co-parenting, a child’s comments should not be weaponised. I think that this was the element that got to me the most.

Children in these arrangements will say things about the absent parent with some frequency but I feel that it is the present parent’s job to reinforce the position of the absent parent, in order to maintain some semblance of balance.

Perhaps I was niave.

What I noticed, was that as I distanced myself from the text, my physiology changed. I found myself at work, sitting at my desk but one million miles away. I had neck pain, which I realised had come from clenching my jaw so hard. I was holding my breath for long periods. Most worryingly, I had chest pain that lasted for about two days.

Immediately I took action and instigated some self-care.

Deep breathing was step one, follwed by visualisation. Every breath, as it went in, relaxed a muscle. Clean air worked into the tissues and removed the toxins.

The chest pains stopped.

I exercised more. Upped my cardio in order to become correctly fatigued, through excersion, rather than through stress. I took back control of my biggest asset; me.

I have drawn a line in the sand.

I deceided that if I did not take action now, I would forever be at the mercy of the another person. I took the decision to formalise arrangements. It wasn’t an easy decision and it’s far from perfect timing. In fact, Christmas funds have been diverted into mediation. But a single, deciding point kept coming back to me;

If not now, when?

BSD

And I’m stuck. Again. x 2

I’ve been quiet. I’m sorry.

The rules have changed and I’m in the process of seeking legal help.

Whilst there’s no good time to do this, now is a really bad time.

It’s also necessary.

When I have the energy I’ll write about it as objectively as I can.

Whilst I’m emoted and have a taste of fire in my mouth, the keyboard stays silent.

Every day, find a reason to smile; counting your blessings is the best way.

BSD

Male/female split

Nature has a way of sending subtle signs of who the cubs spend more time with.

Sunday morning in bed; the errant pair have joined me from their respective rooms.

She boots up my laptop and gets to work on a presentation of how we’re killing our planet.

He bimbles about, clasping his security blanket and foxy (the fox).

“Daddy, would you like my blanket?”

That’s very kind of you darling but I’m already under a duvet. Actually I was half out of it but covered nonetheless.

He precedes to lay it on me..

“I’ve covered your bangers for you…”

Maybe time to lay off the/ do more press ups.

BSD

Hark the Herald

Last week, the mother of my cubs demanded to see them on my weekend, whilst accusing me ‘preparing nothing’ for Mother’s Day.

Once I pointed out that it wasn’t Mother’s Day, she backed down.

Today, at 04:35, I’m wrapping her presents so they can be presented first thing.

It’s so hard to wrap when you’re being blinded by your halo.

I’m up because of work btw; not because I’m unprepared.

BSD

Hair

It’s an issue; but it needn’t be.

The combing of it, the cutting of it and well general maintenance. Constant consternation.

The cubs are mixed race. A term I hate as it signifies the human desire to neatly pigeon-hole everything away. Everything must have a classification. I digress.

They are half Afro-Caribbean, and technically quarter Mauritian, quarter Scottish. To the eye, they’re Caribbean. Hope you’re keeping up.

Their ethnicity is important because their hair is typical of our race; slightly thicker and prone to tangles if not cared for correctly. Correctly maintained, it looks amazing. This subject has caused and causes countless rows.

Girl cub loves having her hair done and always did. We had a heck of a search for the rights products but when we found them, bingo. Products are the key.

Boy cub? well that’s a whole separate chapter. All I can say is sorry. To my neighbours, passers-by and probably to a couple of nearby postcodes. Washing his hair sounds like a horrific assault.

I mentioned a while back that when he was younger, we nearly lost him to an ear infection that put pressure on his brain. The resolution, following a brief stay in hospital, was to be fitted with grommets. A drawback of having grommets is that you have to limit water getting into the ears.

When his hair needs washing, out comes the cotton wool. And the screaming. I mentioned horrific before. It really is quite bad.

He hates it. He hates water in his face and in his eyes and isn’t shy at letting you know. I tried so many different things including using dry flannels, getting him to look up, using the shower (with and without the head) and using a cup. All resulted in increased decibels.

I went to the internet for help.

I found this

There was the usual due process that I apply to everything and I wasn’t convinced. It was 32p, so I bought it.

It took a while to arrive so I promptly forgot that I bought it. It arrived and I thought it was a suspect package.

I opened it, and I wasn’t convinced. It was folded for easy transit so it was badly misshapen.

