From men to mid life crises, from Botox to Brazilians, from infertility to infidelity, every week Jacqui Leigh gives her personal take on being a fortysomething woman
The reality of being a single working mum and dirty texting
My 45th birthday tomorrow and the depressing prospect of having to wake up at 5.45, drop Mo at a neighbour’s house, fight my way onto the tube and spend eight hours at work in the company of my terminally unfriendly boss. Rinse, lather and repeat... Well actually, not! Because tomorrow is my last day at work.
A sigh of happiness. From next week I start a new job, more money, and most gobsmackingly of all, I will be working within walking distance of home and Monica’s school. Which means I can take her there and pick her up, myself. I still can’t get my head around it.
When I started working life as a lone parent last year I received a sudden harsh initiation into how single working mothers juggle their lives. And I guess quite a few married ones as well. With no man around to share the childcare, I had to throw myself on the goodwill of my dad, friends, neighbours and lodgers to help get Mo to school, sometimes pick her up afterwards and look after her during holidays.
Before I started working, I depended on no one and liked it that way. Once I had a job I had to quickly dump my inhibitions about asking for help. I hated leaning on people but slowly it dawned on me that not only don’t they mind, most people actually like to help. Anyway this article in last week’s Mail (yes okay) about Team Mum, which was prompted by the new movie I Don’t Know How She Does It struck a loud chord.
I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve read enough to know that SJP’s character’s life clearly bears no resemblance to mine. If her character has a nanny, well hello, then I do know how she does it.
Anyway back to last week when I accidentally sent Mr Bean (I mean David), a naughty text intended for Daniel. We can split the atom and send men to the moon but there is no way to retrieve a text once you’ve started sending it. Texting is dangerous, it’s impulsive and irrevocable and very prone to human error and, unlike phoning, texting is ideal for quietly conveying a dirty thought while you are sitting in a PTA meeting or stuck in a tube tunnel.
Which is why so many people’s affairs are discovered through texts, either because dummies like me send them to the wrong recipient - or just as often because people save their dirty texts instead of deleting them -probably because it’s fun to revisit the juicy ones in boring moments.
Anyhow, since my text requested immediate sexual attention I had no choice but to hide in case David turned up. When Daniel finally got here he found me with the lights off, cowering in the dark (something I normally only do on Halloween).
I told him what had happened and he had a good laugh about it. Easy for him, right? Having decided that I would not cancel my gym membership and just leave the country (tempting though the prospect was) I would turn up as usual and face the consequences.
And lo, suddenly David is standing over me, glistening with sweat and with big dark circles under his armpits. Nice. I ease backwards on the machine and glance around for reinforcements. Fred is nearby, working out and not looking in my direction. Ever since he and Melissa went public he has slowly been piling on the pounds. He’s getting a relationship belly. We’ve all been there.
I’m all on my own. I look up at David’s face which is bright red. Exertion or rage?
'I think', he says slowly, sweat dripping from his nose onto my leg, 'we need to talk.'