The coiffured banker's wife puts the children to bed, then sits alone in her mansion waiting for a husband who'll be home late again. Her fingers are painted and her handbag Dior, but she risks more than a broken nail if she questions his absence.
She must have the perfect life, thinks the new mum who sits sobbing in the dark, desperately searching the internet for an answer to why her baby won't stop crying. She tries to comfort him, but he seems to sense her anguish and the misinterpreted rejection cuts deeper into her fraying inner strength.
"She has it so much easier with one," says the mother of two. "At least she can sleep when the baby sleeps. She's so lucky," she sighs, as she is tag-teamed by her toddler's lunchtime protestations and the baby's carrot puree splatter art. When, for the tenth time that day, her eldest takes a disliking to the baby's mere existence, and she wonders again if she has what it takes to be what they need.
"Two is a doddle!" scoffs the mother of three. "At least she has the same number of hands as children! She's so lucky," she says, as she wonders how to meet the loan interest payments for the people carrier on the driveway. The guilt multiplies as she unfairly judges herself on her ability to give her children equally the attention they deserve.
"I don't know how she can moan with only three," the mother of six mutters, desperately needing a minute's break from the daily cycle of wash, dry, iron, repeat. I'm always in demand, never free; never without someone tugging on my arm for something or other. And do they even know how much it costs to feed a family of eight?"
"I wish I had that much support," sighs the single mum, watching the mother of six's teenage son playfully distracting his baby brother whilst helping his mum load the shopping bags into the car. The single mum picks up the phone again and re-dials her ex's number, hoping this time the promises remain intact.
She must enjoy so many cherished moments, thinks the working mum, awash with guilt as she swipes through pictures of her child giggling delightedly in the arms of someone else. She turns back to her computer, disappointed to find the only part time opportunities available are effectively a demotion. The pay doesn't even cover childcare.
"She's so lucky to have it all," whispers the woman in the clinic. The woman born to fit the role of 'MOTHER' so well it could be stamped on her soles and sewn into her seams. The woman who longs to feel the aches and pains and sickness of pregnancy, but upon whom Mother Nature has never granted that blessing. The woman with the longing gaze and the hollow heart.
But the doctor has good news. The results are positive and suddenly she is flying. She smiles in the mirror, seeing a baby swaddled in cloth reflected before her. Then muddy boots and school ties. Then a young man at an alter and maybe, just maybe, more little fingers begging for cookies at the kitchen counter top.
Meanwhile, the banker's wife fingers the bruises on her ribs and finding a strength she never knew she had, rises from her chair. She calls Refuge, packs her bags and takes the kids out of school. This fight is not just for her, but for them too.
The new mum calls the health visitor, dropping the facade of a woman in control and sobs again. Though this time it's with relief, as she realises it's OK to ask for help when you need it.
The mother of six declares 'enough is enough' and calls the mother of two, who immediately books herself a babysitter and steers her old friend out of the door. "Take some time, love," she says, "I'll sort this lot."
Later that night, the mother of three calls the mother of two, warning her husband, "Friday night is ladies' night". He gives her the thumbs up. "No problem," he replies.
The single mum, instead of relaying another apology, realises her love is enough, that she is enough and her son already has the strong and compassionate role model he needs.
The working mum eyes herself in the mirror, scrutinising the clean lines of her tailored dress and the shine of her new shoes. A better life is there for the taking. She needs it. She deserves it. Gripping her CV tightly, she strides confidently into the lobby and presents herself for interview. Nothing is going to hold her back.