From ‘Sex and the City’ to Stepmother

There’s a pivotal moment in your online dating experience where your cursor hovers over the ‘children’ question.  To click the no option is to exclude any male with a child, and if you are in your 40s, probably reduce the pool of matches to something like the number of people you’ll see in a lineup at your local takeaway food shop when you are picking up your Friday night noodles for one.

usual suspects

Flippantly click the ‘I don’t want any, but yours are ok’ doesn’t seem like a big deal.  Statistically, the male is unlikely to be a solo parent with full custody, which means kid-free windows, and if they spawned whilst very young, the offspring may be a well adjusted being in their early 20s, who might turn out to be like a cool younger brother. So you click it, and then wait for your laptop to shriek an alarm greater in decibels than the combined female audience at a One Direction concert.  It doesn’t. You wait to see if it triggers a pop-up box offering up the latest iteration of Crocs as a sign that you are on a path that is incongruous with every molecule of your being.  It doesn’t.   You log off leaving a rather large floodgate wedged right open and head off for a glass of something sparkling.

Two of my most fiercely independent, tremendously successful, childless by circumstance friends have found themselves precisely in this situation.  A lawyer and a corporate high-flyer, they both met fantastic men, things went riotously well, and nary a thought was given to the prospect of the miniature humans lurking in the shadows.  Speaking to them independently about how this went down, here are the recurring themes about inheriting a child, even part-time, late in life.

Its not about you anymore

Biological mothers. know this.  They aren’t born with this insight, but that’s the reason why Mother Nature invokes a nine month pregnancy window, where suddenly something that feels vaguely parasitic takes up residence inside you, jostling your internal organs, controlling everything about what you eat, how you sleep, denying you the consumption  of soft cheeses, causing involuntary daily expulsion of your stomach contents and dictating the wearing of flat shoes.  If you didn’t understand that your life was no longer your own, once this period is up your body will literally turn itself inside out trying to expel the small being and nothing will ever quite go back in its rightful place again.  This is followed by a period of sleep deprivation so insidious that Guantanamo Bay is trying to clone the process, and eventually this just eases back to a general loss of the freedom and spontaneity you once had.

If you acquire a small human late in life, without going through this rite of passage to get there, you have no framework available to deal with it.   You will realise very quickly that you are no longer the princess, the focal point for all attention and the consensus is that it’s a little like being left on the side of the road while the family drive off in the car.

It appears that this is why, universally, you will take up drinking wine.


You will need to come to grips with the S-word

Take a moment, have a cup of tea or a glass of something chilled and try to cite a positive example of a stepmother. Trawl the depths of your Disney experience and your entire back-catalog of fairy tales and you will not find one instance of a glamorous, fabulous and much-revered stepmother.  Not a one.

stepmother evil

If you’ve shacked up with a rockstar some 20 years your senior, you can try to pass yourself off as a sibling of the child, but if you can’t pull this one off, at some point someone in the street is going to pass comment on the child you are with and you are going to stumble when trying to describe that you are not their mother.  It hardly trips off the tongue to describe yourself as ‘little Robbie’s dad’s girlfriend’ or even worse ‘partner’.  If you don’t elaborate that you are not the child’s mother, the laws of early childhood behaviour will mean that he/she will pick that moment to pull a full scale tantrum and you’ll want to step back and point out that you share NO genetic material and had NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with the upbringing of this child, save for plying them with a few Freddo frogs and Chicken nuggets over the last couple of months.

You are going to have to use the word stepmother at least descriptively, and my surveyees suggest you make it your life’s mission to band together with others to create a critical mass of glamorous, kind and supremely fabulous stepmothers so that in several hundred years the Disney version becomes urban myth.  Alternatively, simply rock  that wicked stepmother persona with all the panache of Cruella DeVille in her Dalmatian coat.

You have a whole new category of ineptitude

You know nothing about this caper.  You may have sued corporations, saved lives and run multi million dollar deals, but you don’t know anything about raising children and even if you did, you have no role to play as you are not a parent.

What you will inevitably do is overcompensate, spoil the kiddie rotten, indulge a little in all the things you liked as a kid and eventually assemble some degree of life skill.

If you don’t, Google can tell you pretty much all you need to know.


Just when you think you are not cut out for this craziness, I’m told there is a moment when it all turns around.  It could be something as simple as you nailing some respect as the Uno Queen of the household. It might be the day that you actually appear in one of the fridge-paintings, albeit trailing a sorry last behind the pet dog, the next door neighbour’s turtle and the kitchen windowsill Venus flytrap plant …and the kid has drawn you in a manner that adds a few kgs.


But hey….you made it……

If you are taking your online dating a little more seriously than this blog, check out this website for fabulously simple online dating advice.


