Making The Decision To Be A Hypocritical Parent

 

Last night I made the decision to be a hypocritical parent.

You may have read in some of my previous posts that my partner and I are trying to control the make- up his 12 year old daughter applies for school and everyday use by educating her about pre-teen skin and the effects of adult make up.
We only allow her to use a light tinted moisturiser and clear mascara and have bought her the necessary toiletries for a good skin care routine in the morning and evening- not that she uses it which accounts for all the blackheads on her forehead (which is why she wants to use make- up in the first place!). I myself wear the bare minimum, using only eyeliner and mascara and have always made it clear that I don’t really approve of layers of make up, especially on young skin after knowing so many people who ruined their skin by 18 for doing this.

As of last night however, I made the decision that I wanted to start wearing more make-up. This includes primer, foundation, concealer, contouring powders, eyebrow pencils, setting mists- the works!

Now before you judge me, hear me out.

I have never been a confident person and never looked in the mirror and liked the person I saw there. I have never been a fashionable person nor someone that was ahead of the trend- I was never bad enough that I wore bin liners but comfort was always first over style.
I have also never been someone to wear lots of make up- which you could argue partly comes from not knowing the first thing about make up and how to apply it- but also because I have never believed it does your skin any good to layer on so much crap and leave it there for over 8 hours a day.

Two years ago, I developed eczema on my hands, wrists and most importantly (for this post) my face. It has got to the point that it makes me want to cry every time I see myself in the mirror- the red blotches, the dry scaly skin that just won’t let up no matter how often I moisturise it and the hideous contrast against my natural shade. I look back at photographs before I had eczema and I truly envy the girl in them for not appreciating the skin she had.

In the past month I have found myself watching YouTube beauty videos and reading forums about make up to covers eczema.
One comment from a woman struck quite a chord with me which went along the lines of “It is OK to wear a little too much make up if it covers an affliction that seriously effects how you see yourself” And she’s right.
What is so wrong with taking steps to help you feel less self conscious and ugly? As far as I’m concerned I’m stuck with this eczema until I die and I’m only 33. Am I really going to just roll over and accept that this is me for the rest of my life??

After doing some research I found that there are so many different skin care products out there to help maintain the health of your skin that wearing too much make up need not be an issue as long as you implement a decent daily skin care routine. There are even some great products out there to help dry and eczema-prone skin.

My partner is not a fan of a lot of makeup and especially hates how much make- up Miss E. puts on for school when she at her mother’s, so I have to admit I was a bit concerned about running this past him.
Thankfully however, he understands how much I hate the eczema and the effect it has on my confidence so he was happy for me try this out- As long as I don’t layer it on enough that it looks completely unnatural!

So after speaking to him, I spent £50 on various ELF (Eyes. Lips.Face) products- I chose them specifically because they had good reviews and were cruelty free- if I’m going to spend that kind of money on vanity items then I refuse to do it at the expense of a living being- and am hoping against hope that with the guidance from some of the YouTube videos I found, I too can create a ‘natural and flawless finish’.

One thing my partner and I did discuss- this is where the hypocrisy comes into it- was how this would look to Miss E.
As mentioned above, Miss E. is not allowed to put too much make up on and we have limited her to specific products we felt were the kindest available for her young skin without forbidding her to wear any at all.
I believe in setting an example for her however what example am I setting if I am doing the one exact thing we are forbidding her to do herself?
And it is difficult because I’m not her parent, I’m not even an “official” step- parent so what effect will this have on our relationship?

I am hoping she will be OK with it and understand- she is good at understanding things if you explain them to her.

After careful thought, I believe it is the reason why I want to try it out that sets our situations apart and removes some of the responsibility.
She is young and still growing. She has plenty of time to do whatever she wants to her body once she is old enough to make her own decisions but while she is a child it is our duty to ensure she stays as healthy as possible and that goes for her skin.
I don’t want her to have horrible skin when she hits 18 because shes been trowling on heavy foundation daily for 6 years like it’s going out of fashion.

I however, have grown up. I’ve spent the majority of my life not wearing make up and if by doing this I can get some semblance of confidence back I don’t think it’s a bad thing and I don’t think it’s something I should avoid because I should be on par with Miss E.
I also have a good daily skincare routine which will counteract any negative effects of the make up and to maintain what quality I can. (So I am being responsible about it.)

I hope this won’t be too much of an issue with Miss E. and I really hope it works. Many of the videos I’ve seen are incredible- What some vloggers have managed to cover up with make up and a bit of skill is incredible!

I only hope I learn to do this too so I can feel normal and pretty for a change, and not feel like my eczema rules my life.

