Mom and Dad seem to thrive on the grandchildren idea. We’re still the strong, connected family we’ve always been. We’re lucky. Not many families could have pulled that off and still remained close. Of course we fight – we always will. But we’re a great team, and I know how much I need them all.

And me? What about me? For nearly thirteen years I was happy with my guest-starring role. Then, last year, something changed. Could have been some kind of quarter-life crisis, or maybe Mercury retrograded into the fifth house of Sagittarius or some kak. Whatever. Major things have happened, not the least of them the Executive Decision that spaghetti-strap tops may still be worn, even if no weight were ever lost. One of the most freeing decisions you’ll ever make, believe you me.

And I wrote a book, which, by the way, is pretty damn hard. I’m somewhat proud and it has definitely been good for me. Nothing like re-reading reams of pages of me-me-me for the seventeenth time to swiftly extricate the head from the butt.

There have been some interesting developments on the, shall we say, romantic front. Yeah, let’s call it that. Sounds so much better than blurting out, “I got laid! A lot! Yippee!”

I started dating for the first time in five years and, oh Lordy, save me from the gut-wrenching fear. Nevertheless, I kept at it and slowly my usual bolshie Ice Queen sensibility began to thaw. Very slowly. And not without a good dollop of white-knuckled resistance. But just long enough to get myself one of those boyfriend creatures. Not the crappy, budget version either – those that are cheaper and easier to find, but need replacing every three months. No. No more pennywise and pound foolish for me. I’m after the real deal. I think I’ve found it.

Oh my Gawd, I hear you gasp. How did she manage that? Does she still remember how it works? Truth is, nope. I did have some feminine wiles once, but they got rusty and fell off, so I had to rely on my sharp wit and sparkling personality to land myself a man. And a very lovely man he is too, even if I did find him on the Internet. The fact that my online dating profile included only a headshot probably helped. Full-length photos might not have got me out of the starting blocks.

And before you ask: Yes, there are many sinister stalkers in cyberspace. Gross, married men all looking for discreet daytime fun. And some lonely, desperate model-train enthusiasts dressed by their mothers. But that’s a story for an entirely different book: How to get a single mother into bed… It would be a very short book. Hint: wash the dishes. What a good idea such a book would be – practically a public service. If there’s anything we frazzled single mothers need to keep us sane, it’s regular recreational sex with people who are not axe-murderers, child molesters or entirely ignorant of the female anatomy. And familiar with soap and deodorant. Preferably able to string two words together. Unless they smell really good. Then intelligent conversation is irrelevant.

But there are also plenty of ordinary, nice enough people that you might otherwise never get to meet. It’s worth a shot, if you have half a brain and can distinguish between potential serial killer and potential husband. Um… I know. Quite similar and difficult to distinguish – just use your common sense.

It’s still early days for Mr Cyberspace and me. (No, I was not looking at that wedding dress. Of course not! Are you crazy? Marriage? Pah!). I’m not allowing myself to get over-excited, because I don’t want to look like a gigantic, lovesick idiot in six months’ time. There. Aren’t you proud of my restrained nonchalance? Let me assure you, no more gushing from this baby.

Okay, okay. I’m lying and we all know it. I’m in love! I feel wonderfully gooey and happy. And yes, dammit, I was looking at the wedding dress. Put that up your jumper and smoke it.

We’ll see how it turns out, I guess. Whatever happens, I know I’ll be okay. That’s a great thing to know. It means you can do anything, and not be afraid. I’m not such a cold, cynical bitch, after all. Not nearly as much as I used to be, at any rate. It’s progress.

Would I do it all again? If I could go back, would I still choose this path? Would I choose to have a baby at fifteen, knowing what I know now? It’s been a long, confusing, scary, exhausting road. I’ve doubted myself so many times. I’ve hated myself. I’ve felt alone. I’ve felt ashamed of myself at times. I’ve cried, convinced I couldn’t do it. Who would choose that?

Me. That’s who. I would do it all over again. I have a life now, though I sometimes don’t know what to do with it. I’m still tired – I haven’t had an uninterrupted night’s sleep in thirteen years. I’m frequently Red Bulled up to my eyeballs, which isn’t particularly healthy, but at least I’m not a tik head. I still try too hard to be perfect. I still have fantasies of being the world’s greatest mother, writer, employee, daughter, fellatrix, all-round saintly-type person who can make Duck L’Orange out of her head. I want to be all of that, while maintaining my staggering wit and Botticellian loveliness. Stop sniggering, damn you. It still annoys me that I can’t be all of those things, but I am learning that “good enough” means just that. Hardest lesson I’ve ever learnt.

The voices are still there: Sensible Tracy, Flaky Tracy, Sister Tracy… But I’m learning to override them now, just barely. It’s a struggle every day, but I’m finally the one in charge – and although they don’t like it, they’re getting the message. I may doubt sometimes, but truly I know I’ve done okay, scary body mass index and sucky saintliness-index notwithstanding.

I can feel, with every tiny bit of my being, that this is where I am supposed to be. It’s not tragic, it’s not second best – it’s perfect. My children and I, we were meant to be. I believe it, I know it. Nobody else has to agree, nobody else has to care. Nobody else has to feel it. Just us. And we do.

The End