The Single Swan

The Journey of a Single Mother

Guilty mum, there’s no need to feel guilty

A single, and guilty mum.  That’s me.

I juggle a lot.  Before I go on about how busy I am I should say that this is my choice.  Okay, the options aren’t vast.  I have to work to pay the mortgage, the bills and to feed and clothe us. 

You could also argue that I chose to become a single mum.  I was the one who left.  Again the alternative wasn’t great.  Spend the rest of your life in a rubbish relationship, or leave and be happy on your own.  It was a no-brainer and definitely the right decision. 

It am not moaning.  I have not been dealt a cruel hand.  I am happy with my lot.  Perhaps this is why I always feel guilty. 

guilty mum

I feel guilty for going to work.

I am a guilty mum because Cygnet’s life is split between Daddy time and Mummy time because we are separated.

I feel guilty because I didn’t identify his reflux as a baby (he used to projectile vomit after most feeds –  the clues were most definitely there).

I feel guilty for wishing that he would just fall asleep in the evening so that I can crack open a bottle of wine.

I am a guilty mum because he has too much iPad time.

I feel guilty because he will never have siblings.   

I am a guilty mum because I don’t give him enough home-cooked food.

I feel guilty because I enjoy my time without Cygnet. I can go to wine bars, read books, get my nails done, write my blog. 

I feel guilty because I bribe him to go to nursery with a Yoyo Bear (you know those rolls of compressed jam like stuff that claim to be one of your child’s five a day).

I am a guilty mum every single day.

guilty mum

I would never have predicted that guilt would be so integral to motherhood.  Fay Weldon said that “guilt is to motherhood like grapes to wine”.  She was right.

I was a guilty mum long before Cygnet was born.  It started as soon as I saw the smily face on the pregnancy test.  I felt guilty about having had a few too many glasses of wine a couple of nights before.    

The guilt continued throughout pregnancy.  I didn’t want to do anything to harm the foetus growing inside me…and I felt  guilty when I did.  I felt guilty for not having a full meal.  I felt guilty for working long hours.  I felt guilty for lifting a book shelf.  I felt guilty for forgetting my vitamins. 

I am a guilty mum because I am human. 

When I think things through logically I know that I don’t need to feel guilty. 

I know that I am a better mother to Cygnet because I work.  Work is part of my identity and important for my own personal fulfilment.  I miss Cygnet during the day, but this makes me cherish the time with him more. 

I know that I am a better mother because I separated from my ex.  I am happier and children pick up on happiness.  I am able to be me and I think children benefit from authentic parenting.

I know that Cygnet needs to go to sleep earlier.  Sleep is good for him.  Wine is good for me.  No guilt required at bedtime. 

I know that I wouldn’t be able to get to work in the mornings without the help of the iPad.  He doesn’t have that much iPad time all told.

I know that my ‘me’ time makes me appreciate our ‘us’ time more.

I know that nursery one day a week is good for him and the Yoyo Bear won’t do him any harm.

To all my fellow guilty mums out there.  Please can we stop feeling guilty.  Please can we stop comparing ourselves to others.  Please can we stop comparing our children to others.  We are all doing the best that we can.  None of us can live up to our unrealistic expectations of ourselves.  We should follow our good instincts and recognise that it’s okay to make mistakes. 

We are all human and it is our human nature that makes us great mothers. 

Accidental Hipster Mum

How to fall back in love with your partner

If your relationship has drifted apart, or if you want to know how to fall back in love with your partner, then you might want to try asking the 36 questions in love.

Everywhere I went on Valentine’s Day I was surrounded by public kisses, bunches of flowers, couples holding hands, heart shaped balloons and teddy bears.  I bought a heart shaped helium balloon for my two year old son, because I love him, and I bought some chocolates for my parents because I love them too.    

The grand romantic gestures by strangers on the train got me thinking:  

Is romance just for those in their teens and twenties?

All of the teddy wielding, public snoggers were half of my age. 

Does marriage suffocate romance? 

Does real life extinguish love? 

How do you fall back in love with your partner?

A long term relationship, particularly if you have children, probably has more similarities with running a small business than it does with the plot of a Mills and Boon romance novel, or one of the stories from the film Love Actually.  How do you ensure you grow together as your relationship matures?  How do you make sure you don’t grow apart? 

I am not sure that I am qualified to give advice here.  My relationship didn’t just ‘grow apart’, it fractured, smashed, combusted, exploded, fizzled and then died.  The happy times in my relationship are a distant and faraway memory.  The angst, the arguments, the emotional manipulation and the feeling of suffocation are the memories that persist.

