I used to always know when Deutschland 83 was on British telly, because my DMs would be pinging all evening, ping, ping, ping, Jacinta, how many of your neighbours were in the Stasi, ping, ping, ping, Jacinta, when you’re not in and the postman leaves a parcel with a neighbour have you ever noticed they’ve steamed the package open, ping, ping, ping, when you have one night stands with people do they admit they were actually IMs, ping, Jacinta, do you live in East Berlin, ping, Jacinta, you must live in the coolest city on earth, ping, ping, ping, ping, PING. BRITISH PEOPLE READING THIS IF YOU LIKED DEUTSCHLAND 83 YOU’RE GONNA LOVE KLEO PLEASE WATCH IT BUT DON’T DM ME ABOUT IT, THX.
If heterosexual men don’t want to share our lives with us, what are we going to do?
It was the same way a few weeks ago, after I published a piece on Exberliner about single mums and dating and hopelessness and love. But this time, every single message I got, was exactly the fucking same:
Jacinta, did my situation inspire that piece? Jacinta, did my situation inspire that piece? Jacinta, did my situation inspire that piece?
The weird thing was, none of the 9778 people who DM’d me were actually the person whose life I had sucked dry like a vampire, the person I was basing my sad and depressing tale of single mum dating rejection on. My friend Minnie actually even phoned me up – she actually used the phone. It was over WhatsApp, but still: we had an actual conversation.
“Jacinta, did my situation inspire that piece?” She asked, breathlessly. “You weren’t harsh enough! You should have mentioned everything! You should have said how he dumped me so mercilessly right in the middle of a cancer scare! Actually, not even in the middle – one day I get told I might have cancer, the next day I am being mercilessly dumped by my so-called boyfriend!”
I blinked, kind of numbly, into the phone.
“I thought you might have been upset about my giving out such intimate details about such a sad event in your life,” I mumbled vaguely. This was actually just an excuse. The truth is, so many of my single mother friends are being mercilessly dumped right now, it’s kinda hard to keep up.
“No, I love it,” Minnie said. “Emotional revenge porn. I love it. I just think, next time, mention the cancer stuff and use his real name. It’s so cruel what he did to me.”
“It’s bad form,” I said. “Really bad manners.”
“Use his real name,” Minnie said.
“I can’t,” I said. “I don’t want to be sued. I’ll call him Derek, and that way he’ll never sue me. Surely nobody would ever sue you over an article where you’d called them Derek? They’d be too embarrassed to admit they thought it might have been about them?”
Life is hard, and parenting is hard, and… single motherhood is lonely and exhausting.
I started envisioning a world where, instead of becoming a single mother freelance writer, I had become a lawyer for the Washington Post, and advised Amber Heard to name Johnny Depp “Derek” instead of not naming him at all in her feminist op-ed…
Minnie and I hung up and I texted my friend in Schöneweide.
“You’re the only person who hasn’t DM’d me today, asking if my Exberliner piece was about them!” I wrote.
She sent me back the single mother’s favourite emoji. It’s this one: 😭
“We’ll be okay, won’t we, Jacinta?” She wrote.
“Only if okay means really fucking brilliant,” I wrote back. “Are you coming to Tamara’s picnic next week?”
She answered: “I can’t. I’m going to Tropical Islands with Jenny and Geraldine. We got free tickets because we had to queue up for six hours once.“
What does okay mean, I think to myself. Life is hard, and parenting is hard, and single parenthood, or – to be more specific – single motherhood is lonely and exhausting. Isn’t it normal to want to have someone next to you, sharing the load, dividing the labour, offering you emotional support? But the thing is. The thing is. The thing is this: maybe heterosexual men just aren’t capable (they’re certainly not willing!) to give us that. I mean, a guy who’d dump you during a cancer scare? He isn’t exactly going to be around if you actually got cancer, is he?
It’s normal to want not be alone, I think. But if heterosexual men don’t want to share our lives with us, what are we going to do? Of course we mourn their loss when these useless men dump us. But what are we really mourning? If you love someone who can only be in a relationship with you if you don’t have cancer, what kind of love is it really? What exactly are you mourning? Nothing, really.
These so-called relationships single mums are in are actually just a big black hole, a heap of nothingness. And, probably, tragically, annoyingly, horrifically: this is the most depressing thing of all!