It was all supposed to be so easy.
Grow up, go to university, enjoy your youth for a few years, then settle down, buy a house, have the big wedding with the big white dress, the perfect photos, the perfect venue, the perfect gushing speeches, and then pop out a baby; then a second, between two and three years later. Finally, your family is complete. You have achieved the Dream. You are now free to pat yourself on the back and rest on your laurels into a comfortable middle age spent pottering around the conservatory.
That was the way my parents did it. And their parents before them. And their parents’ parents, and every film and TV show seemed to share the same message. That was just what you did, as an adult. You grew up, you got married, and then you lived the rest of your life in contented conventionality.
But what do you do if that never happens?
What do you do if life gets in the way of the Dream? If the post-university Having Fun years went on slightly longer than expected? And then slightly longer than that. And slightly longer again. And before you know it you’re knocking on the door of middle age and you still haven’t managed the bit with the big white dress?
I’ll tell you what you do.
You start searching the self-help aisle in bookshops. Rifling through books with over-long titles like How To Be A Man Magnet In 12 Easy Steps (apparently the secret is to wear a blouse unbuttoned just that little bit further than is necessary, and twirl your hair around your fingers coquettishly whilst licking your lips. Not too often though. Just often enough for your prey to be tricked into thinking that you are both simultaneously very interested but also not at all interested). You pore through every single one of the two hundred and twenty four sub-headings in each of the books, and you end up just as confused as when you started, and harbouring a strong suspicion that the opposite sex might actually be aliens.
You sign up for every internet dating site that you can find, and spend every evening typing a series of witty one-liners into cyberspace about how you are really into rock climbing but also love staying in with a DVD and a bottle of red wine.
You think about actually going rock climbing on the assumption that it might attract some rugged outdoor types.
Finally, after a million dates and a million conversations with friends about how you are variously “too picky,” “always go for the bad boys” or even “too intelligent/independent/insert other adjective you previously thought was a compliment” to ever be married or attract any kind of mate, you give up.
Yes, that’s right, you give up.
You do the precise opposite of what all the books told you to do. The precise opposite of how the Disney fairytales end. You do something few people seem to consider as an option.
You have a baby on your own. And it is absolutely fine. Because who needs conventionality when you could just be yourself, and do what makes you happy, and forget the pressure to get things “right.”
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