Well hello there midlife crisis how lovely for you to drop by, does this mean that I’ll only live until I’m fifty-two as it’s struck now? Wow what a bummer, but equally I guess I could get hit by a bus tomorrow in my washing-day huge thunderpants and I’m sure I’ll be equally as annoyed from beyond the grave. That’s certainly one thing you can’t recover from by dying in such an embarrassing way, but on the plus side at least you wouldn’t have to worry about styling it out afterwards. I have this insane urge right now to change everything about myself and I can only put it down to a midlife crisis. Like when Britney Spears had a bit of a funny turn and shaved her hair off and ran at the paparazzi with a huge golf umbrella; I’m not feeling quite as ga-ga but I have to confess to this unforgiving itch to go blonde and throw myself out of a plane for some inexplicable reason!
Yes, I know I’m a mother and need to be sensible but I so badly crave a shake up, I want to feel the blood pumping through my veins and set my soul on fire; and let’s face it, baking cakes, reading books and changing nappies just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi does it?
I’ve noticeably felt this massive divide in my life these past few months, I’ve always been Tracy Motherandwoman, a mongrel of sorts who blended everything together and created this grey sort of area of family existence. Now I feel like I’ve clotheslined myself and suddenly I’m a Tracy Mother and Tracy Woman tag team rotating in personality as often as I do in responsibility. And I realise I’m also speaking about myself in the third person, I know, what a twit! For x amount of days each week I’m burning myself out in mumsy mode, routines, schedules and night feeds single-handedly; and at weekends when the children are visiting the family I’m bloody undefeatable, partying, shopping and finding myself in the craziest places with the most amazing people. It’s like letting a bird out of a cage and watching it try its damnedest to fly to the moon until it indefinitely runs out of breath, falls from the sky and has to walk back home panting from pure wing ache, ready to catch its breath and escape once more when the door is left open again.
I was hypnotised the other week and it was the most incredible experience, completely unexpected but undoubtedly necessary and something I would love to do again. It’s the first time that I’ve put myself in someone else’s hands; I’ve never had therapy or counselling, I don’t have that special someone that I unleash my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings onto, just my blog, and my dog really, but chihuahua’s only ever turn their head to one side and look confused at you. So for me to open my mind to a ‘stranger’ was liberating. I felt so incredibly calm, focused and controlled and the words and meaning and positivity just flowed through me. I love yoga and meditation and hypnosis is kind of on par through mind and inner thought. Do I feel like a better person for it? Yes and no, I’ve had a truck load of doodah dropped on me recently and I felt that I needed guidance and help. I felt like a child for the first time in forever when my whole world fell apart and it scared me to feel vulnerable. I’m used to being the brave one, logical, systematic, ordered and driven and for a while I lost my way emotionally, I couldn’t find my north and my heart and head were at war. And weirdly enough I’ve not quite made peace with the situation, but more learned to live in two different ways. When I am with my children I am their mother, and when I am without them I am a teenager again. I know that I’ve regressed in life, but I think it was the part of life that I bypassed through becoming a young parent that I’m now revisiting. I’ve never felt hard done by, just more driven by obstacles in my path, and I’m still me inside and always will be. I just have the time now to experience my life divided into sections, boxes, conflicting meanings and alternate purposes if that makes sense. I wouldn’t recommend it, yet I also wouldn’t discourage it. Life is a journey of understanding, growth and development and for whatever reason be it fate or otherwise, this is a lesson that I’ve been given and from this I realise I’m no longer grey, I’m both black and white at the same time.
Through my blog I’m able to monitor my analytics which tell me how many visitors I have to different parts of my site as well as how they get here by the terms they use to search. Occasionally I come across the odd search term which makes me chuckle such as ‘my washing machine is bouncing loudly’ or ‘tracy kiss porn star’ but today I saw something which made my heart stop. Somebody has searched how to break up with a single mum and I froze as I saw the words on the screen, because he’d come through to my blog and it’s really struck me. The identity of my readers is completely confidential, I have no access to names or locations of my visitors and will never know who this person is, nor would I want to for the fact that they have read my blog anonymously and in confidence. But it’s hurt me to realise that this man is thinking of leaving his girlfriend and child and is looking for advice on how to do it. I feel an incredible sense of guilt as I have blogged about my own experience as a single parent of two young children and I can’t help but wonder how my outcome will affect his. Will he have read my blog and seen that I am happy, capable and in control of single parenthood, reassuring him that leaving his family is a good idea. Or will he read about my ups and downs, the sadness and heartache and resign himself to staying within a relationship that doesn’t make him happy just to keep the peace? I know my words alone have the ability to shape peoples thoughts and outlook, and as a positive person I like to think that I encourage and inspire others to walk along the same path as me in life. But this has really unnerved me and I wish I could unsee it as I feel helpless to these people I will never know.