 

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Step- Parenting: Recharging your Batteries

 

It wasn’t until I met my partner and his daughter that I realised just how important it is to take time out for yourself.
Being a step- parent figure is incredibly hard, especially if your partner’s children aren’t as welcoming of you as you would like. It is a thankless job (I think in this day and age we deserve a ‘Step-Mother / Step-Father Day) made all the more harder because there is this unspoken expectation that you will automatically (and successfully) assume the parent- type role. This expectation isn’t just from external sources either, but can be an unconscious expectation of yourself.
‘Surely, my partner wouldn’t be with me if he didn’t see me being a good role model for his daughter?’
Whether this is true or not I can’t say but this is what I unconsciously assumed the expectation was and have since tried desperately to be the best role model and guiding figure I could be.
I have since learned that he didn’t expect me to be all- singing- all- dancing but that doesn’t detract from that fact that by stepping into an already formed familial unit, you feel an obligation to automatically assume a particular role.

I am still young(ish) and don’t have children of my own however, from conversations with friends who do, being a mother in general is exhausting. Tiring, never-ending, incessant and rewarding, they all agree they wouldn’t have it any other way because they’re “their kids” and they love them unconditionally.
So what does this mean for the step-parent? For me?
We go through all the same trials and experiences but we are fought all the way by the kids who don’t see us as an authoritative figure; by undermining partners who can’t see the potentially devastating effect their actions have on an already tentative relationship; and even our own consciousness second guessing if this is OK. And we do this for kids we don’t automatically love. We might be lucky enough to learn to love them but it is not an automatic, intuitive state for us- we are in this situation because of our love for our partners.

I have always said that I have been incredibly lucky with Miss E. and I will say it again- Since day one she has been nothing but lovely and accepting of me and I am very aware of how lucky I have been with her. I do love her and keenly want the very best for her and her future. However, this does not mean that this role and its transition has been easy.
Miss E. will listen to me when I ask her to do something but if she doesn’t want to, she will choose to ignore me and either push or overstep my boundaries. Unfortunately, this is because her father still (unconsciously) undermines me- despite telling me I can give her boundaries and say no if I feel I need to- on pretty much everything which means that I perpetually feel at limbo in our little unit when she is around.

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I do find this incredibly difficult as each time this happens, I feel that the path I’ve been on needs to be reset each time he undermines me because suddenly I don’t know where my parameters lie any more.
Am I not allowed to say that any more? Can I not do that? Is she allowed to do that in future? I thought you said you would support me?
I find this state of limbo incredibly unsettling and distressing because I feel like no matter what I do, there will always be that rejection and denial.
As I’m sure many of you are familiar, things like this eventually add up until you literally feel like you have nothing left to offer- that you’ve tried everything to get it right and still your efforts are shunned. For me it stacks up into this big ball of anxiety, frustration, resentment and displacement which I eventually vent hopelessly at my partner amid tissues and tears, exclaiming that ‘I can’t do this any more’ and that ‘I don’t know what you want from me’.

We have just had a fantastic weekend with Miss E, which unfortunately ended on a low note as I discovered the cake tin I lent her- my only one- to take her mothers day cake over to her mums, ended up in the bin because she ‘forgot’ to tell her mum that I wanted it back. (Before any of you ask, her mother is f***ing useless so yes of course she just binned it without checking with Miss E. if she needed to return it.)
I later found out that my partner was aware of this and they both “forgot” to tell me. Miss E is nearly 13 years old and I have been trying to teach her about taking responsibility and ownership for her actions, but obviously I am alone in this as neither parent (nor her) thought it right that she owned up and apologised.

Rude
That’s just RUDE.

Neither Miss E. nor her mother have offered to replace my tin- so much for responsibility and ownership!-  so I’ve just decided not to lend anything out again and she will have to improvise from now on.

This may seem trivial but I believe that if someone is kind enough to trust you with their property, you look after it or replace it if you don’t. At the moment I feel like I am the only one out of the four of us that believes that.

So today I have taken some time out and taken a day for me. I left the house at 08:30 am for breakfast and had a lovely smashed avocado and bacon bagel with a strong cup of tea before mooching into town to do some clothes shopping for my holiday in 5 weeks and to buy a new cake tin (Didn’t happen as couldn’t find one I liked- if i’m going to buy another one I may as well get a pretty one!).

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It seems mad to think that simple issues like the above can take such a toll on your patience but when you constantly find yourself in situations where you, the things you care about and your property are so easily overlooked and dismissed, it is easy to see how situations can escalate and stack up and tempers fray.

This is why it is so important to take time out for you on a regular basis.

