What’s that saying? It’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.
I don’t think it counts in the case of a single parent. I always think it must be easier to be alone from day one than to know what it’s like to have someone else around and then for them to be gone.
It took a long time for me to notice the gap, because it had always been there and it’s all I’ve ever known. I just sort of floated through my early twenties thinking phrases off naff fridge magnets such as “everything will be OK in the end and if it’s not OK yet it’s not the end yet.”
And then you get a bit older and it feels like ‘the end’ or the ‘happy ever after’ or whatever it is should actually be happening by now and you start to think in a not-wanting-to-sound-like-Bridget-Jones-but-it’s-inevitable-sort-of-way: shit.
Sometimes, increasingly more frequently,the gap makes itself known: when every (evil, impossible, expensive, high-up, halogen) light bulb in the house has gone, when I have had a good weekend surrounded by friends and then I am here at my desk, just like always, craving company, when I pluck up the courage to open a bill and imagine it halved. And most of all, when I need to make big decisions.
That’s the toughest bit of all: the decision-making, especially those that pertain to a child’s future. What if you get it wrong and your child is sad and there’s no one to blame but yourself? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk to someone else about it and hold hands and leap together?
For a long time I’ve not been happy where we live. It’s OK. I mean, there’s frequently dog turd on the doorstep and the street stinks of skunk (“Mummy, what is that smell?”) but it could be a lot worse. I want to live somewhere where there’s a bit more going on though, where I know more people and there’s a community.
I worried about it for ages. I went on about it on Twitter for years. Then I started to talk to Tom about it.
“All the good schools are full, so you might have to go in one that’s nowhere near as lovely or nearby as the one you go to now.”
“It’s fine Mum, honestly.”
“But won’t you miss your friends?”
“No, I mean I do like them, but I’d actually like to meet some new ones.”
“What if you have to go on a waiting list for swimming lessons?”
“That’s fine. I love swimming, but it is a bit of a pain having to walk home from the pool in the winter.”
“What if, what if, what if?”
“It’s fine Mum, getting stressed is not the way to do stuff. Just relax and it’s all OK.”
Good mantra for a fridge magnet, maybe?
“Honestly Mum, let’s just do it.”
So, we got to the stage where we were viewing houses and visiting lovely families we know who live nearby. Tom was very impressed by all the cats.
“Let’s just move here, it’s like Cat Land,” he said.
Then we found the one, the house, but the back yard was tiny.
“There’s no garden, what will you do in the summer?”
“I’ll sit outside and read a book, maybe make a picnic for my toys. It’s fine.”
And he says it all in the most grown-up, laid-back voice.
So we’re off, we’re doing it. It’s all go, go, go. We’re moving into our new house early next year.
I just wish I’d remembered to check whether the light bulbs were evil, impossible expensive, high-up, halogen.