The other day, Julie wrote something utterly heartbreaking in the comments, and it haunted me as I fell asleep last night. I haven't forgotten how sad it is sometimes to be Single, especially Single and overburdened with work and worry.
Julie recounted a married male colleague at work saying "You look so tired, you go home and rest, and I'll take care of this" and she reflected that it was hard not to long to have a husband to say that.
My very last piece in Seraphic Singles (the Book) touches on our longing for someone to say things like this. That piece is called "Got Your Back." In it I (still Single) reflect on all the people who do "get our back"--family, friends, co-workers, mentors. My thought was that although we don't necessarily have husbands to make our lives easier, other caring people do. The trick is to find them, develop relationships with them, and to ask for and accept their help gratefully.
Since then, I have found that although I am very happily married to a very good, amusing and intelligent man, he cannot do simply EV-erything always to make me feel better about life's slings and arrows. I find myself needing other people, too, especially female friends. (Yes, I know I do go on about female friends. But what will happen if I have a baby one day with no mummy, no mummy-in-law, no sisters and no young-yet-experienced-mother friends in town rather alarms me. I joked to an old bachelor friend of B.A.'s that I would ask him to come and babysit; he laughed immoderately and said it boggled the mind. Oh dear.) But even men friends still come in useful. I have three male mentor figures I turn to in moments of writerly darkness, for example.
Once again, I encourage Singles to, instead of becoming bogged down in depression about the spousal support they don't have, develop and appreciate the support they do have. I know this may be irritating to hear from a married woman, but I said exactly the same thing when I was Single.
If you can stand to read about married people today, read on:
This reminds me: the most harried and lonely women I know are young married women with children. If you have married friends nearby, don't forget to invite them to parties and make it clear that they can bring their children. I'm not talking about your eagerly-planned formal dinner party with the best china; I'm just suggesting that the next time you have an informal party, you remember to invite married pals you haven't seen in awhile and make it clear their kids are welcome. That way, you've got your married friends' backs.
Some of the best times I had in Toronto when I was home last month was with a young-mother pal. She brought her baby along to restaurants, cafes, the beauty shop, a bachelorette party, and waitresses and beauticians simply flocked to coo over the baby. To breastfeed, my friend just threw a blanket over her shoulder. No problem. And all these parties and outings would just not have been the same without her, so I am so glad she is so comfortable going everywhere with her baby. Of course, it wasn't always like that--baby spent his first six months yowling almost non-stop. Offering to watch the baby for 15 minutes is another way a Single girl friend can help out a frazzled Married girl friend, plus have all the fun of short-term baby-minding without the horrors of 24/7 baby-minding.
Update: Thank you very much to the tenth amazon.com reviewer! I enjoyed your tribute very much. And now that British readers have been receiving their copies from amazon.co.uk, it would be great if they would write reviews on amazon.co.uk. I love reading the new reviews!