Thursday, January 31, 2008

A sense of closure

Last Friday, after three years of wrangling, mountains of paperwork and mounting solicitor's fees, was the Final Hearing for the financial settlement of my divorce. I had been told that whatever happened, I would have a decision on that day. Seeing as it had taken so long to get here, with so many postponements, I wasn't entirely convinced. The day was dependent on countless factors: would J. turn up or not, if he didn't, what would this judge decide, as it had been 6 months since our last court hearing where he didn't turn up either and the judge decided to postpone? If he did turn up, would we be able to agree something without having to get the judge to take a decision? Would the judge decide that J.'s financial information needed updating, as it was about a year out of date? If we came to an agreement outside of court, would the judge actually agree? Needless to say, I was quite apprehensive, mostly because I had no idea what the day would bring.

As it was, it went as painlessly as I could have hoped for. I had a fantastic barrister who had been booked at the last minute. I'd had a barrister before but wasn't too keen on her, I didn't feel she was representing my best interests when she said 'I'm sure he isn't paying you maintenance because he hasn't got the money'. I'd had another one booked for this hearing, she couldn't do it, then my solicitor booked the first one again. Fortunately she was very sympathetic and immediately booked someone else when I told her about my doubts, and I couldn't have been happier. This barrister was on the ball, she was strong and she was out to get me a good deal.
J. turned up, to all our surprise, and we managed to come to an agreement before seeing the judge. My barrister even managed to negotiate J.'s demands down a bit, to my surprise. We then went in to see the judge, who rubberstamped the lot after half an hour of 'word fighting' over a clause which he wanted to put in to protect me - even though it already was a good deal for me - but J. wasn't happy about the wording.

Basically I am now the owner of the house. I still have to sort out the mortgage but have been told in principle that I can take over the existing mortgage. There are a few snags, but nothing major, and financially we've come to a clean break.
The sense of relief and pride on Friday was overwhelming. It felt weird to come back here and think 'it's mine now'. I hadn't realised that although he hasn't lived here for a number of years now, he still felt part of this house while his name was still on the mortgage (not helped by his regular comments of 'it's still mine as long as my name is on that paper and I can come in if I want to').
Of course it's a huge responsibility too. I'll be taking on a mortgage based on a 20 hrs a week job plus my freelance income, and although I've been busy almost continually for over 18 months now, freelance work and income of course isn't as secure as a contract job. There may be a chance of increasing my hours at my parttime job, but I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that just yet - I do enjoy the combination of the two, despite having to work so hard.

All that remains is the admin of it all, but as the title of the post says, I feel a sense of closure. I even want the decree absolute to come through now, which up till now I'd felt was only a formality - for me, the marriage ended four years ago. I moved on a long time ago too, but all this seems to make it more formal and definite. It's given me a sense of calmness, which had been a long time coming.

On a much lighter note: I. and I are going to a sewing class this Sunday. It's a beginners class, to get to know your sewing machine - she has her own handcrank but try as I might, I just can't seem to get on with it, even though I love my treadle. She's been asking to learn to sew and as I'm a terrible teacher, I thought this would be more fun - also in the light of mother-daughter bonding. I think she's quite apprehensive, but then she often is about new things and sometimes needs pushing a bit. Fingers crossed she's better by then, as she spent this afternoon on the sofa, shivering under her blanket with a temperature!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Some more brightness

My mum bought me this amaryllis back at the end of October when I went over for her endoscopy. When we were in Holland for New Year's Eve, hers had already finished flowering, but mine are in a fairly cold conservatory and have taken until early this week to finally bloom. I'm not always keen on them, as they're so large. I'm not sure if it comes across from the photo, but this one's a miniature one, which is quite sweet looking. It also has tiny white tips, as if they've been dipped in white paint - bit like the tip of the tail of some black cats... The kids are fascinated by this plant and have been following its progress daily. I'm hoping the other buds will all bloom too.

Okay, so I know this looks like something the cat's sicked up, but I. and I are making an Amish friendship bread. I'm sure I've made one before - when I was at university, there was always a student passing on several batches of starter. But I thought she might enjoy it, and it's got a nice recipe for chocolate bread with it which took her fancy. And if she doesn't like it, I love sourdough bread so I'm sure it'll get eaten...

Feeling slightly brighter again. Last Monday was allegedly blue Monday - the worst day of the year, when most people were feeling down. 'I bet it is', I thought when I heard that on the news. I handed in a job today, I got my invoices all up to date (and was as always pleasantly surprised at the amount that's outstanding), I made hamburgers and homemade chips for supper tonight, and I even got out the putty, sorted out the window frame in N.'s room and painted another shelf.
And the days are getting longer and when you wake up in the morning, the birds are singing a different song - there is some Spring in the air. Maybe the world isn't quite such a bad place after all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The off button

It's that time of month where I just want to crawl under the duvet and have cups of coffee and magazines brought to me. Where someone will hand me tissues as I bawl my eyes out at how unfair and unkind the world is. Where I can go to sleep and wake up in a few days' time and everything is alright again.

