Tag Archives: divorce

Kids Can Be Cruel

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

One of the benefits of growing up with siblings is that you have someone to torture, who abuses you right back, in a safe space where you know you are loved.  You learn how to hurt and why you shouldn’t, and you learn how to survive hurt caused by another.

Growing up my baby brother and I were a textbook example.  He was infuriating.  He would mess up my carefully laid out games, clout me with toys, and pretend I’d smacked him just to get me in trouble.  In turn I was a venomous little cow to him.  I would tease him mercilessly about everything from his weight to his stammer, throw his toys out of the window, and kick him as he walked past.  Looking back I’m thoroughly ashamed of the bad behaviour but I also remember how close we were.  How we would play together for hours, have secret sleepovers in each other’s beds, and defend one another passionately against any outsider.

J.J.Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Siren Stories, Lilly Prospero, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit ROakley1

Now, despite living in different countries with completely different lives (he’s a genius scientist working at CERN and living a childfree life of financial security by a vineyard in France, and I’m a mother of three living on an estate attempting to forge a career in the arts) we remain close to this day.

Miss Rose is now growing up with a baby brother, and they have a similar relationship to my brother and I.  Even though Z is just five months younger, they are both the best of friends and the worst of enemies.  Z will kick over her tower of blocks, Rose will snatch toys from his hands.  Rose will shove him away from her Rainbow Dash, Z will throw his Batman at her head.  They regularly declare they aren’t friends and never want to play with the other EVER AGAIN.

They are also best of friends.  Between disputes they will play with one another for hours.  There are currently dinosaurs and My Little Ponies scattered far and wide over the floor whilst they engage in a series of imaginative games that primarily seem to involve tripping up myself and their father, and occasionally screeching ear splitting screams.

They are learning about kids being mean.  They are learning that it isn’t nice, and they are learning how to handle it, and all the time knowing they are loved and they are safe.

Learning about the cruel potential of both yourself and other children is really positive, and it will do them well as they embark on their school careers from September.  But it doesn’t fully arm them against the cruelty of other children, even if it gives them a fairly solid ground to start from.

Miss Rose came out of school this week with blood on her nose.  A little boy had hit her and pushed her down, laughing at her for looking like a boy.  Miss Rose has short hair, sometimes very short though currently it’s at the longest it’s been in years (not quite shoulder length) and doesn’t play with dollies.  She crashes around with footballs and trains, she wears her Spider-Man boots, and she hates clips and ribbons in her hair.  But she also loves tutus, My Little Ponies and nail varnish.  Her lack of restriction to the gendered stereotypes I believe are so damaging is something I have celebrated, and something nobody has given her a negative response to.  Until now.

When she eventually went into details about what happened, her teacher had given me the basics, she seemed embarrassed.  Ashamed.  No matter how much she and Z fight and squabble it hasn’t prepared her for a personal attack about who she is.

The little mermaid next door has Jolene style flaming locks of auburn hair, she is also a sister.  Her mother told me about a little boy’s efforts to taunt her for being “a ginger”.  The little mermaid has a fierce sense of self and, without any hesitation, informed him her hair is red and fabulous.  She was having none of it.  A combination of the sibling dynamic, her mother’s dedication to making her feel good about her uniqueness, and her own personality has made her too tough to crack.  At least when it comes to her looks.  This is something I desperately want to emulate for Miss Rose.

Of course, I can’t protect her from everything.  I can’t stop other children being bullies, I can’t step in the way of every child’s desire to push her (even though if I was able to stalk her around school and throw my body in front of her every time you can guarantee I would be there).  I can’t protect her from life.  Kids can be cruel and she is already being exposed to that, and she has years of enduring school children ahead of her.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit Ventus

What I can do is make sure she learns from her sibling dynamic with Z.  Make sure I teach her to celebrate the things about her that make her unique.  And hope that her home life full of security and love, where she is told she is absolutely perfect the way she is, both inside and out, gives her a solid enough foundation to get through what’s ahead.

