Saturday, 31 December 2011


I have been so busy over the last couple of weeks, with preparations for Christmas, school concerts and end of term activities, that I have not had the time to sit down for a minute, let alone write my blog.

I had my first Christmas Day without the kids, which upset me deeply, but unfortunately, a friend had her own crisis to deal with, which put it into perspective. 

The kids came home on Boxing Day, we were joined by their grandparents and a couple of my friends (who they are very fond of) and we had a great day.  And now, it’s New Year’s Eve.

I have never been a big one for New Year’s celebrations, but I have to admit that this year, for the first time in a very long while, I actually feel really positive.  OK – quite positive.  I mean, not leaping around whooping for joy, but a ‘looking forward’ type of feeling.

This time last year, I had moved house, spent several months with builders creating chaos in every room, but still waiting for the final stage of my divorce.  It was very unsettling for me and the kids and I was struggling to cope.

This year I start fresh as a single woman.  A mother of two fabulous children.  The buck may stop with me, but I also get to call the shots. 

I feel a sense of ‘lightness’.  I have no man, or even the possibility of a man, on the scene – and I’m OK with it. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I would dearly love to meet someone, but for the first time in my adult life, I feel stable and happy being by myself.  I have learnt to enjoy my own company a little better and to be a bit kinder to myself. 

And so tonight, I’m taking the kids to a friend’s house.  There will be a load of kids there, and I won’t know any adults except for the hosts.  And again – I’m OK with that.  At the beginning, I found it so hard to go out by myself, having been institutionalised by a 20 year relationship.  But now… I’m looking forward to getting dressed up and going out.

To get to this point has taken me almost three years. 

At the beginning, when I left my husband and the terror set in, I never imagined that I would be as at peace with myself as I am now.

For anyone out there going through the trauma of divorce – or any other trauma for that matter - you have my deepest sympathy.  Divorce is very like bereavement, it has stages, and the healing takes time.  But finally, you get to a point where suddenly, things don’t seem so bad any more and you can actually have fun.

Hang on in there.  Be strong.  And have the best possible 2012.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

New Year’s Eve – and no one to snog!

It’s that time of year again. 

The end of another year.

The New Year looms ahead, and like many people, I have started to reflect on the year gone by and wonder what lies ahead of me.

This year has been an epic one for me.  It is the year that my divorced was finalised and I started to settle, with a great deal of trepidation, into a new routine. 

The ‘rebound guy’ was finally given his marching orders and I was alone.  Living by myself with my two children and the dogs, trying to work out how to earn a living, and starting my blog. 

I finally started getting used to being on my own, not having ‘someone’ to share the finite details of my life with and realising that on the weekends when the kids are with their Dad, I could be missing for two whole days before anyone would notice.  And that’s not a nice thought.

Finally, I have galvanised myself into action to get Christmas sorted.  It’ll be the first one I spend without my children.  It’s not a pleasant thought.  Like many people who are the primary carer for their children, I can’t help feeling pissed off that having dealt with all day to day stresses and strains of the job, I am going to miss out on the fun of their Christmas Day.  But hand in hand with this, I also acknowledge that the upside is that I don’t have to deal with my ex-husband on a day to day basis.  And that is definitely a positive thing. 

In addition, I will be having a completely ‘grown-up’ Christmas, with two particularly wonderful friends.  So I won’t be alone, I will be eating turkey and I will be thoroughly looking forward to the kids return.

And now the New Year is ahead of me.  I’m not the type of person who wants to let life get me down – so, I have to take the bull by its horns and get a grip on things.

I have made some great new friends this year – and I am very grateful to them for their unstinting support and kindness.  I have also had a bit of time to lick my wounds and on the advice of a friend, have learnt to be a bit kinder to myself and not beat myself up too much.

I hate to think of myself failing – so a failed marriage has been a hard one to swallow.  But ultimately, I know that ending it was the right thing to do. 

So, in two weeks time it will be another year.  New Year’s Eve will be spent with the kids.  I may not have anyone to ‘snog’ at midnight, but I do feel a sense of peace that I haven’t experienced for a very long time.

