This blog was never meant to be advisory. God help you if you’re looking for advice from someone who can’t count to 72. However, occasionally I do think that I have a valuable piece of information about parenthood that is worth passing on to anyone who happens upon this site so here’s my nugget of wisdom for the week: Ella’s Kitchen fruit purée pouches make great cocktail mixers. The peach one mixed with prosecco makes for a banging Bellini and the mango one jazzes up anything from a mojito to a margarita. And at 80p a sachet, it’s a great way to get one of your five a day. You are welcome.
One of the issues I’ve faced since I was duffed up (Is that an expression? It is now.) is coming to terms with the fact that the father of my child, T, didn’t choose me as his life partner. I was sort of… handed to him. Kind of like when your Great Aunt Poppy gifts you a handknitted teapot cosy as a birthday present. It’s not that you don’t want it.. it’s just that you’ll have to redesign your entire kitchen to make it fit in. Sometimes you like the subsequent kitchen redesign and other times you think that, on balance, you probably preferred cold tea.
That might not be the best analogy. Let me try again. Maybe instead, consider the rifle range at the fairground. My worry is that T was aiming his gun at the target hoping for the top prize of the glossy oversized teddybear hanging above his head. He definitely hit bullseye but instead of the handsome stuffed toy he thought he was getting, he was handed a raggedy crosseyed dog that had been hidden deep under the counter in a damp cardboard box.
Like all couples, sometimes we butt heads. Apparently the first year of having a child is one of the hardest for any relationship. We wouldn’t really know since the first year of our relationship was taken up almost entirely by my pregnancy which doesn’t give us a comparative view of ‘normality’. However, it’s fair to say that it. can. be. hard. And sometimes it’s made harder by T being a Grade A asshole. I’m not saying that I’m not a Grade A asshole at times… I’m saying that this blog isn’t about me.
When T is being particularly churlish towards me, I wonder what our relationship would be had we actively chosen to spend our lives together before getting duffed up (is it catching on yet?!). What if Tom had already chosen me before the great egg and sperm race that resulted in a little soldier? And what if I wasn’t the raggedy stuffed toy that had been shoved into his outstretched hands but, instead, the much-desired glossy bear hanging teasingly above his head. Instead of being reluctantly dragged home and carelessly thrown around (NOT LITERALLY), would I be given prize position on his pillow and adored?
Whoopsy didn’t force me into staying with T. In fact, we talked at length about our options in raising him and one was co-parenting as friends. But, having chosen to stay together, Whoopsy made me commit to making a relationship work for the first time in my life. That meant no running away when shit got hard / boring / sexless / loveless. I decided that, if we were going to make it as a family, then we were going to slog it out with the best of them. In that way, I did choose to stay with T. And T chose to keep the raggedy dog. But in the darkest moments of relationships – which exist in every relationship that I know of – the question still hangs in the air: would we have chosen each other had the decision not been forced upon us?
On the good days, of which there are many, many more than bad, I look at my little family and I think I couldn’t have chosen better if I tried. Had the decision been left to me, I may well have ended up with one of the severely questionable ex boyfriends whose names and faces now all blur into one. I feel like one of those arranged marriage success stories that you occasionally hear about from a friend of a friend who knows a girl whose cousin got married to someone they’d never met before and they turned out to be THE BEST PERSON EVER. Serious life jackpot.
Perhaps the answer to solving the unanswered question that keeps popping up in my mind is to accept that choice is what defines happiness. But choice isn’t as narrow as selecting a partner. That age old expression ‘love the one you’re with’ echoes the sentiments of those people who report having a happy arranged marriage. Ultimately, those people choose to love the person that they’re with and spend each day choosing to keep working their butts off to build something amazing. It’s hard graft I imagine, but it also seems to create strong foundations that are pretty unshakable. So in the heat of the moment, when T’s face is starting to look like the rifle range target to my angry mind, I choose to love harder, to forgive more easily and to seek revenge when he’s least expecting it.