But in many respects I do feel I am well placed to give advice.  Two years of reflection on a relationship breakdown is enough time to become a bit of an expert in love.  The lyrics of Carole King, Leonard Cohen, some decent wine, Google, and the Modern Love podcast by the New York Times have also helped. 

I stumbled across this website 36questionsinlove.com.  I can’t believe I had not heard about it before.  Dating columnists in all the UK newspapers have written about it.  These are 36 questions, written by Arthur Aron, which are designed to make you fall in love with anyone (what a scary thought!). 

how to fall back in love with your partner

The idea is that you spend ninety minutes asking each other these 36 questions. 

The early questions are quite innocuous:

“What would constitute a perfect day for you?”

…and get gradually more intimate:

“If you could change anything about the way you were raised what would it be?”

…and are occasionally a little morbid:

“Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?” (errrr WTF!)

I don’t think that I know the answers to these questions about myself.  I certainly don’t think that I ever knew anywhere near this level of detail about any of my exes.  I couldn’t even predict how my recent ex voted in the EU referendum and given that I am so firmly and passionately pro-EU I find this really quite unsettling. 

The thing is, we all have a narrative that we offer up to strangers and to new dates.  These questions are designed to cut through that façade and to break down that narrative.  These questions are designed to promote intimacy and trust which are essential if love is going to thrive. 

After a couple of years of reflection (maybe I am just a slow learner) I have come to realise that love it not about romantic gestures.  Forget the roses, the cupcakes, the padded pink cards and the overpriced set menu for two. 

Love is about bothering to really know someone. Love is also what it feels to be really known by another. 

These questions shouldn’t just be for newly dating couples desperate to find love.  These questions shouldn’t just be for dating columnists.  I think they would be great questions to ask your long term partner or spouse to regain or reinforce that sense of intimacy and trust. 

Is this how to fall back in love with your partner?  It might be. 

Your relationship might be better than it has ever been or you might be going through a rocky patch.  I don’t know, but whichever category you fall into, can I please challenge you to do ask these 36 questions?  Ask them on  your next date night.  But, please, pretty please, let me know how you got on.  I am dying to know how it felt.   

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Which songs transport you back in time?

Which songs transport you back in time?

I have been listening to Kirsty Young’s Desert Island Discs. Desert Island Discs is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on a Sunday morning. I tend to listen to the podcast version on my morning commute to work. The format is simple: a guest is invited by Kirsty Young to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island. Kirsty is a brilliant interviewer and asks really probing questions in such a subtle manner. I would recommend the interview with David Beckham. My absolute favourite interview has to be the interview with Davina McCall. Her music choices were sublime and the story of her relationship with her mother had me holding back the tears on the train.

Which songs transport you back in time?

Which songs transport you back in time? Are there songs where the the opening notes give you flashbacks of childhood holidays, a first kiss or heartbreak? Here are a few songs that transport me back in time:

Rain or Shine by Five Star

This was the first ever single I bought. It was vinyl. I remember getting my dad to put it on the record player for me. It came out in 1986 (Jeez, I am so old!). I have just listened to it and I think if this were released again today I would buy it all over again. I absolutely love it.

Maggie May by Rod Stewart

This one is for my parents. If Maggie May was playing and the door was closed I knew that I should not enter. This was my parents ‘special’ song. There are some things that children are just not meant to see. Thank goodness this is an anonymous blog: my parents would be mortified to read this.

The Music Sounds Better with You by Stardust

A group of about twelve of us went to Newquay in Cornwall after our GCSE exams. We stayed in a couple of caravans near the beach, drank a lot, smoked a bit and listened to this on repeat for about a week. It is horrendous. In fact it is almost as bad as the thought of twelve sixteen year olds in a caravan. I now hate the music, but the first couple of notes transport me straight back to my age of innocence when the world really was my oyster.

My Favourite Game by the Cardigans

I still love this song. It takes me back to the early days of my first relationship. I was eighteen and head over heals in love with a guy a decade or so older than me. It was great, while it lasted…but, quelle surprise, it didn’t – see my next song.

Ever Fallen in Love (with someone you shouldn’t have) by The Buzzcocks

He loved The Buzzcocks and he once said to me that he thought about us whenever he heard this song. It wasn’t until we split up that this song had greater resonance for me. We shouldn’t have fallen in love.

Lazy Line Painter Jane by Belle and Sebastian

I spent most of my University years listening to Belle and Sebastian, usually on repeat. I have a terrible habit of finding a song I like and then playing it again and again and again until I am totally sick of it. Lazy Line Painter Jane was my favourite Belle and Sebastian song. I still know every word. It reminds me of my University years.

