The Power of Women (or the Wonder of Women part 2)

This weekend I was the damsel in distress. But it was no prince who rescued me. It was a clan of wondrous women.

I’m out the other side broken but better and bolder. Sometimes you just have to jump into the fire to be reborn.

This weekend was tough (how many times have I written that in the last three months!).   But in a series of pretty spectacularly bad weekends this one was spectacularly bad.

Sometimes we make the stupidest mistakes for the smartest reasons.   Despite quiet ‘really?’s’ from a couple of friends, I decided to go on a pre-planned weekend away with the man who left me three months ago, and our children.  With two other families who are his best friends.  In a caravan. Yes, read that again.  I really did.

I’d love to blame the gin for my ludicrous stupidity, but I think it was just hope.  Hope that despite the end of our marriage, it didn’t mean the end of our family.

I did obviously consider not going, but I didn’t have the girls last weekend, they were horrified when I suggested I wouldn’t go, and frankly I thought I could suck up the pain because it would be considerably less than sitting at home on my own missing my girls for three days.

 I don’t know if I was wrong because I don’t now know how painful it would have been to sit at home while he took the girls on a fun weekend I organised and booked.  For several years, I have nurtured and supported Poppy’s interest in fossils and so a weekend on the fossil girlJurassic coast of England was something she’s been looking forward to all year.  Her heroine is Mary Anning, who collected fossils as a child in the early 19th Century and discovered the Ichthyosaur dinosaur in Lyme Regis. Last year I took Poppy to the Natural History Museum in London to see the actual huge dinosaur fossil Mary found, and this year Poppy dressed up as her for Book Day (I was rather proud of her that she didn’t care that no-one in the school knew who Mary Anning was, or had ever read The Fossil Girl!)  I didn’t want to miss it.

 So I don’t know if I was wrong. But I know now I wasn’t right.   In normal circumstances trying to pretend your family is intact three months after it disintegrated is probably not a good idea.

Travelling Ryanair at 6am, arriving to the worst weather since, well, the dinosaurs, and being holed up in a tin can is one of the worst ideas since, well, the dinosaurs.

But then my women came to my rescue. Some rescued me figuratively, and one rescued me literally. She drove 5 hours to Lyme Regis so I could still go away with my girls but have an outlet. We stayed in a B&B and ate dinner one of the nights so I only had one in the caravan. I joined the girls again the next day. Others kept me going with calls of courage and care.   Another sent me a letter of love by email from Canada. I’ve never even met her but she knows my circumstances and wrote to me anyway.

I won’t dish my dirty pants here but it was truly awful. Two people cannot parent as a couple, when they are hostile individuals.   Walking away from my girls to stay in a b&b because it was too awful to stay was a new low.

But the real low was having to accept our family is gone.  The girls have a family with me, and they have a family with him. But the weekend proved there is no longer a family with us all.

Meanwhile my other family was very much intact, as we rally round my mum.  Added to the stress was the fact there was very little mobile coverage in Lyme Regis – I know they discovered the dinosaurs but do they still have to live in the dark ages?  My mum was in hospital and I was trying to keep up to date with events – hanging off a cliff edge on one foot with my arm in the air trying to get a half bar of coverage.  She’s doing ok again, but I should have been there. But I needed to be here.  Really, there are just some days you feel like a gin before it’s really acceptable.

But you know what, I tried. Maybe the weekend wasn’t a disaster.  It allowed me to see what I needed to see. That I must let go.  I will always hang on to the family that has nurtured and supported me.  But I must let go of the one that has damaged me.

I am starting a new family with my girls, and what makes me so proud is that it won’t just be them and me. It will be them, me and all my women warriors.

So I’m putting on my Wonder Woman pants (and because I’m me and can’t function without colour coding, I’ll sneak on a matching bra and socks as well) and rise from the wreckage.

The day Mary Anning found the fossil that would change the world’s knowledge of how the earth began there had been a terrific storm that had demolished her house. She went out to find ‘curiosities’ to try and sell to help her mum rebuild it. Instead she found a collapsed cliff and the face of a monster.

Out of catastrophe she found opportunity.

And like so many bad experiences in life, I have come out the other side a little better, a little stronger, and a lot more knowledgeable about who I am.

It was a bad weekend, but my friends got me through it, and I know it’s going to be a good pantsweek. The Wonder Pants are on.

About Grin & Tonic by Alana Kirk

Bouncing into middle age armed with courage, ambition and a pair of tweezers (chin hairs for anyone over the age of 45 reading this) I am a writer with a mission: to redefine this midway point in my life when the last thing I want to do is hang up my high heels and become invisible. This is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. A single mum to 3 fabulous girls, an author, and a fundraising consultant, both ends of my candle are on fire. As I enter this new stage of my life, I want to explore what it means for 'mid-aged' women today, who were promised they could have it all, ended up doing it all, and just do not identify with the traditional image of middle age.
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4 Responses to The Power of Women (or the Wonder of Women part 2)

  1. I just love the thought and emotions you put into each of your posts. I don’t know you and you don’t know me but somehow through you blog posts I find encouragement. You have so much to deal with in your life yet you still try to find the best in it all. I love learning some sort of life lesson from your stories. I don’t know you but I do hope all goes well for you. I can only imagine how hard it is to find yourself in such a situation. But you do an awesome job at putting your wonder women pants on..lol. Keep hopes up and your head up higher, your doing a great job managing your situation so far. Good luck!

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  2. Susan Mattin says:

    I came upon your blog quite by chance . You are clearly a talented writer and gaining strength from blogging about the impact of your mother’s stroke ( on you ) and the recent break up of your marriage. What strikes me from reading your blog is whether you have stepped back and given full consideration of your children’s right to privacy . As a mother of three young adults I am wondering if you have truly thought about the impact of putting your thoughts about how they are dealing with the change in their lives and your views on their father on the World Wide Web . My parents split up when I was quite young and my mother did everything she could to protect us from what we now know was an incredibly painful time for her . As a mother to a mother, my advice for what’s it worth, is to imagine your girls reading your blog when they are 16 .

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    • Thanks Susan . I really appreciate the time you took to read my blog and to comment. I also appreciate your advice… I know it is well meant. I started this blog many years ago as a sort of diary for my girls so that when they older they could see who I was as I loved and struggled with motherhood…. and read about themselves as they grew up. I could never have predicted the things that would have happened – good and bad. But one of the most important things i want to teach my girls is that life is something to be lived, regardless of what happens. That when times are good – to appreciate them; and when times are bad, to get through them with dignity and grace. I am well aware of the fact they may read this is the future. I am protecting them from an enormous amount of stuff that they don’t need to know about. Everything I have written about is my reaction to this separation – and I hope in doing so they will understand how I tried to bring them through this awful time with their best interests at heart. But it is a terrible time. For them more than anyone. I can take whatever I have to take, but watching them suffer is terrible. But I will get them through it. I will and what drives all of my actions is the desire for them to be proud of the way I dealt with this when they are much older and know the full truth ( a truth I will never write about until they do know it in many years from now). I am writing with honesty but also with the knowledge that I have people to protect. I appreciate your advice, and welcome your thoughts, but to answer your question, I do imagine them reading it when they are 16, and i hope it helps them understand this time now. There is nothing in this post that they will not see or understand already.

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