Once upon a time, a long long time ago … 22 years ago to be precise, I bought a house. My first house. My husband and I had house hunted for months with no success, but as soon as we saw this house, we fell in love. It was perfect – for us at least, and, much like when you get married, we thought that we would live a long and happy life together in that house.
That didn’t quite go to plan. Seven years after we were married, we were divorced and I bought him out, determined to hold onto some semblance of normality for the sake of our son.
It wasn’t easy. I worked full time in London whilst I was a single parent and it was a very bleak time but I knew that every time I rushed home to my son and collected him from the childminders, we’d have ‘home’ to go back to. Our retreat. Our sanctuary. It was ours and I have protected it with a fierceness I didn’t think I had in me.
I’ve worked in jobs I hated, I’ve worked at more than one job at a time and I’ve even worked through the night … all because I felt it vital I protected my son in the only way I could at the time.
One of the greatest pleasures of this particular house is the garden. It’s a really good size, the benefit of having such an old house, with a spacious stretch of grass that the boys always loved to play football on. I’m lucky enough to have a summer house at the back and would love sitting outside around a patio heater or, on the rare occasion when the sun was shining, I would love nothing more than to sit outside at my (very) old patio table and just listen to the birds. (I should have checked out White Stores and treated myself to a new patio set – mine is over 15 years old!)
The time to leave this house is approaching. When we’re going to have to leave this house, I don’t know, and where we’ll go, I have no idea either. But one thing I have learned is that kids don’t really appreciate or understand the lengths you go to to keep hold of a roof over there heads. In hindsight, I think that safety net was more for me.
What they do appreciate and understand, however, is you being there for them. To listen, to them and support them. To enjoy just being with them. Sharing experiences that they’ll never, ever forget. Taking them to see WWE wrestling when you can’t stand it. Consoling them when they lose at football. Holding them when they tell you they’re scared about you dying. Stroking their hair when they feel sick.
And as a parent, THAT is quite a hard lesson to learn.
In collaboration with White Stores.