And for the first time in years, I am a little bit more positive about what life has in store. 

So, just in case I forget when it gets nearer the time…

I would like to thank all the wonderful people who have posted messages on my blog, sent me the most lovely e-mails, or just taken the time to read what I have to say.

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2012.

Lara Lakin

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Is less more…?

I was listening to the radio the other day, which I don’t often do in the day time, and found myself listening to a fascinating and thought provoking interview.

The female interviewee (I will call her Anne) is a self-made multi-millionaire.  “Anne” worked hard in her field, became part of a management buy out, and some years later, sold out for (presumably) millions.  She did not reveal her identity on the programme, or specify exactly how much money she was worth.  But it was clearly a very significant amount of money.  And the point of the interview, was to discuss the impact that this sudden gain of wealth had had on her. 

Anne outlined the fears that I think I would have if I were ever lucky enough to be in her position.  Her initial response was a fear that the person closest to her (her boyfriend) would in some way feel differently about her, because of the money.  And secondly, she was concerned about the impact on their friends.

Fortunately, as far as the boy friend is concerned, they already knew each other well enough, and have subsequently married and had children.  And as for the friends, well, although some of them may well realise that Anne and her husband have ‘more’ money than the rest of their friends, they have chosen to stay away from a flashy life style, so they may not realise the scale of her wealth.

Well, I’m not a particularly money oriented person.  Like most people, the thought of knowing that I am financially secure and will never need for anything, is a very appealing one.  And I’m sure there are countless people who could think of plenty of things they would like to do if they suddenly came into a ton of money.  I don’t in anyway condemn that, but I don’t hanker after a flashy lifestyle myself. 

I fear that by increasing your spending pattern, you would inevitably end up mixing with other wealthy people.  By doing so, your own wealth would seem less, and the desire to acquire more would increase in an equal and opposite way to the enjoyment of wealth.  By existing in a bubble with other wealthy people, you cannot help but loose a sense of perspective.  And I would hate that.

And so, I found myself out with my “running buddy” the other day when the conversation turned to lifestyles.  He is the type of person who works to live and lives for his family and to cook and eat!

He has a fantastic social life and a lovely wife, who is more than happy for him to pursue his sporting and social activities.  He works for himself – so has no office politics to deal with and has enough work coming in to keep him and his family comfortable. 

His life is very straightforward.  He wouldn’t mind a new car, but is happy enough with the one he’s got.  His kids are happy at school and he has a lovely home.

Thinking about all this brought me back to the interview with Anne.  She undoubtedly had to commit a huge amount of time to her business before it sold out.  She feels a huge burden of responsibility, having so much wealth.  And she has chosen to hide her financial position from friends.  To be honest, it all sounds a bit tiring and complicated.

So I was thinking, if I had to choose to live the life of Anne, with all the wealth behind me, or my running buddy’s, whose would I choose…?

I think I know…  But who would you choose…?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Eggshell skull – beware of the impact you have on others….

On Friday night, I decided to drop in on a friend of mine.  I had the little dog with me, who thoroughly enjoyed playing with her dog.  And us two ‘ladies’ got to have a couple of glasses of wine and a good chat.  It was a really nice evening.  And at 11pm I decided to make my way home, in a buoyant mood, ready for the weekend ahead.

As I passed the pub on the corner, my dog spotted another dog, and as is the custom amongst dog owners, I stopped to let them say ‘hello’ and made some polite remark to the other owner, about her dog being nice.

The owner of the other dog looked round at me with cold eyes, and with a slow American drawl, said:

“Really?  Well I’m just not really caring right now.”

The woman then turned back to her male companion, who started to smirk, and they continued their conversation.

Clearly, this woman’s gratuitous remark was designed to be offensive.  And it was.  I’d been in such a good mood – but I was so taken aback by the meanness of her behaviour, that I ended up walking on to the bus stop feeling very upset. 

I’m not a mean person.  I get no pleasure from hurting other people’s feelings – especially total strangers who have been polite about my dog.  And I was cross with myself for not being quicker off the mark to respond with an appropriate retort.  And her behaviour made me suddenly feel alone.  There would be no one waiting for me when I got home to give me a hug and say “she’s a bitch, don’t take any notice”, and I’m sure that’s why it stung so much. 