Watching Rose and Z playing together can be both incredibly stressful and absolutely endearing.  They are learning so much about both themselves and how to interact with others, and I am certain it will stand them both in good stead.  We just have to fill in the gaps.  Kids can be cruel, but I hope the way we are raising them will give them the inner strength to handle it.  And if not I’ll throw my body in her way, because I never want to see my little girl with a bloody nose again.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

The Mum In The Corner With Wine

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

The idea of a children’s birthday party fills me with horror.  The idea of a soft play centre on a busy Saturday makes my teeth hurt.  The idea of socialising with school gate mums who, quite frankly, terrify me is traumatic.

On Saturday we took Miss Rose and Z to a children’s birthday party for a nursery school child at a local soft play centre.

Not only was the traffic horrific but we had to threaten the children repeatedly with not going to the party at all if they didn’t stop being naughty.  Eventually, after some shouting from the boy and some sulking from the girl, we reached an accord, and in slightly irritated tension we arrived.

Inside we were greeted by the smiling mother of the birthday girl, who gratefully accepted the spangly slippers I’d wrapped from Miss Rose and the sparkly headband I’d wrapped from Z, and then the kids vanished into the soft play centre.

“Drink?” asked Jonathan.

Glancing around I observed assorted school gate mums clutching their smoothies and costa coffee cups, chatting amiably as their children screamed maniacally.

“Wine,” I said, for this was one of those soft play centres that is truly the holy grail of children’s birthday parties.  It was attached to a pub.

J.J. Barnes, Rose And Mum And More, Siren Stories, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo credit SassySanoe

When Z’s mother arrived, she too opted for a glass of wine, and together the three of us huddled in the corner, drinking our booze and eating crisps.

Little girls in flowery dresses and lacy ankle socks with ribbonned braids ran past us with Miss Rose in her jeans, t-shirt and scruffy short mop of hair in tow.  Little boys jumped and crashed with Z roaring”DIE!” at various hanging foam strips as he beat them to death with his fists.  Baby Boo watched everything suspiciously, scrambled over to a foam mounted mirror, and proceeded to snog her reflection.

We sat in the corner, drinking wine, and eating crisps.

When the meal time came Miss Rose announced that she loves carrots but doesn’t like the cooked ones.  Z was fuming that baked bean juice had contaminated his chips and tried to insist his mum or Jonathan sucked his food clean.  They refused.  And drank more.

I had moved on to coca cola, but guzzled it enthusiastically, aiming for a suitable caffeine buzz.

Overall the party was a resounding success.  Tantrums over wanting to be bought toys from the grabber machines, and howling wails of despair at having to leave aside, it went well.  We survived it.  The kids had fun, the birthday girl was happy, the parents I did interact with were pleasant.  Indeed, I managed to get into a conversation with a lost looking father about how one of the four year olds in the world now is the next Mark Zuckerbourg so we should try and be nice to our kids in case it’s them.  No other reason, obvs.

So far I’ve avoided all children’s birthday parties, and I am not keen to repeat the experience.  However, it was doable.  It was survivable.  And it made our children happy, and what really is better than that.

I’m hoping Miss Rose’s birthday requests continue to be going out for curry, however, because that is far more my idea of a good time.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

#allaboutme

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

I was tagged by my lovely fellow blogger @SprinkleOfPixie, who writes Baby Pixie And Me, to write a post with ten facts about me that you may not know!

1) I have a very rare allergy

I’m allergic  to my own blood.  It’s an auto immune condition where my blood becomes an allergen sometimes.  It can make me come out in an itchy rash, vomit or get very ill with very little warning and is one of the contributing factors to the swine flu nearly killing me whilst I was pregnant.

2) I’m vegetarian

I stopped eating meat for short periods throughout my childhood but gave it up for good when I was thirteen.  In the eighteen years since I’ve only ever eaten meat when served it accidentally.  I don’t miss it at all and the idea of eating meat now grosses me out, whereas I used to love meat when I wasn’t veggie.

3) I met my husband when I was 23

We got married when I was 26 and had Miss Rose when I was 27.  He left when I was 28 and my divorce was finalised when I  was 29.

