Sunday, 13 March 2016

It's The Small Things That Matter

Sadly, the weekend and another visit from Jess has come to an end, but yet again it's been another memorable couple of days! There's been no football for us to go and watch - next week is the big one, Derby v Forest - but we've been cheering England on against Wales in the 6 Nations rugby, in-between heaps of fun. After all, Jessie does need her dose of sport every weekend. It's been the little things we got up to this weekend though which will be remembered most. Who'd ever have imagined that a tiny water bottle spray would become the most used item these last couple of days as Jess thoroughly enjoyed spraying me at every given chance while she's been hiding and waiting for me around almost every corner of the house! Oupa would love this naughty and mischievous streak in her! I wonder where she gets it from!!

Star Monsters - They require a lot of training!!!!
A couple of weekends ago, Jess loved the Open Day at Uni and this time I took her to the Uni library where she enjoyed the responsibility of electronically returning my books. Casualty has been one of her favourite tv series' for as long as I can remember and it always has a regular slot in our Saturday evening chill down time in front of the telly and the last couple of months we've added the Voice and the Lottery show to it as well - unfortunately retirement isn't on the cards just yet!  The rest of the weekend included a game of chess, which of course I came second in, regular training of Jessie's Star Monsters, getting them to fall on their feet when we chuck them in the air, Dangerous Mouse trumps she made and printed herself (squeezed a win in there at least) and marbles, which of course Jess beat me at as well. Not to mention a bit of Karaoke and Sing Star! The less said about my dancing the better!!

This morning was a beautiful day though so we took a walk to the park where we fed some ducks and took a rowing boat out on the lake. It was an amazing experience and Jessie had such a great time (me too of course), she managed to perfect her technique and did most of the rowing herself, which couldn't have been easy considering her weight against mine and the boat, but she did a brilliant job. I wish we took pictures as it was a beautiful day out on the lake. We treated ourselves to an ice cream on the way back - I think she deserved it! I already miss her but most grateful for another amazing weekend yet again. Can't wait to see her again......

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Regretful decisions - Happy 30th Birthday Buks

We all make decisions on our journey through life we sometimes question. None more so than the one I made 8 years ago nearly to this day..... Taking my wife & kids and moving abroad! Foreign travelling was nothing new to me at the time and very much a regular occurrence due to playing cricket overseas for the previous 13 years. Perhaps it was just too easy to pack the bags and "move". It was a new venture, nerve-wrecking experience yes but overshadowed I guess by excitement.

Little did I know about the risks and implications at the time unfortunately. Here I am 8 years later, going through a divorce, having lost two sons, only seeing my 9 year old daughter every fortnight, lost my mum to cancer, living in a country where immigrants are looked worse upon by the day, seen by fellow South Africans as a traitor for "turning my back" on the country and not having been able to afford to visit any family or friends (well at least those who still want to see me) back in SA for more than 5 years.

At the time I just thought we did the right thing. not least for our children's future. Silly me :-( ......... It's easy to point a finger at an immigrant, I see it every day, sadly. So many people don't realise how lucky they are or what it takes for some immigrants to seek a better life, the sacrifices and risks it takes. Blimey, my situation doesn't even come close to some of the stories we see and hear about like Syrian refugees!! You can't just categorise everyone under the same label but unfortunately some people do, whether it's based on colour, religion, sex, immigration, you name it. Once a view on it, they see no difference between one or the other unfortunately.

So yes I have regrets, besides my own personal life, mostly regrets because what I've taken away from others. It's hard enough having lost what I have but I can't imagine how difficult it must be seeing your family grow up in pictures like they have with Jessie. All because of my stupid decision.... Selfish and heartless..... It's not something I can take back unfortunately and it's regret I live with every day of my life.

I don't think I was in Maritza's best books here!! Clearly she didn't get her way!
Not many aunties are as close to their nieces as my sister, Maritza, to Jessie. Right from birth!! We're lucky to have a family member being so close and that's no disrespect to any other family member. I guess Maritza, very much like myself, wears her heart on her sleeve. Today is a sad day for me to be honest and it should be a very happy day for Maritza! My little sister turns 30!!!! I can't believe it and I wish we could be there to celebrate..... I'm really sorry and sad we can't be there and make it extra special, but hope those around you do, because you deserve it. Gosh we've had many fights through the years, less nowadays though (probably because there's 6,000 miles between us), lol, but I love her to bits and I've been fortunate to have had her in my life. I hope you enjoy your birthday Buks and I'm so, so sorry for the decision we made 8 years ago. Love you lots xx

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Controlling Anger - Easier Said Than Done

It’s been a long time since I've been this angry apart from being let down by a couple of friends the other day, but at my soon to be ex-wife, it’s been a long time! Even last week’s incident didn't make me this angry because that was more disappointment than anger to be honest.  Having been told on three separate occasions that I am not allowed to take Jessie overseas, and twice just being ignored, I opened an email today “asking my permission” for her mother to take her to SA over Christmas! The cheek, not only because I'm not allowed to, but this in the wake of being told last week that I can’t speak to Jessie every day even though we often speak for 3 – 5 minutes only. Bizarre that my permission is required when despite having asked for it on numerous occasions I don’t even get consulted when it comes to decision making over her schooling and extra mural activities. Oh yes of course, legislation and immigration laws have changed, you can’t take a child in and out of South Africa anymore without both parents’ consent. I bet that drives some parents insane!!

