I met the man who would become my husband when I was in my very early 20s. I was working as an office Temp and he was in the same office.
I first saw his name on a work email. I read the surname several times. I thought it was the most beautiful surname I had ever seen. I practiced my name with it and thought that the two together were sublime; a proper author name (I was always looking for a good author name for when I eventually inevitably became a famous author of course). Unfortunately I couldn’t stand the bloke. I mean I could not stand him! So you could say I fell in love with his name – not him.
I thought he was arrogant and bloody annoying. All he did all day was royally take the piss out of me. One day we were on a work do in the local pub and we were arguing as usual and my best friend exclaimed “Oh for goodness sake! Why don’t you two just get a room!” I will never, ever, ever forget it.
Ten years later after a million mistakes and other relationships we finally fell into each other with the force of a sonic boom. I knew he was it.
The next five years would be a fast and furious flurry of two children and a wedding day.
Something he doesn’t get credit for is how he handles – on a daily basis – my mental health problems. He is, in fact, the only man who has been able to cope with me! When I am depressed he will sit next to me, hold my hand and listen. He understands – even though he has never been in that position. He lists what I have to be thankful for and always tells me I will be ok. He is a calming anchor to my manic highs and lows. He is amazing.
I am so glad I took that temp job all those years ago. I am so thankful that I finally got my perfect surname (even though no one in Yorkshire can pronounce it correctly).
One day my best friend and I saw a small tile in a shop that read “we’ll be best friends forever, we know where the bodies are buried” and we laughed together because that’s what our friendship was. We knew everything about each other; and I mean everything! The good, the bad and the utterly ugly – no judgment. We were there for each other through every break up, every hideous job, every parental fall out. Would you believe it if I told you the last day I ever saw her was the day I told her I was pregnant approximately five years (and nine months) ago.
I had recently moved away and had gone back home for a wedding. I wanted to tell her face to face because I knew this was a painful subject for her. She desperately wanted a child. I had become pregnant accidentally at the worst possible time. She knew as soon as I refused a drink – a dead give away.
I saw pain in her eyes as I told her but I believed our friendship could survive anything. Months later I found myself in this new town with zero friends. She was kind on social media and caring for a while. The end came when I made the effort to go back home twice to see my friends – and both times she didn’t turn up. The second time – without an explanation or a text. I was devastated.
It was easy for me to be angry and hurt for a very very long time. I couldn’t speak about her to a single person without breaking down in tears. Then in emotional moments I would message her saying I missed her, I was sorry, please can we be friends again. No answer has ever come.
It has taken me five years to understand. I will never fully understand but I’m not angry anymore. I get it.
I imagine her pain at not being able to have a child when mine came so easily. I imagine her fury and anger at my Facebook updates constantly moaning about sickness and SPD and indigestion. I imagine it all being a constant slap in her face. I get it.
Unfortunately for me – and for everyone else – my first pregnancy was the first ever pregnancy since records began – I was obsessed with it. I wrote a blog about it. I posted endless statuses about it, but more importantly I moaned about it. I moaned about the jabs and the aches and pains and the vomiting and the SPD and the heartburn and anxiety without much thought for anyone else. I didn’t consider the pain she was feeling.
I am so unbelievably happy that she got her child eventually.
I can’t down play how painful losing this special friendship has been. I have wept to my husband at night, I have cried the night before my wedding because she was’t there, it has taken me a long five years to get to the place where I can even write this. Getting over men has been relatively easy in comparison – a new hair cut and a few shots were all I needed. But losing my best friend hurt like Hell.
I still dream about her from time to time. In my dream we see each other in the street – there are no fireworks; there is no movie style reunion. We just say “Hey” like nothing has happened and then we toddle off to the pub like we always did a lifetime ago.
Life isn’t as black and white as people would like to believe.
There are rarely purely goodies and baddies.
There is complicated pain and there are complex emotions.
There are also friendships that can’t survive our entire lives – some people are meant to be there for your youth, your drinking-heart-ache-traveling-discovering-yourself days – and as painful as it might be – they might be meant to be kept in the past.
We are lifetimes apart now. We have experienced a million different emotions and moments without each other at our sides. But we are both mothers, we have that in common. In some ways we will always be the same best mates we always were. We will always be part of each other’s tapestry.
I still love her. We still know where the bodies are buried.
Oh I don’t begrudge you, couples. When I see you all loved up, holding hands, making moon eyes at each other, holding me up in the Krispy Kreme queue. You can have your romance. You can have your pre children moments – just as I did. But just heed me this – if you choose to have children:
there will come a time when the only reason you will passionately kiss each other is because either of you has had a near death experience – or you’re so off your tits you have mistaken each other for someone else.
There will come a time when him being home at the weekend means one more person to hoover around.
there will come a time when the sexiest thing your other half can do for you is change a dirty nappy, scrape the mould off a baking dish you left in the oven so you don’t have to throw another one away, find your toddler’s ‘other’ shoe that has been missing since last year, fill the dishwasher correctly, or offer you a hot cup of tea.
there will come a time when the only time you look at him with pure adoration and a tear in your eye is when he is putting out the bins or giving the toddler a bath.
your bed will be used for sleep and the only ‘position’ that makes you excited is him facing the other way, as far away from you as possible and not hogging the duvet.
the kinkiest thing about your sex life will be the extremes you go to to not get pregnant again.
your fights will solely be about how much or how little each other do in regard to housework, the children, work and finances.
time together in a fancy hotel will consist of you having a two hour hot bath with a cocktail and him sleeping.