4) I’ve never smoked a cigarette

When I was a teenager I hung out with lots of smokers in grungy rock clubs but never tried.  I also never smoked weed or tried any other drugs.  People always assume that was my history but it never appealed and never has and I hate the smell of it still.

5) I started modelling for a while

I tried it for a while and a few people wanted me to keep going but I was too short for fashion modelling and unwilling to pose nude, plus I wasn’t the right look at all so I wouldn’t have got much work even if I had really tried.  My heart wasn’t in it anyway, I felt pretty shit about myself when I did it and genuinely wish I hadn’t done it.  It was a silly impulsive idea I knew I wasn’t cut out for and used to validate my feelings of being unattractive and worthless.  It broke my already low self esteem into shreds.  I’d never encourage my daughters to explore that as an option.

6) I am a runaway fantasist

Part of me always longs to runaway.  To just take what I need, leave everything else, and disappear.  Start fresh.  When I was single with my daughter after my marriage broke down I even researched places I could take her and disappear to.  Now is the only time in my life that desire hasn’t been a prominent lingering urge to be ignored.  Now it only pops up in times of extreme stress.

7) I’m a terrible singer

I have no ear for music, can’t carry a tune, and really can’t hold a note.  Even if I could hit an actual “note” I wouldn’t hold it.  That said I sing with gusto.  My mum and I sang to Copa Cabana at a karaoke in Spain and it was truly dreadful but very enthusiastic.  Fortunately I was drunk.

8) I have HPV

My cervix has abnormal cells with the HPV virus meaning my likelihood of developing cervical cancer is greatly increased.  Three years ago I had to have a biopsy with suspected cancerous cells but luckily they were clear.  You can develop HPV after just one incident of sex without a condom.  There is now a vaccine they’re offering to teenage girls though many are arguing against it claiming it will encourage unprotected sex.  I, however, definitely want my daughters vaccinated.

9) I hated school

I truly loathed school.  So much so that I couldn’t bare the idea of going to university, even now it baffles me that people love it and get excited by it, and so much that I don’t socialise with the group of friends I had even though they’re all still really close.  We aren’t even facebook friends.  I find reminders of that time too hard to deal with.  When I had to look around Miss Rose’s primary school I felt sick. I still feel incredibly awkward going there even though her teachers are super lovely and the school is really nice. I’m scared I transmit my own phobia to her even though I do everything I can to be calm and enthusiastic.

10) Our second daughter was named within weeks of us meeting

You wouldn’t necessarily think two cynical divorcees would be so daft, but within about 4weeks The Boy and I were referring to our future daughter by name.  Even my mum started doing it within a month or so.  When I got pregnant a year later he was so confident that she was the prophesized little blonde girl named so long ago that he wasn’t interested in discussing potential boy’s names because he knew the baby was our daughter.  Turned out he was right.  We found out the sex, she was a girl.  And he’s with us now and she’s a little blondey as he had predicted she would be, with the name given to her before she had even been conceived.

1. Share 10 things about you the person. Not you the parent, the baker or the business.
2. Name check the person who nominated you.
3. Tag 3- 5 others to share 10 things.
4. Enjoy the tidbits of information we all learn about each other.
5. Voila, job done.

I’ll nominate @MrsBaker, @OurRachBlogs, and @Life_Of_Tont

xxx

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Valentines Day Then And Now

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

When I was a little girl I was so desperate for love.  I wanted to love someone, I wanted to be loved.  Romance was an intoxicating lure to me and never more so than on Valentines Day.

I was in love with my best friend’s big brother.  I was in love with the boy next door.  I was in love with my mum’s friend’s son.  I was in love with the sweet natured boy in my class.  The idea of giving and receiving Valentines Day cards thrilled me and every year I’d carefully write a card with an ornate “?” at the bottom.  And every year I’d eagerly wait for the post man to see if anything arrived for me.

It never did.

Every year as a child I desperately hoped for the love of my life, whichever it may be, to make the declaration of love I so longed for but it never came through.  So I pined.

