Tonight I had a rather tearfully brilliant conversation with my mother, in which I told her it was highly likely I’d never get married or have children because I’ve proved I’m woefully shiteful at relationships and I like cats.
My mother, bless her, is a very understanding sort and had read (in full) Kate Bolick’s brilliant tome on Why Marriage is a Declining Option for Modern Women after I sent it to her to try and explain why she had two home-owning, reasonably attractive and intelligent daughters over the age of 30 who were single.
My father is eternally content never to have grandchildren because that would make him feel old, but I was concerned my mother would be a bit disappointed re: lack of weddings, babies etc. Not so.
I’m terribly glad to have a mother who is excited I’m writing a romantic historical novel (11,000 words down, people- you read it here first) and buying my second property (woot!) rather than arguing with her over table seatings and maternity wards.
It’s a wonderful thing to be accepted for who you are, rather than who you might or should be.
And to dispell the myth that some (bloody Freedman) anti-single pedlers perpetuate, I can honestly say no one has ever, EVER, said to me at a wedding “it must be your turn next” or sat me on a singles table like a petulant child who refuses, or is unable, to couple up. Or looked at me with sympathy because I’m in my 30s and no one has yet “put a ring on it”. My friends aren’t like that. Their weddings have been lovely, joyful affairs and I’m sure that shit happened over a decade ago, but the days of an aged aunt cornering you in the bathroom and lamenting your singleness are over.
In her article, Bolick talks about the “tyranny of two” and how in modern times, many couples divorce (see what I did there. Yes, I’m clever) themselves from friends and family because we are taught there is no better relationship or aim loftier than being part of a couple. Check out Valentine’s Day for example.
In times gone by, friends and family would accompany the wedded couple on their honeymoon. Not so now. Studies have shown these days that single people are more giving, more connected and more emotionally available to the people in their sphere than those in a couple.
And I am coming more and more to the conclusion, that being alone should not make you a source of pity, but a wealthy resource of great value to your friends and family. Being single (especially a woman in your 30s who has a cat) has long been a lamentable state. And it should stop. I, for one, am not a crazy cat lady (although I may harbour dreams of rescuing dozens of kittens from the Cat Haven and falling asleep with the roar of purring contentment in my ears). Nowadays we have such a proliferation of relationships that are satisfying.
I have wonderful friends and an awesome family. Work, whilst sometimes a pain in the ass, comes with a delightful assortment of work colleagues (journalists are a funny breed, and tend to gravitate to each other, and more importantly are usually left wing, funny, intelligent types who love a drink and are more empathetic and lovely than you might think), even though we routinely have conversations about murderers, pedos, etc that may perhaps make a regular person’s blood run cold. Because that’s what we do. We report the news. We (most of us) don’t skew it to our own advantage. If you’re not a journo, you’d be shocked / surprised at what gets tossed around in a newsroom each day. We see the best and the worst of humanity. And then we go home. So we also need each other.
I’m not entirely sure where this post is heading. I’m possibly writing this because I entered a Caitlin Moran competion to be a guest blogger on her site and I’ve realised that lately I’ve only posted videos of cats and ‘how good is Lana Del Rey?’, rather than actually writing. I may have an audience (15,000 hits so far, thanks site stats ego counter) but I have no idea what the people who read this want. And actually, I don’t really care. Because this is my blog and I’ll cry if I want to goddamit.
So this post may seem like an apologist for single people. It’s not. I have found, in my recent (and possibly perpetual) singledom, that I am more resourceful, creative and giving to the people in my wider sphere than I ever have done in a relationship. And it’s a stunning discovery.
Sometimes looking after yourself is harder than looking after someone else. For example, there are dishes in the sink that have been there for three days. Two lightbulbs in my flat went out two weeks ago and I haven’t replaced them because I have convinced myself I can’t reach them on a chair. One is in the bathroom – showering in the dark is as interesting and difficult as you imagine it to be… I routinely miss dinner because I really only enjoy cooking for someone else. I miss affection terribly. My family lives on the other side of the world.
But I’ve realised having someone say “I love you” isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. Some of my friends and I say it to each other and that’s a genuine, real love, with no commitment, no argument, but just real feeling.
I may come over (again) as a Single Apologist, trying to justify why I am not married/engaged/pregnant at 33, but I honestly don’t care. I refuse to be embarrassed or ashamed that at 33 I don’t have someone I live with, with whom I have to make decisions and who sleeps in my bed and bangs me once a week if we feel like it. There are many, many amazing relationships to be had in the world that are not just about the person you decide to share a bed with. There are so many relationships in your life that make you feel valued and whole and satisfied.
Sure, right now I would like a hug and someone to hold me and tell me all good things about myself, and that I am loved, but when you live without it, you learn to be stronger, to create deeper relationahips, to be better. I’m not saying a great relationship cannot bring untold rewards. To love and to be loved in return is one if life’s better frickin ideas. But it does not always come from where you think.
* I know pictures make posts better, I just can’t be bothered right now. When I update this you’ll get a reasonably maudlin picture of a woman with cats. Or drinking on her own. Promise