In my generation it wasn’t expected that a woman left school and married. Society had changed. Feminists had decreed that women should now have the right choose - as long as they chose to have a career and not become like their mothers, chained to the kitchen sink. Unfortunately I was a little out of step with the rest of my peers. I wanted nothing more than to be married to the man of my dreams and raise our family of little ones. However, life has a habit of intervening on your hopes for the future, and pretty soon I found myself aged 30, single, and in a secure career at a local University.
This was far from what I wanted. Suddenly I realised that biology being what it was, if I wanted a family, I had better start doing something about it. The problem was that I didn’t know how. My time was mainly spent at work. I left home at 7.00 am each morning, and didn’t returned until 8.00 pm most evenings. With those hours, the only place that a woman was likely to meet a man was at a bar and since I neither drink alcohol nor smoke, nor was I looking for a man who did, a bar wasn’t the place I would find my “Mr Wonderful”. I didn’t know what to do. I became more and more unhappy about the situation. I felt trapped, and yet I knew the prison was of my own making.
Technology was progressing and one day the “world” arrived in my office in the shape of the Internet. I love computers. Pretty soon I’d mastered the art of email and surfing. All kinds of doors opened up to me. I belonged to mailing lists of people with similar interests to my own. I corresponded by email with people doing similar jobs to me in other parts of the country, Australia, and Canada. I become involved with an international cross-stitch project. The Internet brought me out of myself and showed me another world. Then the thought came to me - could I find a man on the web?
I corresponded with a few who were looking for partners, and also with one who was looking for a pen pal. As the “partners” turned out not to be my dream men, my correspondence with my pen pal continued and flourished. I looked forward to going to work each day eager to read his messages. Eagerly I checked my email during the day to see what he was doing in his. As the weeks turned into months, we talked about everything. He constantly told me that he loved me and that I was the girl for him, but I didn’t believe him. We were just pen pals. Or so I thought until one day I realised something very important. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I had fallen in love with someone I had never met!
Our relationship deepened. We knew we had to meet up in person and so I travelled to Sweden and spent 10 days with him. From the moment we met I knew that this man was not only as sincere as his emails, but the man I had spent my life searching for. My soulmate. Leaving him was heartbreaking. He made reservations to travel to the UK in the summer and we counted the months, then the weeks, and finally the days and hours until we could be together once again. By the time we met again in August 1998 we were engaged to be married, and had set a date for December 1998.
We spent a couple of days talking about wedding plans and then realised that we didn’t want this kind of wedding. We wanted something smaller and more personal. So when Mikael asked me if I’d marry him the next day, much to his surprise I said “yes”! It wasn’t quite the next day, it was four days later in fact, when we stood at the Registry Office making our vows - Mikael in his new suit, and I in my dream wedding dress, which had miraculously been at the store when Mam and I went looking for something for me to wear. It was an intimate gathering. Only 8 people including ourselves watched the exchange of rings - and it was perfect. The only cloud hovering overhead was that Mikael had to return to Sweden alone.
Once more we counted weeks until we could be together. During this time I was working my notice at work. There were plenty of people who told me that I was making a mistake, that I’d miss working, but they didn’t know me very well. Even the thought of being a wife and mother sent butterflies of excitement racing around my stomach. Unbeknown to most people, this was what I had always wanted. Then in December 1998, Mikael returned to the UK to spend Christmas with my family and to take his bride back to Sweden with him. I worked my last day and left the office with a sigh of satisfaction. I was ready to start my new life. The life I had longed for over many lonely years.
Married life was all I hoped it would be and more. We put our home together and filled it with love and laughter. In July 2000 our happiness was increased when two became three, and our son Jake was brought into the world. In 2003, the birth of our second son Connor saw the completion of our family unit, and a circle of happiness closed around us. The life I have now is worth every one of those empty years that preceded it. I just wish I’d known then that my dream would come true if I were patient enough!