The following night I was out again, this time at my American friend’s party.  I mentioned to her and another American lady what had happened the night before.  We joked about the different ways that Americans phrase things – and how Brits can be rude too, but in a different way!

On the way home, I decided to take the train – only to discover that there were maintenance works on the line, and it stopped three stops short.  Way too far to walk in the cold late at night.

For the sake of safety, and because I was freezing, I decided to take a taxi.  Needless to say, everyone else who’d been on the train had had the same idea. 

Then, just as I spotted and hailed a taxi, I realised that I had slightly walked in front of another couple that were trying to get the same taxi.  I felt really bad, so I asked them where they were going.  They were going to exactly the same place as me, so I asked them if they wanted to share the taxi. 

We all bundled in and set off home.  They were a lovely couple and we chatted all the way to the top of my road, where I hopped out.  I turned to give them some money for the taxi, but they completely refused!  I really wasn’t expecting someone else to pay my fare.  It was a selfless act of kindness to a complete stranger, which I couldn’t help feeling had counterbalanced the meanness of the woman I’d met the night before.

I realise that the events of the last few years may have made me more emotional than I might otherwise be.  And maybe my reaction to the dog woman’s meanness is disproportionate.  However, there is a principle in law called “eggshell skull”.  I’m not a lawyer, so I apologise for any inaccuracies, but as I understand it, the principle is this:

If your actions cause harm to another person, you cannot use as a defence that they had an underlying condition that you could not have been aware of just by looking at them.

And you cannot use as defence the fact that the force you used would not have harmed another person and was only damaging because of the underlying condition.

I know that I have witnessed someone making what they think is a harmless remark, which has caused another person to rush off in tears.  The person who made the remark almost always responds with “What did I say?  It wasn’t that bad was it?” 

And the chances are, it wasn’t ‘bad’, just careless. 

So the whole point of this post is that carelessness and meanness can cause great upset to people, because of other issues in their lives that we know nothing about.   

And similarly, an act of kindness can ‘lift’ someone who’s having a bit of a crappy time. 

I certainly know what impact I’d rather have. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Love me... love my dog....

This morning, when a reminder letter came in the post from the local vets, I realised that we have now had our little dog for a year.  It made me start thinking about all the positive differences this small, furry terrorist has made to our lives. 

Originally, I bought the dog for the kids.  I would never have bought one if I didn’t want one too, as I am the main carer for her.  But when I bought her for the kids, I had no idea how much of a positive impact she would have on all our lives.

And here they are.  The top eleven reasons why I love my dog:

1.  Every other weekend I’m on my own.  But with the dog in the house, it never feels empty. 

2.  I always know when the post arrives…  She runs to the door barking hysterically, and shreds it!  I shouldn’t laugh – but I can’t help myself!

3.  She is the world’s greatest football playing dog.  (Many a time I’ve had a child in tears, because she saves every goal they try to score!)  And it saves me having to join in!

4.  As a result of dog walking, I have made a number of fantastic friends and many acquaintances.  I love being able to chat to other dog walkers in the park, when the kids have gone to school.

5.  During the weekends when the kids are at their Dad’s, having the dog makes me get out of bed and out of the house, when I might otherwise waste the whole morning!

6.  She scares off the pigeons that have made themselves at home in our garden.  As I have a phobia of pigeons, I’m very happy about that!

7.  Instead of having to wake up two resistant kids in the morning, I just send the dog in.  She wakes them up in the most lovely way… jumping on top of them, kissing their ears and making them giggle.

8.  When the kids get bored they love playing with her.  It’s a very healthy alternative to PS3’s and other hideous computer games.

9.  The kids’ leftover food never goes to waste!!

10. When I’m really cross, grumpy and yelling at the kids, she looks like I’m telling her off too.  She creeps up to me, to try and make friends again.  It makes me feel so guilty that I have to stop!

11. And last, but by no means least, as the kids have learnt, there is always someone to blame for farting…!

Monday, 5 December 2011

The sexual lives of teenagers....