Date preparation – then and now

This weekend saw a get together, in the teeniest of country towns, under the auspices of the infamous ‘Girls Weekend’ of a bunch of girls whose worlds had first collided in a working class suburb of Melbourne some 30+ years ago. Since we first met we had borne every bad hairstyle of the 80s, our fair share of fashion hits and misses, a dozen children (with a spectacular lack of contribution on my part), and we now represented every available relationship status offered by Facebook. Shenanigans were contained to only overindulgences in a tremendous home-made lasagne and Woolworths lamingtons, though there was a slight brush with the law when my arrival complicated things by inexplicably getting us locked out of our accommodation. This resulted in two of us having to traipse down the road and plead with the local constabulary (me aghast at having no shoes on and appearing only in stockinged feet) to call the owner to allow us entry back in again. About as close as I want to get to Lindsay Lohan when it comes to undignified legal entanglements.


There is nothing like a catchup with the besties that have been your friends since Primary School to lay on a little bit of reminiscing about times past. As one of them opined about how they didn’t envy those on the dating scene again at our age we were drawn in, as girls so often are when softened by a little white wine and sunshine, to debate whether it was easier then or now.

Honing in on the theme of date preparation, most were on the side of it being far easier back in the day. Debate ensued. And over a veritable volcano of Philly Cheese erupting sweet chilli sauce over Savoys, here’s the collective wisdom of those gals when it comes to first date prep – then and now.


Back in the day, it was enough to sit in the bath, taking in the ambience of a mosaic of brown and beige tiles, listening to one of these

cassette tape

and applying the seventy-seven kinds of chemicals (none of them actually carcinogenic, but certainly tested without regard to the welfare of our animal friends) that were present in Palmolive’s high end leave-in conditioner.

From there a vent brush

vent brush---2

was applied to wrangle that 80s perm into something that would never resemble natural hair. It was almost always necessary to hold the hair up and SPRAY EVERY SINGLE SUCKER in place with a grim abandon knowing that tomorrow you’d feel like a sticky Pop Tart had taken up residence in your hair. But, people, that was tomorrow’s problem. The fact that a can of Silhouette lacquer could be used to stop a huntsman spider in its tracks by clagging up its legs and spakfilling its breathing apparatus was just a well-understood side-benefit.

It it didn’t stick – fry in it place with a crimper.

crimped hair

Today, you need to either emulate Jen Aniston’s flat-ironed locks or the Victoria’s Secret runway curls, neither of which can ever be achieved in your own home, and will therefore require a pre-planned hairdresser visit and the presentation of an appropriately bolstered credit card.


Back in the day, eye colour came in a crème pot, and once Lady Diana started rocking the blue eyeshadow and started crayoning a matching blue to her inner eyelids, we knew that doing the same placed us only a moment away from finding our own Prince.

blue eyeliner diana

We all conveniently overlooked that her prince was actually the uninspiring Charles and re-oriented ourselves to trapping George Michael via his endorsement of peacock eye-shadow.

blue eyeshadow

(it took many more albums and a number of tabloid articles before we realised that George Michael was not going to end up our Prince either….. Not sure why we didn’t realise earlier…)

or gloves

Back then, we could leave eyebrows completely unattended, to the point where, following the influence of Brooke Shields, we could pretty much allow beings the size of two mutant furry caterpillars to roam our foreheads at will.

Brooke Shields Eyebrows

Now we must allow overpriced beauticians to apply boiling wax to our eyebrows and tear out all those errant hairs with careless abandon, at about the price of $1.50 per hair (depending on how hirsute you are)


In the early 80s, the word pedicure was about as well used as the word sun-dried tomato. You painted on successive layers of Cutex until a chisel was required, then you started over.

These days, it starts at your feet. Any woman in her 40s that has gained a few kilos, knows that the fastest way to improve your BMI is to wear super-high heels. If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, your new year’s resolution to MEET SOMEOME will likely mean that your high heel of choice is going to be a strappy sandal – which means your toes need to be in order.

Whilst tarting up your feet is going to be inexpensive due to the invasion of cheap nail salons, it’s not without its level of discomfort, especially if you are a runner like me, whose feet have a more tenuous grip on their surface than a truck with the cheapest of budget retreads

Despite my apologies to the ladies, there is a twittering that goes on when they spy my feet that makes me think that this insidious new eruption of cheap nail salons comes with its own ‘Klingon’ style language. It’s disturbing, and although they are inclined to sometimes trumpet reassuringly at random ‘you so skeennny’, nothing can make me feel good about all this.


These days, its about exfoliation, fake tan and some kind of sparkly skin cream that allows you all the shimmer and tan of a stint in the Bahamas without lapsing into something that suggests you’ve emerged from the local Tandoori restaurant’s oven and rolled into a field of glitter.

Back then, you did a bit of an Aapri scrub, and, if he was special, you splashed some Reef Oil sunscreen into your bath water and swanned around for the rest of the evening like an overheated pina colada, all the while giving off a whiff of Arpege.