L.E.S Artistes by Santogold

I listened to L.E.S Artistes by Santogold a lot just after my engagement and as I was planning my wedding. There is one line that really resonated: “…I hope it will be worth what I give up.” I guess in my subconscious I knew that I was about to marry the wrong man. I really did feel as though I was about to give something up: my personality and my life. Thank you Santogold for making me question my plans.

Young Girls & Happy Endings by Gorky’s Zigotic Mynci

It was a different boyfriend who introduced my to Gorky’s Zigotic Mynci’s hit Young Girls & Happy Endings. It is true, young girls do like happy endings. Now that I am a bit older I realise that life isn’t a fairy tale and there are no happy endings. This thing called life has its highs and lows and that it what makes it worth living.

Which songs transport you back in time?

Which songs transport you back in time?

I’m curious to know what songs I’ll add to my list in the future. A summer holiday, songs that remind me of great times with my son, great friendships lost and found. Life is for living.

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Advice for my friends who are divorcing

My friends are starting to get divorced.  This week, one of my university friends contacted me to say that she and her husband are getting a divorce.  They have a two year old daughter.

We haven’t been in contact for years and I last saw her about five years ago. She’d heard that I am now a single mum having separated from my partner, Cygnet’s father, a couple of years ago. She wondered whether I would meet her for coffee. We are meeting in a couple of weeks’ time. 

When I first separated from my now ex, I was the only one among my friendship group whose long term relationship had broken down.  I was the only single mum.  I knew women at work who were single mums, but they were older and their kids are older.  I was an early adopter of the single mum badge. I was the only single mum in the village, so to speak. 

An estimated 42% of marriages end in divorce, so I shouldn’t be the least bit surprised that my friends’ relationships are now breaking down. Love doesn’t, I’m afraid, always last forever.  Neither should I be surprised that my friends contact me when their relationships are going through bumpy patches or they are getting divorced. I’ve been there, got the t-shirt, survived and, if they made single mum badges, I would wear my single mum badge with pride. 

Advice for my friends who are divorcing

It does make me sad though.  I have just re-read some of my old blog posts written at the time of my separation, or shortly after.  My blog posts tell you the truth about my relationship breakdown and about my first month as a single mum.  I wrote some dark words about some dark days, and I wrote quite a few posts about wanting to co-parent without a lawyer and about family mediation.  I also wrote a letter to give to my son on his 18th birthday.   

I’d forgotten how awful the experience was.  I’ve come a long way and my heart goes out to those now going through divorce and separation.  It can be tough, monumentally tough, but you will not only survive, you will thrive.  Trust me when I tell you that you are stronger than you look and you are braver than you could ever imagine. 

My observations and advice:

Recognise that divorce and separation can be unpredictable. 

It is a cruel truth that at a time when you can barely look at your ex, you have to make a load of joint decisions.  These decisions can be as small as what to do with those kitchen utensils you bought together in John Lewis, to as big as the custody of your children. 

Logic and rational behaviour would dictate that the big decisions would be more emotionally charged than the smaller ones.  I found that my ex’s reactions were unpredictable in the extreme.

My mum had been helping me pack up the kitchen in our jointly owned house before we sold it.  She accidentally packed a piece of Tupperware belonging to my ex.  His sister had lent it to him.  My ex went nuts, like totally nuts.  He ranted and raved.  I called my mum.  She found the offending piece of Tupperware in a box at her house and drove 45 minutes to deliver it back to him.  He was embarrassed and apologetic to my mother.  My family will forever refer to this incident as ‘Tupperwaregate’.  My point is that emotionally charged situations make for unpredictable behaviour 

Set yourself some goals. 

About six weeks after separating from my ex, I tried to visualise what I want the future to look like.  I refer back to this post once in a while to remind me of what I am aiming for with this co-parenting relationship.  Sometimes I feel we’re making progress.  More often, I am reminded of how much we’ve still got to work at this.  The vision has helped. 

It is also worth setting yourself some personal goals.  These needn’t be massive life changing goals, you are going through enough already.   I set myself goals like buying myself some flowers each week (I love the spring when daffodils are only £1!), going to the theatre once a month, going to art galleries and museums.  These were fun goals because theatre, art and flowers are all things I love.   They helped me recover because they helped me to re-find myself and who I am.   

Try not to feel guilty.

I spent hours, literally hours, lying on the floor sobbing because I felt that I was ruining my son’s life.  The guilt that he would be a child of a ‘broken home’ and that I couldn’t give him the childhood that I had with two parents who (still) love each other was overwhelming.   