I would like to therefore take this moment to address the concept of relationships and family in the hope that my words find a place somewhere in your heart no matter what your current situation is. I receive a lot of mail and feedback, comments and thoughts through all aspects of my online social media and blogging and it’s helped me to realise the dynamics of life and love which I would like to share with you now. I have come to see on many occasions the different perspectives from both sides and in order to keep the details anonymous I will not identify the person, or which are my own experiences.
A female was a year into a relationship with somebody who she didn’t love as much as he loved her. The more he tried to please her the further it pushed her away from him and she became angry and dismissive towards him as he suffered and struggled to make things work. She wasn’t happy because they weren’t right for each other yet she didn’t have the guts to end the relationship because she didn’t want to be on her own. It isn’t easy on either person to live within a relationship that is unbalanced, but at the same time this is clearly evident from the day you first meet and should not take a year to present itself as a problem. Some relationships survive purely on opposites, where one side compliments and completes the other. The testing time for this in my opinion is within the first six months, whereby if you are stronger and happier together as a couple rather than on your own then you know that this is a relationship worth keeping. To be twelve months into a relationship and hesitant to leave means there is a problem that you must either confront and work through or acknowledge and walk away from. It is grossly unfair to allow a person to suffer while you hold all of the cards unable to make up your mind.
A male was in a relationship with a woman and her child from a previous relationship but unbeknownst to her, actively looking for someone better. He saw her and the child as a safety net to tide him over whilst he hoped to find somebody younger, prettier and without a child or responsibility before he took the step and moved on. He was unable to tell his girlfriend how he felt because he didn’t want to lose her prematurely, yet no longer loved her so remained in the relationship unhappy. He had already assigned himself to moving on, but should have voiced his feelings and concerns first and if the relationship couldn’t be saved then he should have ended it there and then before seeking love elsewhere. Being within the life of a child that isn’t your own is a big responsibility to take on, it’s not just the adult relationship you have to think of but also the family setting which can be alien to those who have never had a child of their own. You have to look at your impact on the family unit and if you’re committed to taking on the role then do so with respect and thoughtfulness at all times. You should not expect a woman to ignore her child in favour of a new relationship, but come to realise that a family is different to dating a single person as the children come first and not the adults.
A male had a child with his girlfriend and they married shortly after as it was what was expected of them after becoming parents. Through the struggle of raising a child and working the male grew to resent his wife and preferred to spend his free time with his friends and own interests and hobbies instead of being with her. He felt imprisoned by the responsibility of parenthood and marriage yet unable to leave for fear of breaking up a family. I feel so badly for both sides, as a mother it’s a tough transition to make from adult to parenthood. Raising children is hard yet extremely rewarding and you have to take a step back as you put the needs of a child first and not your own. A father working hard and returning home to a messy house and stressed out wife and child is a frustrating and uneasy time. It can be all too easy to stop making an effort with each other, to not spend enough time together away from the hustle and bustle of family life and to lose the spark that initially drew you both together. Everybody needs attention, acceptance and gratification, to feel loved and needed, appreciated and satisfied, but when there are more than two people in a relationship, i.e. children involved, it becomes hard. But it’s not impossible. They should take time out together, talk and listen, voice their opinions about what makes one another stressed and upset and work at keeping their spark alive. Underneath the weight of life the same two people still exist who first met as singles, they just need to open their eyes to the blessings that they have.
A female was engaged when she had her first child and has struggled to lose her baby weight. She felt unattractive, frumpy and stressed to have given up her work to raise a child who ran her ragged. She was scared that her fiance would no longer find her attractive and felt guilty that she didn’t see her friends enough like she used to before becoming a parent. In their spare time she would go out with the girls whilst her fiance babysat their child, and he would go out with the boys when she would babysit, so they lost their footings as a couple. Being a family isn’t about taking turns, it’s about working as a team. It’s important to stay true to yourself and your previous friendship groups, taking a little time out here and there to see friends and family, but the foundation of the family rests solely on the relationship between man and woman. Your partner should be your best friend, your confidant and equal. You shouldn’t turn to a group of outsiders to make you feel better when you’re unhappy with your relationship, you should discuss it as a couple. If you feel unhappy with your body after having a baby then tell your fiance, because he may think that your hesitancy and coldness is down to you not loving him, not your own insecurity, and it could cause him to distance himself rather than reassure you. Life undoubtedly changes after having children and in a loving relationship there will never be another person on the earth that can love your child more than you both. But you need time as a couple, as a family and as individuals, just divide it in the right way. Put your family first, take time to be a couple after and any time left over use for your friends and family. It doesn’t mean to say you should cut people out of your life, but think of where best to place your time and how to make it work for everyone and you can still have everything.
