Single Life

A Roundabout Ode To My Bed

September 3, 2013


Do you judge single parents? I don’t mind admitting that I used to. Ironically, I used to look at parents who split before their child’s first birthday and wonder why on earth they’d had a child when their relationship was going down the pan.

Will and I split in April. Hux’s first birthday was that May. LESSON LEARNT.

The truth is, none of us can judge what’s going on in other people’s marriages. We just don’t know what goes on behind closed doors and this has been true for me as I’ve experienced painful judgement from people I thought were friends and even family. However much people will profess not to take sides in a divorce for the most part it really is inevitable and I’ve been surprised how much the reactions of those I used to be close to has hurt almost as much as the divorce itself.

There’s no right way to ‘do’ divorce when you’re inside it, either. I get grumpy at pretty much every aspect of my new relationship with Will: the fact he lives in London, the amount of time he spends with the kids (always feels like not enough or too much, depending on the way the wind’s blowing), the way the marriage was in the last couple of years, the fact he took my favourite mixing bowl to his new flat. Nothing is ever right. Settling into a new life is hard, too. I second-guess all my parenting decisions, even the ones I wouldn’t normally have consulted anyone else on. But we mostly all rub along together happily these days and there are more good times than bad ones.

There’s been a lot of the ol’ divorce introspection today and it’s been rough. The reason for today’s malaise? My bed. My marital bed.

Today was one of those days when the kids definitely didn’t get their 5 a day and come 5pm CBeebies came on and I went to sit in the conservatory with a glass of wine for a cry and cathartic tweet. All because of that bed.

This morning I had an email confirmation that my new mattress would be arriving tomorrow. Something that is so bloody exciting for me because to me it’s such a signifier of my new life. I’ve refurbished an iron bedframe I found on eBay all on my own, bought new bedsheets and have been waiting on this mattress for weeks. I’ve been so excited to move it in and make it mine, take that further step forward in creating a space, a home that is purely for me and the kids. But I didn’t count on the old bed being such a mind block.

This old bed was bought by Will and I together in 2005. It’s nothing special, an IKEA model, but it was our first big furniture purchase for the first unfurnished flat we lived in together. This bed has seen it all: a move to London. A move back to Nottingham. A move to Buckinghamshire. It’s seen fights but loads more love. It was where Elfie was definitely conceived (TMI?) and was where I co-slept with both my babies when they were tiny. It’s where I went during the dark times of PND and where I spent hundreds of early twenties hangovers. The old mattress has seen baby sick, breast milk leaks, the lot. The bed is bloody old and needs replacing but it’s been part of my life since the beginning of the relationship and letting it go is proving to be quite heartbreaking.

I still sleep in this bed the way I always did – on the left hand side only – and I wonder if that will change. I wonder if now there is no pre-set bed agenda with the new bed, will I starfish across the whole thing? Will I sometimes sleep on the left and sometimes on the right? The old bed is a king and the new one is a double: will I even notice? Will Elfie still climb in bed with me at 4am and give me the fright of my life when I suddenly have a little foot in my face? Or will she find it odd that Mummy and Daddy’s bed has gone?

I have been so much stronger throughout this divorce than I ever felt possible. Big changes – Will moving out, putting access to the children in writing – haven’t rocked me at all, it’s the little things that catch me out when I’m least expecting it. Like my old, lovely bed. I’m going to miss it like I never expected.


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  • Reply Mary @over40andamumtoone September 3, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I know that feeling well! Even though I’ve remarried. I spent 20 years with my first husband – a lifetime of experiences, I find I still get angry when something happens that relates to an experience only he and I shared.

    I never got to change my sleeping habits – thought I’d hog the whole ned but I never did, I did and probably always will sleep on the right hand side of the bed – the only right thing this leftie does!

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Thanks for your comment Mary! I have a feeling my sleeping habits won’t change either; I’ll probably stick to the left!

  • Reply Lisa H September 3, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Sending lots of hugs to you hunny xxx

  • Reply Richmond Mummy September 3, 2013 at 8:39 am

    hugs xxx

  • Reply Molly September 3, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I guess a divorce is much like a grieving process – even if it’s a decision you’re happy with and know is for the best. As with any grieving process it’ll be the little things that catch you off guard. Enjoy that new bed of yours and starfish all over it. And don’t forget to have a celebratory toast with wine / fizz / nice hot cup of tea. xxx

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Yes, that’s exactly what it is, a grieving process. But it’s not grieving for a person but for a life that will now never happen.

      Thanks Molly :) x

  • Reply Hattie September 3, 2013 at 10:12 am

    No. I don’t judge single parents. I judge parents who don’t care for/about their kids, but single parents who still struggle and manage (most of the time) to do the right thing? I salute them as heroes. And then there’s something else. I was so, SO much happier after my parents split. Separately, they were happier and so better parents and my home life was happier and more settled. I’m thankful that they were brave enough to see that it was the right thing to do, despite how scary the prospect might have been. In fact, I wish they’d done it sooner. You are CLEARLY working hard to make it work (at least as frequently as the rest of us): for your kids, for you, for Will… And given the circumstances you’re doing that in, I think that makes you the very best kind of parent there is.