Since becoming single after a 20 year gap, I have been fascinated at the change in people’s attitudes towards sex. 

It seems that women (whether or not they choose behave this way), regard it as being perfectly acceptable to have casual sexual encounters.  Having sex is a ‘right’ and no longer something to be ‘frowned upon’.  In addition, I have been taken aback by people’s attitudes towards affairs.

When I was a child, the discovery that any of my parents’ friends had had affairs was a major social incident.  It rarely happened, but when it did, if the woman was the adulterous one, she could expect to be socially ostracised FOREVER….!  However, if a man was discovered to have had an affair, he was far less harshly treated. 

Nowadays, it seems that whilst some will still judge people harshly, many more take the attitude that an affair is the sign of a bad marriage, and the apportionment of blame has to be shared by both parties.

Bearing all this in mind, I have been fascinated to see what changes in attitude there have been amongst teenagers, and their parents. 

When I was a child, teenage pregnancies were rare and caused great shock.  I remember as a teenager discussing the subject with friends.  The hot topic was whether we would have the baby or not.  Amongst my friends, it was a moot point, because none of us were sexually active.  We are also the generation that was bombarded by the anti-AIDS campaign of the 80’s.  It had a major impact on us. 

So as a product of that generation, I find it equally fascinating and alarming to see the issues being faced by the friends of mine who have teenage daughters.  Over the last few months, I have found myself discussing ‘teenage issues’ with a number of them.  By chance, these friends all happen to have daughters varying in age from 13 to 17. 

From what they have said, promiscuity is at a level I find horrifying.  Underage girls are prescribed the pill without their parents’ consent, which may deal with the issue of pregnancy, but does not protect them from STDs.  And as teenage girls are not known for their reliability, they may not even be properly protected from that.

This freedom to take the pill also leaves boys without a sense of responsibility.  I believe that boys need to be more aware of the ramifications if their ‘girlfriend’, gets pregnant.  And the fact that they will have no control over whether she decides to proceed with the pregnancy. 

One friend’s daughter came home from school with a leaflet about sex and relationships.  It covered a variety of topics:  the importance of contraception; being ‘bullied’ into a sexual relationship; the ramifications of having compromising photos taken; and being pressurised into sex by your peer group.

But what I find so sadly missing in all of this, is the emotional element.  Sex as part of a loving, trusting relationship.  And if a girl has had sex with half a dozen boys by the time she’s 18, how will this affect her attitude towards relationships as she gets older?  Will she end up regretting it, or just continuing down the same path?

Is our society so broken down, that the idea of fidelity and lasting relationships is seen as archaic?  I really hope not. 

One mother discovered that her daughter had had several sexual partners, but couldn’t understand why her mother thought it was a big deal.  I admire her for her ability to stay calm, not scream the house down, accept that she is getting good grades at school, and that frankly, there is nothing she can do to stop her.

And so the other day, when a friend told me she is worrying herself over her daughter’s weight and her refusal to wear clothes that aren’t grungy, I had to smile to myself.  She’s the type of teenager that I was.  Rebellious, not wanting to do what her mother says, and frankly, just not that ‘into boys’. 

Whilst I have no doubt that my friend is driven round the bend by her daughter’s attitude, I can’t help thinking that she’s the luckiest mother of them all.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Just a quickie

And no… not what you’re thinking!  I mean that this is just going to be a very quick post today.

I have a child off sick.  And for a change, I believe he really is sick, owing to the fact that he has a temperature and won’t eat anything!  Very unusual.

Generally speaking, I confess I find it extremely irritating when the kids are off sick.  I can’t get lots of the things done that need doing and I’m house bound – owing to my very strict rule: If you’re sick, you stay in bed! It’s not a holiday!

But as it happens, the child who’s off sick, is the eldest, who recently went on his first ever trip abroad without either parent.  And for once, in the aftermath of missing him, I am secretly enjoying having him at home. 

Owing to his ill-health, he is not talking at quite his usual speed, and the signs of pre-pubescent behaviour (that’s back-chatting and general ‘arseyness’) have abated.  And being the age he is, I can have a decent conversation with him. 