As a young woman I had boyfriends over Valentine’s Day.  I’d get gifts and cards but it never felt like I imagined it would when I was little.  One Valentines Day was during the breakdown of a major relationship and it felt like a sham, we sat on opposite ends of the sofa to watch Lost then went to bed and didn’t have sex.  Another was right before a boyfriend broke up with me when I wasn’t expecting it, but he still had sex with me, leaving me feeling used and dirty when he ended it the next day.

Valentine’s Day finally started to feel real during my marriage.  Despite the fact it was actually not the best relationship ever, my unbounding enthusiasm for Valentines Day pulled the day up.  We would have romantic dinners and he’d buy me jewellery.  I felt special and loved and enjoyed finally having a partner.  Finally getting what I’d dreamed of all those years ago.  Of course, it was something of an illusion.  Whilst the flowers and things were real, and the marriage was legal, it was done for show.  It was done to give me what I wanted rather than because it was how he felt.  He didn’t love me, at least not in the romantic way the Valentines professions would have you believe.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger

Photo Credit Alexas Photos

After our marriage ended on February 1st I spent a Valentines Day alone again.  It was bizarre.  I felt incredibly alone.  The pain of Valentines Day that I hadn’t felt for so many years, the way it just reminded me of my failed marriage, my solitude, it sucked.  Valentines Day showed me people everywhere posting love all over social media, booking romantic dates, sharing photos of their expensive gifts from swanky stores.  And I was alone in my room watching Lost Girl on my iPad and eating a pizza.  I cried.

And now?

Now Valentine’s Day isn’t about expensive jewellery or public professions of love.  It’s not about bragging rights and showing off how my boyfriend is the best boyfriend.  It’s not about him keeping up appearances or using me for his own satisfaction.  Now it’s about us having a lovely excuse to be soppy, to celebrate our relationship, to buy each other something sweet.  It’s a day to celebrate us.

People, Valentine Sceptics, say you should celebrate your relationship every day.  You should treat each other regularly and make time for romance in your routine.  Valentine’s Day is pointless.

But I emphatically disagree.

Yes we should celebrate our love daily, it is worth celebrating, but life gets busy.  Life gets tiring.  When you’re working and raising children so many days are just about survival.  You exist together, lean on one another, love and support one another, but actually celebrate?  Personally I’m so tired at the end of the day that all I can muster is cuddling up to him whilst we watch Gilmore Girls.  Celebrating takes time and effort, and it’s well worth making, but how often do you actually do it?  Having a day where you both take time to really wonder at the beauty of your relationship is special.  It reminds you what you have and makes you prioritise that celebration in a way you otherwise won’t.

It’s lovely to treat each other regularly.  Indeed we’ll buy each other little gifts throughout the year.  He’s often buying me chocolate just because I love it.  I’ll buy him little gifts when I go shopping because I’m thinking of him.  We also buy each other gifts for birthdays and Christmas.  We celebrate our anniversary with romance and love.  Valentine’s Day doesn’t stop us treating each other throughout, it just gives us another reason to do it.  Because it’s a lovely thing to do.  This morning the children helped us peel open our gifts and we both had so much pleasure looking at the sweet mementos the other had bought.

J.J. Barnes. Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero, Rose And Mum And More, Blog, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit Unsplash

And making time for romance?  Yes.  We should.  We absolutely should.  And we do when the chance arises.  But we also have to make time for work, for rest, for sleep.  For life.  When so many things press on our time, romance seems to slide down the list of priorities.  Having a day that puts romance in the limelight gives you something you don’t necessarily miss in the day to day existence, but something that can give your relationship a little zing of excitement when it happens.

Valentine’s Day isn’t essential.  It doesn’t matter.  If you’re single and sad, ignore it.  If you’re in a crappy relationship, it might suck.  But if you’re in a happy and loving relationship then I say embrace it.  Welcome it into your heart because a cheesy card, a love heart mug, extra snogs and a posh dinner are things a relationship can benefit from, even if it’s just for the fun of it.