Am I wrong feeling upset about this? Maybe I am, but I cannot begin to explain how it feels to be told I cannot be trusted in taking my little girl, someone I love and care about more than anything in this world, overseas or be told “maybe one day, things might improve”. Nothing will buy back this time taken away from us, nothing!! I have done nothing to deserve that! My entire life has already been wrecked totally by one person’s selfish decision in causing me to not be part of 95% of my little girl’s life, without even willing to fight and do everything possible to try and work things out. People would tell me “move on”….. I ask these questions. Do you have a child? How would you feel losing him or her? Have you lost a child? Do you know anyone who has lost a child and would you dare saying to someone who’s lost a child to move on? I won’t…… perhaps we’re just different but I’ll rather comfort that person and say I'm really sorry and try to be the best friend I could be – not judge that person’s actions because he/she is angry at God.

I get punished for having suffered with depression and having felt like giving up on life because of what has been taken from me  – yet I never attempted it but I wasn't allowed to even see my beloved daughter for 6 months and even then it was under supervision for a long time yet the same person who imposed that punishment laid in intensive care previously having actually attempted suicide – yet I'm the one being judged, I'm the one told to get a life, to get real, that I'm selfish….. honestly? Did I cause adultery? No! Did I try and raise another man’s sons? Yes, because they felt like my own and I loved them as much as I love my own daughter! Have they disowned me? Yes! How many happy birthday messages and Christmas messages and condolences have I sent without any reply! I wish I knew why…. I wish I knew why my sins and shortcomings are worse than theirs and why mine is just unforgivable. Sad that one person’s family and friends can turn against you for reasons unbeknown to yourself…… yet they would pretend to love your little girl. How can you love someone but hate the person she loves to bits? What a crazy, sad, sad world we live in……… But it’s all my fault.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

A sad day 😔

The last few weeks, and this week in particular, have been pretty good. I've spoken to Jessie every night since Monday, albeit each time for only a couple of minutes, but it's just amazing to be hearing her sweet little voice and to be able to ask her if she's had a nice day and wishing her good night. It truly makes my day. My advice to anyone who's still in that fortunate situation to be permanently living with your loved ones is to not take anything for granted, live every day as if there's no tomorrow and show this love to one another. Unfortunately today I was told by her mum that I can't expect to talk to her every day. Which parent in his/her right mind could be that cruel to deny another parent that privilege? There's been many cruel actions I've questioned through the years though but to be told this, has been a very tough pill to swallow. And then as if it would make it easier for me to understand, I get told that Jessie doesn't want to speak to me every day, that it takes too much time out of her day. How very, very sad 😔

What is 5 minutes in any person's life? I'm not upset with Jess if this genuinely came from her. Not for one moment, and I'd have understood if we weren't close but I know how much she loves me. Perhaps one day that might change, but I pray it doesn't and I will always do my best to be the best father I could possibly be. I just find it beyond belief that a parent who took a decision for another parent not be part of the child's everyday life in the first place, could turn around and say you cannot speak to that little angel of yours, every day of your life. If roles were reversed I know I'd have done the opposite. I'd have encouraged the relationship between child and parent and I'd have explained to the child how important sacrificing 5 minutes of fun sometimes is. Surely it's called discipline and good parenting or am I wrong? 

When I tried bringing up another man's two sons, I remember doing everything I could to encourage the relationship between them and their father and on numerous occasions I told them to remember to call their dad. And that was before I even knew how hard it is when 95% of your life with your child has been taken away from you as it is. Whenever Jessie is with me for longer than a weekend I always tell her to give her mum a call. I don't think Jess has called me twice in three years. Again, everyone who knows how close Jessie and I am will understand that it doesn't reflect on our relationship at all and she cannot be blamed for that either - after all she is only 9! But if roles were reversed I'd certainly make an attempt to get her to call a couple of times a week and check in to see how mum's day has been. There is no way that talking to a parent, especially at that age, should be an effort. Imagine a life where if you live with your nine year old, you go a day without speaking to her because it takes too much time out of her day. I'm just gob-smacked.

It's a tough pill to swallow, very sad and very ruthless to be told you can't speak to each other every day. I often tell myself and others how often we focus on the bad things and forget to be grateful for what we have but its hard sometimes to accept the misery others can cause. How hard can it be to be nice..... I don't always have someone to talk to, which any expert would say sometimes make things a little easier, therefore I guess I put my feelings to paper. Not with the intention to publicly humiliated anyone but rather as a warning to others out there not to make the same mistakes. No child or parent should be denied a little bit of happiness and love from one another. As children though, sometimes we just need to be reminded of the little things that matter.