Advice for my friends who are divorcing

It has taken me a while to realise that the home that I left, the home that my ex and I had created together, was the ‘broken home’.  The home that Cygnet has with me now is happy and joyful.  He sees his father regularly.  My parents are more involved than they would have been had I stayed with my ex.  Cygnet adores his Grandma and gets really excited when Grandpa is around.  Cygnet and I don’t spend as much time together as I would like, but our time is quality time. 

I have come to realise that I haven’t failed at all. Choosing to leave my ex, the father of my son, was the bravest and most courageous thing I’ve ever done. 

Divorce and separation are tough, but truly happy marriages don’t end in divorce.  My advice for my friends who are divorcing ?  When I meet my divorcing friend in a couple of weeks’ time I will reassure her that there is light at the end of the tunnel.  She will not only survive, she will thrive and so will her daughter. 

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January was a long hard slog, goodbye and good riddance

I have been counting down the days until the end of January since about the 10th of January.  January has been a long hard slog.  In fact, January is a long hard slog every single year. 

December was all about new clothes and present wrapping and Christmas trees and Christmas parties and mince pies and mulled wine.  In December, the cold was christmassy, the ice was festive and the dark nights were cosy.

In January, the same cold was biting, the dark nights were gloomy and oppressive and those Christmas trees are now strewn across the pavement waiting for some community-spirited individual to call the council to report a missed Christmas tree pick-up.  We’ll be waiting a long time.

January

January is the month when we all get ill.  The excesses of December take their toll.  I feel like a cheese-grater has scraped my throat, phlegm makes my voice crackle and mucus makes me sound hoarse.  Cygnet’s snot is making him snore like a congested baby rhino.

January

And then there is my bank balance.  I was last paid on 23 December 2016.  January is a 31 day month.  That is far too many weekends, far too many train fares, far too many Tesco shops and, most cripplingly, far too many credit card bills painting, in undeniable black and white ink, the excesses of December and my Christmas present-buying generosity.

I have broken my New Year’s resolutions already.  I have yet to do one thing that is outside of my comfort zone and I was supposed to smash my comfort zone weekly.  As I sit here stressing about my finances and wallowing in the waterfall of mucus, I am aware that ‘Zen’, meditation and mindfulness have gone out of the window.  I have one hundred pages of my book to read before midnight tonight if I am to salvage my one book a month resolution.  Dry January turned out to be very damp and even resulted in my projectile vomiting across my bathroom floor. Oh, the shame of it, the absolute shame of it.   

Forget New Year and new beginnings.  January has been a horror show, an interminable horror show that my calendar is finally indicating is about to come to an end. 

So dear January, my welcome was tentative, but my farewells are not.  It is most definitely time to say goodbye to you.  Goodbye and good riddance.  Please don’t rush back for next year. 

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How do you promote your blog posts?

I have a bit of a confession to make:  I am a bit rubbish at this blogging malarky.  I am okay at writing blog posts, that’s my favourite bit.  I like writing, but at times I feel like I am writing into a black hole.  My voice echoes momentarily and then fades into nothingness.  My blog is as much a conversation with myself as it is a conversation with you as my reader.

When I have something to write about the words just flow.  I don’t write to a timetable and I don’t make any money from my blog, so I don’t feel the pressure to produce or perform for an audience.  I guess this means that I don’t get writers’ block. 

I like reading blog posts.  There are some blogs that I read a lot and others that I pop across to once in a while.  I always read and comment on blogs on the link-ups I join.  I don’t join many link-ups though. 

I am really really rubbish at promoting my blog posts.  This is the blogging chore that really is a chore for me and I tend to do it half-heartedly.    

Almost half of my readers are return visitors.  They tend to remain on my site for an average of about four minutes.  My bounce rate is really low –  15% last time I checked.  I think that is supposed to be quite good, but is probably more of an indication that I have a few dedicated readers rather than lots of new readers discovering my blog.  I am a bit rubbish on Google Analytics.  I tend to just use the WordPress visitor stats. 

promote your blog posts

This is what I do to promote my blog posts:

  1. I promote on twitter.  You can find me at @thesingleswan.  I tend to retweet a new post every few hours for a week or so.  I pay about £10 a month to www.socialoompf.com to schedule my tweets.  I got bored of typing each individual tweet into tweetdeck.   I add a few hashtags, but I tend to pick them at random.  I don’t bother researching them beforehand.
  2. I link each post up to a couple of link ups and always comment on others’ posts.   I tend to link up to the same link-ups each week.  You will almost always find me on #KCACOLS with Franca at www.amomentwithfranca.com.   I like #thetruthabout with Sam at www.andthenthefunbegan.com.  Beyond these two, I tend to link up infrequently and quite at random.  Please don’t take offence if you run a link-up!
  3. I comment on other bloggers’ posts and when they have the commentluv plugin installed this leaves a link to my latest blog post.  I am not sure this can really be classed as promoting my blog posts but never mind.
  4. A few of my posts have been picked up by Mumsnet and that is always pretty exciting.  According to my visitor stats Mumsnet readers absolutely loved “Breastfeeding was my dirty secret”.  Mumsnet readers don’t seem to leave comments though, it seems to be the blogging community that does that. 

