What I've learned from your kids, their mums and dads, and anyone who is coupled up......
Although I am single I honestly don't believe that the grass is greener: it's just different. Of course I value my single friends; but I've noticed how some wistfully, and often understandably; look at families/couples with that, 'there's the answer', look in their eyes. My truth is: 'there IS no answer. No man/woman/child/job/location can 'make' me OK; that's MY responsibility.
NO TINTED PRIMARK GLASSES
This is a truth that has not been discovered during an hour of Pilates, via self help books or in Tesco's toilets. I got here via divorce; several servings of depression and ultimately by taking a cold hard (not punishing) look at my life; without tinted Primark glasses.
BEING PARTNERED ISN'T PERFECT
Being partnered can be excruciating. All that compromise. Having kids is slog; snot, school runs and 'I hate you', when they're troubled teens. Good on you for going there. Of course there can be; and I hope you experience huge joy, and deep contentment. But when anyone romanticises the family: which is now so often blended or managed by one person; it does all of us a disservice.
YOUR GOOD BITS/NOT SO GOOD BITS? IT'S A PRIVILEGE TO HEAR 'EM
It's a real privilege when couples tell me about their struggles with each other and their kids: and I DO I enjoy hearing about the better bits. I would be a rich woman now if I'd had a quid for every mum who's told me how draining she finds other more competitive parents. She can breathe easy with m, as she's already won the first round. I've got a cat. An intelligent, beautiful and talented one, of course.
I HAVE KIDS; JUST NOT BIOLOGICAL BABES
I never introduce myself (eyes lowered in shame), as, someone who 'doesn't have kids '. It's not true. I've got loads of them in my life. They're just not bioLOGICALLY mine. Unless you know something I don't.
There's Claudia and Innes next door aged 3 and 5. They're teaching me Flamenco as mum's Spanish. Lewis, Emily and Ronnie; all I would love to see more of. Millie who gives me cat tats., and rockin' Phoebe, who, well, rocks. Not forgetting my ever lovely nephews, Henry and Oliver, who are teaching me to 'street speak'. Am no Sally (every cloud has a silver lining), Sunshine; but I will not let the fear of ending up alooooone sitting in pee in cut price 'sheltered accommodation', propel me into any old partnership. That way lies misery. Even if, when I am at a low ebb, it's an attractive option because my pension's worth peanuts.
I LIKE you; parents and kids. And I LIKE your imperfections and messiness. Why? Because, really, your struggles are just like my own; with a few more bells and whistles attached.