Half-term half-wit

Half-term always creeps up on me. I should mark it down in my diary, set an alarm on my smart phone – something (anything) to remind me that it’s coming.

But I don’t.

This time, Ben (yes BEN) reminded me that last week was half-term. I knew it was coming of course, but as is often the case, had forgotten which week I was in. And given I keep forgetting to mark half-term in my diary/phone, I’d committed myself to     quite a lot of work.

Ben offered to look after Rosie – the whole week.

I went off to work, like old times, except this time, Ben was sober. They went out to the park, kicked the football around, played music, drew pictures, built a stair-0-saurus out of blocks. They had fun. And when I got home, he’d made supper.

I guess this was one of Ben’s good weeks. He isn’t always like this, but for whatever reason, he seemed in high spirits, happy to help. He did laundry, cleaned the splashback behind the stove (a thankless task I was working up to, and now don’t need to for the next little while – hurrah!).

I’m not sure where I’m going with all this. Nowhere, I suspect. It’s all part of my attempt to take the present as it comes, and leave the second-guessing to the old me – that angst-ridden rodent turning circles in my past.

Well, not really my past, if I’m honest. It still turns up, every now and then.

Another part of my living in the present thing happened last Friday (the only day I probably really spent with Rosie – properly). I was disappointed when I realised it was an inset day and that half-term was starting a whole day earlier. This meant losing my precious Friday – the only day I have to myself (after I finish doing the groceries, cleaning, etc, that is). Anyway, once I got over that loss – and once I slapped myself for feeling disappointed – I took her out to the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. It was a day of dinosaurs and playing with magnets. In other words, brilliant.



Saturday was chilled. We spent much of it jumping up and down in the living room to all kinds of tunes. Somehow, the vacuuming and shopping and all the rest of it didn’t matter.

My counsellor says I need to hold on to these moments. And so, I try to impress them in my mind, and hope they don’t dissolve with age and time… or fall prey to the jittery fangs of that rodent of anxiety. Time to put out a few traps.


And this is what we were dancing to.






Ben was around for most of the past week. Whenever he’s here, I don’t write. I don’t want him catching me in the act, so to speak. Or, worse still, opening up the computer to find one of my entries still drying on the screen.

Rosie has been ill, and Ben – to his credit – stayed here to look after her while I went to work.

This is a new thing for us. Having observed his recent progress, I’ve decided to let him collect Rosie from school on Mondays. He’s managed well – and is currently keeping off the booze – so I felt ok about leaving Rosie with him the past few days.

It’s been a lot less stressful, too. It’s meant having the luxury of a lunch break – though I never actually took one. Just knowing I had the choice was enough for me. I’ve even been considering signing up for an evening course. Suddenly, I feel like a space has opened up for me… for now.

Now is the operative word. Right now, I’m comfortable leaving Rosie with Ben. Tomorrow, next week, next month – those are all unknowns. I’ve had to adapt to this. Uncertainty isn’t my comfort zone, but it’s become easier to accept, given so much of my life is currently up in the air.

Take my job. First, my team and I were told we’d be made redundant in March. Now they’re saying July. I’m looking for jobs anywhere I can find one. My current fantasy is to move to Dakar – not that that is going to happen. Last summer, I was almost certain I was going to Hong Kong. And just the other day, I saw a job in Bonn that looked very promising – until I read the spec and realised it was actually really rather boring. 

What I’m trying to say is 2013 looks like a bit of a juggle. There’s Ben and his unpredictable moods. There’s my job/no-job. There’s Rosie and her daily tantrums over underpants.

I prefer not to think too much about Ben and his recovery. Yesterday, Ben’s friend, Tom – a fellow ex-addict and other co-dependent – was kicked out of his sheltered accommodation. Apparently, he’d tested positive for opiates. The housing association that manages the house randomly tests residents (Ben’s house isn’t quite so rigorous). Ben told me Tom doesn’t do opiates and had in fact probably eaten a lemon poppy seed loaf or something similar. I thought this was far-fetched until I looked it up, and – shock/horror – poppy seeds can contribute to a positive drug test. Who knew?

Poor Tom had to move out right away. Ben left us here, since Rosie was ok, and went right over to Tom’s place to make sure he was ok. At least Ben is reliable when it comes to Tom. When it comes to us, there are any number of excuses.

Even as I write this, I shrug. This is Ben. And it’s his dad. I never realised how similar the two of them were until recently. Ben would be horrified to hear this, considering how disappointed he is with his dad. He can’t quite see that the things that upset him about his father are the same things that upset me about him.


The other day, I found myself trawling the personals in the Guardian. I did it because I was curious. But as I read more and more ads (it’s perversely addictive), I became increasingly terrified of the world out there, with its coded vocabulary and loaded expectations.

And so many of those guys were so damn smug. No wonder they’re single.

And what of Ben and me? How to define where we are now? The only certainty we have is that we are Rosie’s mum and dad. We prefer to focus on that, and shelve the other stuff for now.

ps. Ben still hasn’t replied my email.