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Single autistic mother of three awesome autistic kids. These are my anonymous ramblings about life, love, parenting and the rest – emptying my head of the weird, the wonderful and the mundane. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Of letting go

So here's a major part of my life I haven't blogged about...

When I was with DS1s dad, we always talked about having 3 or 4 kids. Well, I say we talked, in retrospect I think I talked and he begrudgingly went along with is probably more accurate. Then when I was planning trying for DS2, even then I was thinking that if it went well and I coped ok then I'd like to try for another. I've talked about it openly with loads of people since DS2 was born - the number of times I've said 'I think I could manage one more on my own' in conversation - with anyone really, not even just close friends. I think, being one of five, two children just felt like such a small family. I wanted my family to be like a 'proper' family, and less than three kids didn't feel like that. Particularly being on my own - it just felt there were not enough people in our home. This has been my mind set for pretty much as long as I can remember.

It's not just been a thought either - the night after the open mic where Crush 2.0 and I had our first proper conversation I was sat in a consulting room at the clinic where I had DS2 discussing the start of my treatment. It was surreal. Made more so, by an ice cream van intermittently playing it's tune through the open window.  My consultant is lovely,
"So another one eh?" he said,
"Just one more" I said,
"Addicted!" he laughed.
He went through all the questions they have to ask:
"Any sexual partners?"
"No" I said out loud.
"Not yet" I said in my head.
"And not any since last time we saw you?"
For some reason that threw me, I had to think - I don't know why, I knew the answer - but I still sounded surprised at myself when I said "No".

I'd had some blood tests at my GPs prior to the appointment and had been slightly freaked out by my progesterone being 'borderline'. I know I probably shouldn't have been, I'm not getting any younger, but having never had any trouble at all getting pregnant I sort of assumed I'd be fine despite my age. My GP had assured me it was nothing to worry about and my consultant didn't pay it much attention and arranged another more accurate test for me. When I had this test before trying for DS2 it had showed I had the ovaries of someone four years younger - get in!! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't crossing my fingers for the same result or better again. I find out in a couple of weeks.

Originally, I had planned to start my treatment at the end of October - work might be a bit quieter then and what was the point in waiting, I thought.

Then I was thinking maybe January - no work then at all and it gave me a bit more time - so long as the results of the test were okay then no harm waiting until then.

Then I met Crush 2.0.

I know it sounds horribly fickle to even consider changing the path of your life just because of some bloke, but it's not so much him as it is what he has reminded me of. Yes, of course, I fancy the pants off him but that's just biology - fun, but not, in and of itself, interesting.

More importantly, he is the first person in a long time that's spoken to me like an artist, made me think about how I want to develop my work - talked to me like an intelligent human being, and done so with a sense of humour and lack of pretentiousness that is rare in my line of work. He talks about his work with a clarity and passion that I used to have before DS1 was born - and before all the crap that his dad put me through. He reminds me of a me that not only had I almost forgotten, I had actually dismissed - because that naive girl was the person that led me into this whole world of pain and I don't think I've ever totally forgiven her for that. I've often felt such shame at being the person I was then that I didn't see all the things that were great about her. I see all those things in Crush 2.0. He said in a conversation we were having the other day that when people thought he was egotistical and arrogant that he felt he was just like a mirror to them (believe me, he has a point!) - but that's also what he's been for me. Suddenly I've seen there is a whole world that I didn't really think existed for me anymore.

As you can imagine, all of this has thrown the whole notion of having another child into perspective. In the last couple of weeks I'd started, subconsciously at first, to question it. I've been enjoying life, I have new friends, work is scarce but the developments in it are really interesting. There is so much going on, so much I've been putting time and energy into, that a pregnancy, a baby would interrupt. I've been saying to my self and others things like "New borns are very portable" and "Everyone says the jump from two to three isn't that noticeable" - but I think in my heart of hearts I knew that wasn't really the point.

Then this weekend I had the most incredible weekend.