I tried it on and nearly passed out. In their defence, they’re made for kids and I’m not the smallest of humans.

Bath-time arrived and I decided to give it a try. I took it out of the hair product basket in the bathroom and showed it to him.

He looked at it for a little while, then shook his head.

We tried it anyway.

It worked and I stand corrected. This could be the best 32p I’ve ever spent.

good day

BSD

I’ve noticed this..

This is an unexpected issue of being a single parent.

When you buy clothes for your cubs, they invariably end up at your ex’s house.

I’m guessing that this is more likely if the parental share is disproportionate.

If anyone has an idea how to rectify this, other than handing over naked cubs, I’m all ears.

BSD

Ignoring my own advice

It seems my tactic of not arguing with the ex isn’t working.

I have the cubs with me. I’ve had them since yesterday. The youngest has a fever, sore throat and runny nose. I’ve kept him off nursery.

Following the school run, my eldest is complaining of fatigue and a high temperature. The back of my hand on her head confirms this. On the way home, they both fall asleep.

I message the ex and tell her that both cubs have the flu.

Surprise surprise. Almost as if they’d been exposed to someone with the flu early last week.

She asked me what their temperatures are. I tell her that they’re both above average but he is hotter. This isn’t good enough. She asks if I have a thermometer. I don’t.

I rely on a method my mother taught me; using the back of my hand for a rough guide and my cheek for more accuracy. I love it.

She insists on dropping off a tympanic thermometer on her way home. I tell her it’s not necessary. The kids are monitored and medicated as necessary.

Not good enough. She’s coming anyway; lectures me on my paternal skills and obligations, again, and says she’ll be there shortly.

By the time the doorbell rings, both cubs are under a blanket with me on the sofa, having been fed and duly medicated.

I answer; extremely annoyed. She wants to see them. They’ve heard her voice. She comes in but not before I tell her she’s out of order. A good old British saying straight out of the East End of London.

She takes her shoes off and sits down, preparing to take temperatures. Both within tolerable ranges. Almost as if I’d looked after them.

She then starts advising me on dosages and checking regimes. I flip. Nicely though, as the cubs are present.

I remind her, that anytime the cubs have been really ill, it was me who discovered so. Me who made her call ambulances, told her what to say then conversed with medics.

It was me, who walked around her to get to our choking daughter, whilst she stared at her, totally unaware of a problem.

I also reminded her that it’s me, with actual medical training, that I have used to save lives over the last two decades.

She’s out staying what little welcome she had; I politely ask her to leave. I know, that youngest is going to be deeply upset at mummy’s fleeting visit. She’s off to the gym again. She’s done a similar thing before.

He breaks down in tears. Offers of hugs and his favourite blanket are rejected. This lasted for 15 minutes.

Luckily, the Power Rangers appeared on the Red Bull soapbox race and made him smile.

I breathe.

I’ve left elements of this exchange out, especially peripheral (and perpetual) pseudo arguments that have been rumbling for a while now.

My own advice has got me nowhere and now I intend to fight fire with fire.

I guess it takes two to argue.

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BSD

Taking my own advice

And sucking at it.

2018 has got off to an interesting start. I have the flu. I’ve been feeling crap since New Year’s Day, but I thought it was karma for drinking a bottle of Prosecco after being dry for so long. After 4 days of feeling poor, I suspected something else might be at play.

Dr Google; such a bad idea.

Not something I usually do but I had a bit of time on my hands. Within 15 minutes I was both diabetic and suffering from Meniere’s disease. Not good. I quickly ruled both out from no basis of logic whatsoever.

I then self diagnosed as suffering from exhaustion. Feasible, as I’m known to regularly give myself a hard time. But it didn’t add up; I’d had lots of time off over Christmas and the ex and I were getting on quite well. The kids had a great Christmas and I even managed some charitable giving, which made me feel great.

Slowly dawning

Back in spasm, shivering, going to bed fully clothed (I was freezing and boiling) and a constant headache. Throw in a cough that hurts the already hurt back and you’ve got the picture.

H3N2

Well hello. Britain has been hit by this little mix of numbers and letters, colloquially known as Aussie Flu. It really sucks. In the same breath, it’s not the end of the world; a bit of rest and plenty of fluids and all will be well.

flu

This is not what this thread is about.

