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My mother would not be rushed into anything by the ticking of a biological clock. Then, at 28, I met someone who scooped me up and rushed me towards a future.
But unlike her, in my twenties I felt keenly aware of a need to find a partner. Within three months we were living together and celebrating our engagement.
She didn’t meet my father until she was 37, leaving her plenty of time to date interesting but rackety men whom she held off committing to, instead creating her own community in a mansion block in London where most of her girlfriends also lived.Then, when my father turned up, they had a six-month courtship and were married. Despite my mother’s evidence to the contrary, I found it unlikely that a man would want me aged 37. I had disastrous love affairs with men who were not available to me and extended chances and forgiveness to people who neither asked for nor deserved them.I grew up knowing that she’d held off on marriage and a family – not because she didn’t want them, but because her life was filled with relationships that gave her so much more than one person could provide. Indeed, the idea of tackling my own future as she had seemed like a huge risk. None of them was to be the companion that I felt I needed.For the first time in many years, I no longer needed anybody to stand next to me offering reassurance.I realised that, while my mother had spent her youth working on becoming a person who could offer up the onion-like layers that Carol Ann Duffy describes in her magnificent poem “Valentine”, I’d spent mine trying not to miss the marriage moment.