Sit down, get comfy, maybe get a glass of something fortifying. This is going to be one of those posts.
Back in the 1970s, when eyebrows were thin and surprised, professional skeleton Helen Gurley Brown perpetuated a popular myth that women could, if they really tried, Have It All.
I bought Cosmpolitan fairly religiously for about 15 years. When I say religiously, I mean I actually believed what was written in it. It was the blueprint for a lot of women my age. What "Having It All" meant was - you could be whatever you want, do whatever you want, and still have a wonderful man who would love you and sex so good it would dislocate your ribs. I didn't quite fit the mould. I wasn't ever thin and ambitious in any way, and I became a mum early, which doesn't fit in with the Cosmo ethos. But Good Housekeeping was far too settled-down and all those recipes at the back.
Anyway, I didn't fit. Probably none of us actually did really. But the idea of "Having At Least Quite A Lot of It" sticks. We keep reaching for the last bit of the puzzle, only to find that there is still a piece missing, and so we continue to reach for the last bit of the puzzle. And so on.
On the surface I have quite a lot. I've successfully brought up my lovely daughter; I've rarely if ever been out of work and have had satisfyingly good jobs despite having no qualifications; I've done the unthinkable and buggered off from everything, got a good job and a spectacular apartment in a beautiful city; and I have lovely friends. My family are healthy and we all love each other. You can see what is coming. The shape of this hole in the puzzle can be seen from outer space.
Despite my best efforts, and trust me I have tried just about everything, the only attention of the male variety I currently receive is a number of texts from a bloke in Leuven who stood me up months ago, and who will not leave me be. I have replied to none of them. This is fairly typical unfortunately.
What I want is so simple it could be written in finger paint. A lovely, kind man with decent teeth, who makes me laugh and thinks I'm wonderful. And who treats me well, and who wants to stay; not leave. They all have this desire not to stay. Or not to turn up and then text me forever after.
"Having it All" sounds so greedy. It's weird that women are educated to eat so little and want so much. Is it greedy for me to want to complete the puzzle? It's only one more piece.