Too good to be true

I said earlier that the ex and I had been getting on better in recent weeks; that has since come crashing down.

My tank is on empty, even to the point where I found it hard to blog. I have 3 entries in draft that are no more than headlines. As we Brits say, I’m knackered (extremely tired).

After having the cubs last weekend it is customary for me to have them one day in the week. For the first time, I really couldn’t manage it. The school and nursery pickup seemed like a tall order; I couldn’t face it. I reached out to the ex, asking her to have them for one extra day this week.

What I got back was a torrent of abuse, questions on my abilities and priorities as a parent, a quick lesson on the differences between flu and the common cold, and the helpful phrase, ‘suck it up’. This was topped of by a short paragraph on why she wouldn’t be picking them up later, regardless of whether she heard from me or not.

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I picked them up and luckily they didn’t mind tired daddy at all.

Ironic

The plot twist to this is that the day before, she called to ask me to pick them up as she would be late collecting them. This is a regular occurrence. So much so, that she actually called me this afternoon, telling me she was stuck in traffic and asking my location.

Quite incredulous, I informed her that I was in bed, with the flu. I also asked her if she remembered berating me not 48 hours earlier. I was told that me laying in bed and not helping her, was a choice.

I hung up on her.

Do as I say; not as I do

So already in today’s post, I’ve broken a few of my rules. I’ve always stated that I wouldn’t use this as a platform to beat her with, as I hope my cubs will read this in later years and enjoy how much I enjoy them.

At the same time, I have a simmering anger at this latest exchange. These aren’t new behaviours. A solipsistic theme ran through our relationship but I thought I was now immune to it. I was wrong.

At the time of her original rebuke, I followed my own rule quite well, in that you cannot have an argument with only one participant. Strangely, I knew that she would be in touch sooner rather than later with tales of her lateness. I didn’t have to wait long.

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Pawns?

I thought long and hard about this one.

My job, as a dad, is to act in the best interest of my children; always.

  • How did my request differ from hers?
  • By not helping her, I usually do, was I just being an ass and digging in out of some petty revenge mode?
  • Was I using my beloved cubs as pawns?

I don’t think so.

Teamwork was something I never experienced with the ex. It all seemed to flow one way and I slowly got bored of that. It looks like nothing has changed.

Mike on Cliff light sky

Moving forwards

I’m going to change tack in my relationship with her. The thing with people who are naturally takers is that they will continue to do so, as long as you keep giving. If you keep giving, they don’t learn and fail to grow.

There will be no more 11th hour pickups because she’s late. It happens so regularly that it reeks of a failure to be organised. Historically I have even compromised my work in order to cover for her inability to keep time or commitment. That’s gone.

Apologies if this read as a rant; normal service will resume shortly.

But not for her.

BSD

Not quite there yet.

Has everyone had a nice Christmas?

I have, and so have the cubs. It was so far removed from what I endured last Year that it’s incomparable.

In those 365 days I’ve learnt so much about myself and the people that come into my life and more importantly, those who remain.

The cubs have had a brilliant time and have been showered with love (and presents). So much so in fact that I have decided to donate some to a local children’s hospice. I want to give back and the only reason I’ve written about it here is to maybe trigger thoughts in others as to how we can give back or help those less fortunate.

This isn’t my review of 2017, in fact I’m not going to do one; I’m not that interesting.

I will be doing one more post and that will be regarding the second part of the race to zero.

Resolutions

To read more of your blogs. I love doing so as it gives me inspiration, advice and makes me chuckle.

They also serve to remind me that I’m not the only one pushing forwards and trying to make sense of this all.

Keep on keeping on folks xx

PS.

Like a glutton for punishment I had both of them in my bed last night as they’ll now be with Mum for a week or so.

Both of them expanded like magic bath toys, moaned every hour on the hour, leaked a nappy onto me and said bed and I’m so sleep deprived I feel I may expire but, I couldn’t be happier.

BSD

A quick breakfast discussion with the cubs

Son: My sister is not a he…

He’s just getting to grips with gender, after caller her ‘him’ for about six months now.

Correct

Son: He’s a girl!

Almost right

Daughter: I’m a she!

Son: Yes. And I’m a boy!

Yes

Son: And daddy is a man!

Correct

Daughter: and mummy is a lady; isn’t she daddy?

Daughter: Daddy?

Daughter: Daddy??

Bath time

BSD