I sat on the bed in my room next to him this morning, after I dropped his brother off at the school bus.  We watched the news and he asked a whole ton of interesting questions.  OK – he likes to start asking the question right at the moment that a key point in the story is being told by the newsreader…!  But, the mere fact he’s interested makes it OK for me.

And so I have this small moment in time with him.  A small moment to treasure.  No back chat, no fighting with the little one, no grumbling about homework.  I honestly believe that no high-octane adventures, outings or other excitement can compete with the happiness there is to be had in these private moments with your children, where you can just knock along together in peace.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Sexual fantasies and rules for the 8th day.

I was out running with a male friend of mine the other day.  I have to confess that during our runs, we do talk a lot of sh*t.  But it makes us both laugh, and keeps us going the extra mile.

Anyway, earlier this week, the subject of my sex life came up… as is often the case these days.  It seems that married people are desperate to know whether us ‘single women’ are getting more or less action than they are!  

And so the conversation progressed to the idea of an 8th Day.  An extra day in the week, when none of the usual rules of social conduct apply. 

Imagine that on this day you could do whatever you like, with whomever you like, no holds barred and no ramifications when you get back to the seven day week.  Sounds cool, right?

Well, it does to begin with.  But then we decide that there actually had to be some rules.  The rules about how we would interact with people when we went back to the seven day week.

What if we had an attraction to someone’s other half?  What if, on this 8th day, we did something about it.  How would we face that ‘someone’ having had a bit of ‘you know what’ with their other half?  Or if, like my running partner, you were married, would you not feel some guilt?

Under the rules of this 8th day, there is no way of getting round the fact that we would have to remember what we’d done, and live with it. 

So, when push comes to shove, would any of us really want it?  Say for example that on our 8th day we met someone who moved us to cosmic ecstasy (credit to @OutsideToilet for that phrase), how would we feel when, for the rest of the week, we had to go back to our humdrum lives?  Would it not just make us question whether we were ‘happy’?  Despite knowing that this ‘cosmic ecstasy’ was only possible because of it being the 8th day, owing to never having to argue over whose turn it is to make supper, empty the dishwasher, or take the bins out. 

Surely what makes a successful relationship ‘successful’, is the ability to share. To share intimacy for one, but also the small kindnesses in life. 

The fantasy of our 8th day ‘person’ would be somewhat diminished if we saw them the following morning, hair dishevelled, looking hung over, and not taking the bin out… even though it was their turn.

What makes people ultimately happy, is not the candle lit dinners, or weekends away, but the combination of these things and the sharing of life’s ‘crap’.  Making us feel that the burden is not on our shoulders alone.  Being able to laugh at the stupid things that go wrong.  And by seeing just how weakly human another person is, feeling more comfortable with our own weaknesses.

The 8th day is a great fantasy.  And having the lucid imagination that I have, it’s fun to discuss. But the grass is rarely greener.

Ultimate happiness lies in accepting the humdrum world and finding someone to enjoy sharing it with.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Cutting the apron strings…

This weekend has been a weird one for me.  The kids were due to be with their Dad, so it shouldn’t have felt so odd….  But it did.

My eldest went away on a four-day school trip.  It’s the first time that he has gone abroad without either parent.  He wasn’t allowed any electrical devices – which meant he couldn’t take a phone.  So he can’t contact me if he feels homesick.  And I have no way of calling him, you know, just to check everything’s OK. 

The honest truth is, I know he will be having an absolute blast.  The school is so slick at organizing these trips, and my son himself is a very sensible child, so I have no concern for his safety. 

What’s more, two of his best friends, who are also sensible kids, are on the same trip.  I can only imagine that they will be going to bed and talking all night.  Then up early to do their activities.  By the time they return they will be exhausted and frazzled.  And knowing my child, as I do, I am expecting him to return tired and grumpy!

But when I dropped him off at the school bus on Friday morning, with his rucksack on his back, it really hit home that my little boy is not really a little boy any more.  He is a teenager in the making, with an attitude to go with it!

My job may not yet be done, but I can feel the early signs of being ‘phased out’!

