Tonight my brother and I watched a programme about Euro ’96. We sat there, and I drank wine and he ate his nutritious dinner of turkey twizzlers and chips, or some such horror (I stole some of the chips. I am not above such filth). We sat there in the parental abode where we grew up, and where we both find ourselves, cast adrift as thirtysomething singletons in a world where our peers are almost all coupled up with 2.4 children, or at least 2.4 cats, and we reminisced about the glorious summer of ’96, when Oasis, Blur and Pulp ruled the airwaves (back when airwaves were still a thing) and England beat Holland 4-1 and we all ran out into the street to celebrate, feeling like we had just won the still-gleaming Jules Rimet trophy itself, even though it wasn’t the World Cup and the Jules Rimet disappeared years before.
Someone said something about Euro ’96 being the time of their life, and my brother quipped that it was the time of everyone’s lives.
I thought about this.
I thought about doing my GCSEs, something that I have thought about a lot recently, as I have watched my students doing theirs, twenty years on from when I did my own. And I thought about the glorious summer of nothingness that followed. Where I had nothing to do except prance around listening to Garbage (not a metaphorical statement. They were a real band; a real thing, peeps, and they were amazing) and wonder whether I could get away with wearing my then eleven year old brother’s pyjama top as a fashion statement.
And it got me thinking about where I thought I might be, twenty years from then.
Certainly not sitting in the same house, watching the same old Baddiel and Skinner (although they are truly great), and wishing I was fifteen again.
Did I miss my potential? Or am I just someone who went away, had some adventures, and then returned, in the words of my sometimes too literal brother, like a salmon to breed in the place of my birth?
As a parent blogger, I am largely surrounded by people who are married.
Not all parents are married, of course, some are single, and some have partners they are not married to. For the sake of argument, I am going to consider the latter as “married.” The piece of paper, the legal status, is irrelevant. They are irrefutably Coupled Up, and that puts them in a different bracket.
I am not married. I have never been married, and sometimes I feel as though I am the odd one out. I hear endless tales about people’s “other halves” (as if we are not whole people when we are not part of a couple), and I wonder, am I missing out? Is this some great life stage that has passed me by? Should I be sad? Because I’m not sad. I’m perfectly all right.
I’ve heard it said that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, but I have no way of proving the truth or otherwise of that statement. I’m firmly in the latter camp, and that’s OK. I don’t need anybody’s pity. I don’t need to hear that it will happen one day, that I will just know, that it always happens when you least expect it, because lots of things happen when you don’t expect them, and not all of them are good.
So I shall continue being the odd one out, the one without an “other half,” a whole person, even if it apparently doesn’t seem that way to others.
And I am perfectly OK. I just wish I’d known twenty years ago that some things really don’t matter, and getting married might be one of them.
This post was first published on the website Meet Other Mums.
22 Comments Add yours
I loved Garbage growing up! The band, that is. I can’t speak to the non-married aspect of your article, but I can relate to feeling the expectations of others and pushing against them. Do what you want to do. You’re the boss!
Absolutely! Thanks for commenting, and Garbage were great, weren’t they?
Are the Brit Pop days – they were epic… I am one of those who often refer to my husband as the other half. Not because I feel half a person without him, but more that I feel in most cases I have to confer with him before making any decisions. Sometimes I truly envy those who are single. No one to answer to but yourself. I do sometimes miss being a whole person. Making my own choices and decisions without worrying how they fit in with someone else! #triballove
Yes, that is definitely one of the perks of being single. To be honest, I don’t think I would like having to compromise and share decisions with someone, but I guess that’s par for the course in relationships! Thanks for commenting.
I love your blog!