If he is ever late home from work your first thought is not “who is he sleeping with?” it’s “ooh! maybe I can watch ‘Dinner Date’ in peace!
Romance to me used to mean:
public displays of affection
all the right words
doing everything together
being as one.
Romance to me after children means:
‘don’t touch me!’,
your words are useless – your sonnets aint gonna get that dishwasher emptied,
separate rooms and
being left alone to enjoy the silence.
I don’t have time for jealousy anymore. The other night I watched a man on ‘The Only Way is Essex’ practically dancing in fury because his girlfriend had ‘followed someone back on Twitter’. Do you know who my other half follows on twitter? No, neither do I. As far as my problems go it’s probably at number 890987877 at the moment after “what if he only wins second prize at crufts.”
We had some fun after baby number one – don’t get me wrong. We eventually settled into parenthood, compromised within our roles, learned not to be so passive aggressive and I almost got my body back. We had a few outings without our son and rekindled the romance. I thought we were on the right track. Then somewhere along the line we decided to have another child.
Before I knew it I was massively pregnant and a parent to a toddler practising his role as Speedy Gonzales on crack. Now I am a drained and exhausted new mum surviving on micro sleep and malted milks.
If couples can survive one child they’re really heroic … two children and the odds are against you! Everything that brought you together goes out of the window and now all that’s left is sleep deprivation, frustration and fury in a confined space filled with noisy Fisher Price toys and the stench of shit.
To think I used to worry about what my other half would look like! His height. His shoes. To think his favourite film was a deal breaker! Now the only thing that is important to me is that I respect him (in my case because he is infinitely more intelligent than I am). R.E.S.P.E.C.T ladies – is the only reason you will have one day not to call him a cock womble and shuffle off. Think about whose hand you’d want to be holding during a spinal block. That’s your man!
I enjoyed watching the couples trying to find “love” on Love Island. The only thing I was jealous about was that they got to go on a relaxing, sunny holiday – we think we will be in our fifties before a holiday can earn the title of ‘relaxing’ again. I don’t begrudge them. All I wanted to shout at the screen was:
“If you can’t make it work after three weeks, on holiday, in the sun, in paradise, with no bills to pay, no responsibilities, no ‘reality’ of any kind – really don’t bother!”
A real compatibility test would be to send in a new born in with Colic, and a toddler with constipation and a fruit shoot and get them to watch Baby Jake on repeat and tell them they can’t drink till 7pm.
If you can survive one, two or more children together you really have my respect – it’s no walk in the park.
I am astounded that my other half is still here – putting up with everything I throw at him – and I am amazed I’m still here too! Which is why I’m marrying him at the end of this year. And the proposal wasn’t important and the ring isn’t important. What’s important? Who can look after the kids at the reception so mummy can have a drink?
If we can make it through two pregnancies and two babies – I know we can make it through anything!
Seeking fellow mum to have strong coffee with and keep each other company during these terrifically isolating mummy years so I can stop talking aloud to Steve the Stegosaurus about how the toddler never listens.
You will have a child a similar age to mine so they can entertain and amuse each other – so we don’t have to.
It would be nice if you were a big drinker. I’m not talking Bacardi on your sugar puffs or anything – but “shall we just have the bottle?” should be one of your most commonly used phrases.
If you don’t drink, we can get along – as long as you don’t tend to judge those who consider half a bottle of Rioja a ‘palate cleanser’.
You will be blind to my increasing belly – which we both know is just cake at this stage – and will not mention it until I am eight months gone (at least) or in full labour.
I don’t care what you eat as long as you mainly feed your toddler normal human food stuffs – the things I grew up on! Dairy-lee Triangles, spaghetti hoops, smash and fish fingers.
You will not judge me if you see me eating / drinking anything that is not on the ‘pregnancy approved’ list.
If you come over to my house you will always come bearing some sort of refined sugar and white flour combo and you will regularly say things like “sod the diet girl! Life is for living! What do you need to diet for anyway?”
You will like cats. More than children.
All suggested days out are planned carefully around my child’s and my own nap times. ‘Activities’ will involve sitting down with a cup of tea while children take care of themselves, glued to Cbeebies.
Talking of, you will not look down on any TV choices made by myself or my toddler (these can include ‘In The Night Garden’ and ‘Say Yes To The Dress’)
Full agreement that Mike The Knight is a cretin and Judge Judy rules.
If my child bites or head-butts your child during soft play – you will forgive and forget. And not assume it is because of their spaghetti hoop diet.
A naughty sense of humour.
An understanding of sarcasm.
A willingness to be brutally honest about the toll of motherhood and pregnancy.
An ability to have a right old moan.
An empathy for all of parent kind.
Absolute honesty regarding your child’s talents, vocabulary and learning history/ potential. Along with an ability to provide video evidence of said child ‘talking about Fauvism whilst making Sushi’ before I am forced to entertain it.
Absolute honesty about your child’s pitfalls and willingness to see when they are being an arse.
Ability to see how wonderful my child is.
Non-judgemental about my parenting style (I don’t have one).
Non-judgemental on my choice of husband. (One man’s meat is another man’s poison).
I still want to hear from you if…
you breastfeed or use formula.
you co-sleep or put your baby in a cot.
you are a single parent, parent with a partner or husband / or wife.
you moan about your children all day long. I understand that it doesn’t mean you don’t love them – and it doesn’t mean you’re not a wonderful parent. As am I? Right?
What you will get from being my friend:
An end to loneliness
A drinking / moaning / walking / coffee / doughnut buddy
I will defend you to the death.
I Need You.
Be My Friend.
I’m so lonely…
Bring Baked goods.