And that is about it!

promote your blog posts

I don’t…

  1. …pay any attention to the whole search engine optimisation (SEO) thing.  I know that I have a couple of posts that work really well for SEO.  Why you shouldn’t date a single mother is by far my most popular post.  Visitors tend to search “don’t date single moms”, “never date single mums” “don’t date single mums on tinder” and land on this page.  As a single mum who dates occasionally, I find this all a bit depressing.  I don’t research my key words and I don’t pick phrases that will send me to the top of the google charts.  I like to use words that interest me rather than words that interest google.
  2. I don’t have a facebook page for my blog. 
  3. …or instagram
  4. …or pinterest
  5. …or Google+
  6. I don’t ever talk about my blog with my real life acquaintances either.  My blog is anonymous and this is most definitely one of the draw-backs of blogging anonymously

All in all I know that I am a bit rubbish at promoting my blog posts. 

What do you do to promote your blog posts?

What works for you? 

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We are all a bit mad…especially after we’ve had a baby

“She’s hysterical”.  “She’s sobbing hysterically”.  “She’s gone a bit hysterical.”

We sometimes describe men as hysterical too, but the etymology of the word is distinctly female.  In Latin hystericus means “of the womb”.  In Greek hysterikos means “of the womb, suffering in the womb”. 

Childbirth and motherhood brought a wave, a veritable tsunami of emotions and hormones.  It shocked me.  I felt things I had never felt before.  All of my feelings, all of my senses felt more intense, more acute.  The world seemed sharper, pointier, more fierce, more vibrant, than it had been before I gave birth. It was at times wonderful, but at times terrifying.  I couldn’t control the emotions.  I hated this.  I’ve always been able to control my emotions. 

we are all a bit mad

Breastfeeding was a struggle, I didn’t have enough milk, and I felt like a failure because I couldn’t provide for my baby.  But this wasn’t like the feeling of failure you get when you fail and exam or you fail to get promoted at work, this was a crushing and desperate failure. My desire to breastfeed eclipsed the sun. The failure was a feeling so deep and piercing that I don’t think I can describe it.   

As a first-time mother, I was bombarded with conflicting advice from everywhere. Whatever decision I made, there was someone to tell me I’d got it wrong. Everyone had an opinion.  Even the man in the corner shop had an opinion.  I felt like my baby was public property and everyone else seemed far, far better at looking after my baby than I was.  I’d always been critical of myself and now I had an endless supply of ammunition.

All other mothers seemed to have their shit together.  My NCT friends were nailing it.  Their babies fed happily: Cygnet would projectile vomit three times a day.  Their babies slept:  Cygnet wouldn’t settle.  Their babies were enrolled on baby massage, gymboree, rhyme time, swimming classes.  The mothers looked perfect.  They were dressed and made up.  They were doing buggy fit and mum and baby yoga to get rid of their pregnancy weight. 

It is only now, a couple of years on, that the truth is starting to come out.  Now that we have all had a couple of years to process the dark thoughts, to master our emotions, to feel human again.  It is only now that we are able to confess that it was damn tough and that we barely maintained our “shit together” façades.  What I had interpreted as new mother smugness was a thin veil of sanity.   

There is no such thing as a smug mum.   The smugness is merely a façade. Every new mum is protecting herself and her baby by only telling half the story. 

Social media amplifies the dishonesty, or rather, the selective truth-telling. Countless times I’ve posted a picture of my son looking cute on Facebook and later that weekend, possibly even just one hour later, I’ve been sobbing with despair at what a useless mother I am.  I now know that my friends, my fellow mothers, are the same. 

According to the World Health Organisation, problems like anxiety and depression affect one in three people in the community and are slightly more common in women. 

We are all a bit mad.  I don’t just mean that all new mothers are a bit mad.  I don’t just mean that all women are a bit mad.  I mean that all men and all women are a bit mad.  We are.  No one is completely “sane” or “sorted” – it is impossible.  We’re definitely not all clinically anxious or depressed and not every change in mood should be pathologised, but every single one of us, female and male, has neuroses because we all have brains. 

Dear new Mum, this is hard, but you are not alone.  You will get through this.  You can and you will.

