Updated: Sep 4, 2020
I have come to the realisation that while our camping adventures will provide brilliant stories and blog posts, they may actually only happen at most 10-12 times a year. And with the amount of sport my kids play, that's likely to be reduced in half. 5 blogs a year isn't exactly a blog. Its a boring wait that ends up being forgotten about. I don't want that.
So to fill the time and continue with therapeutic ramblings, I'm going to talk about all the other random shit that comes with being in the circumstance I'm in, that you never really think about beforehand.
Shit Point #1 :
I've only just realised, I don't know what to call myself.
I've come to the realisation that any title I give myself other than "Mrs Cutler" garners either sympathy or attention - neither of which I've ever been comfortable with. And while I don't plan on giving up that title, finding the right noun at the right time can be problematic.
There is nothing I like about this term. For myself. Not for anyone else. I think single moms and dads are amazing and even before I actually became one, held the highest regard and respect for anyone doing it solo. Its a tough gig. However any time I hear the term, I automatically think of the SMILF icon on Netflix and I shudder. Not that I see myself as a SMILF but that the acronym actually exists. Its so bad that in even the massive photo directories in Wix and Shutterstock, this comes up (and I'm not even going to tell you what comes up in a Google search):
So no, I wont be using the term "single mom".
Maybe its because I don't feel single.
This one is a tough one. Technically, yes I am one. But again, I don't like the word. It throws people off when you use it, and they don't know how to react. And if they do, its with huge weepy eyes and heartbreak and really, I suffer that enough on a day-to-day basis, I don't need more people feeling sorry for me. I accept, like a friend to me said the other day, if anyone deserves to feel sorry for themselves its me, but I can't stand the idea of other people feeling sorry for me. Please don't.
So unless I'm desperately seeking attention and sympathy, or you're one of my three best friends and you know I'm just being a dickhead and not seeking your attention, I wont be using the term "widow".
Maybe its because I don't feel like a widow.
Shit Point #2
I just don't care
I don't care about showers (though I still have them), I don't care about my grey hair (and I definitely still have them), and I don't care about cooking (which I at one stage started to love, and now can't be assed). Not caring would seem to be liberating, especially from someone like me who until now has been a notorious, anxious, over-planner. But in reality, its only just now that Duncan's not here anymore that I fully understand how he felt from the day he had his first surgery in 2003 - the little shit isn't worth caring about and when your mortality and existence are threatened, only the important stuff matters. I understood why he felt like that, but I couldn't actually feel it myself. I do now.
I'll be the first to admit taking care of myself while Duncan was unwell was hard. I didn't want to leave his side, and I really just didn't care about anything other than being with him and making sure the kids ate. After he passed, all I cared about was making sure the kids were emotionally looked after and fed. Jen (mother-in-law), Marty (brother-in-law extraordinaire) and Qin (basically sister-in-law) helped with that, along with all my amazing friends that brought so much food.
I do note, I always shower before going to work and after any physical exercise. I'm not a heathen.
Duncan loved my hair going grey. And he loved me not colouring it. He always teased, and when I pretended to be offended he actually worried I was (the cross-cultural senses of humour never fully meshed!) and said he loved it. Do I feel a sense of obligation in letting my hair age because he liked it? Maybe. Do I think I'd have kept it grey if he was still here? Probably. Do I just not give a fuck because I can't be bothered standing in front of a mirror and waiting half an hour to take that shower I didn't want anyway to wash the shit out, every effing month? Absolutely.
The past few years, as exercise and health started to play a bigger role in my life (not to be confused with sport which has always been top priorities for all of us) I got more and more into cooking. Especially trying to make meals sugar-free, sodium reduced, more hidden veggies, you know what I'm on about...not over the top obsessive but more health-conscious.
When Duncan fell unwell, I lost all desire to be in the kitchen. The only time I cooked anything was when it was a request from him (which was a big deal because his appetite got less and less each day). Easter this year nearly killed me. Good Friday, he requested fish and chips. With fish that he'd caught with the kids that was STILL in our freezer. I could do the chips no problem, I could crumb the fish no problem. But de-boning them? As fucking if.
"Its easy, just use your fingers" he told me. Anyone who's seen my little hands knows this was not going to happen. After about 20 mins of searching, I found some eyebrow tweezers. I had Maxy in the kitchen with me, trying to get him to help (yes, unfair of me to put that on a 10 year old). After about 10 mins of ripping the poor fillet beyond recognition and only removing one bone, I was standing the kitchen in tears, knowing this was our last Easter with Duncan and I'd completely fucked up his fish.
I eventually composed myself, got it together for his sake and the kids', and finished the damn fish. Luckily it tasted brilliantly, and we all sat and had Good Friday fish 'n chips with him in our bedroom, while we watched "Hunt for the Wilderpeople". I'll never forget that Easter.
But back to the cooking. I can't be fucked to be honest. Thank god I have so many amazing people in my life. Meals prepared and dropped off. Friends knowing they wouldn't see me but didn't care, they just wanted to help. They'd stay and chat with Jen and Marty, they'd send texts saying food was at the door. All of you, you're the reason my kids aren't in junk-food rehab after Covid and cancer lockdown.
I find cooking now to be exhausting. Planning, preparing, especially finding things all three will eat. I'm fine for myself....gin sees me through dinner. I do need to keep my kids alive though.
Only just last week, for the first time since all this shit went down, I cooked a proper meal. Steak and veg one night, and another night I made slow-cooker ragu - a recipe from friends that made it for us over lockdown. I will get it back, the desire to cook. Eventually. But right now, I just don't care.
Shit Point #3
I'm not good at "fixing" things
I got Duncan a trailer for Father's Day about 6 years ago. My friend Claire went with me to pick it up because she 1. is a great friend and 2. has experience with the horse trailer and I had no experience with any trailer. We brought it back to the house and she reversed it into the garage (such a legend!) and I left it in there with a big bow and the door closed. When Duncan got home and opened up the garage door to park, he saw his present. He was floored. And super stoked. He'd been wanting one for ages.
Its proven useful over the years. For him. Moving, renovating, garbage trips, stuff at the farm, camping. I never drove with it. He did it all. Now, he's not here to use it, and its sitting there are as a constant reminder to me that he's not here to use it. So I'm going to sell it. Only problem is the lights don't exactly work. Anyone who drives it is at risk of getting a ticket. And I won't let anyone using it pay the fine so to save myself the money, the lights need to be fixed.
Theory 1 - the bulbs are out.
I took the casing (is that what they're called?) off the lights and took out the bulbs. Ordered new ones from SuperCheap Auto (not sure if they were the correct ones), replaced them, tested them, still not working. The right indicator worked, not the left. And because the kids weren't home, I couldn't check if the brake-lights were working.
Theory 2 - the wiring
I will put forward that my lovely friend Cameron did say he thought it was the wiring and not the bulbs, but me being stubborn and intent on proving I'm not completely useless, I had to try the bulbs first. He was right. But I still wanted to prove my usefulness.
I had a look at the plug. Took the connector case off and saw some of the coated wires had snapped. SURELY this was the reason the lights wouldn't work. I could save Cameron the hassle of taking the trailer to a guy he knows to fix it because I could do it! So I unscrewed it all, cut the coating and peeled it back off all wires, twisted and stuck them back in spot, screwed the screws back on, plugged it in and tested. The right indicator worked. The left indicator didn't. The indicator lights turned on when I put on the brakes.
Proud for trying but pissed off for still needing Cameron's help, AGAIN, I took the connector out of the car so I could park it again. This is what I ended up with:
I'm done. No more single parenting for this week. No more parenting at all.
Where's the gin?