I have so much to tell you about. I’m torn between telling you about the wedding and all the exciting things that are happening. But I also want to tell you more about the early days of our relationship and how I found myself turning cartwheels around the moon with happiness as I fell head over heels in love.
After the first date (my side of it is here if you missed it!) we started seeing each other quite regularly, and spent a lot of time talking and emailing each other. I looked forward to waking up every day, hoping to have a message from him and counted the hours between the days when we could meet. There came a point after we had been seeing each other for a few weeks when he suggested I stay the night. I was still getting used to having a carer around us in the house so I was very curious as to how it would work if I stayed the night. In his bedroom. In his bed. Just us, together. So I asked him another 13 billion questions; he was so kind and patient and never minded feeding me with the information I needed. I just wanted to understand, and to find some semblance of normality as we embarked on our relationship.
But this part definitely wasn’t normal. In fact it was horrible and it made me have some serious doubts about whether I could really cope with it all. The time arrived and I went over to spend the evening with him before staying the night. He sent his carer away and told her he would call her when he needed helping to bed. We had a lovely evening with dinner, wine and music. It was romantic and I felt that something really magical was developing between us. And then the dynamic changed; he had to ask his carer to put him to bed. Obviously I hadn’t done this before, and secondly they were being paid to look after his needs. And so while that happened, I just sat around and waited, feeling like a very spare part. I cannot describe to you how strange it felt and how impersonal, weird and unpleasant I found it. She came out about 30 minutes later and said ‘he’s ready for you now’. And off she disappeared. It was horrendous. I felt like a cheap whore, waiting while my client was ‘prepared’ for me. It was another hurdle I had to overcome; I had to learn to deal with all this stuff if I wanted to be with him. After I moved in, you will know from other blogs, that we changed his care arrangements so that I learnt how to do all these things without having to share our home with someone else! But in those early days, when everything was so new and scary, it was quite overwhelming. I had to see past those incidents which were so painful, and look forward to a life where we would be two normal people in love. Those days developed pretty quickly and soon David was coming to visit me too, and he started to meet my friends; he survived and they were suitably impressed!.
And whilst he was making me feel more alive, and more energised than I had felt in years, we both noticed how easily everything was falling into place. It was like the planets were aligning; for the first time in my life, I felt that I had found real, true love and I was finally getting my shot at complete happiness. But we had another big issue to address: I needed to meet his daughter, Zoe.
Zoe was 14 when I first met her, and I loved her from day one. We quickly found a mutual respect in teasing her father and a common love of Maltesers, lemon chicken and crispy aromatic duck. I let her cheat at monopoly, caught her snogging a boy in a field (never told on her…until now!), and introduced her to my love of Victoria Wood. In turn she gave me the opportunity to behave badly and watch Disney films as I shied away from my 40th birthday. She was, and is, truly awesome and I absolutely adore her. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, it makes me reflect on my own teenage years. I wonder how on earth my parents didn’t a)kill me and b)ship me off to boarding school. She has her moments….like any feisty teenager! But on the whole, she is great fun and I feel privileged to have her as such a big part of my life.
But one thing I make very clear, is that I am not her parent. She has a Mum and Dad who love her very much, and my place is not to parent her. She has been brought up beautifully to be a clever, articulate, intelligent, gorgeous woman, and I will never interfere with her upbringing. I am her friend, and I hope a person she can love and trust….like a big sister, maybe a close friend, maybe a person she can talk to.
Meeting Zoe opened up a whole chapter of feelings in me. I have never had a child. I haven’t ever been in a relationship where having my own child was a reality. Yes, I have wanted children, but I have never been in the right relationship, with the right person, at the right time. I desperately craved a child at some points; but in hindsight, I was trying to fix something that wasn’t right in the first place. A sticking plaster baby. It would never have been the right thing to do of course, but at the time it seemed like it would solve absolutely everything. The baby would have been loved of course, but would surely have endured years of turmoil whilst it’s parents wrestled with the failing relationship and the bitter aftertaste of a washed up romance. Yes, a great idea at the time but ultimately, not having children was the right thing to do.
And then I met David. For the first time in my life, I really wanted to create a tiny human with another person. This tiny human would be ours and we would love, nurture, care and teach him or her to be wonderful, and amazing. And we would laugh a lot; we would read Beatrix Potter and Mr Men books, play with Play-Doh, make fancy dress costumes, carve pumpkins, collect apples, play conkers and collect shells on the beach. I would teach our child to make the best roast pork, to bake a perfect sponge, change a fuse, sew on a name tape. But none of those things will happen, as creating a tiny human is not straightforward for us. We talked about it a lot, and we talked to the fertility specialists at Stoke Mandeville. And whilst theoretically it’s possible (but incredibly invasive), it’s definitely not easy or guaranteed.
So I get a bit of a share of Zoe, and that’s perfect. We talked about the ‘children’ thing very early on in our relationship. If it was going to be “AN ISSUE” then we would have worked around it. What we did, was talk about it and came to a conclusion that realistically, it wouldn’t happen. And I’m absolutely fine with that! If I’m being perfectly honest, we haven’t got time to a)create a baby or b)look after one. I’d probably leave the buggy in the gin aisle of Waitrose knowing me! I’m totally happy with our decision; I only wish I’d met him a lifetime ago so that we could have had the chance to create our tiny human. Meeting him when I did meant that I effectively get the best of both worlds…a fun, loving, intelligent (are you reading this Zo!?) teenager who is great to be around and whom I haven’t had to endure the whole ‘dirty nappy/I’m not eating green stuff’ phase! She’s pretty cool. If I had my chance to be a parent, I wouldn’t be too horrified if my offspring turned out to be just like her.
So, I get the ultimate joy of becoming a wicked step-mother soon. And I shall fully exercise my rights to being inappropriate, rude, silly and fun as required. I’m very glad that she has accepted me, she might even like me – who knows? Teenagers are mysterious creatures. And whilst I cannot understand her obsession with ‘Ex on the Beach’ and other trash TV shows, I do understand her affinity to seriously good crackling and One Direction. She’s a huge part of his life, I’m just honoured that I get a share of her too. And it does tick the boxes for me; I get to share her, I’m part of her life. And whilst I don’t have the luxury of being able to call her mine, I can at least say that she is very definitely a big part of my life.
The early days were hard, I can’t lie. It was a huge amount of information to take in and learning how our time together would sometimes involve a third person, wasn’t easy for me. But looking back, I’m so glad that I found my way through the minefield and stuck with it. Who knows where I would be now if I hadn’t! Thankfully Zoe accepted me, and for that, I am forever grateful to her. In just over 9 weeks (SERIOUSLY?!?!?!!?!!?) she’ll walk down the aisle before me as my bridesmaid. Not only do I get to marry the most wonderful, gorgeous, delicious and perfect man on the planet, I get a beautiful step-daughter as well. I’m a very lucky bride indeed.