One of the reasons I haven’t become a mother yet (putting aside the bad boyfriends, the years of celibacy, and the relentless sexism of the particular career path I have chosen) is because of the onslaught of unsolicited advice that falling pregnant would inevitably encourage. I always feel for new mums, posting snaps of their just-born babes on Facebook, knackered, newly incontinent, stitches stretching from perineum to cervix. All they want, in those days and weeks after having expelled a human from their genitals, are compliments about how precious that human is, and visitors who’ll look after the baby in another room so they can take an uninterrupted three-hour nap (and maybe think about bringing a home-made lasagne or a massive roast chicken while you’re at it). Instead, they are bombarded with advice, from the mawkish (‘cherish every moment because time flies’) to the moral (‘So good to see you breastfeeding hunny. It might get tough but keep going! Breast is best for baby.x’), disguised as congratulation. I have no idea how anyone refrains from writing FUCK OFF in all caps and chucking their baby out the window, just to see what the smug twats will write then.
I’ll say this, and I’ll say it once (at the risk of defying my own rules as I set them): if somebody wants your advice, they’ll ask for it. If nobody asks for your advice, you can safely assume you are living an unenviable existence and continue on your merry way. You know who especially doesn’t want your advice? Single people. I absolutely promise we are not looking at your relationship, wondering how we might recreate a similar bliss in our own lives. We either want to fuck your husband or else we wonder how you manage to fuck him — or if you even do anymore, because since he grew that beard we really can’t see how you’d stomach it. (Remember when you invited us to your wedding without a plus one, even though we’ve known each other for twenty years — even though you knew it would be swimming with our exes? This is divine retribution, and you are just going to have to suck it up, with good grace, cheap wine and cigarettes cadged from your husband’s aunty, like we did).
When we come to you, broken and defeated because we thought the guy we’re seeing was into the idea and then he started cancelling dates and telling us it was because he had to visit the dog he’d left behind when he split with his ex-girlfriend, we are not seeking advice. What we want is one of these three things, which I list in no particular order: for you to set us up with a friend of a friend who turns out to be the love of our life, a story about a time you were similarly defeated, vodka. Whichever of these you decide to offer, it is also important to remind us that men are remorseless cunts (if we’re lesbians this is still an acceptable message) and that we are talented, loved and beautiful. If we are childless, in our mid to late thirties, and you sense we are somewhere around the thirteenth day of our menstrual cycle, you might also want to remind us about Danish sperm donors, and that woman in Lahore who gave birth at 70 (but don’t phrase it so as to suggest we are in any way looking down the barrel of our fertility, because that will really piss us off).
I think I might need to start smoking again.