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Nothing makes me feel more relieved than stories like yours – adults who went through divorce as children but came out happy the other end, knowing it was the right thing. Six months in and I don’t think the kids remember us even living together, so I feel happy that they won’t grow up hating us! x

  • Reply Sonya Cisco September 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    The big things tend to come with warning, so you can gird yourself against the worst of it, the little things catch you by surprise so get through your armour I guess. It gets easier I promise! And I am envious of your new bed, mine is old and creaky these days, a bit like me!

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm

      This is right, the small things come out of no-where and punch you in the gut!

  • Reply Sian September 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Aww big hugs xx

  • Reply Jenni September 4, 2013 at 9:24 am

    This was such a sad post to read but really fascinating. None of my friends have children yet and subsequently I dont personally know any one who is a single parent. Thank you so much for giving such an insight into what life is like, it sounds like you’re really doing well. I can only imagine how hard it is to make such a life changing decision but you should be so proud for being so strong and doing what is best for you and your family.

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Thanks Jenni, this made me smile xx

  • Reply Mammasaurus September 4, 2013 at 9:41 am

    It’s just one long process of change isn’t it? At the moment it’s the bed, in the future it’ll be the sofa or your favourite rug. Symbolic shizzle, bringing in the new- muchos love sweet cheeks x

    ps. I admit that I did just type ‘sweat cheeks’ by mistake and *nearly* didn’t amend it ;)

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Awright sweat cheeks!

      I actually let him have my favourite rug but I’ve got a spanking new one from Urban Outfitters that I adore so it wasn’t so tough… plus he knows it’s only on ‘loan’! That will be coming back ;) xx

  • Reply Aisha from Expatlog September 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    It’s tough right now, but letting go always seems harder than it is. Once the bed’s not there to remind you with its dominating physical presence you’ll be freer to move on and embrace the next phase of life…
    Here’s to a bright future!

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      I hope so – and that’s one of the things I’m looking forward to, it not physically being there anymore. It’s bloody massive!

  • Reply lyndajanepurcell September 5, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Molly is right. Divorce is like a grieving process, and when a few years have passed, you’ll find much of the anger and hurt (depending on whether your ex is behaving like a nob or not) dissipates and you can find yourself forgetting just how bad it could be. It’s a good idea to spend some time on your own anyway rather than running into another relationship because women have a tendency to submerge themselves and compromise a bit too much in relationships. We end up forgetting what we like and what we want to do. Find all that stuff again – your tastes in food, books, wine, tv – that’s fun.

    The weirdest thing I discovered? That even as a single working mother I had more time on my hands.

    As for other people they do judge because they are afraid. If it can happen to you it might happen to them so they need to see a villain and a victim – in black and white to reassure themselves that they will be ok. They also have a habit of assuming that you will suddenly become a lust crazed divorcee and try to seduce their balding braying bore of a husband.


    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Thank-you. You’re so right on lots of counts there, I’m actually really enjoying being alone and re-discovering myself and yes, I have so much time I barely know what to do with myself!

      ‘Balding braying bore of a husband’ – I laughed out loud to this!!! xx

  • Reply Amelia Dale September 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Hey Alice, just wanted to drop in and say I’m a longtime reader, after a little while away from reading blogs in general, I’ve started again and have been reading every post you’ve written recently – your writing is so compelling and beautiful right now. It’s how you capture those symbolic little things – like in this post – which really get to the heart of the matter. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I think you’re amazing. xxx

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you so much Amelia, such a lovely thing to say and it really made me smile xx

  • Reply Mari September 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Having been there I ‘know’ and still now, 10 years later I am often surprised when thoughts of my ex come into my mind for no apparent reason other than random.

    I don’t think you will ever erase someone you have been so close to, I don’t think it is healthy to either, like you say there were good times and there will be more – different ones – in the future.

    Accept this moment of passage, embrace the emotion that it forces out of you, at least you have feelings, history, memories and love to carry you through.
    …and those tears, each one therapeutic and mending you teardrop by teardrop

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Thank-you Mari xx

  • Reply Raminta @MamaMyselfandI September 6, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    So beautifully written! Made me shed a tear and got me thinking about our bed(!) which has been through similar ‘experiences’. xxx

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:40 pm

      It’s a very symbolic piece of furniture isn’t it! No matter if walls could talk… if beds could talk! x

  • Reply lucy September 8, 2013 at 6:39 pm

  • Reply Adriana T September 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    I’ve been a single mother for three years now, and even after numerous dates and one serious relationship, there are things that get me right back to where I was three years ago. It could be the family photos on FB that I never got around to deleting, or (more painfully) the children’s faces, which look like his from certain angles. It doesn’t signify regret or leftover feelings…it’s just that it reminds me of how things were and how things could have been if we hadn’t fucked it all up. So I feel you!

    Here’s to your new bed, and new life – it’ll be awesome, I can just tell :D

    • Reply alice September 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Thanks Adriana – it really is the little things that come out of no-where isn’t it? I completely agree with the fact you said it doesn’t signify regret or leftover feelings… just what could have been xx

  • Reply Margarita September 22, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Congrats to your new bed & a new beginning to life :) I have a feeling you will in fact one day find yourself in a different position on the bed, and somehow it won’t be the big deal you thought it was ;)

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