A male left his fiance shortly after their baby was born. He wasn’t prepared for the drastic change a baby would bring to the family setting and felt that he missed out on the freedom of single life and the ability to do what he wanted with his own time. Weeks after he left he tried to rekindle the physical relationship he had with his ex-fiance without the responsibility of living as a family. To have a child is a testing time no matter what your age. Relationships take on extra stress, extra financial burden and any spare time becomes priceless. Being a parent is different to being a partner, but ultimately they must merge to complete the family unit. You have to think of everyone involved without putting your own needs first. This isn’t to say you should ignore your needs, but weigh them up in order of importance with everyone else involved to ensure that you both get what you need from the relationship. Take time to be together as a family, then as a couple and finally alone with friends. When you have a family your responsibilities change, the hierarchy extends and you have to manage your time better. You can still be an enthusiastic parent to your child in a relationship or on your own. Equally you can still have a loving and rewarding relationship as a couple by occasionally taking quality time away from your child to keep the spark alive. If you learn to manage your time properly and appreciate what you have you will soon realise that a loving relationship and enthusiastic parenting is what every family aspires to achieve but seldom realise they have.
A male felt frustrated in his relationship with his girlfriend, he was no longer attracted to her, found her too boring and thought he would be happier single and playing the field. He ended the relationship and she moved out. Just weeks later after remaining single and unsatisfied he tried to win her back, he realised what he’d lost and missed being around her, but he still talked to other girls in the hope of finding her replacement. He wanted her back simply because he didn’t want to be alone, he was comfortable with her but didn’t appreciate, love or respect her. And when she left he realised how much he liked her being around but no longer loved her. To try and win her back whilst looking for other girls shows he doesn’t love her. If he wanted to make it work he would spend time being around her, talking, listening and recapturing the spark. There is no need to keep one eye open for the next best thing when you are in a relationship, if you find the one you will never have eyes for another. Be honest with yourself and your partner because it’s far less painful in the long run to admit your feelings now than in several years time when nothing has changed.
A female several years into a relationship felt sad and alone that her boyfriend hadn’t yet proposed. To start with they had both been enthusiastic, excited and loving towards each other but as the years passed he appreciated her less and less and she feared he was bored of her and would soon leave. She didn’t want to nag him by telling him that she didn’t think he cared, that he never put her first or failed to make her feel special or loved anymore. The relationship became stagnant because he stopped trying and she stopped asking and they constantly walked on eggshells so as not to rial one another, never voicing their concerns and only living half a relationship with a black cloud always over their heads. Unless you communicate you will never know what your partner is thinking. Think of a relationship as having a new puppy, if only it could speak you could avoid the barking and whimpering, messing in the house and destroying furniture. Tell your partner you love them, show them, hold them, make them feel special. To be in love is special, so make every day count because life is too short to lose those who mean the world to you.
If you’re in a relationship open you eyes and realise why, remind yourself of the person you are with, who stands by you and who is there for you come rain or shine. Think of all the good times, as well as the bad, the highs as well as the lows and the journey you have been through together. And finally, with the addition of children you must learn to adapt, to be there for one another and hold out a helping hand when you see your partner fall behind. Constantly talk, constantly love and constantly care. You chose that person for a reason, and that person will always be in there even if life throws a millions spanners on top of you both. The grass isn’t any greener on the other side, you’re never as hard done by as you may think and life without what makes you your happiest will only become darker without them. Be careful or you’ll lose the moon whilst counting the stars.
So where does this leave me? Thankful but in pain. Happy yet sad. Relieved yet crushed and hopeful yet hesitant. I believe in love and happiness, I believe in self worth and finding ‘the one’ and I know that my time will come some day whether it be yesterday, today, tomorrow or in ten years time. Life has a funny way of lulling you into a false sense of security before throwing a spanner in the works and turning everything you’ve ever known upside down but it’s how you deal with the carnage that helps you to live through the calm. We spend all of our time and effort worrying about the daily things that we cannot change nor control, when really we should evaluate the tiny decisions we make day to day that as a collective have the power to change our lives forever.
It’s insane how one day can make such a difference to your life, if you wake up late, have a stressful time at work, burn the dinner or have an unexpected bill to pay it can seem like the whole world is ending. People pick up and drop relationships like hot potatoes and if it turns out to be a hasty decision then you live with the consequences forever. Take a step back, think about things, communicate and look at the entire time that you’ve spent together, be subjective and not concentrate on just a short burst of uncertainty. You could wake up tomorrow with the sun shining and win the lottery and be grateful that you still have your soulmate by your side.
I finally have my car back from the body shop and have listed it for sale online. Fingers crossed it sells quickly and I can resume my shopping shortly!
And as the nights are drawing in and the mornings getting colder it’s lovely walking the children to school with cold little noses as they puff their breath into the air. It looks like summer is finally over and we can start planning for a cosy Christmas!