We so rarely centre ourselves in our lives.  Work and kids take up so much energy that one another can slip back, and we matter.  We’re important.  An excuse to remember that is absolutely okay by me.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Nanny The Weekend Dad

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Grandparents can be incredibly important and special people in the lives of children.  They love you as much as your parents do, but they don’t have to do all the telling off and rule making.  Their cuddles are just as good and they come with sweets before dinner.

That said, for my two bigs, my daughter Miss Rose and my step son Z, their grandmothers have become something even more than a traditional grandparent role.

Since he was 7 months old Z has spent weekdays with his grandma as both his parents work full time.  She did his naps, his meals, his bath times.  She took him to playgroups and taught him to ride a bike.  Whilst she would never replace his parents in his heart, she very much became a third parental figure in his life.  Not a grandma for naughty treats and visits, but a consistent and depended on parent figure to do disciplining and raising as well.

In Z’s life, where he is bumped from his mother’s home to his father’s home to his grandmother’s home, it is a positive.  Knowing he sees every home he spends time in as a place here a parent he depends on is, it gives him security everywhere and doesn’t leave him pining for something that is missing.

For Miss Rose her relationship with her nanny, my mother, is something different again.  Last night is struck us exactly what it is.

As Miss Rose sat on the stairs, clutching a photograph of her nanny to her chest, and sobbing huge tears of sadness, we realised something.

Nanny is her weekend dad.

When her biological father left, my mum stepped in to become something he had taken with him.  Whilst I was on the verge of a mental breakdown, struggling not only with the collapse of my marriage, the vanishing of my husband and the sudden thrust into single parenthood, but also existing mental health issues, my mum became her dad.  When I needed help my mum was it.  When I was struggling to pay for things, my mum paid.  When I needed a break my mum cared for her.  When I needed to make a parenting decision, it was my mum I made it with.

In Miss Rose’s world, where her real father disappeared, my mother stepped in.  Where my mother stepped in she became daddy number 2.  She didn’t fill the void left by her father, but she came close.

Photo Credit Hannah Pirnie

Photo Credit Hannah Pirnie

My mum was depended on in a way more than a grandmother for visits.  Much like Z and his grandma, nanny became one of Miss Rose’s parents.

Then I met The Boy.

When The Boy came into her life he didn’t take the daddy role immediately.  He was a stranger and my mother was already there.  Indeed, he’s spoken about how he often felt he had to be conscious of not treading on her parenting toes with Rose, far more than he felt it about mine.  He couldn’t overstep his mark because my mum was the protective parent, and he was the newbie.

However, over time The Boy became Daddy.  He is now depended on as much as any biological father would be.  He does the fun, the games, the discipline and the worry.  He loves her, cares for her, raises her.  It’s he who steps in when I need help.  It’s he who I discuss my parenting concerns with.  He is daddy.

But that means my mother and I had to break up.  My mum had to stop being the father figure to allow The Boy to take that job.  My mum became the weekend dad.

When her biological father used to visit, sporadically though it was, Miss Rose would immediately have a breakdown as soon as he left.  She would scream and cry and tantrum, she would break her heart and take out her frustration and confusion about his leaving on me.  Now when my mother leaves it’s the same deal.

Nanny does everything a weekend dad does, both good and bad.  Nanny spoils her, taking her for trips and buying her ice cream.  Nanny helps financially paying for things she needs.  Nanny comforts her, gives her someone to depend on.  It’s Nanny she cries for when Mummy and Daddy have thwarted her.  Nanny loves her fiercely, is loyal to a fault, and puts Rose’s needs in the forefront of her mind like any good parent would.  But sometimes Nanny promises to show up and has to cancel.  Nanny makes decisions that I, as the mother, have to over rule and become the bad guy in.  Nanny disagrees with parenting choices I make and has to be shot down because I’m the one who would deal with the consequences.  Nanny comes and goes.

Nanny and I broke up as parents of Rose, and it’s Rose who’s living with the consequences.  Nothing about her grandmothering would be out of place in a regular grandmother, but in the light of her stepping in as a daddy role, it leaves Miss Rose grieving for the absent father who is still in her life;my mother.  She is left with an open wound from her biological father, and now a constant scratching from her second father.