I perpetually feel like I have completely subsumed myself into my partners life (I gave up my flat, sold a lot of furniture, given up my free time to plan meals and activities etc around my partner and his daughter) and it is the only way I can do something for me to combat these feelings and not feel guilty.
Giving yourself permission to do something for you is a double edged sword however. You shouldn’t have to give yourself permission to make you the priority- the child is your partner’s after all and not yours, you are still independent from your partner to some degree. But by giving yourself permission you remove all the guilt you would normally feel and you can really enjoy your day.
I try and do this at least once every fortnight and if I leave it for much longer I find my energy and patience reserves waning.

This morning was a beautiful, sunny morning when I walked into town and as it is Easter Monday there weren’t many people about which really made it so much better.
I sat at my table, looked out the window at the world waking up, enjoying my bagel and tea and started writing this post- I can’t tell you how easily these words came to me and how carefree it made me feel.

I am wondering if this is the routine I should adopt every fortnight if it feels this good.

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The House of Mary M

They always say you never really know someone until you live with them.
I would like to add an additional phrase to this if i may… ‘or next to them

We own a semi-detached house in the middle of Studentsville and I can truly say that we have never had any issues with the students like we did with Mary M.

Mary M moved in next door as a renting tenant.
Mary M was a working part time parent, full time pot smoker and drug dealer who posted lurid pictures of herself in underwear on her social media accounts and hosted raucous parties which usually ended in her screaming at her guests- most of which looked like they’d not seen sobriety (of either kind) in a very, long, time.

(I have to say, she put the students in our area to shame.)

According to mutual friends, she was also known to social services and has appeared before court for criminal damage. Promoting her brand- Good for her.

While I don’t agree with stereotypes, unfortunately for Mary M, she epitomised the stereotype of the arrogant, entitled individual.

She moved in at 1:00 am on a week day with her screaming toddler, two yappy chiawawas and an inexhaustible amount of banging and yelling. Neither my partner nor I went to work on any sleep the next morning.

In the early days of her tenancy in one conversation with my partner, she informed him that she intended to start up an adult entertainment business next door which would include (but not be limited to) sexy car washes, entertainment evenings with loud music, adult games and fire poi in her back courtyard. In my head I:

[Cut to scene: Dead of night. A clouded, foggy street, depraved, lit with a blood- red hue. A sordid brothel and drug den hidden in the shadows at one end of the road, screams and cries of exultation and the deviance while the residence cower in their homes in shame and fear.]

Ok, so this is more than an over exaggeration however I hope you can empathise with our fear at the horrors we imagined we (my partners’ 11 year old especially) were potentially about to be exposed to.

She then started having all night parties 2 / 3 times a week during the working week. Her music was turned up so loud that you could hear it verbatum 3 roads over- Fact. Needless to say we may as well have been having a party in our house the volume she had it at. Our walls are soundproofed which makes it worse.

When either my partner or the other neighbours tried to get her to turn it down, she would either ignore us or (drunkenly) yell at us, accusing us of bullying her and proclaiming herself a “fucking professional“. (We are still trying to work out if she meant literally or figuratively.)
Sad to say we wouldn’t put it past her considering some of the individuals she had turn up at her house all hours of the day and night.

So things gradually went from bad to worse and the police did naff all and just referred us to the Environmental Health Agency (EHA).
Eventually (after over 10 complaints), the EHA finally sent us  some paperwork to fill in and we had to log all instances including instances that followed in the next 2 weeks before returning the paperwork.
Apparently, 1 week after you are sent the paperwork, the EHA will send an official letter to the troublesome occupier requesting them to keep the noise down etc etc otherwise further action will be taken.
Once the EHA receive your documents, they will review the case and get back to you.

This is the route Dan and I took (Mary M’s landlady encouraged us to do so, explaining that Mary M was in breach of her tenancy agreement which stated no loud music after 11.00pm out of consideration for the neighbours) and it took us 4 months from the start to the finish of this process.

By the time we had completed the process, Mary M had been given her notice on the property and (to my frustrations) my partner decided not to take it any further for fear of her exacting her revenge on the house / our vehicles etc etc once she had moved.

Mary M has now thankfully moved out.

To our amusement,she elected for us to help her with her departure as she ditched her rubbish in our bins.
Aside from the usual rubbish, this included all the ash from the garden fires she had at her parties; two broken dildos and a big packet of used Canestan- She was a classy bird was our Mary.

It was a trying 6 months, and the effects it had on my relationship and health were shocking.

Things have settled back down and the landlady moved her son and his friends into the house. They are so quiet it’s hard to believe that it was so easy for Mary M to be so disruptive.

Thankfully Mary M is now just be a bad memory and dear god I hope she stays that way.

 

 

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