Miss Tequila Shot slides up to the bar in her hot pants. She’s in Thailand, with a nymphet style body and bouncy, firm tits. She flicks her hair this way and that. She’s free, unencumbered and wild like a horse. Men would expect to find her perched on a rock in a lagoon, her naked form half visible through a misty haze, like a perfume advert. She doesn’t come with kids. That would ruin the illusion.
I take a snapshot of my day, at any given moment. The only thing you will see me perched on is the toilet, as I lock myself in the bathroom yet again to hide from the products of my own womb. I am not the woman of dreams.
It’s a reality I have to live with. An insecurity I try desperately to rub off. Why would someone want me over a woman without children? I try to pacify myself with the notion that men find responsibility sexy. That they would prefer to be locked inside with me and a mountain of shitty nappies for all eternity instead of roaming the world with a beautiful creation of my most jealous dreams.
Aside from my sons ending up raging axe murderers, drug addicts or white supremacists, my second biggest single motherhood fear is ending up alone. That I will break my ass trying to change the channel when I’m 80 and lie there for days. I just can’t imagine spending the rest of my life with someone. I even find a way to sabotage my fantasies with a bitter shot of what I like to call, depressive realism.
I tell myself that by the time my kids have matured into adults I will be past my sell by date, as viable as a pack of softening apples on offer. A bargain hunter might pick them up, or maybe they will just be left to rot?
Maybe that’s it. I’ve procreated, and like a female polar bear I must bear the burden of parenthood alone. I no longer get a pass to the mating-season party. That’s my lot.
I see single mothers get into relationships all the time. I’m cynical, I say it will never last. I look for faults in their man - a wonky eye, a hidden disorder, a Noddy figurine collection. I say that no ‘decent’ man wants a woman with kids.
I beat myself up about it. I tell myself I may have to settle for someone ‘second-rate’ or look for a different kind of man. I might just have to suck in the next guy that comes my way. So much as a smile from the guy at McDonald’s drive through and I’m planning my wedding. An impromptu meeting of the eyes over the veg section at Aldi and I’m wondering if it’s fate (until his wife comes along and gives me the side eye).
Sometimes, on the worst days - where there’s shit in unimaginable places and I look like Freddy Krueger in a polka dot dressing gown, I almost feel sorry for my imaginary husband. I see myself handing him a pen and some divorce papers so he can free himself from such a horrific romantic entanglement.
I notice that sometimes I even find it hard to love my kids, when they have drawn all over my sofa and crunched Rice Krispies into the carpet for the thousandth time that day. Without the hard wired shackles of biology at play I might have just taken the first plane to Timbuktu by now.
I go on dates with men. They tell me that they are into BDSM and I reason to myself I can make it work. Once a guy showed up with considerably less teeth than advertised and I found myself imaging our romantic trip to the dentist together.
I’m somewhere between a dating hermit and a fanatic. I hide away in my shell and tell myself I’m ‘better’ alone and for the most part, I am. Then the inevitable tick tock of the wedding clock resounds in my head. I don’t want to be an old bride, filling up my wedding dress like cake batter. I don’t want to be the one they all say “finally” about during the ceremony while my mother gets drunk and tells half the congregation she thought it would never happen. My girlhood Disney dreams have been shattered. The only cake I’m cutting is a family sized Tesco Finest (only the finest for moi) chocolate gateaux at midnight, while I slope from the fridge to the sofa like an ape. “I will start drinking matcha 🍵 in the morning,” I tell myself. Matcha makes it all better. It basically cancels a chocolate gateaux.
There’s a wild travelling girl inside of me. She spends half her days knocking on my ribcage. She’s encased in mom jeans and carbonara stained sweaters. She’s the kind of girl I would want to marry, if I were a guy.
I catch sight of myself hurrying through town in the muddy windows of a stranger’s Vauxhall Astra. I look a mess. I look stressed. I’m covered in screaming mini versions of myself that need feeding and keeping alive. I’m an undesirable, saggy mess.
Then I give myself a massive, massive mental slap. Defeatism is not what I stand for, nor is low self esteem. My kids are fucking amazing (albeit crazy sometimes). All the wild travel girls will have pregnancies fired into them in the next ten years and the score will be even. A new wave of ludicrously beautiful women will replace them and so forth. Sometimes people’s lives seem more exciting than they actually are. Maybe all these people having fun in Thailand are actually shitting their guts out and itching their fleas? Maybe they caught three different strains of chlamydia at once? Maybe they are boring as fuck and no amount of adventures will change that? Maybe the wild woman inside of me isn’t lost after all.....
Comparison is our most bitter poison. So I decided to stop drinking it. I decided to appreciate the beautiful pictures of my travelling friends and promised myself that I will go five star when my kids hit sixteen. I reasoned that a man worth having will love me regardless (although I still think he got lost in the mail), that my kids are not minuses but pluses.
I’m learning that I’m my own worst critic. I’ve got to stop judging myself. It’s toxic. It’s creating an unhealthy example for my kids. I have to believe in my own kind of beautiful. So should you.
You sometimes just have to be the love of your own life. Take yourself on dates, tell yourself you are beautiful. If you don’t believe it than who else will? It’s the age old bullshit: love yourself - and it’s disgustingly true.
How does one even start? It’s all well and good sifting through Pinterest and glumly reading quotes with nothing but your five chins for company, but actually implementing the concept into HD is a daunting task.
Start with baby steps. Just put your make-up on and smile at yourself. Take up a hobby you’ve always wanted to do. Write down a list of goals. Each night think of everything you are grateful for. Lose the weight you’ve always wanted to lose, say the things you are too afraid to say. Remember you are both a woman AND a mother. One does not cancel out the other.
Remind yourself of all the reasons why you are strong. Why you chose to do this journey alone, and if you didn’t choose it think of how far you’ve come already. Ditch anyone and anything that makes you feel less than. Unapologetically too. It’s your life. It’s your time, and time is finite. Feel inspired, fill yourself top to bottom with love and gratitude. Before you know it, the fears will get smaller and smaller.
Next time I go to the beach I’m going to crack open an ice cold J20, close my eyes and pretend I’m on holiday. And who knows maybe the right man will be watching...