Monday, 29 February 2016

Jessie's 1st Open Day

It's fascinating how kids sometimes find the most trivial things to be incredibly amazing! We had an Open Day at Uni on Saturday and I thought I'll take Jessie around to see what she makes of it. I was actually very reluctant at first because I thought she'd find it extremely boring but of course I should have known better! Jessie thought the whole experience was absolutely amazing and she even got a stadium tour of the iPro thrown into it as well. But she wasn't there just as a visitor, she had a role of having to take photos for our course social media page! Having a bit of responsibility is just down her alley and she's quickly becoming very uccostomed to "volunteering" at DCFC!

No weekend with Jess is complete without a couple of board games though and no matter if it's Trivial Pursuit or Tension, she rarely ends up on the losing side. Oh and did I mention, that girl loves winning!! It was auntie Ronel's birthday on Sunday but unfortunately we couldn't Skype so Jessie made her a quick happy birthday card which we sent to her - she's always so thoughtful and creative too!

Pity the weekends fly by so quickly but I love every minute of Jessie's company! Roll on a fortnight as I can't wait for the next one 😊

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Why can't we just be normal?

A broken marriage and separation I guess is never a pleasant experience. It's unfamiliar territory for me as it's my first experience and hopefully the last one too. It makes it a hundred times harder when an innocent child is caught in the middle of it which is one of the reasons I was never in favour of giving up on our marriage and trying to fight for saving and repairing a broken marriage for a long time. But I suppose there comes a time where one has to accept a point of no return and try and be the best ex-partner possible. After all, one has to think of the impact the separation has on the child. When children aren't involved, you can just move on, close the chapter and start a new life. It's not so easy when there's children involved however.

Since the day we separated, I've been in favour of us remaining friends and being as normal to each other as possible. I was fortunate not to grow up in a split family situation but I can only imagine how difficult it must be. I remember my mum and dad argue though and it was the hardest thing to endure ever. I hated it! I can only imagine how Jessie's little heart must feel hearing or even knowing her mummy and daddy arguing and fighting. We had enough of that living together and there's no reason that should continue. I've been begging for us to be friends and to be normal so that Jessie can have both her parents at her school events, birthday parties, sport, graduation and even her wedding. Unfortunately I'm just fighting a lost cause every time I ask. When I do, I just get abused... How sad!

Surely it's common sense to put your own selfish feelings aside and be the best example to your child as possible! I'm by no means portraying myself as anything near the perfect parent or indeed person, but one thing I know for sure, my intentions are always to be a good and nice person. Putting our own feelings first and continuing the war is absolutely no way to set an example to a child and the damage may not be visible yet, but I fear, unless things change very quickly, the impact may still have a very long term effect. I pray every day that it will never happen but I do know we as parents are behind the steering wheel and I'm struggling to come to terms with and understand why we cannot all just be normal and try and be friends.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Studying full-time seen to be selfish

Post marriage has been challenging at times and it took a while to accept there was nothing that could save the marriage anymore. I was always going to be caught in between "accepting a break-up" and fighting and doing everything possible to save our marriage. It wasn't my choice to give up but I had to eventually accept defeat and respect my daughter's mother's choice and wish. Time does heal.... Eventually. People are right, it does get easier sometimes with time although not everything and it doesn't answer all questions, but you move on......

It also gives you time to reflect and for me personally it gave me an opportunity to improve my life. Not only as a person but also professionally and gain a qualification which would offer me an opportunity to improve not only my income but also my lifestyle and what I could offer my daughter, both financially as well as a role model. It doesn't come without sacrifice though and putting my career on hold for three years takes courage but the experience so far has been incredible and probably the best career/educational decision I've ever made! Not only have I excelled well above my own expectations so far but I have also developed as a professional individual enormously.

But rarely can I enjoy and take pride in what I see as an achievement without a dampener being put on it. None more so unfortunately than continuously being told that my choice of studying full-time instead of working full-time and supporting Jessie is nothing short of selfish!! I am sorry, but as far as I'm concerned it's very much the opposite. Yes it's a short term sacrifice but hopefully for a long term gain. It's not easy...... I have to juggle my studies, aiming for a comfortable first grade, doing a part-time job, trying to set up a business, volunteering for a charity and making time to spend quality time with Jessie (which I want and still see as the most important thing because nothing can buy back this time as she grows up). Though I'm not complaining and it was my choice but for once I'm actually feeling proud of what I'm achieving and a feel good factor alongside it. 

I've had to endure some dark times post seperation, many hours of feeling sad because Jess has been taking from me and often had visits being cancelled, leaving me in an even worse state. But I fought very hard to control those feelings despite being tested on numerous occasions. The last year and a bit has been a lot easier. Making me feel worthless however was never going to help and even though I specifically asked on several occasions not to be told I'm doing Jessie injustice because of my decision to study towards a degree, I still get accused. Even worse that some outsiders have started the same thing, telling me that I'm selfish, and that I should get a job!

Why should the world be such a cruel place when all I'm trying to do is become a better person and be the best dad I could possibly be? It's these kind of things which leads a person to lose motivation unfortunately, when nobody can see the good intentions you have and instead throw stones at you and enjoy the suffering it brings, to then say "you've brought it upon yourself". Where's the love gone in this world......?