In short? We think it might have been a little easier back in the day. But I think it might take another Girls Weekend, with obligatory carbs and vino, with only a fleeting visit from the constabulary if we REALLY DESERVE IT, to figure out the answer for sure.

Time to Train up!

Lets face it readers, meeting someone special is NOT GOING TO HAPPEN if you remain on your couch at home.  Even if you try, one of your besties will eventually parade past your couch, scooping up the guilt-inducing remnants of your Noodle Box carb-fest, clinking together the empties of your single-handed tour through the Marlborough wine region and take it as a personal mission to GET YOU OUT THERE.

If you want control your own destiny, this is to be avoided at all costs.  If you can summon up the teeniest level of proactivity and arise from your heartbreak-induced languor and do this before they swoop in, there is much to be gained.

But where?

Start with sports.

Here are five options to unlock a hidden pool of activity that will prise you off that couch, get you out in the air and mingling with the eligibles, complete with a  tip or two on how to get started and a couple of rookie mistakes to avoid.


 Watching golf on TV is something only slightly less tedious than alphabetically re-organising the spice cupboard and a sport where you could depart the lounge-room for a three course meal and still not have seen a change in the leader board.

Take in some live golf however and you open up a range of possibilities.  Firstly, if you are following this guide sequentially, this will be your first foray outdoors since the breakup and you will:

  • Allow sunshine on skin that has grown as pasty and delicate as that of an 80-year-old shut-in
  • Start to burn off that Ben and Jerry’s calorie surplus that you’ve accumulated via  golf-spectator walking, reaping all the aerobic advantages of a golf game without the frustration of trying to do something productive with that stupid white ball
  • Note that the vast majority of spectators are men.  If you are able to forgive an over-abundance of baseball cap-wearing you are well placed to scoop one up.

Just not this one.


The Olympics

The Olympics bring  a dazzling array of sporting prowess, a tremendous arrangement of live entertainment and a tribe of terribly earnest volunteers (and lets face it, we do love someone in a lanyard).


  •  I lack statistical evidence, but suggest you are unlikely to locate your life-partner in the stands at the Greco-Roman Wrestling or the male synchronised diving events
  • Lurk around the exits of the blue-ribbon events such as 100m finals and swimming, paying particular attention to those who emerge from the corporate function boxes

Case in point


Tasmanian wannabe-real-estate agent becomes PRINCESS as a result of chance meeting at the Sydney Olympics.

Throughbred Racing

High stakes, hats, style, celebrities who know nothing about horse-racing, branded marquees and you have all the glamour of the Milan Fashion Festival with only the teeniest whiff of portaloo and horse-effluent.

Take a few stiletto totters inside the front gates of the racecourse and if your single-radar still has a bleep left in it you will latch onto the fact that the ratio is vastly in your favour.

You have the perfect excuse to frock up, get your hair done (or if that fails, squeeze it into a hat that costs you about the same as your next three haircuts) and float about the lawn in a frothy dress.  Trust me, two glasses of bubbles and you will find a way to extract your stilettos from a grassy lawn with the ease of an ice-dancer.  Then simply glide from one bucks party to the next, avoiding any cluster of men in onesies, fluorescent suits or superhero costumes.

We might be all a bit jaded with the antics of Liz Hurley and Shane Warne, but lets take note that they met at a race meeting and appear to be still going strong at Ascot three years later


Just don’t go near this sort of display.

cup day


I’m being outrageously Melbourne-biased (but hey, its my blog) but AFL footy does have its unique advantages when it comes to re-entering the male domain.


  •  Treat the Great Southern stand as you would the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan and only venture into the shadows of the light-towers of the MCG if you have a sponsor that can ticket you into the hallowed halls of the MCC members.
  • You may find that you don’t actually venture into daylight and your viewing of the actual game may be the same as what you’d see if confined on your couch since you might not emerge from the Bullring bar but remember that its called the BULL ring bar and is entirely male dominated (else it would be called the Daisy the Dairy Cow Domain.  And that will never happen)

Just don’t try to match the blokes drink for drink and end up in this situation


Grand Prix Motor Racing

I have my suspicions that there is actually no discernable difference between the molecular composition of testosterone and that of high-octane racecar fuel.  Both have the ability to drive men to incredible feats.

Being at the car races you have the best of both worlds:

  • In the corporate tent – those that will challenge you from a career ambition and intellectual perspective (although likely with an accompanying ego that is never going to be able to cheerlead you on your journey through the glass ceiling)
  • In the outer – someone that will always have the strength to flip the top of your Crownie, change a washer in your bathroom tap and have the ability to indulge that latent curiosity you have about men in tradie shorts.

Just stay at the GP, and don’t think that it bears any resemblance to the Bathurst 1000 where you will find something like this:


In summary – find your sport and train up!

If you are taking your online dating a little more seriously than this blog, check out this website for fabulously simple online dating advice.