Her third father and I promise her we love her, promise her we’re here for her, and give her the consistency and stability she needs and craves.  She is better for us being together and, over time, my mother will morph from daddy number two into just a grandmother.  Over time she’ll be able to wave goodbye to my mum with a smile and a cuddle, and not break into little pieces because her heart is being ripped out by the absence.  She is only four years old and my mother was who she depended on second only to me for a huge portion of her life and it’s still very fresh.  Over time it will ease.

Photo credit PeziBear

Photo credit PeziBear

But until then we have to try to understand what she’s going through.  When she reacted like this to her biological father’s absence, when he expressed his opinions on her raising and we disagreed, it was a given.  We understood it, we expected it.  We hadn’t fully taken into account that it is the same emotions raging through Miss Rose where my mum is concerned and it’s something we need to respect.

I am so very grateful to my mum for being so essential in Rose’s life and caring for her as much as she does, she is and always has been an incredible parent, to both me and Miss Rose.  I am so grateful that The Boy has stepped in to become the father she truly needs and deserves.  And together we are all muddling through trying to raise a little girl to be happy, and dealing with the complexities of a patchwork family that so many of us are facing in our own unique ways.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Mortality On My Mind

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

For the last year I’ve been ill.  Not constantly, but more so than at any other point in my life.

I think it started with the swine flu whilst I was pregnant and I’ve just never fully got back to normality.  If there is a bug going round I’m guaranteed to get it and get it harder than anyone else, even harder than the kids who brought it home from nursery in the first place.  I’m currently on antibiotics for tonsillitis and this morning started a new wave of sickness.

It’s got to the point where the response is “Oh you’re ill again?” and “What is it this time?”

I’ve never been that person before.  I’ve always been pretty healthy.  I’ve had bugs, the occasional cold, but for the most part I’ve bobbed along without too much to worry about.  Yet suddenly I’m that girl.  I’m the sick one.  I’m the one with the “that time I nearly died” story that reduces people to tears when we tell it.

I don’t know why.  Is it possible the swine flu beat my immune system up so badly that I haven’t fully recovered, that the pregnancy was so straining on my body that I didn’t have the energy to properly build myself back up again?  Is it possible that it’s simply that all my body’s strength has gone into growing and then feeding my baby, who is a huge and healthy girl, so there’s nothing left for me?  Is it simply that I’m deteriorating with age?  Is that possible at 31?  I eat a healthy diet, loaded with vegetables, I’m not overweight, I’m fairly fit and I get a moderately reasonable amount of exercise, yet I’m the sick one.

The constant run of illness has brought with it a real sense of awareness about my own mortality.  It’s niggling at me.  I look at my little girls, at my family, and I know I could leave them.  Then what would happen?

Jonathan would keep Baby B, obviously, and he’d raise he well with the help of grandparents and friends who would be guaranteed to step in and help.  But what of Miss Rose?

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, The Lilly Prospero Series, Lilly Prospero, Rose And Mum And More, Mummy Blogger, Mummy Blog, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit Skitter Photos

Last night I had a nightmare, I’m having a little run of bad dreams at night recently (just to make sure my nights are stressful as well as my days I guess) and I dreamed that her biological father showed up and tried to take her.  That I screamed for Jonathan to take her away whilst I fended him off, and he attacked him, declaring he had no right to take his daughter away.

Because he doesn’t.  He’s not her father, not legally anyway.  In every sense but biology he is, but he has no rights to her.  If I die legally she would go to her biological father and Jonathan would have no access to her.  In theory neither would her grandparents.  She could be removed entirely from the life she knows, the people she depends on, and be sent to a stranger.  A stranger I do not trust.  A stranger who doesn’t love her.  Who hasn’t seen her in over a year, and even then it was at best sporadically and at worst damaging.

I feel absolutely sick about it.

The idea of leaving my children at all terrifies me.  They need me.  But B?  She’d be in the best possible position.  Her biological, loving and devoted father would be there for her every day, her grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends would surround her with the love and support she’d need.