I want to knit. I want to sew. I want to have all the time in the world and not worry about having to have supper on the table on time and getting the kids to bed on time, and then to have time to sit down and watch telly in a tidy and above all clean front room.

Instead, I've got to sort out a pile of financial papers for the final hearing of the divorce. Which should be the last of the divorce but I've said that so many times that I don't believe it myself anymore. Especially as this one is with a different judge *again* and J's financial information is totally out of date, so there's no telling if the judge will decide to give him a chance to update that information.
Instead I've got a mountain of work and a deadline on Wednesday and no chance of relaxing much until then. And at the moment it looks like the next job will be ready and waiting by then.
Instead I've got to fill in my tax return form before the 31 January and I haven't filled in a single box yet and I can't see it happening until after my deadline next Wednesday.
Instead I've got to clean a guinea pig cage, give I. some undivided attention (fortunately she's doing much, much better), return books to the library, find clean clothes for the kids to wear to school, o and at some point maybe I could finish redecorating N's room as he's spent the last 3 months in my room, bringing all his toys and books with him?

And if all that wasn't enough, mum's at the hospital this afternoon for an unscheduled check-up. Probably nothing wrong, nobody seems worried, but at the back of my mind will always be a niggling worry.

I want 4 hours extra every day. Most of all I want someone to make me a coffee and say 'now sit down and I'll wash up'.
Shame that men don't know instinctively that that is what you need until you tell them. The only thing he instinctively knows not to say is 'is it that time of month?'

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Somebody stop me running

Happy New Year!
I haven't felt like posting for a bit. I've thought about it, I've got a ton of photos to put up, but I've just lacked the motivation or energy to write a coherent post.

We spent 6 days in Holland over New Year. It was great seeing my mum again - the first thing I noticed when I first saw her again was how well she looked. She's lost about 3 stone now, which really suits her, she's got a healthy colour, she's got her energy back. You can still see the jaundice ever so slightly in the whites of her eyes, but I'm sure that will clear up too. While we were there, I could see she was getting stronger every day - to start off with, she'd still sleep in the afternoon, towards the end of our visit she was just going to bed early in the evening. She was enjoying going for a coffee and cake again, we had a lovely time visiting a spa place with her two sisters, and she seems to be looking forward to our holiday in Lyme Regis this Easter. All very reassuring.

It was also great to be in Holland just for fun, not for other, more worrying reasons. My dad and I took the kids to Amsterdam for the day, which N. in particular really enjoyed - going first class on a doubledecker train, top deck on the way out, bottom one on the way home - he thought he was in paradise ;-) New Year's Eve in Holland is always very festive, and it was great seeing N's face at midnight after I'd woken him up to see the fireworks. This normally chatty boy sat silently on his opa's arm, great big eyes gazing at all the colourful outbursts. Today he came home from school with a picture he'd made on the computer: mamma, for you, the fireworks in Holland. It's heartwarming when you feel you're doing something that's creating a memory, especially when it's something so simple.

There was a downside to this holiday. The tensions and stresses of the last 2 months suddenly caught up with I. It's hard to describe what was going on, the most worrying was her not eating and developing a fear of swallowing/choking. I could see her losing weight on a daily basis, to the point where relative strangers would comment. She wasn't coping with being away from J., by the time we got to dad's house after the ferry trip, I was ready to burst into tears myself for not knowing how to deal with her anymore. I'm not sure how much she enjoyed the trip, it was possibly a bit too long for her. She got on very well with mum and seemed very relaxed around her, I think those two have hit it off which was a bright spot every day. At some point during the trip, dad said something to me which made me realise I didn't feel she was my daughter anymore - and I almost burst into tears in the public library...
We've been home a week now and it looks like she's calmed down a lot. I spent a lot of time talking to friends about what was going on and how to deal with it, and the unanimous advice was to spend more time one-to-one with her. We've now got a new bedtime routine where she'll have half an hour with me before she goes to bed, and we can do something fun. So far it's been tidying up her room! but it's one of those things she does enjoy and was also much much needed... We're also going to have the odd Saturday together, to do just what she wants, and this Saturday is the first one. We're going swimming, Starbucks and to the bookshop to spend some of her book vouchers that she got for Christmas, and I'm really looking forward to spending some girly time with her. The last few days she's also come into the kitchen while I've been cooking and started to help me, setting the table for me and making it look all pretty with even a menu tonight (even if it was only pizza and custard ;-) When I was stirring carrot and lentil soup tonight, full of spices, she smelt it and said 'that smells good', and I felt we'd turned a corner on her eating too.

Work has picked up at a tremendous pace and most days I don't know whether I'm coming or going. Add to that some admin to organise for the impending Final Hearing, a tax return form to fill in and send off before 31 January, a decision to make on I's next school for September and the odd social event, and you can imagine that some days I wish I didn't need to sleep.

PS At least I'm trying to keep up with the knitting and I've finished one sock for myself. Its mate is cast on and I want to get going on it, as I love love love the first one - it's pretty, I love the stitch pattern and it's a perfect fit. Whatever else is going on around you, a sock like that can't fail to cheer you up!