Today is my local college’s rag day. I realise this as soon as I walk into town and discover the centre overrun with groups of teenagers wearing even fewer clothes than they normally do. It is bitterly cold today – I am wearing two scarves – but there are girls out in literally their underwear. My motherly instinct, such as it is, is immediately aroused, as I’m sure is the libido of many a middle aged man. I am worried for these girls. Surely it is possible to actually DIE from exposing yourself all day to freezing temperatures in just a bunny girl outfit?

The original meaning of rag day is of course to raise money for local good causes, and I do see a few teens clutching collection boxes to their shivering bosoms, but given no one actually asks me for money I’m not convinced of its effectiveness as a fundraising technique. I do see a gang of 16 year old pirates taking it in turns to swig from a bottle of own brand vodka. Very philanthropic.

I would like to be able to recall fond memories of my own college rag days, but I didn’t actually take part in either of them. For the first, aged 16, I was three months pregnant and, unlike my friends, the vomiting I was doing on a daily basis was not preceded by days and nights of wholesome, drunken teenage fun.

For the second, a year later, my own puking had been replaced by that of my six month old baby daughter. I gave birth at the end of July, between the first and second years of my A-levels, and had returned to college in the September when she was six weeks old. I suppose I could have taken part in this rag day, but with a baby at home you don’t enjoy that same sense of freedom that my friends would have felt. Day time drinking is really no fun when you know you have to be home by tea time to put a baby to bed. Plus any new mum will appreciate that baby-free time is precious – I had three A-levels to study for and all my spare time was taken up with essay writing and revision.

I look at the gangs of kids in town and, aside from feeling terribly old and frumpy, wonder if I have missed out. Did being a teenage mum keep me from enjoying my childhood to the full? Maybe, but if that just means I got to stay home in the warm, while my peers drunkenly roamed the streets in their pants, I’m not sure I feel too deprived…

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A second post! A great start. (I have never written a blog before – is it the kind of thing you are supposed to acknowledge, or is that terribly uncool? Should it be like a shy, new relationship, where you just sort of do it, without anybody mentioning what is actually happening?)

So…

With only 18 days left of the year and a shiny new blog to exploit (I mention it directly at the risk of breaking the Rules of Blogging), it seems like a good time for some reflection. 2009 has been an interesting year in lots of ways. I’ve left two jobs, launched myself into the scary world of self-employment and been on a string of dates – most notable only for their blandness. Friends call me fussy, but frankly it takes more than a bag of yogurt to impress me. But that’s a story for another time.

So as the end of the year approaches, I am feeling the urge to capture some of its highlights. Partly just so that I don’t forget them – I have an appalling memory – but also to celebrate my achievements, learn from my mistakes and hopefully make some plans for the year to come.

To do this properly, I am going to need to be honest, both about the things that happen to me and my feelings about them. I understand that this may not always show me in the best light, but surely that is part of the process? Sometimes I make stupid decisions and behave badly, put that is a part of me, and I will have to accept that. I could write a flattering version of events, pretend I have never said or done anything hurtful, but that wouldn’t teach me anything about myself. Plus it would be terribly dull to read…

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This is me.

My name is Jo. I am a single mother to two daughters, aged seven and 14, and I work at home in a variety of different hats – mostly at the moment a wooly one, as I am too tight environmentally aware to put the heating on during the day for just me.

My life is a weird combination of hectic and dull, complicated yet often boring. It’s a hard mix to bear sometimes and without another adult in the house to sound off at, I often find by bedtime that my mind is a swirling swamp of concerns, tasks for the next day and random thoughts about life, parenthood and the plot details of Flash Forward.

This blog is going to be my silent partner, the husband I have never had, the substitute for the man who would undoubtedly be subject to my daily musings and rantings, were he here to listen to them. This will also be the place I go to ask myself for advice. As a single parent, you have no one to consult – no one to share the responsibilities of decision-making. I am only young, I haven’t had any training for this, and sometimes I’m not sure of the right thing to do. When is it ok for a girl to have her ears pierced? I randomly settled on nine as a suitable age, based on absolutely nothing at all, but it would have been nice to have a second opinion. At what age is it ok for my teenager to have boys at her sleepovers? I really didn’t know the answer to this one and it feels wrong that I am expected to come up with sensible solutions to these kind of things all by myself.

I find the act a writing a cathartic one – it helps to clear my mind and work through problems. Perhaps by sharing any questions with my blog I will become the wise and sensible mother I have always wanted to be, rather than stumbling blindly from one issue to another.

Entwined with the day-to-day tedium that is parenting, I am searching for The One. My rational side knows he doesn’t exist, which does make the search frustrating and disappointing sometimes, but my supressed romantic side won’t let it go. Not surprisingly, as a work at home single mum my opportunities for meeting eligible bachelors are limited. It could be a long search…

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