P.S.  On real life and motherhood and How to stay sane when you  can’t afford therapy and Emotional well-being, divorce and separation.

And, to make you giggle, this is brilliant:

 

Hannah Spannah
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How to date like a millennial

Dating has changed since I landed on the dating scene a couple of decades ago (eek).   In my late teens I was wide eyed, excited and optimistic.  Gaggles of girls met packs of boys at discos, birthday parties, in pubs whilst pretending we were old enough to drink (I had some very dubious looking fake I.D.)

The university dating scene wasn’t that much different.  We met in pubs, at parties, in nightclubs, in lectures, in our halls of residence. We had face-to-face conversations.  Often drunken conversations, or short and embarrassed conversations, or a conversation with a wing-man or woman, but a real conversation nonetheless. 

Then came speed-dating.  These were still face-to-face conversations, just ruthlessly efficient conversations lasting three minutes, but speed-dating did at least give you the chance to meet someone in the flesh and talk to them, rather than just relying on a selection of photos to make an assessment of whether you might like someone. 

Internet dating sites like match.com or e-harmony represented a bit of a shift about a decade ago.  You wrote your profile and added a few photos.  This was essentially your sales pitch, your advert, your CV and your chat up line.  The shift was that your first encounter with your prospective suitor was on-line rather than face-to-face.   This was the dating scene that I exited about eight years ago. 

I re-entered the dating scene last year only to find that the dating world is a very different place. I had to learn how to date like a millennial.

date like a millennial

First, millennials don’t date.  Millennials hook-up.  The idea of a ‘date’ always felt a bit formal and pressured.  I quite like the idea of just meeting for a coffee or for a drink after work.  Upon entering the millennials’ dating scene about eighteen months ago, I had naïvely assumed that we’d maybe kiss at the end of the date (if the date had gone well) and we’d agree to meet again, or we’d politely say “thanks for a nice evening” and then go home and neither of us contact each other again.  That’s how things used to happen.

These days you meet your ‘date’ via an app rather than in person.  Tinder, Bumble, Happn, Once, okcupid, they are all very similar.  There is a lot of swiping, a load of ‘matches’, proportionately very little text contact, and proportionately even less face-to-face contact at the end of hours of swiping. 

You see the thing about these apps is, like all social media, they are highly addictive.  They are probably more addictive than other forms of social media because there are statistics involved.   There are people on these apps who are just there to see how many matches they can get. 

Ever been on Tinder?  When you get a match and you think “oooh, somebody likes me”.  You get a little hit of dopamine – that infamous brain chemical that is released whenever you experience something pleasurable.   It feels good.  You smile to yourself and carry on swiping.  Lots of people on these apps spend hours swiping, receive hundreds of matches, hundreds of hits of dopamine but never send or respond to a message.   

I am not a normal dating app user.  I make a point of only choosing people who I would actually like to meet in the flesh and I always message my matches.  I have no interest in knowing how many random strangers like the way I look. 

Once contact is made on these datings apps and a conversation actually gets going, and it does occasionally, conversation will usually transfer over to WhatsApp.   I once had a conversation lasting over an hour on WhatsApp.  Texts back and forth, one word, two words, truncated sentences.  I looked back over the conversation a couple of days later only to realise that over 900 messages had passed back and forth between us.  It did get a little bit dirty.   That’s the weird thing, not that it got a bit dirty, but the the fact that you’d have such a long and uninterrupted conversation via text.  Why not speak to each other?  A decade ago we’d just call.  If you want to know how to date like a millennial you need to know how to spend hours on WhatsApp.

After millennials ‘hook-up’ they leave.  If they are sober enough, the tube is still running or an uber isn’t too expensive, then they may leave that evening.  If not, they will leave very early in the morning.  It has to be clear, crystal clear, that this is a hook-up, not the exciting beginnings of a new relationship when you might have brunch in bed, maybe a bit of kissing and then shower before going home. 

This is not a criticism.  There is nothing new about trying to avoid getting hurt, but millennials seem to have perfected the separation of the physical from the emotional. 

If you truly date like a millennial, you will also learn that hooking-up, no matter how good the sex or how many orgasms were had, does not determine seriousness, exclusivity or commitment.  There is no such thing as exclusivity when you truly date like a millennial. 

how to date like a millennial

Hooking-up does not mean that your partner will respond to your messages either.  There is no obligation after sex, no obligation to reply to a WhatsApp from the person you have slept with.  If you want to date like a millennial remember that, unlike in other parts of life, having the last word is the ultimate weakness as it means being the person who doesn’t merit a response.