But Rose?

Rose could be lost.  Alone.

J.J. Barnes, Siren Stories, Rose And Mum And More, The Lilly Prospero Series, Mummy Blogger, Parenting Blog

Photo Credit Ventus

I don’t think I’m dying, I’m not so melodramatic, but it’s definitely made me more aware that it could happen.  That day when they thought I might not make it a year ago is very, very real.  It’s something I don’t think any of us have moved on from yet.  It haunts me, and by the way Jonathan speaks about it, I think it’s pretty clear it haunts him too.

I need to know that if I did die my girl will be kept here, with her family.  That she would be raised and cared for and loved by equally devoted and loving people that Baby B gets.  That she’d never be sent to someone who doesn’t love her.  That she would be loved, completely and truly, with utter devotion, like I love her.

What can I do?  Please.  Help me keep my little girl safe.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

Who Do You Love?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Characters in fiction do a lot for us.  They let us live adventures vicariously through them, they let us experience emotions and fears we might not normally be exposed to.  They give you people to relate to, people who are like you, people who make you feel like you’re not the only little weirdo like you in the world.  They can validate you.

It’s interesting, taking that into account, to see who our children relate to, which fictional characters.  What does it mean about who they are and how they feel about themselves?

Miss Rose, my four year old daughter, loves Rainbow Dash, Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon, and Wonder Woman.

Z, my three year old step son, loves Batman, Darth Vader, and Jack Skellington.

Each character they relate to tells us a lot, and watching them every day we can really see why those characters draw them in so much.

RAINBOW DASH

Rainbow Dash is a My Little Pony.  Her hair is rainbow striped, she has the power to influence the weather, and she can fly.  Her personality is what would traditionally be described as that of a “tom boy”.  I’m not keen on that description necessarily, but it communicates well enough what I mean.

Miss Rose is very different to a lot of the little girls in her peer group.  Where they have long hair with bows and braids, Miss Rose has short scruffy hair.  Whereas they showed up to their first day of nursery with Frozen backpacks, Miss Rose brought Spider-Man.  She likes football, trains and cars.  But, equally so, she is girly.  She loves tutus and glitter and fluff.  She is a mixture of traditionally masculine with traditionally feminine in a striking way.

For Miss Rose, Rainbow Dash shows her that it’s okay to be a girl who likes sparkles and pretty colours, but not be traditionally girly girl with it.  It legitimises her differences.  It shows her girls can be like her too and she is absolutely okay for that.

BATMAN

I probably don’t need to tell you who Batman is, but just in case…  Batman is a comic book character who fights criminals whilst dressed as a giant bat.  He’s dark, brooding, violent and very masculine.

Z is the most masculine little boy I’ve ever met.  He is rammed with testosterone.  He has a very clear idea of right and wrong, even though he regularly crosses over to wrong as all children do, and is intolerant of breaking the rules.  He believes in justice.  He’s very physical and wants to fight and wrestle.

Photo credit LCR3CR

Photo credit LCR3CR

Watching Z it’s clear why Batman appeals.  He gets to be a very manly man, good and true, whilst exercising his desire to fight.  Z is surrounded by women.  His time is split between his mother’s house, his grandmother’s house, and this house.  Whilst he has the male influence here in his father, he’s outnumbered by women as there is me and his two sisters here too.  Batman gives him an outlet for that masculine energy he doesn’t really get anywhere else.

PRINCESS LUNA / NIGHTMARE MOON

This is an interesting one.  And my favourite of them all for it’s insight.

Princess Luna is a My Little Pony, her magic is to raise the moon at night.  But she has a split personality, an evil alter ego who takes over her; Nightmare Moon.

Luna is good and sweet, she is kind and loving.  She adores her sister and wants to be part of her community.  Just like Rose.

But when Nightmare Moon takes over, pushes the sweet Luna aside and dominates her, she becomes angry, dangerous and cruel.

She unleashes fury… Just like Rose.