I think that whether one has ‘found’ love (and/or ‘retained’ love), and whether one has a partner or not – wistful memories of carefree teenage / early adulthood will always hold a magical allure. Particularly since having children, I have regularly found myself floored by a sudden visceral yearning for my sixteen-year-old existence (or certain aspects of it, anyway.) I suppose perhaps it is a sort of mourning of the passing of childhood. Nothing makes you more officially a grown up than having your own child. I think. Basically, for what it’s worth, my somewhat drug-addled view – I’m on very strong painkillers at the moment! – is that I feel the same as you (I think); like nothing has changed and yet everything has. The passage of time is so weird. Then again this might be the Co-codamol talking…
I think you’re right. That time of your life when you feel like you’re transitioning into adulthood is so exciting-albeit not without its frustrations which are inevitably forgotten when looking through the rose-tinted spectacles of time! Thank you for commenting, really flattered that you like my blog. And hope you are OK and not in pain! x
Oh the summer of 96 was a glorious one though, it really was. As was my attempt to dress and look like Shirley from Garbage. It was a summer of sneaking into pubs to watch the footie, and drinking Pimms because I thought it would make me appear sophisticated. It probably screamed under-age drinker. You are right that back then everything seems so important. You see your future life as a series of tick boxes and actually life isn’t about boxes. Life is much more fun when we live outside of the box and when we realise that some things really don’t matter. As long as we have our health and happy, that is all that matter. Sorry, I am waffling again!!
Not waffling at all! I loved Shirley from Garbage. Love it that you were drinking Pimms. I was mostly drinking lager, so I guess I wasn’t very sophisticated! Thanks for commenting.
I kissed out on Britpop. I was too busy covering my bedroom with boyzone posters!
You don’t need an other half either. You seem to be pretty whole to me! #stayclassymama
Haha, thank you, I am!
I’m a 30-something too, and I’ve been reminiscing about the 90s lately as well. I have a 90s playlist of Spotify that I listen to on repeat, as though they haven’t made any good music since 1999. No idea why.
I’m ‘coupled up’ and have been for 13 years, so I can’t really speak about the single life, but it sounds like it’s working for you. Who cares if people don’t get it? Just keep doing your thing. #stayclassymama
Thanks, I will! I think we all reminisce about our younger years, and the 90s seems to be the decade of the moment (if that makes sense) with some of the 90s fashions coming back as well.
I really enjoyed reading this, Min. I was only 6 in 1996 but I still love listening to 90s music!! I do think there’s a lot of emphasis in our society put on being in a relationship and it’s ridiculous – single people lead happy, fulfilled lives all the time. You definitely don’t need a partner, being able to make choices for you and your son alone must be very freeing. #stayclassymama
I guess it is, but then I have never known any different, so I probably don’t feel the benefit! Then again, my mother tries to tell me what to do quite a lot of the time! Glad you liked the post and thank you for commenting.
This is a fab post Min. Too many people spend all their time worrying about ‘finding love’ when if you’re happy with yourself, you really don’t need it.
Thanks Sarah! x
Dude I agree. I don’t like that term “other half,” I think this is a British thing because I never said that before I moved here. We need to be whole in order to be with someone else, or else the relationship is shit. Anyway, I grew up with a single working Mom, who is still single, and she loves her life and doesn’t feel the need to have a boyfriend just because “everybody else has one,” even more so because she is in the fifty to sixty range haha. Love this post! Thanks for sharing with #StayClassyMama!
Totally agree. And glad your mum is happy. We need to hear more about happy single people!
Oh Min it made me a little sad reading this 🙁 Having met you at #BML16 you are a lovely and wonderful person, and you don’t need an other half to be happy. You have Piglet and he is your world. I too remember Euro 1996 so well, why do we remember that year of football more than anyone else – oh the Gareth Southgate penalty (was that it?) Don’t be too hard on yourself lovely 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x
Yes it was the Gareth Southgate penalty! It was a magical time….Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m really OK, was just having a moment of angst. They seem to be all too frequent on the blog!
You’re right – there’s such an emphasis on finding that special somebody – and look at all the failed and painful relationships, people who are not happy together staying together because they don’t want to be alone, domestic violence etc. I’m a single mum and love the freedom to decide for myself and my daughter. There should be more acceptance and value of all different sorts of families and lives!
When I think about all the unhappy relationships out there, and especially the domestic violence, I feel so lucky that I am self-reliant and don’t have to deal with any of that. Singledom rocks!