Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Four Man Method - yet more dating disaster stories

Dating.  It’s not an activity I thought I would have to endure in my 40s, whilst in the midst of trying to raise the next generation of men myself.  
I’m not proving to be very good at it.
I was always much better being a one man girl, so the modern approach of dating several prospects simultaneously seems a sure fire recipe for guaranteeing that you are about to get yourself a ‘reputatation’.  And not one of being a pillar of the community.
If, like me, you become obsessed with the romantic activities of celebrity single mums, you might be fooled into thinking that bagging a new man following a relationship implosion is a piece of cake.  I’m surprised I have any molars left and haven’t ground them into stubs, when being subjected to tabloid images of my celebrity peers, holding hands blissfully with their new beau's.  Like it really is that simple.  
Yes, I’m talking about you Halle.  The front door had barely shut on Gabriel’s behind and there you were, gazing blissfully at Oliver Martinez.  Not fair.  Elizabeth Hurley, you’re no better, getting instantly bowled over by that hunky cricketer bloke.  And don’t even get me started on Rachel Weiz, who found consolation in the arms of Daniel Craig no less, when her marriage fell apart.  There are others.  Many others.  Including a plethora of Kates (Hudson, Price, Winslet) and the elfin Anna Friel.  
So this is how I spend my days.  Spitting toast at the source of the latest celebrity single mum’s love tryst in agitation (then grinding my molars into stubs with - let’s face it - raw envy).  And my reaction is always the same....This is Not Real Life!  
At least, it’s not my real life. 
More’s the pity.
Not that there hasn’t been some small flurries of potential romantic activity in my life over the past few months.  
Here’s a brief run down:
Mr eHarmony
The only man I met up with, following a knee jerk 3 month stint on eHarmony (the membership of which is now cancelled - FOREVER).  Now, this is a guy who knows how to treat a lay-dee.  He took me out to dinner, to the theatre and even to Ladies Day at Ascot.  He was well travelled, well read, engaging, thoughtful and had a good sense of humour.  On paper he ticked boxes, and lots of them.  In real life, there was just no sexual chemistry (well on my part at least).  I tried to muster up the enthusiasm for a good ol’ tongue thrashing snog, because God knows I could do with the practice, but even two powerful Mojitos and half a bottle of Chablis couldn’t get that party started.  
We’re now just friends.
Italian Stallion
This tall sexy hunk has been swinging me around the dance floor for weeks, while I practice my Ceroc moves and try to out-Britney Ms Spears.  I have to admit, I’m a little bit shameless when I am dancing.  I don’t set out to be - but the right music can trigger an almost Pavlov response in my celibate pelvis, which starts wiggling and jiggling with blatant abandon.  Most men regard me with abject fear in their eyes - but the Italian Stallion has no such fears.  “I am tempted by you”, he tells me seductively, in his wildly attractive Italian accent on the dance floor, and then later, over pizza.  
I was a little bit tempted, I’ll confess.  I’m only human.  These nether regions were never intended for a nunnery.  
But I’m taking a pass.  It’s only going to be a shag at the end of the day - and that’s just not what I am looking for.  It’s not going to stop me dancing like a wanton freak with him on a Tuesday night tho...after all, I am only human.
Sexy Single Dad
It doesn’t seem very politically correct to be scouring the playground for potentially available men, but in the single mum world it’s best to leave no stone unturned. One of the dads in Johnny Drama’s class caught my eye.  Nice looking, great smile.  A little bit of a Harry Hill Lookee-likee. I have never seen such a perfectly spherical head.  It was a happy day when I found out he was a single dad.  A slightly less happy day when he dropped into conversation that he had a girlfriend.  Drats.  
Anyway, all is not lost.  I now have a new buddy to coordinate the odd weekend play date with and that really is a bonus.
The Tall American
On my last night in Chicago in April I bumped into The Tall American and had that kind of swoony experience which doesn’t happen very often.  That tantalising combination of instant attraction and sexual chemistry, accompanied by an intuitive sense that you’ve met before.  I knew it was pointless and there could be no future in it, but I was smitten.  After a 15 minute conversation and no snogging action whatsoever, I was hooked.  
I then found out, following a succession of emails and even a couple of phone calls, TTA is dad to two children and that his wife was tragically killed last summer.  How heartbreaking is that?  It sent me into a bit of a tailspin and I couldn’t get him or his children out of my mind.  To me, there really can be no worse case scenario.  The thought of my own boys growing up, without me there screwing them up every step of the way, is unimaginable.  I ached for her and for their children.  
Not that I got to tell him that.  It appears that TTA has unwittingly got trapped under something very heavy and I haven’t heard from him for weeks.  There could be any number of reasons.  I tell myself that it’s definitely better this way.  Far less complicated all round.  After all, I didn’t really want to even contemplate moving back to Chicago again, did I?  No, I did not.  
Such a lovely man.  I hope he finds happiness again.  
Such a shame I didn’t get at least a kiss out of him, all the same.

