Two years after leaving France

It is two years since I took a leap of faith and left France with a great deal of heartache. My reason for doing so was so that my children could return to formal education after years of me home-educating them as best I could. They had not picked up the French language in the way I had hoped they would. I felt the only sensible way to secure a future for them was to get them back home.

It meant leaving a community that I had grown to love in my time there. It involved facing being a single parent for the first time as my husband had made it quite clear he was staying in France come what may. Although he can work from home anywhere with an Internet connection, he told me he liked the lifestyle in France such as the quiet roads and the bar of course. I did too but felt that the children had to come first. I was two weeks into a new job that I was not entirely convinced was right for me. Without a family home in the UK to return to, I was fortunate to have my older brother who offered to find a house for us to live in with him up in Yorkshire. I had got used to living with him having got stuck in lockdown over here for months after a visit that was supposed to last a week or two at the most.

My husband had told me that I could pick up my two teenage children from a supermarket car park rather than the home we had shared. He would not specify a time saying he would be there with them when he was. He came up with no offer of help to get the children back to the UK of the transport of financial variety.

I won’t rehash our issues over the years.

So what happened next?

My older son got 5 offers for university and chose a course in the South-West studying Politics and Sociology. He had an horrible start as he got appendicitis within days of starting so missed out on all the getting to know you stuff that happens in that first week or two at uni. I diagnosed appendicitis from 200 miles away and urged him to get to hospital immediately. I had no real faith he would so alerted the university authorities. He was in a terrible state, had his appendix removed and had a slow and complex recovery period. Just after he came out of hospital he found out a close friend had died in a car accident. Despite all this he has impressed me by staying at university even when he has found the experience disappointing and the support from the authorities lacking.

My husband did not visit him. My brother and the new man who became my partner provided care and support.

My daughter has made amazing strides quite literally on occasion. The girl who could not walk to a shop on her own when we left France walked to the garage over the road one day out of the blue. She went further as the weeks went by. On a long walk she was cat-called by some middle-aged men and just carried on regardless treating them with the contempt such blokes deserve.

She attended a Pathways course at a local college which I found and recommended thinking it would be ideal to give her life skills and to build her confidence. She has now just completed and passed her Creative Media BTEC at another college. She returns in September for more advanced courses. She aced her English GCSE in just 2 months! Her tutors say she is highly intelligent and very hard-working.

Her social confidence has improved and she now travels confidently on public transport. She has sought an assessment for autism and is tackling her anxiety issues too with help from the G.P.

My younger son got back to the UK in the nick of time to start the GCSE years. We turned up to look around and the teacher who showed us around seemed surprised that a home-educated child would have a book with him! I think she thought I had planted it on him when it was actually my son’s choice to take it so he could read if we had to wait to see her. He loves reading!

He hit the ground running as I always believed he would. He has made firm friends and had his first romantic relationship. He has just done the GCSEs and we await the results with interest. He did well in his mocks but I have always said that exam results do not maketh the man or woman. What will be will be. He has changed his career ambitions from wanting to be a chef to wanting to be a scientist. He wore his purple suit with style at prom and is on the Citizenship course at the moment.

My husband having agreed to pay maintenance for the children has done so erratically. This has really surprised me. I was clearly very naive. I never expected to be one of those parents with care who have to chase the absent one for money. With regret, I asked the Child Maintenance Service for help as a private arrangement meant my children went without the money they are entitled to. I have had £3 from my husband in the last 3 and a half months to support my teenagers with. I should point out that my husband is in a good and secure job.

My husband had not seen my oldest lad for almost 3 years until very recently when he apparently gave him a 5 minute visit.

He was absent from my teenagers’ life since we left France in 2020. He said he would have them over to visit him and visit them but that did not really happen. He visited my son recently taking him out for a meal and then asking him to move furniture into his new place. Oh yes, I should point out that my husband who would not come home for his family got himself home as soon as his employer told him he had to do so.

Am I bitter? Not anymore. This is not the first time my husband has effectively discarded a family as there was a similar pattern with his first marriage and kids. If anything, this whole experience through a lot of tears and angst, has proved how strong myself and our children are. We went from surviving to thriving. So much of me wanted to get my marriage back on track. It is really hard to give up on over 20 years together through good times and bad. However, it takes two to get things going again and my husband tends to contact me when he wants help from me rather than my company. Recently he told me he does not care about me at all as a person and then hung up.

I lost the job I had found. I was in such deep mental distress that I could not grasp the systems that were new to me. On occasion, I would burst into tears at work. However, I now have work that satisfies me whilst also scoping for new and exciting opportunities.

I had therapy and then life coaching which were both so helpful in very different ways. Both sons also accessed counselling and welfare services.

I have had the very good fortune to find someone who likes me as I am. Turns out I am loveable and acceptable after all. If said man disappears from my world, I will be fine. It seems I always was strong inside even when I wobbled a bit.

My brother moved to a remote Scottish island and I got my own front door key.

I am proud of what we have achieved as a new family and look forward to seeing what the next chapter brings our way.



Award-winning writer, blogger, social media consultant and charity campaigner. Social Media Manager for BritMums, the UK's largest parent blogging network Freelance clients include Firefly Communications and Save the Children UK. Works with brands on marketing projects. Examples include Visit Orlando, Give As You Live, Coca-Cola and Kodak. Cambridge Law graduate with many years experience working across three sectors in advice, media relations, events, training and project management. Available for hire at affordable rates.


  • Kim Carberry

    Oh wow! It’s crazy to think that it’s been two year. It sounds like you really did do the right thing.
    That is awful about what happened to your eldest son. I hope he is doing OK now and it sounds like your daughter has came on leaps and bounds. Well done to your youngest. It sounds like he is doing you proud.
    I hope you get some money off your ex for the children eventually. He sounds like a right prat, you are well rid! x

  • stickymudandbellylaughs

    Two years! Wow that time flew by. I am so glad that you are in a better place now.
    Onwards and upwards lovely lady, you’ve totally got this! x

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