I have met a guy a few times.  He’s nice enough but I find him quite boring. We have very little in common and very little to talk about. I don’t know that I can be bothered to see him again.  I am currently debating whether to tell him that it isn’t really working for me, or just not to reply to his messages.   If I were really dating like a millennial I would just ignore his messages – ‘ghosting’ it is called.  ‘Ghosting’ somehow feels wrong, so I will tell him.

To date like a millennial you need to have a thick skin and a cold heart!

Now don’t get me wrong.  Dating like a millennial has its advantages, especially for me as a single mum who doesn’t have time to meet someone and then nurture a relationship.  I know that, by dating like a millennial, if I have no plans for Saturday night when Cygnet is with his dad I could get on an app and meet someone for a drink.  The drink will lead somewhere if I let it.  I can have an evening of escapism.  It is easier than ever before to meet up with someone and I have said before that I can see the merits in an unconventional relationship.

The thing is though, I am not sure that my skin is thick enough, nor my heart cold enough to date like a millennial much of the time.  After a while I hanker after some good old-fashioned courting. 

My Random Musings

Hannah Spannah
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2017 Goals: Expansion

I quite like the idea of having a theme, or one word, which sums up my New Year’s resolutions.  My word for 2016 was ‘consolidation’.   After what was, for me, a pretty shitty 2015 full of apocalyptic life changes, I wanted a year of no change.  I wanted a year of consolidation.

My resolutions were all about consolidating my new beginnings from 2015 and settling into my and Cygnet’s new life.  All in all, 2016 was a pretty good year and I can even say that I managed to abide by my 2016 resolutions.  Well, most of them anyway – I didn’t take a vitamin tablet every day, in fact I didn’t even manage a week.  I did go to the theatre more than once a month and Cygnet and I had some great times together.   I hope that 2017 will be more of the same in that regard.

This year, I’ve decided that my word, my theme, for the year is going to be expansion.  By ‘expansion’ I don’t mean that I am going to put on a load of weight, or move to a bigger flat, or get 1000 new friends on Facebook.  I mean that I am going to expand my horizons, read some more, learn to deal with things a little better, experiment, do stuff that I wouldn’t normally do, go to places I wouldn’t normally go to.  This isn’t about change, just growth.  This is about being myself – being the best version of myself more of the time.

In 2017 I am going to:

Do something new, or scary, or different every week

A high-flyer at work once said to me that to develop I needed to go to a meeting that scared me s******s and say at least three things in said meeting every single week.   This ‘high-flyer’ is likely to be running my company (which is a pretty big company) within the next couple of years and I do not have his career ambition.  There is something to be said though about putting ourselves out of our comfort zones.

I am therefore going to do something new, or scary, or different every single week in 2017.  Some of this comfort zone transgression may be at work –  it is going to have to be – I spend 40 hours a week there! I should be doing scary stuff outside of work too.

2017 GoalsScary stuff might mean doing something that I am not confident that I will succeed at.  I don’t want to be scared of failure, I want to learn from it. 

Scary stuff might mean plucking up the courage to go into the local bar on my own on a Friday night (you can read about my crisis of confidence here). 

I intend to go to places I’ve never been to before, see things I’ve never seen, experience things I’ve never experienced.  I intend to smell, taste, touch, see and hear new things. 

And, so that I remember and learn from these things, I am going to keep a list of what I’ve done.  Easy…or maybe not, but I am going to give it a go. 

Read a book a month

I used to read a lot. Now I manage about six pages a week, usually in the bath once Cygnet has gone to bed.  I miss it and I need to make time for more fiction.  One book a month feels as though it should be an achievable goal even for this time poor single, working mum.  I’ll let you know.

2017 Goals

Go to the theatre once a month

This is just me being self-indulgent. This was on my list of resolutions last year.  It is helpful to have a reminder to do things that you love, a ‘chore’ that you really want to do.  I saw some great stuff last year:  An Inspector Calls; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time; Wonder.land. 

I also saw some less than mediocre comedy and an eminently forgettable monologue which really did feel like a chore rather than a pleasure.  Sometimes you have to see the rubbish stuff to appreciate the good stuff.

Be more robust with my ex

My ex likes to get his own way.  I don’t deal with conflict well.  It makes me tense and stressed and I do everything that I can to avoid any form of conflict.  When it comes to my ex this usually means letting him have his own way.  My ex exploits my conciliatory position and demands more and more and more. 

He seems to know which buttons to press to get what he wants.  He argues aggressively and then cries.  It took me a while to recognise and write about the compliance and control in our relationship, but my ex is an emotional manipulator and I need to learn how best to cope with that.  I need to be more robust and businesslike with my ex.