Monday, June 27, 2011

How Is It Nearly July Already?

At last.  A near perfect weekend.  About bloody time.  The previous 3 weekends have all involved tears (mine) in one form or another - from muffled sobs into a tea towel while curled up by the washing machine on a Saturday morning, to full out hysterical sobs at a child's birthday party, on a bright Sunday afternoon - so this has to be progress.

June, for some reason, has been a tough month.

Maybe it's simply down to the fact that tomorrow I will have been living in the UK for 6 months.

6 months?

Doesn't seem possible.  Time is moving way too quickly and it's hard to see how my life is truly moving on, how I am actually making progress, now that I have nothing to complain about, finally being home.

The past four weeks have been pretty...well, challenging.  I say that although, of course, good things are happening all around me.  The boys are great.  I am out and about, meeting new people, doing fun things.  However, in spite of this, in spite of the fact that I am spending an abundance of energy getting myself out there, none of it appears to be tipping the balance on my 'general happiness and well being' meter.

At times I feel just as lost as I have ever been.  Just as angry, exhausted, disappointed and scared.  I aim  barbed arrows of judgement at people all around me, but in truth it's myself that I am disgusted with.  My inability to be a motivated, optimistic person 100% of the time.  The fact that some days I am just so sad, for no reason at all.  Why can I not just trust that it is all really okay?

Maybe I'm just not drinking enough alcohol.


I'm pretty sure that I am.

Ex and AG were here for half term and, obviously, had a gay old time with the boys and various friends and family.  God, that still rankles, though I so wish it didn't.  When I think about it all rationally, the situation couldn't be much better for the boys.  (Actually, not true...the situation would be much better if I was the one in the fantastic new relationship, while the gitbag who actually dessimated this family was alone and bereft...but I digress.)  Friends who haven't been in this situation find it hard to understand. Surely I should have let it all go by now?  After all, it's fairly amicable, isn't it?  It all could be so much worse.

And I agree.

But this isn't about the rational, is it?  How can you be rational about the person that you planned on loving and spending the rest of your life with, loving someone else?  And that being okay?  I struggle day to day with my little torn apart family, dealing with boys who cry heartbrokenly because they miss their dad.  I did everything I could to keep this family together and it wasn't enough.  I had no idea I was so disposable.  That my replacement would not even be born until I was 13 years old and lived on the continent that I, stupidly, dragged us to over 10 years ago.

I want to find it in my heart to be the bigger person and just 'let it go'.  I don't want to be petty and mean spirited, because I know I am no longer in love with my Ex.  By allowing my vulnerability to override my common sense, I continue to disappoint and frustrate myself.  I feel I am on the verge of losing friendships due to the fact that this situation still paralyses me, impacting me to physical nausea.  Rationally it's all so unnecessary, but in truth it's how I still feel.

One day I am going to read this and not be able to equate with it at all.  That's a comforting thought at least.  How I long for that day - and may it just hurry up and get here.

I think the cat being released from quarantine marked the passage of time that I have been home for quite a while.  Bert arrived home, looking none the worse for wear.  For the first few days he seemed to have had a personality transplant following his ordeal, to the point where he even sought and tolerated the boys affections.  Then he stopped eating cat food and started a new diet, consisting mainly of his own fur.  Bald patches started appearing with alarming frequency.  He succeeded in scratching most of the fur off his ears and his face.  His tummy, instead of featuring silky black hair, became predominantly pink.  The hair that remained attached to his skinny frame became greasy and lank.  In my usual slack Alice fashion, I ignored it for the first week thinking I could simply stroke him back to health.  When that failed I conceded defeat and rushed him to the vet.

Good God, I thought mercilessly, if you pop your clogs now after I paid out thousands from my divorce fund to get you through quarantine, I am going to be a teensy, weensy bit annoyed.