Miss Rose’s adoration of this character, I think, comes from her own internal conflict.  She wants to be good, she wants to be a friend, she loves to have fun and play.  But when she’s over tired, over stimulated, or hungry, she has a side that comes out that takes control.  She tantrums, stamping her feet, shouting and screaming.

Miss Rose hates that side of herself but can’t always control it.  Watching Princess Luna battle with the literal internal darkness of Nightmare Moon helps her understand her own internal darkness.  She sees that this fury is bad, but that when Nightmare Moon is banished and Luna regains control, it is not held against her.  Luna is welcomed back by her family and friends, and loved despite her actions when Nightmare Moon takes control.

DARTH VADER

Just as Miss Rose battles with her own internal darkness, Z battles with his.  His dark side.

Darth Vader is the most visual and literal representation of a dark side that you can find in fiction.  Under the evil Emporer Palpatine, he leads the Galactic Empire.

Z struggles with his temper, unleashing rage in the form of fists and screaming and kicking.  He gets very angry, very quickly.

I believe he relates to Darth Vadar because he understands that darkness.  He understands that desire to be the villain, and even though he understands that Darth Vader is a “bad guy” and has no desire to emulate him, he feels better to know that there are others out there with similar impulses.  He feels that anger is legitimate and he’s not alone in feeling it.

WONDER WOMAN

Wonder Woman is the princess of the Amazons, a badass super hero woman who fights in the DC universe.

Miss Rose adores her daddy and she adores her brother.  Her daddy and her brother love Super Heroes.  Miss Rose also loves super heroes but, as she wants to connect with girls, despite feeling differently to them, she feels underrepresented in the fiction the boys enjoy.  Then came Wonder Woman.

Photo credit CCO Public Domain

Photo credit CCO Public Domain

Wonder Woman is strong, she is tough and she is smart.  She fights alongside the boys for good and justice.  She is a princess, but she is not a damsel.  Wonder Woman encompasses everything Miss Rose wants to be.  She wants to be adored by her daddy, accepted by her brother, and she wants to be the best.  Wonder Woman is the best.

JACK SKELLINGTON

Jack Skellington is the king of Halloween.   He is a dark, brooding ad moody from Time Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack Skellington represents a different side to Z.  A more vulnerable side.  There’s a loneliness to him, he’s different and isolated, he feels like he doesn’t belong and goes searching for happiness.

Z is moved between homes constantly.  He spends mornings with his grandmother, afternoons at school.  He’s overnight at ours several nights and at his mother’s the others.  His weekend days are split usually mornings at ours and afternoons at his mothers, or vice versa.  He’s rarely in one house for an entire day.  Rarely with one parent an entire day.  He has no “my house” as he is split evenly everywhere.

Whilst that gives him many places he feels safe, it also builds a sense of isolation.  He doesn’t fully belong anywhere because he’s never fully living anywhere.  His things are spread between houses, his family are spread between houses.

Just like Z, Jack Skellington is complex.  He feels like an outsider and he feels weird and misunderstood.  For Z it is reassuring to see he is not the only one.

 

When you look at who people connect to and why you can learn a lot about who they are.

So what of me?  What fictional characters do I relate to most?

Buffy Summers, Sydney Bristow, and Lorelai Gilmore.

Buffy fights demons, both internal and real, and struggles with relationships, but maintains a goodness and honesty that is remarkable even in bad times.  I’ve struggled with demons.  I’ve always wanted to be good.  Buffy showed me I can do it.

Sydney is strong and holds her own against men who try to hurt and intimidate her, and always manages to fight, never letting them win.  She is strength and intelligence.  Sydney came to me when I needed her.  When fighting off men was too hard for me.  When I needed it to be possible.

Lorelai is a mother.  A single mother to a daughter she adores more than life itself, and a mother working her ass off to achieve her goals.  I work constantly, every day, to achieve my goals and I desperately hope to have the closeness with my own daughters that Lorelai has with the now adult Rory.  Lorelai is smart and feisty.  She makes mistakes but she rides through them, and throughout it all her relationship with her daughter remains her strength.  I adore Lorelai.

How about you?  Who do you love and why?  What does it say about you?

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!