Be more ‘zen’

2017 Goals

I am not entirely sure what this means or what I want ‘be more zen’ to mean.  I do know that I find dealing with my ex really stressful.  Over the course of 2016, I think I learned not to show it, but I tend to internalise that stress.

I feel the tension rising up my back like a tidal wave.  My breathing quickens.   Waves then crash relentlessly and forcefully against my back.  They surge and then circulate like a whirlpool between my shoulders.

I cannot control my ex, in fact I cannot even predict his actions, but I should be able to control how my mind and body react to him.

So, I’ve downloaded a the app Headspace, I’ve bought a yoga for stress release DVD.  I don’t yet know what will work, but there has to be something and in 2017 I intend to find my coping mechanism.  I’ll try anything twice, and if all else fails…

…I’ll just drink more wine. 

Happy New Year!

You Baby Me Mummy
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2017, a tentative welcome

January 1st always used to bring a great deal of pressure with it.  On the day when my resolutions to eat healthily, to drink less, to be more productive and to be more sensible with my money were supposed to start, I invariably had a stinking hangover which could only be cured by a full english breakfast and paracetamol rinsed down with a vodka, lime and soda.  At around 3pm, when I finally emerged permanently from under my duvet, I might check my bank balance, only to realise that my cash card, as well as my body had taken a hammering the night before.   My noble New Year’s resolutions were a distant memory.  I had failed at the first hurdle…again.

In December 2015, as the New Year approached, and to an extent in 2016, I have been willing the New Year to arrive.  2015 was a year of what felt like apocalyptic change:  I became a single mum when my son was a mere five months old; I separated from my fiancé; I cancelled my wedding; we sold our house; I bought a flat; I returned to work when my son was seven months old.  By December, I was starting to feel a bit more human after the assault of 2015 and I was willing the year to end.

2016 was to be a year of ‘consolidation’.  I knew that I couldn’t cope with any more change.  Cygnet and I needed to settle into our new home.  I needed to make the most of our time together and I needed to make the most of my time alone.  I needed to take stock, to rebuild, to grow roots and to find my inner balance (I’m a Libran and Librans like balance). 

2016 has felt better.  I won’t look back on 2016 as the toughest year I’ve known, which is good, but it certainly hasn’t been the easiest one. 

For me, personally, 2016 hasn’t been a bad year. 

Cygnet is just awesome and is happy, healthy and developing a fun personality.  He couldn’t be better.  He could be with me more and I wish he were with me more, but he, himself, as a person and as my gorgeous little boy couldn’t be more perfect. 

My ex, Cynget’s father, has at times been really challenging.  Ending a relationship with someone who is selfish, controlling, narcissistic, angry and bitter was never going to be easy.  Co-parenting with this person was always going to be a mammoth task.  Gradually however, I am learning how to deal with him.  I am learning how to respond to his relentless and some might say bullying emails.  I am learning to stand my ground, slowly. 

Despite all of the good stuff and my personal progress, 2016 will be etched in our collective memories as the year that the world changed…for the worse. 

2016 has been a year when politics has been laced with tragedy. Brexit shocked me.  The fact that logic and rational argument did not prevail depressed me, but what angered me was the racism and violence that the Brexit vote appeared to condone.

Just as we were starting to recover from our Brexit depression, a carrot-coloured racist, misogynist, politically inexperienced fanatic won the US presidential election and in 2017 will become the most powerful man on earth.    

2016 has seen the death of incredible talent and of our idols: David Bowie, Prince, Victoria Wood, Alan Rickman, Leonard Cohen (although he had a good innings), Carrie Fisher and George Michael.  It is almost as though they had a premonition that the world is going to be a scary place in the future and that the best option was to bail out quick.  We will miss their talent.

2016 has also been a year of terrible atrocity.  Starvation in the Yemen and executions of innocent civilians in Syria have just, but only just, made it to our news feeds.  The greatest tragedy of 2016 has been our inability to see beyond our social media feeds and our own political turmoil to see the tragedy on someone else’s doorstep. 

a tentative welcome

I fear that 2017 may not be very different.   It could even be worse.  Trump will take up the US presidency, the Brexit negotiations will progress, or regress, depending which newsfeed you read.  I can’t see a quick and positive end to the conflict in Syria or the situation in Yemen. 

2017, I bid you a tentative welcome, but although I welcome you, my welcome is for personal reasons only.  In my own small world I am going to achieve great things in 2017, but we live in the big bad world, and I don’t think that in 2017 this big bad world is going to become a better place.

P.S.  Coming soon – some noble resolutions for 2017. 

You Baby Me Mummy
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