On Thursday, I went to Crush 2.0s usual open mic - Twitter followers will know after all the conversations I'd been having with him I was genuinely expecting something to happen, but when I got there he was suddenly less keen to impress me than he had been up until then. He wasn't unfriendly at all, just different.  Of course I was disappointed, but I actually had a good night anyway, good friends around, good fun.

I had to talk to him at the end of the night anyway, as we'd arranged over FB that I'd follow him in the car to the gig on Saturday night he'd invited me to play at so I could find it, but he hadn't responded when I'd tried to pin him down as to where and when we'd actually meet - and with sorting out childcare, I kind of needed to know. His response was "Why are you planning so far in advance? Just relax, it's ages away!" (It was 48 hours), and "It's like having a wife!" (when I asked him if he was going to text or phone to let me know) all said with a smile and a laugh, but something real behind it I think.  I apologised, laughing. "I will be in touch and if I'm not, call me!" he said. I decided that was a good point to leave - never let it be said that I don't know when it's time to make an exit.

Saturday afternoon I got the phone call to arrange to meet - with a request to help him out with something he needed off the internet as he was mid-gig and didn't have access to it - useful to have someone to do the wife thing when it suits you then, eh, Crush 2.0? In retrospect, the man had a gig every night from Thursday to Sunday and the Saturday one was a pretty big deal, so I think - although he'd never admit it - he was just a bit stressed and I was just an extra thing to think about he didn't need.

I followed him to the gig - a private party in the most beautiful riverside setting in the middle of nowhere - rich people get all the luck huh? He was preoccupied with gig stuff and meeting people so I left him to it, borrowed his guitar and practised to myself, sitting on a haybale watching the sun sparkle on the water - not a bad way to spend an afternoon. In the end, a good hour after it was meant to, the gig kicked off - no one really minded as we were all having a good time chatting to old friends and musicians we'd not yet met. We all cheered each other on and sang along to each other's songs. - By the time I got on it was pretty dark and cold and I was a bit crap, so got off stage and gave myself a good beating up over that, but it turns out no-one else really noticed and Crush 2.0 gave me a 'team talk' about just forgiving myself and letting it go. So right, for so many things.

The gig ended and the main band came on and everyone was chatting outside under the stars and dancing along, stroking the occasional dog that wandered in and out of the tent all night. Crush 2.0 finally seemed to relax a bit and actually engaged with me a bit. I got back home about 1.30am only to be woken up again at 6 by DS2. I was absolutely shattered but it was worth it. Despite my tiredness I was much nicer to the kids all day, just because I'd had such a good time. I even went for a swim in the sea - the best hangover/lack of sleep cure I know, but something I hadn't done for years.

My amazing friend agreed to babysit the next night too, so I could go to the open mic that everyone from the previous night's gig was going to. Still shattered but it was nice to be too tired to care and I probably played the better for it. Plus, it felt right to finish off the weekend with all the people I'd started it with - everyone was still buzzing - and to be honest, some people were still drunk - and happily normal Crush 2.0 service was resumed - we were chatting, hanging out with everyone, and I stayed to help him clear up at the end so we finally said goodnight about 1am, after chatting until everyone had gone.

So yesterday morning, with all that tiredness and all that buzzing from a wonderful weekend, the thoughts that had been flying around in the back of my head came to the fore.

Maybe I didn't want to have a third child
Maybe I wanted to have a life for myself
Maybe I didn't want to struggle anymore
Maybe I wanted to really enjoy the children I had
Maybe I wanted to give them the time and energy they so deserved instead of splitting my attention again.

The more I thought about it, the more it wouldn't go away. All the things I'd been pushing away about how hard it would be, the practical and emotional implications, were there right in front of my eyes.

