There are two sides to every story

Since I gave up dating, there have been few weekend evenings when I have been without my son and without a plan.  Often I am so exhausted after a week of work and single parenting that all I really feel like doing is opening a bottle of wine, finding some romance film from a decade ago and sinking into the sofa.

Evenings spent like this always make me feel guilty.  Most mothers dream of being able to go out one night every weekend. My ex, Cygnet’s father, will always be really difficult to deal with, so I have to make the most of the free babysitter benefits of my co-parenting relationship.

On Saturday night I went to the Newport Street Gallery near Vauxhall in London.   

I’ve always loved Vauxhall.  I am probably the only one.  It has a certain unpretentious edge to it.  There is a large Portuguese community near Vauxhall and some great Portuguese tapas bars.  I came out of the train station, walked over the footbridge and along Vauxhall Embankment towards Lambeth Bridge.  Under the train arches in Vauxhall is a moped shop, some kitchen and tile shops and two or three gay saunas. “Strictly over 21” the sign says authoritatively.  This part of London is almost empty as I walked past it at 8pm on a Saturday night; the tile and moped shops have closed;  it is too early for the clubbers. At 7am on a Sunday morning it will just be starting to get quieter again after a busy and thrusting night.

I turned off the main road and ducked into the housing estates.  These housing estates haven’t changed one bit in the decade that I have been walking through them.  The pubs are the same.  The clientele the same.  There is a new plant stall at the cross-roads.  The plants were being watered in the Saturday evening drizzle.  I walked past the cheapest cobblers I have ever found in London.  This is the cobbler who once cheekily suggested that it was time that I replaced the boots that he was about to re-heal for the fourth time. 

As I walked through the estate on Saturday evening, I wondered about the fire safety of the tower blocks. 

The Newport Street Gallery itself is a little pretentious, but then modern art is a little pretentious.  Artwork and installations like this will never be universally popular, but then that is kind of the point.  Inside the gallery is white, sterile and calming.  Handover of Cygnet to his father on Saturday evening was tense and in the large white expanses of the Newport Street Gallery my breathing finally eased. 

two sides to every story

I sat in Pharmacy2, the restaurant and bar decked out as a drugs store like Damien Hirst’s work Pharmacy. It was almost empty, but that’s no surprise because the Newport Street Gallery is a little off the beaten track.  I sipped a glass of the house white and then a second. 

To my left at the bar were three French men and a woman.  If I suspended reality for a minute,  I could turn back time a couple of decades back to my summer as a student in Paris.  Their language and accent was sophisticated and intoxicating. 

two sides to every story

To my right a man and a woman shared a table.  They knew each other well, and their conversation was relaxed, close and friendly.  They may have been romantically involved, but from their body language I wasn’t sure.  The sexual tension of early dating was not there.   Their relationship was one of companionship and ease. 

As I sat there with my laptop and my wine for company I was not sure whether I am incredibly lucky to be able to indulge in a bit of solitude, or sadly unlucky to have no option but to go to the Newport Street Gallery alone.  I am guess I am both incredibly lucky and sadly unlucky. 

There are two sides to every story. 

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31 Comments

  1. July 28, 2017 / 7:07 am

    Having some alone time can be a good thing and also not feeling the need to be dating just because! They bar sounds very Cool! #fridayfrolics

    • thesingleswan
      July 29, 2017 / 7:33 pm

      Thank you Fran. Pen x

  2. August 1, 2017 / 1:10 am

    I gave up dating too. I recently ended a 10 month long relationship with someone and am not willing to go back out there. I wasn’t really “out there” when I met him but it happened somehow. I personally love going to interesting places by myself and it sounds like that’s what you did and you had fun. Sometimes we just need to spend some time with ourselves in order to really get an appreciation for things we wouldn’t have had being with someone. Now that my boys are older and my ex-husband and I have a good schedule with the kids I can plan my nights better but I also really look forward to cracking open that wine and binge watching Netflix too. That’s a great time to me:) I’m visiting you from #mondaystumble

    • thesingleswan
      August 2, 2017 / 9:51 pm

      Thank you. Lovely to have you here. There is a lot to be said for a netflix binge and a bottle of wine. Pen x

  3. August 1, 2017 / 8:41 am

    You are SO lucky! I wish I could still pop out to restaurants and galleries on my own. You must tell me the name of your babysitter. #GlobalBlogging

    • thesingleswan
      August 2, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      thanks

  4. August 1, 2017 / 8:42 am

    You are SO lucky. I wish I could still pop out to restaurants and galleries on my own. You must tell me the name of your babysitter.