Friends of mine have commented that it’s wonderful for a boy of his age to go on such an exciting trip.  And they’ve all said how good it is for his independence and maturity.

I agree wholeheartedly.  But there is another issue…

As a mother, we have to learn to let go.  We have to learn that we will, eventually, be phased out.  And of course, this is natural progress.  I am aware that now my children are slightly older, I have become less tolerant of screaming toddlers.  And I’m sure, in time, I will be ready for my kids to become young adults.

The thing is, before I get to that stage, I’d really like to just ‘freeze frame’ them for a couple of years.  Because these really are the magical years.  Old enough to be a little bit independent, but no so old that they won’t let their mother kiss them goodnight, or climb into bed on a Saturday morning. 

And so, when my pre-teeny son arrives home tomorrow, tired and grumpy, I will give him a big hug, listen to all his stories and savour the moment.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Having sex on a first date… the ramifications…

Having sex on a first date… the ramifications…

When I posted recently on the subject of having sex on a first date, I mentioned two male friends of mine who had taken a different approach to their new dates.

Whilst one of these friends has taken a steady gentle approach, the other went for a speedier one.

And this post is about ‘the speedy one’.

As it happens, things got off to a fast start for James.  And by week two, there was some action going on.  But before I tell you more, I need to rewind a little bit, to give you the background.

Only weeks ago, James had been ticking along happily in his ‘single, but looking for a girlfriend’ lifestyle.  He had a female lodger, herself on ‘the hunt’ for a boyfriend and life was very straightforward.

Then, out of the blue, he received a phone call from his ex-girlfriend, who is the mother of his daughter.  She was calling because she was in a very difficult domestic situation with her current boyfriend and she desperately needed sanctuary.

Given the circumstances of her leaving James (unceremoniously, and barring him from seeing his daughter), he was faced with a real conundrum.  He was desperate to see his little girl and didn’t want her to be in a ‘difficult’ situation, but his feelings towards his ex-girlfriend were hardly ‘warm’.

Ultimately, he felt he had no choice but let them come and stay with him.  So they moved in.  Somewhat predictably, the ex-girlfriend managed to start irritating him as soon as she arrived.  Acting like it was ‘her’ house, she suggested that the lodger should move to a smaller room, so that she could have the big one… and so it went on.

And whilst all this was happening, James had met his neighbour’s sister, who he had taken a shine to.

Having taken this new woman out on a couple of dates, he decided to invite her round for a seduction dinner.  The scene was set, the lights were dimmed, and the ex-girlfriend had been dispatched elsewhere for the evening.

The seduction dinner went according to plan and another date was arranged.  During the course of this next evening, having already decided that this girl is probably not going to be a long term option, James found the conversation taking a few twists and turns.  Despite having explained the situation with his ex and daughter, this woman seemed unduly quizzical. She then started to cross-examine him about his impending birthday trip to Vegas. 

Heck – the trip was arranged way before she came onto the scene, the girlfriend / daughter situation had been explained… but as I said in that last post… she had already jumped to the ‘next stage’ and was acting like an established girlfriend would.  This was already putting James off.  He disliked being cross-examined and questioned about previously arranged birthday plans.  Personally, I can’t say I blame him for being irritated.

The following evening, James got home late, to discover his ex and the new woman sitting in his kitchen gossiping!

He was furious.  The explanation from the woman that she had ‘come round to pick up her phone, which she left behind’, just didn’t wash.  He lost the plot and told them that he was going to have a shower, and when he got back, they’d both better be gone.

He felt like he was being stalked.  Checked up on.  Investigated.  And all by someone he’d only just met, who he didn’t really know yet…

But they’d had sex…. And there’s the thing.  Women do, often, psychologically jump ahead and expect more than the man does. 

Maybe, if this woman had taken things a bit slower, she would not have felt threatened by the ex and the trip to Vegas, and would not have been tempted to sneak round and investigate, when she knew he wasn’t there.

What she achieved was an unceremonious ‘dumping’.

So who’s to blame?  And who says that a man can just have what he wants without there being complications…

You’ll have to answer that one for yourselves…

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

John Lewis's Christmas advert…

OK – I’ve been resisting this for at least a week.  I was teased into watching the John Lewis ad when I heard the presenter on my favourite radio station talking about it.  When I got home from the school run that morning, I gave in and looked it up on YouTube.

