The 47-year-old incubator – and a tribute to disco

Disco music resonates with single mum Mel W. Image: stock photo.

For Mel W, being a single mum putting her kids through remote learning has its challenges – but it’s nothing a little disco can’t help her navigate.

What does the year 1974, a former human incubator, and a social and cultural force in the 1970s have in common? Quite a bit it would seem. My anthem this week is ‘I Will Survive’. And yes, ‘Gloria’, I’m sure there are many parents singing this song.

As I write this, the kids are learning remotely. Audio work meetings with my mute button on is the norm, so I can tell kids to stop pulling at my shirt and asking about noun groups, roman numerals or food during my meetings.

More notably, I had a recent video call where my sons were wrestling behind me for all to see! I slowly put my microphone on mute. While still smiling at the group on my screen, I brought out my ventriloquist skills and said, ‘Keep going and look out!’ Then as cool as the introduction to LaBelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade’, I calmly unmuted my mic and continued the meeting.

LaBelle’s ‘Lady Marmalade’. Video: Olga0815007/YouTube.

“When you have been a human incubator, a life vessel, a 24/7 walking human kitchen (AKA being pregnant or becoming a mother) people ask the weirdest questions.”

– Mel W

I had my first child in 2011 and then my second in 2012. My body has changed quite bit. While pregnant, I remember seeing what appeared to by a faint roadmap across my stomach. Just like Thelma Houston, I too was singing, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ to the skin across my growing torso. One guy called them ‘love scars’. He said they were a testament to the miracle of motherhood and kissed my stomach. Um, go easy on the Jane Austen vibe – they’re just stretch marks, buddy. If you had scars, I sure as hell am not going to kiss them and give them a name! 

When you have been a human incubator, a life vessel, a 24/7 walking human kitchen (AKA being pregnant or becoming a mother) people – even strangers – ask the weirdest questions. Are you going to breastfeed? Did you breastfeed? Did you put loads of weight on? Did you drink wine or eat soft cheese when you were pregnant? Should you be having that coffee in your condition?

A few months ago I was asked on a date and got, ‘Did you have natural childbirth?’ When I advised that my children were delivered via caesarean, his response was, ‘Oh you have scars!’ I was about to say, ‘Be careful where you are pointing your judgement, Pistol Pete, as you said you are 6’1” and 41-years-old but we both know you are 5’9” and in your mid-50s!’ Don’t ever ‘Ring My Bell’ ever again! 

At 47, if I say something about feeling hot or a little flustered, all of a sudden people start talking about perimenopause. OMG, the only burning inferno here is a ‘Disco Inferno’! I do not want to talk about menopause or perimenopause! The only ‘peri’ I want to talk about is Peri Peri Chicken!

The only burning in Mel W’s life is ‘Disco Inferno’ – originally made famous by The Trammps in 1977. Video: The Music Channel/YouTube.

Speaking of women’s business: to match my podcast, I’m transitioning my website from a blog to an online lifestyle magazine for women. So I hired a web designer. The young guy is struggling. Another great thing about becoming wiser and less patient is that you are effortlessly assertive and clear about your vision. Well, after receiving the first mock up, I quickly called the company to advise it looked like an incontinence pad advertisement. Detonate and start again!

It occurred to me that men in their early twenties were designing a site for a single mother in her mid-forties. My instructions were simple. No pink or endless photos of young mother’s kissing babies – I’m creating a lifestyle magazine for women, not a day care centre brochure! It will be strong, sassy, sexy and intelligent for the progressive, thinking woman. So give me some gold, black, strong fonts and change my logo – it reminds me of my Nana’s apron! I received the seventh mock-up. It’s getting there, I know it won’t be long until Kelly Marie and I do a duet to ‘Feels Like I’m in Love’.

And speaking of being in one’s mid-forties, the inevitable has happened: my metabolism has slowed down. At a recent medical appointment, I jumped on the scales. I had put on 15kg since lockdown 1.0! My doctor’s advice? “We don’t want you to lose your pretty face. Time to go on a diet” At this age, you become desensitised to comments and it’s all about ‘Stayin’ Alive’, like the Bee Gees said, and making statements bigger and bolder than men in tight white polyester pants.

So as the universe would have it, I commenced a movement program. I am getting the most amazing results from the Matthew Mellor Movement Program. OMG, shut the front door! I have lost almost 6kg and 14 centimetres from around my waist, and continue to get results while in lockdown, juggling working from home and stumbling through remote learning. I looked in the mirror yesterday and my flattish mum bum is looking rounder … Ooh, KC, it’s time to contact the Sunshine Band so I can join in with ‘(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty’ and strut with my mask on in the common areas of my apartment building. 

It’s time for Mel W to (Shake Shake Shake) her booty. Video: hobortdonos/YouTube.

Yes, it’s definitely fabulous being over 40. When I was in my twenties, I thought I was the coolest thing since freezers were invented. I was at the coolest clubs dancing on a podium here and there with far too much alcohol in my system. In my thirties, I was carving out my career and making tough life decisions with the occasional dancing on a podium here and there with far too much alcohol in my system. Now, in my forties … goddamn, once you’ve conquered your twenties and thirties, it’s like the Patrick Hernandez anthem, ‘Born to Be Alive’. It’s showtime! Oh yes, and I’m still dancing on a podium here and there with far too much alcohol in my system.

Mel W is a Sydney-based writer. She is the author of The Single Mother Trying Not to F*ck Up Life and host of the podcast The Single Mother’s Guide to the Galaxy. Her website is located at https://singlemothersguide2thegalaxy.com.