    • thesingleswan
      August 2, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      My babysitter is my son’s father and my ex. There are pros and cons to co-parenting… It is not all art galleries and glasses of wine – trust me. Pen x

  5. August 1, 2017 / 5:41 pm

    Love this. I crave alone time. Not just ‘alone time’ but to be free of any responsibility for a few hours. With no deadline. But I get your point.
    xx

    • thesingleswan
      August 2, 2017 / 9:49 pm

      I am very lucky in many ways. pen x

  6. August 1, 2017 / 5:48 pm

    Alone time can be both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time. Parenthood as a couple is exhausting, I don’t know how you do it. I was raised by a single parent. I have so much respect for you…. That bar does sound amazing though! #globalblogging

    • thesingleswan
      August 2, 2017 / 9:48 pm

      Yes, it was a nice place to spend a Saturday night. Parenthood is exhausting. I am lucky to have a time out on occasion. Pen x

  7. August 3, 2017 / 9:49 am

    I’m glad you had some time to yourself. I hope you enjoyed it in a way where you were ‘present’ and that the more you do this, the easier it will be. xo #MondayStumbleUpon
    Lisa Pomerantz recently posted…Sunrise, SunsetMy Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 3, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      thanks Lisa. pen x

  8. August 3, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    I’m in the same position. I quite like the being alone rather than with someone – I like feeling free and unharrassed after what came before. But having to spend time away from my kids because of someone else’s behaviour does make me angry. Putting up with being abused or being free but having to not have your kids every day doesn’t really seem like reasonable options. So I agree – it’s a mixed bag.

    Thanks so much for joining us for #FridayFrolics
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Friday Frolics – 28th July 2017My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 3, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      Thank you. It sounds like our situations are indeed very similar. It is a mixed bag. Some of my friends are envious of my free time, but then they don’t have all of the s**t that comes with it. pen x

  9. August 5, 2017 / 12:23 am

    And THAT really is the fucking truth of it right there.

    Two sides for sure.

    Thanks for linking up to #globalblogging

    • thesingleswan
      August 5, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      Thanks for your comment Kristin. Pen x

  10. August 5, 2017 / 7:13 am

    Time alone can feel like a godsend. I used to get lonely when I was a single parent and my daughter was at her dad’s but sometimes I was just glad of a rest, glad of getting in from work at 6 eating a pot noodle and watching crap TV, no bedtime routine, no Night Garden. I wouldn’t swap that for the family I’ve got now, but it was a nice breather from time to time.

    #RVHT
    Jenny (Accidental Hipster Mum) recently posted…Doodle Collection Notebook Review – Perfect for Stationery Lovers!My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 5, 2017 / 9:15 pm

      You are right. I must stock up on my pot noodles. It’s been a while. Pen x

  11. August 6, 2017 / 10:32 am

    There are indeed two sides to every story. I would love to have an evening or an afternoon like this but with three kids and various other things going on in our lives it’s a rare luxury for us to have a entire evening out together, let alone individually on our own. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the two-parenting life or recognise the benefits of a shared parenting workload, just that the grass often seems greener on the other side. There are pluses and minuses to everything, so it’s always better to focus on the former rather than dwell on the latter, I think. #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      August 6, 2017 / 9:28 pm

      Absolutely Tim. It is always best to focus on the positives. Pen x

  12. August 6, 2017 / 11:39 am

    I think there’s definitely an art to be able to enjoy your own company, a glass of wine in solitude. I don’t want to do it forever but sometimes there’s nothing like it x
    Alice recently posted…WIN! An Amazon Fire 7 Worth £49.99My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 6, 2017 / 9:27 pm

      Absolutely Alice. I agree. Pen x

    • thesingleswan
      August 12, 2017 / 7:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  13. August 14, 2017 / 3:44 pm

    Alone time like his is great, it gives us time to recharge. As for dating, it’s not a bad thing to step away from it for a while as that can also be very draining.
    #KCACOLS

    • thesingleswan
      August 14, 2017 / 8:33 pm

      Hi Ali,

      Yes I agree. Thanks for your comment. Pen x

  14. August 15, 2017 / 1:13 pm

    I think your allowed to feel equally unlucky and lucky at the same time, it’s perfectly acceptable as a parent! I love modern art, but its been a while since I visited a gallery, must make a point of going again! Thank you so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back next time.
    Kerry recently posted…Get In Your Garden! Week #21My Profile

    • thesingleswan
      August 16, 2017 / 6:36 pm

      Thank you for your comment Kerry. Pen x

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