I had Emily when I was 23.
I had no plan for our lives, other than to be happy.
The early years of my marriage and motherhood were lovely. We owned our house (well, with a mortgage) my husband had a good job in The City and I was a stay-at-home mum. Me and Emily had a blissful couple of years. Then when I was pregnant with my second child, my husband lost his job and the recession kicked in. Our riches turned to poverty.
Our freedoms turned into prisons. The prison of poverty and depression.
My husband fell into a despair. But I had two young people to nurture.
A lot of people were in the same boat and we all helped each other out, some managed to stay strong while others fell by the wayside.
Then circumstances picked up again and we were OK for a while. My husband chose to spend a lot of time in the pub, but that was alright with me as it just meant that I could enjoy my two precious daughters.
I ignored my husband's mood swings. I was too busy playing with my daughters and my nieces and nephews. I absolutely adored being a mum, an auntie, a sister-in-law.
There are good memories: lovely restaurants when my husband was working, Bibendum was a firm favourite with its swish, ridiculously handsome waiters delivering outstandingly good food.
Oh and the brilliant gigs. Oasis and Pink Floyd in 1996 resonate in my memory. The Oasis gig will live me forever. That night in the stadium at Maine Road was easily the best night of my life. I remember feeling the years falling away, I danced and sang like a teenager, I laughed and cried, the atmosphere was electric and the adrenaline was pumping. I was on a high for about two weeks after the gig, silly smile glued to my face and managing to get a lyric into nearly every conversation. 'I'll pick you up at half past three- we'll have LASAGNAAAAA.' I must have driven everyone potty.
But there were nagging problems in the marriage. A sense of isolation. My husband was never there. He missed birthday parties, births, joyous special individual moments.
He was an angry man. But I remained oblivious to this anger, in fact I found it boring- which is weird, but then I had been brought up by an angry dad so maybe the anger or discontent didn't have the desired affect he wished to pronounce on me?
Life went on.
The girls thrived. We got a dog- Alfie, a black Labrador.
Emily went travelling while my younger daughter attended college. My husband was still in the pub.
My brother became seriously ill. My sister-in-law and I were very close, our children had grown up together and I love her very much. My poor brother died slowly, bit by bit really, over the course of three years from a brain tumour. He died on November 8th 2002.
But on the night of 7th November 2002, my husband complained of a bad headache which turned out to be a brain haemorrhage.
A real nightmare ensued.
My husband 'recovered' although when he awoke from nine hours of life saving surgery, he said he wished he had died.
Still, we ploughed on.
Then, in 2007, our car broke down.
How silly is life?
I suggested to my husband that the car had overheated and we needed to let it cool, replace the water and start it up again. My husband was enraged at this suggestion and threw a very large, very heavy bunch of keys at me, hitting me in the face.
A young boy, walking past witnessed this and it was the look on his face that ended my marriage.
The disbelief at the anger, the over-reaction, the bullying behaviour? I don't know. But the look in that young boy's eyes changed my outlook forever. And I thank him for opening my eyes, to my marriage and the direction of my life.
Fast forward ten years.
I live in a funny old rented house. I live with Emily and our dog, Billy, a chocolate Labrador. My younger daughter lives nearby with her partner who is lovely.
We are happy, we love each other, support each other and life goes on.
Emily is pregnant with my first grandchild.
I am writing a lot.
My dad is relying on me to help him now that he is old and alone.
My sister-in-law is content and has carved out a new life for herself and her family.
My ex is still in the pub.
Life goes on.
Round our way the birds are singing.
Round our way the sun shines bright.