Love Is a Verb

4TH WEDDING ANNIVERSARYToday is my 5th Wedding Anniversary and I have naturally been musing on love and marriage. You could say I’m the marrying kind – after all, this is my third marriage! Dizzy Romantic? Hopeless Idealist? Well perhaps once upon a time but two divorces and a good deal of hardship and heartache must have knocked all that out of me, wouldn’t you think? It’s a testament to my husband, really, that I would even consider walking down the aisle again and risk having my heart broken again – but I did it gladly, with my eyes wide open, and I’d do it all over again.

I’ve learnt that love is a magical feeling – that feeling you get when you catch sight of him and your heart does a little flip or the warm inner glow that you have when you’re apart and you think of times you’ve spent together. It’s a smile, a kiss, a hug. It’s physical. It makes you feel unreasonably, contagiously happy.

But perhaps more importantly: love is a verb. It’s not static and it requires action in order to flourish and thrive. My husband shows me how much he loves me in the many things he does. It could be the fact that he always senses when I’m not happy or if I’m awake worrying. If I’m feeling weary and procrastinating over some chore he’ll offer to come and keep me company. When we do things together it’s always quicker and more fun. It could be his many thoughtful and generous words  and deeds – or the fact that he’s fiercely protective of me and always on my side, always ready to back me and support me in any project. It could be the many hours he’s devoted to my children – whether it’s helping with revision or homework or discussing their thoughts and plans, or spending time having fun with them. And yes, I know that he loves them too and it just comes naturally to him but it’s something I will never take for granted.

Love is a verb. I saw that throughout my years as a single mum and I see it now that I’m happily married.

RB and boys Eiffel Toweri’ll never forget it and I try to live that way – in my marriage and most definitely with my children.

“THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up The Pieces and Build a Happy New Life” is available now in bookstores and on Amazon.

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go?

After returning from a nice evening at the pub, followed by an Indian meal, I have been thinking about my days as a single mum and how tough it was  sometimes to let my hair down, yet what fun it was when I did. As I say in the book:

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom…! Make sure to put into practice your new sociable single girl status every once in a while and remember to have fun. I reasoned that even though I was too broke to get a babysitter I would still enjoy my friends’ company every now and then. It is true that I was usually too knackered to even contemplate those prepare-in-advance dinner party menus. However, I figured that my friends knew me well enough to perch on a kitchen stool and chat to me whilst I prepared our meal. And if I hadn’t had time to dust, well hey, I just turned the lights down low and lit a few candles; nobody was any the wiser. I remember one such occasion well. I managed to get the children tucked up in bed and fast sleep by the time my friends arrived. Whilst getting ready, I gave myself a stern talking to. I reminded myself that people said that I was intelligent and bubbly and even quite witty on occasion. But of course when you have been passed over for a younger independent single woman with her own car and flat and you are struggling to wipe baby sick off your shoulder it’s hard to convince anyone, least of all yourself, that you are good company and quite a catch really. I decide that all I could do was to try to hold my head up high, look as gorgeous as possible under the rather trying circumstances and hope that someone would see through my tired and somewhat frazzled exterior to the sophisticated and sexy woman that I hoped might still be lurking somewhere underneath. Anyway, that particular night was fun. Nobody minded that we didn’t eat dinner till ten–the food was delicious and we talked and laughed well into the night. When they had all gone I felt a sudden surge of happiness, bubbling up from under all that grief. I lit some new candles, turned the music up high and danced. I danced for the unexpected joy to be found in passages of sorrow, for the future and for the person I knew I really was. My dance was an affirmation–a mad, giddy moment where I forgot my despair and renewed my faith in myself. If someone were to ask me what the biggest surprise was in my situation I would reply that when you have been down as low as a person can go without giving up altogether, only then can you truly appreciate those precious moments of happiness that arrive from nowhere. Only then can you truly live in the present and fully make the most of the “ups” that come your way.

“THE SINGLE MUM’S SURVIVAL GUIDE – How To Pick Up The Pieces and Build a Happy New Life” is available now to order from Amazon.

When in Doubt, Go With Your Gut Feeling

As a single mum you have already have been through some incredibly difficult, even heartbreaking times and there will have been times when you had to accept things that were not in your best interest but fitted in with somebody else’s agenda. Personally, although I am a long way from being a control freak I have found it hard to accept that since my divorce I have little – if any control – over what happens with the children when they are away with their father. Suddenly you are at the mercy of other people’s decisions (including another woman’s decisions) regarding the upbringing of your precious small people and that felt not only frustrating but frightening sometimes when they were very small. In the end I had to come to terms with the fact that I could (and still do) make my feelings clear and then just trust that their dad loves them dearly and would never put them in harm’s way, even if he and his wife have very different values and rules to the ones we live by in my house. What I really wanted to say today is that there will be times when it really does matter – when you will feel incredibly strongly about something. There will be crucial decisions that every single mum needs to take regarding her welfare and that of the children. You might feel incredible pressure to follow the wants and wishes of your ex, his family, your friends or other interested parties and sometimes it’s hard in life to know how best to proceed. The first thing is to pause and take stock. No important decision needs to be made on the spur of the moment. You can always say “let me think about it” or “let me get back to you on that”. This will give you some breathing space and a bit of quiet time in which to tune in to your inner feeling, your intuition. What is the best course of action for all concerned? And if in doubt, if you can clearly see what is in the best interests of the children then you will have that certainty in your gut that will tell you what to do. So don’t give in to the knee-jerk reaction; look beyond any anger, hurt, squabbles or power struggles between you and your ex or anybody else involved in your lives. If you know in your heart that you are doing the right thing for your children and their happiness and well-being, then chances are it will be the right thing for you. The biggest mistakes I have made in my life were when I ignored my intuition so my advice to all single mothers is this: when in doubt, go with your gut feeling!