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.