Today I watched the holiday exodus begin on my street.
Shrieking children lugging their bags outside to where their smiling Daddy-people packed them (bags, not kids) into the back of already bulging people carriers. Mums giving the house one last check, locking the front door and joining their excitedly squirming offspring as they depart for their fortnight in wherever it is that happy, united families go to swim, drink and get those strange braid things that the little girls so often return with.
In a very Carrie Bradshaw-esque manner, I got to wondering; as independent single parents, are we kidding ourselves?
Pre-divorce I was a committed member of the ‘must keep him happy in case he sods off and stops paying the mortgage’ brigade. Since, despite my best efforts to squeeze my square peg personality into the round hole of obedient wifey-ness, he went right ahead anyway and relocated both his person and his wallet to the home of an uncomplicated, gig going girl whom he had met at work the previous week, I was left to pick up the pieces of our family and try to forge some kind of life for us.
Anybody who has endured this baptism by fire will know that the cosmic mental shifts forced upon you by circumstance are thereafter, impossible to shake. The very first time it dawns upon you that unless you put down the tissues and learn to hustle a bit, that the clueless kids upstairs are going to starve, you change forever.
Several years post divorce I can, without fear of contradiction, attest to the fact that I can hustle with the best of ‘em. A fearless survivor, I have learned to row my own boat and, most days at least, actively enjoy being the big cheese around here.
Small triumphs become more meaningful. The ability to single-handedly and effortlessly transform from Santa to Easter Bunny to School Uniform Fairy, whilst still ensuring that your legs are waxed and the council tax gets paid is rewarding but, in my case at least, an unfortunate side effect seems to be that the power can go to your head a bit.
Post-divorce and despite a mind boggling number of dates and by extension potential life partners, I find myself unable to let another man-person onto the board of directors. Somewhere along the line I became comfortable with the idea that doing-it-all had replaced having-it-all.
It was a shock then to realise that while idly watching the holiday exodus I found that I was, in reality, metaphorically pressing my nose against the glass and hungrily scrutinising the ambient excitement with envious eyes.
I can hardly bring myself to admit this but horror of horrors, am I lonely? Is it time to start actively recruiting for a co-director?
And the million dollar question, how do I unlearn all that I have spent five years learning about surviving as a single mum in order to make room for the new guy? Where will he put his stuff? Will he expect to sleep in my bed every night? Who will wash his unmentionables?
Now who’s kidding themself?