As sweet as the advert may be, it didn’t actually make me cry.  But what has made me really mad is all the sh*t that’s been written on the BBC website about it.

Now, here’s the thing.

It’s an advert.  It is designed to attract as much publicity as possible, so that (hopefully) more people will go to John Lewis when they are doing their Christmas shopping. 

Adverts are designed to create/heighten awareness of a product/ service/whatever and leave the viewer with a positive impression of it.

They’ve been around for years.  So what’s the big deal?

Well, from what’s been written on the BBC site, the great issue everyone seems to have is whether or not it is accurate to portray a child having such a generous spirit at Christmas time.

The negative commentators suggest that the positive commentators have never actually encountered a child.  As all children (according to them) are entirely selfish.


Now that’s what gets me mad!

Last night, on the way home from school, I dashed into the supermarket with my youngest son.  He had managed to smuggle his wallet into his schoolbag and had brought it with him into the supermarket.  Inside it was a £10 note.  All the little mite’s savings in the whole wide world.

“What’s your favourite wine?  Do you prefer red or white?” He asked, as I picked up a half case off the shelf.

Well, quite apart from my worrying that he sees me drinking too often, I thought it was amusing that he wanted to know what my preference would be.

When we got to the stage of paying for all our groceries, he plucked his wallet out of his pocket, took out his £10 note, and went to hand it to the cashier.

“What are you doing?” I enquired, as I insisted that he put his money back in his wallet.

“But I’m buying your wine Mummy.  You deserve a treat.” 

And so, having persuaded him that he really should save his pocket money for something else, we got into the car.

He then opened the mini box of Celebrations that I had said he could have and tipped the contents onto his lap.  He then demanded to know exactly which of the contents I liked most.  I’m not a big chocolate fan, but there are a few things I quite like.  And as the little one and I have very similar taste in food, he knew that I would go for the Bounty.  Which also happens to be his favourite.

So there’s the dilemma.  My son offers me his favourite chocolate.  If I accept, there won’t be one for him.  If I refuse, he will think that I want it really and I will be taking away his opportunity to ‘do something nice for Mummy’.

As we sat at the traffic lights, I accepted the chocolate. And the two of us sat there happily chomping away in contented silence.

My son rocks.  He is so kind, sweet and sensitive, that just thinking about him makes me want to hug and kiss him.

Anyone who says that kids are selfish and would never give away all their savings or their favourite chocolate (or do what the kid in the advert did), should consider what it is about them, that they have created a child who wouldn’t.

And just in case you missed it.....!!!!

Monday, 21 November 2011

I don’t mean to be a tease…. but…

Over the last few days, I have been driving myself crazy.

I had a random conversation with a friend this weekend.  I have no recollection of what started the conversation, but this friend of mine started talking about a condition her husband has.

And as she spoke, describing the symptoms of his behaviour, it was as if she was describing me – in finite detail.  I nearly fell off my chair.

I have been aware for a very long time that sometimes the way my mind works is a bit ‘different’.  Not always in a bad way, (there are elements that are very positive) but during my childhood, my parents and close friends were, on many occasions, very frustrated by my behaviour and this has continued through to the current day.

I really hate being cryptic, but until I know for sure that this is an issue for me too, I really don’t want to divulge any further details.

Over the last few years, this behavioural pattern has become more of an issue for me than ever before and so, I have decided to make an appointment with my GP to discuss it further.  Until I know for sure, I want to keep it under wraps.  I have however discussed it with one friend, who quite rightly questioned whether it will help me to know and have a diagnosis.

I have done the internet research.   I am aware of the dangers of self-diagnosis, but as I seem to tick the box for almost every single symptom of this condition, I feel I have no choice but to investigate further.

And what will I do with the information if my suspicions are confirmed?  Well, apart from the massive relief I think I will gain from knowing for sure that there is an explanation for my behaviour and the way I feel, I am hoping that there will also be a way of addressing and dealing with the issues.