Turns out that it is anxiety.  Must be contagious.  This is the effect I have on animate objects, apparently.  Even the cat is now stressed to the eyeballs after a few days of living with me.

No sooner did the cat move back in...then my sister moved out.  She found a great place to live, just over a mile away.  I have mixed feelings about the move.  I miss having her here, even though I know it was the right time for both of us.  The fact that we survived going from hardly seeing each other for 10 years, to living in each others pockets for the past 6 months, pretty much reflects the strength of our friendship.

It feels strange not to see her on a daily basis though.  And my eating habits have gone completely down hill since she left.  Funny how it was so easy to motivate myself to prepare a healthy meal each night, when there was someone else to cook for, who appreciated it so much.  For the past week I have lazily forfeited preparing salad and protein for my alternative nutritious combo of kettle chips and Haagen Daaz.  Not really food for the mind, is it?  Or the thighs, come to think of it.  Still.  It does taste bloody delicious.

Anyway, rather than let this general malaise lead me down the inevitable rocky road of a permanent sugar coma, I have decided to try to face this period of my life head on and booked myself some therapy.  Rather than keep this simple and also boost the local economy, I have begged the therapist I used to see in Chicago, to help me out via Skype.  Sounds a little pretentious I know, but I just couldn't bare the thought of having to go through my recent history yet again.  All the details of the dead baby, then the high risk pregnancies, premature births, infant surgeries, marital breakdown, separation, divorce and transatlantic move - and everything else in between.  I don't have the time or inclination.

Luckily for me, my therapist said You Betcha! in that optimistic, American way and so now, at last, help is at hand.  There's hope for me yet.  Although apparently, tears are like burps and farts.  Better out than in.  And while I'm not aiming to cry me a river any time soon, I am mildly regretting not having shares in Kleenex at this point in time.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Day With Friends

When you're going through a rough patch, there's nothing better than spending time with friends, people that genuinely care.

And that's just what I did today.  At Cybermummy.

Now I have the amazing Tattie Weasle to thank for passing along her ticket, as she had a conflicting family engagement.  How fortuitous.  How generous.  I am very, very grateful.  Apparently her boys thought I could do with the break from my own rambunctious monkeys - and I have no shame in readily admitting that it couldn't have been better timed.

The conference itself was meticulously planned.  I wouldn't really class myself as a 'serious' blogger - I am not seeking marketing partnerships or revenue, would prefer to avoid sponsored posts, am not focused on increasing readership and have no intention of using the blog as a jump start to a business venture.  Therefore the value of some of the workshop content was a little wasted on me.

But oh, what a day.  What a productive and inspiring day.

It really brought home the reason why I continue to, somewhat haphazardly, blog.  Because I have met some remarkable women.  Women who have supported me over the past 2 years and provided such a wealth of advice and comfort.  Women who have spurred me on, again and again and again.  Women who have inspired me with stories from their own lives.  Women who, if I had tripped over them on the high street,  I wouldn't recognise from Adam.

Until today.

Today I got to meet these lovely ladies.  I got to hang with these funky mamas.  I don't have to regard myself as one of their cyber stalkers any longer.  (Now I can be officially upgraded to Real Life Stalker...I have real names, phone numbers, can provide a pretty accurate police fotofit description if ever called upon.  It's all pretty heady stuff, I can tell you.)

So a big THANK YOU to Home Office Mum, Expat Mum, Not Wrong Just Different, Potty Mummy, NotSupermum, MoreThanJustAMother, Jo Beaufoix, Family Affairs, London City Mum, Nixdminx, Muddling Along Mummy.  I had a fantastic day - but the best part, by far, was getting to meet you all in person.

Another bonus?  The four bags of swag that I unashamedly pilfered from every sponsors stand and workshop table.  It's been quite a while since I have attended an event that featured an abundance of Free Stuff.  I think I might have embarrassed myself a little with my enthusiasm to bag every freebie going, regardless of whether or not I could actually make use of it.  It was like being a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.  Quite what I am going to do with the 3 tubes of nipple cream, the sippy cup and feeding bottle I haven't quite figured out yet.

But oh boy, am I going to get brownie points tomorrow when the boys get their sticky little mitts on the soft toys, the dvds, note books, Crocs.  Even the spaghetti will probably raise a cheer.  (You can tell we don't get out much.)

So thank you gorgeous fellow bloggers.  I count myself as very lucky to be one of your peers.

And thank you to the organisers of Cybermummy.  A very worthwhile day - and a truly great day with friends.