I started thinking about how passionately I used to talk about the responsibility of artists in my field to society, our task to feel for those that no longer did or could, and I realised I'd ignored that responsibility. I used to want to change the world with my art, and the conversations I'd had with Crush 2.0 had made me think that maybe, just maybe,  I could do that again. I wonder if part of the reason I hadn't been facing these things was precisely because Crush 2.0 had been the person that sparked them - I just didn't want to be the kind of person that would make such a life-changing decision because of some bloke I'd only met a few weeks before. I realised though, yesterday, that even if I never saw him again, all of those things he made me think about would still be there. It's not the person that opens the lid to a box you've nailed shut that really matters, it's what's in the box. I realised, that I really wanted all of those things that he'd made me think were possible again:

To have a fulfilling career, not the half one I have now
To live passionately and really care about what I do
To have time for my children
To not struggle for money
To have fun

Could I really give up all of those things for another five years to have another child?
Would I really not end up resenting that child?
No, I couldn't and I wouldn't.

I talked about it with my friend and my mum yesterday morning, who both were saying that maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing to think about my own life and what I wanted for a change.Then DS1 and I talked about it yesterday afternoon while DS2 napped.  He had always wanted another sibling, but the more we talked about it, the more he admitted that he didn't really, and he had been worried about how hard it would be and he liked our family the way it was. We talked about my worries about DS2 not having someone when DS1 went to his dad's, but actually when I thought about it, it meant he got one to one time with me, which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. And, lets not forget, DS2 is donor-conceived and there's the whole world of donor-siblings we have yet to explore.

I realised that I, too, like our little family just the way it is.

More than anything I felt a huge sense of relief at that, that maybe we didn't have to struggle and strive to be anything other than we were.

So together DS1 and I let go the idea that we had lived with for as long as both of us can remember. DS1 cried, as we said goodbye to whatever little spirit would've come to be ours and wished it luck in finding a new family to be with. He said he knew it was the right thing, but it was still sad to say goodbye, and he was right.

It feels like the decision has been made very quickly, but actually it hasn't, it's just the final bubbling to the surface of it that has been sudden. Maybe I will change my mind, but somehow I don't think so, because once you've taken your rose-coloured spectacles off, you can't ignore the facts that are staring you in the face. It is better this way for all of us. More children than parental hands would always have been a tougher life than the wonderful life we have now.

So that is my story of letting go a very very long held dream. I know that completely letting it go will be a process, but I have certainly set it adrift and am watching it float off into the distance.

Even if nothing every happens between me and Crush 2.0, I will always be grateful to him for opening my eyes to the truth of my situation before I had gone too far down a road that I couldn't easily backtrack on. Just knowing him has made mine and my children's lives a much better place to be, both for now and the future, and whatever else, that makes him a pretty incredible human being in my eyes.

So tell me, what have you let go of that you once held dear and how was it for you? I'd love to hear...


  1. Ah - that's a great and very honest post. I wanted 3 kids and my other half actually wanted 3 if not 4 (I'm one of 3, he one of 4, so funny that) but then Blue got poorly. I was already pregnant with Pink then, but it was sooo hard to manage Blue's chemo and her being a baby - he was 3 months in to his treatment when she was born. Blue has another 2 years still to go before he gets the all clear and the thought of him relapsing and having to deal with another baby at the same time - loved and wanted as it would be - is too hard to bear, so we have said goodbye to our dream of a bigger family - albeit for different reasons.

  2. Thank you. It is hard to say goodbye to the family you pictured in your head, no matter what the reasons. As ever, I just marvel at how you manage it all with everything you've been through! Sending you every postive vibe I can for Blue getting through those two years free and clear xxxx

  3. Lovely post, hopefully will change the way I look at certain things :) It's amazing how something small can turn everything upside down isn't it? My OH fell ill 2 years ago, and 2 years on he's still having tests and awaiting a diagnosis. The whole nuclear family, dad goes to work, I stay at home with Bean, maybe have another baby, maybe do some further studying for a career when Bean + 1 are at school etc all blew up in our faces. Now I'm OH's carer and even planning a day out together is impossible, not to mention getting married, more babies, moving. And I agree with your comment above, even though nothing can be done about it, it's terribly difficult to say goodbye to what you want. Look forward to reading more :)

  4. Thank you - it does only take one small thing doesn't it? It must be so tough for you right now, my heart goes out to you. I think all our lost dreams take time for us to grieve over, and we just have to be kind to ourselves and let that happen. Good luck :)