Oh dear.  I honestly hate being cryptic.  If my suspicions are confirmed, I will most definitely let you know…

Until then… I will not be turning into a mad axe murderer or doing anything that endangers anyone!!

Yours cryptically, Lara Lakin.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Suicide… what makes someone jump…?

Today has been a bit of a shocker.

It started off all right.  My little one was due to go to a birthday party, which meant I was due for a couple of hours free, to have a good old gossip with my friend Sarah.  And I was really looking forward to it.

The party started, the kids were off into their own social whirl and Sarah and I snuck off to have a coffee and a chat with some of the other mothers.

But Sarah was clearly not her usual self.  She whispered quietly in my ear that she wanted to have a private chat.

So we found a quiet corner and she dropped the bombshell. 

The day before, she had been due to have lunch with a girlfriend.  They were going to meet on the top floor restaurant of a hotel.  By the time they arrived, after various delays, it was mid afternoon.  The restaurant was almost empty, except for them and a man at a nearby table, sitting on his own, drinking a beer.

They got chatting, ordered wine and food and then, finally, realised that they had been waiting for an inordinate amount of time.  They tried to get the waiter’s attention, but he seemed to be not just distracted, but in an almost frenzied state, unable to take notice of anything they said.  At that point, they realised that the security man was outside on the balcony, talking to the man who had previously been sitting having a beer. 

And that’s when he did it.  Whilst they sat there watching, this attractive well dressed man, roughly in his mid-forties, jumped.  Only a split second later, my friend heard the thud, as he landed on the pavement 12 stories below.  He died instantly.  For his sake, I’m glad it was instantaneous.

For my friend however, the horror of what she witnessed is only beginning to surface. 

She spent over an hour and a half giving statements to the police.  And today, she has started having flash-backs.  She has started to remember details about this man.  His brightly coloured shirt and tie.  His goatee beard.  His apparently calm exterior, as he sat drinking his final beer. 

And she started to question whether she should have been less selfish, wondering why their food had taken so long to arrive.  What if she had been more on the ball?  If she had noticed earlier, could she, being a woman, have had more impact on this poor man than the male security guard?  Could she have talked him out of it?

Clearly, these are questions that no one will ever know the answer to.  And whilst I can fully understand her emotional response, questioning whether she could have done anything to dissuade him from this terrible act, obviously she has no reason to beat herself up about it.

I know that many people feel that suicide is a very selfish act.  Personally, I disagree.  I have been through a few horrors in my life.  The most recent being the period that I was still living with my ex-husband and going through the horrors of divorce.  There were countless occasions when I woke at 4am, heart racing, sweating, sobbing in fear of what was ahead of me, and feeling like I was in free-fall with no sight of the ground - not to mention the terror of the trauma I was inflicting on my children.  But never, not even once, did I ever consider ending it all. 

And why?  Because I knew that my life has a value.  It may only have a value to a very few people, but those people are the centre of my world.  Most specifically, of course, I mean my children.

No matter what may happen in my life, I will fight tooth and nail to ensure that I am there for these two beautiful little people I am so proud to have as children.  I want to see them grow up, hopefully go to university, meet the ‘person’ of their dreams and have fulfilling lives.  To end my life, would be to devastate theirs.

My dear friend is in such a state, that she has accepted that she needs to speak to someone professionally – a counsellor, or something similar.  Despite previous traumas in her life, this is something she has never considered before and it is a huge leap of consciousness for her. 

And what of that poor man?  Was he loved?  Did he have a family who will today be devastated by their loss?  Did he have children, a wife or friends – anyone at all who might have been able to help him?  What was it that pushed him to the brink?

From what the police said, it seems likely that my friend will have to give evidence at an inquest into his death. And it is possible that some of these questions may be answered.  But will the answers will help my friend, or make her feel worse?  I only wish I knew.

I do know what it’s like to hit rock bottom; to feel totally alone, desperate and helpless; but to feel so bad that you take your own life, is beyond my imagination.

Sometimes, no matter how tough we think our lives are, it is important to step back and count our lucky stars.

And on that note, as I go to bed tonight, I will be giving my kids an extra big hug and kiss.

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