#1 – Passports, Parallel Parenting and Pruning

One of the main reasons for me starting this blog was to provide myself with some sort of outlet, some sort of catharsis. A form of accountability and rationalisation for my own thoughts and feelings. To hold myself to account. The benefits of regularly writing in a journal are seemingly thrust at me from all directions.

A blue journal. Writing in one regularly can really help with your mental health.

The basic premise is that once a week I will sit down and write about what has been going on here at OBF HQ. It will be honest and candid. It’s likely to be sweary (heads up!). I don’t get it right all the time and I think its important to show that. I am constantly learning – and about everything. Being a better dad, better stepdad, better partner, better co-parent. How do we make better use of the money we have? What do we feed our kids? How do you prune an apple tree?

So without further ado (always wanted to write that), here is Lee’s Journal #1

Passport and Parallel Parenting

There is nothing about the relationship with my youngest son’s mum that is “co”. We both parent the son that we brought into this world and say as little about it to each other as possible. I have recently discovered that this is called Parallel Parenting.

We have struggled to communicate and this remains true almost 5 years on. Now that most handovers are at school (I pick him up after school when he is due to be with us and then drop him back there) we communicate mostly via email. It’s still high conflict and quite uselss most of the time. At least with it being via email its kept completly away from the boy.

I wish it were different, I feel like I have tried to change the situation and I am sure she does too. We just can’t.

I had written a very different paragraph below. As I write there are new situations and thoughts to consider. For example, I have chosen to keep the identity of my children hidden. For them, for me and for their other parents. As the blog grows I come across new scenarios that require me to give careful thought to how to proceed. I don’t want to hurt or upset anyone, despite often feeling like that myself.

The original piece was my perception of a situation – about trying to come to an agreement with my son’s passport. Despite it being true, I did actually think, feel and believe what I wrote, it still didn’t sit comfortably with me.

It was very negative and would only ever be one-sided, it’s my blog and designed as such. I know that my parallel parent thought very differently about the situation.

Is it fair of me to put that situation out there in the public domain with only my viewpoint on how it went down?

I decided it wasn’t fair and it’s not something I am prepared to do for a number of reasons:

  1. I don’t want this blog to be a vehicle for “ex” bashing
  2. What if my son were to read it? How would he feel?
  3. I don’t want to live in that state of mind. I don’t want to define my life, my thoughts and feelings about having a difficult relationship with my ex.

Already the blog is starting to hold me to higher standards – to be beyond reproach.

A British passport. The holy grail for some separated parents.

So, the passport. Oh yeah, that’s where I started this post.

My youngest son needs his passport renewing ready for his summer holiday with me (Covid 19 notwithstanding). I couldn’t trust that my parallel parent would renew it in time. That is my issue. It’s because I don’t trust her.

But if I look at it a different way, I do trust her to do what is best for the boy. It would be devastating for him to be left behind if we all go on holiday – he is super pumped for Spanish villa pool and all that comes with it.

I have to trust that she can see that and won’t want him to miss out. I am finding it really tough to give that trust. I could choose to renew the passport myself and continue in this high conflict cycle OR I can trust that she will do what she has said and renew the passport.

So I’ll place my trust in someone that I don’t. I hope it pays off.

New Car

Nicky’s car is 13 years old and starting to cost more to keep it on the road. We had been looking at getting two electric cars when mine is up for renewal in March 2021. The universe had other ideas.

After much discussion and massaging of the budget we think we can find the extra money if we take all longer trips in the new electric car. Doing it this way means we save on fuel and save on excess mileage for my car lease when it’s returned. All in all, it means the new car might only cost us around £100 per month extra.

We have solar panels on our house too which means charging during the brighter months might even be free!

black nissan leaf

So a new Nissan Leaf has been ordered and should be here in around 3 weeks. Expect a (smug, self-righteous) dedicated blog post soon.

Pruning Apple trees

It’s long been a dream of mine to grow lots of food for my family to eat. Now finally I have a big enough garden to do it (and get chickens!!). Last year started off well but then went to shit when we decided to knock the hell out of our house. I’m more determined this year to make better use of the garden.

I find it to be therapeutic and immensely satisfying.

In order to afford the big summer vacay (didn’t have one last year – the house was in bits and have you seen the price of flights for six people??) we have committed to fewer days and meals out this year. This means more time in the garden.

In my head this is great for the kids too. I encourage/drag them outside to teach them where our food comes from. I’m quite confident they don’t see it like that.

Sunday, March 1st was the first day with a big enough good weather window to get outside and actually do anything. I eagerly read some articles on how to prune apple trees (didn’t have a chance last year) and went to work. I managed 3 hours before I was stopped by an impromptu hail storm. Didn’t manage to mow the lawn, prep salad bed, weed borders or any of the other 20 jobs I needed to do but I have created a nice big log pile to burn.

Nothing beats a beer and a fire.

Bar. Simple. Soon to be mine! mwahahahah

We have big plans for the garden this year. Now we have bi-fold doors we really want the garden to be an extension of the house. The challenge is going to be doing it with little to no money. I have ideas for recycled pallet seating, brick barbecue and fire pit using bricks from the patio area, clay pizza oven……. and even an area for Lee’s Bar………

I also discovered that those really long string of lights with lightbulbs has a name. Festoon lighting.

Every day is a learning day.

That’s me for this week.


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