Real life: ‘He’s not my boyfriend, he’s my son’
You’ll never guess how old Pamela Jay is…
Take a look at this photo. At first glance you probably think, like most people, that it’s a picture of a couple – probably in their late 20s, maybe early 30s at most. But the truth couldn’t be more different. You see, the man I’m posing with isn’t my partner – he’s my son. And, I’m 32 years his senior.
Of course, at 56, I can’t help but get a little boost whenever someone thinks I’m young enough to be his girlfriend. But I owe my youthful appearance to my good genes – and my mum’s good advice.
Growing up, back in the 1970s, when there wasn’t as much focus on clean eating, Mum still made sure I ate healthily – so while my friends were snacking on chocolate and crisps, it was fruit and vegetables that filled our fridge. And, every night, after Mum had exfoliated her own face, she’d slather coconut oil on to my skin and hair until I was glistening. At the time, I remember thinking it was a chore, but Mum insisted. ‘You’ll thank me one day,’ she laughed.
She was right. By the time I was 16, I’d never even had a pimple. But, back then, looking younger than my friends wasn’t such a positive thing – no matter how much make-up I trowelled on, or how I dressed, there was no chance of me sneaking into the pub, or an 18 film at the cinema.
And, even as I reached my 20s and started working full-time as a sales assistant, I still looked like a teenager – so much so that, out at bars, men years younger would approach me. The idea of dating someone younger didn’t appeal, so they never had much luck!
Then, aged 31, I got into a relationship, and just 18 months later, in July 1993, I discovered I was pregnant. Although it was a shock, we were both so pleased.
Like most mothersto-be, I waited for a huge bump to appear. But, by eating healthily – lots of avocado, spinach, fresh fish and lean meat – my body didn’t change much. I still fitted into my size 8 jeans. And, by moisturising every day I didn’t get any stretch marks. I gave birth to
‘Even in my 20s, I still looked like a teenager’
Marley in March 1994, and taking in his tiny hands and chubby cheeks, I was in love.
Of course, with a newborn, life suddenly became a lot more hectic. And, by the time Marley had started nursery, I was a single mum. Although, I made sure to keep up with my skincare routine, to make it out of the house on time to drop him off, it was all I could do to slick on some lippy and a flick of mascara.
Holding back the years
As Marley got older and started school, I was nearing my 40s. But the other mums at the gates didn’t see it. ‘You must have had him young,’ they’d exclaim, but when I told them I gave birth at 32 they couldn’t believe it and asked me my secret. I think they must have expected me to have had cosmetic surgery or say I spent hours getting ready, but my answer was always the same – coconut oil, a healthy diet, drinking lots of water.
And in 2006, aged 44, I started doing yoga and going to the gym. Friends told me I was looking better in my 40s than I did in my 20s and 30s, and they weren’t the only ones who thought it.
In 2010, aged 48 I was buying a train ticket when the clerk asked me for my Young Person’s Railcard! But it’s not just my face that’s youthful – my outlook always has been, too. Even when Marley was a teenager, he’d (somewhat begrudgingly!) admit I was a ‘cool’ mum. It was high praise. But I told him all my time spent laughing with him has helped keep the years at bay. We’ve always been the best of friends.
Reaching the big 5-0
And, when I turned 50 in August 2012, Marley, then 18, and I went to New York to celebrate. Being just the two of us, we found it difficult to take photos, but after spotting another tourist with a fancy
camera we asked him if he’d take our photo and he offered to email it to us. Three months later, the email pinged into my inbox, ‘Here’s the picture I took of you and your boyfriend,’ it read. I was stunned. I was used to people saying I looked young, but not as young as my teenage son! I showed Marley the email – he didn’t mind, in fact he found it funny. ‘Either I look really old, or you look really young, Mum,’ he told me. But not long after, it happened again, this time when one of his friends spotted us at the supermarket and thought I was Marley’s new girlfriend.
Since then I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve been confused for a couple, but every time it happens I just laugh – and silently remind myself to call my own mum and thank her!
Pamela had Marley in her 30s
Pamela, 56, is often mistaken to be the girlfriend of her 24-year-old son, Marley