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Single Mom Slice Of Life: My Dating Dilemmas!

 dating

When I told a few of my friends that my next Good Enough Mother posting was going to be on the topic of dating, each and every single one of them… well, they laughed.

In this area, I am no expert, and to be fair, I’m not even a novice.  I dated only one person before I was married, and not many more than that after I divorced.  I can count the number of first dates I’ve had both before and after on one hand.  (I’m not proud.)

So, as I pretend I have a clue as to what I’m going to write about, I can’t help but think, what references do I possibly have to go by as a single parent looking for love?

Movies/Television…well, if my life were a movie, I would be the best friend, comic relief.  But alas, in real life, my best friend is head over heels for someone else.  As much as I love him with all my heart… in my head, I know we’ll always be friends, nothing more.  So much for plan A.

Books… Sadly, fairy tales and romance novels rarely have heroines that are almost forty years old with two teenage boys, and a painfully normal schedule that includes working forty hours a week with routine errands.  Since the chances of me accidentally being mistakenly kidnapped by a rogue secret agent trying to clear his name are slim to none (and slim’s on vacation) I guess we’re on to plan C.

Internet Websites… not a thing wrong with them, I guess.  You have to be able to sell yourself, and I suck at sales.  However, in dating-sites defense, I have two different friends who have met and found happiness via the internet.  One has been married for two years, the other just hit happiness and her six month anniversary.  That having been said, can YOU really forget the cartoon of the dirty old man pretending he’s a hot stud online?  Me either.  Let’s visit plans D, E, and F.

Bars?  Grocery Stores?  Random stranger on the freeway?  I cannot tell you the last time I was even in a bar (that’s just not my thing).  The guy that hit on me in the frozen food section actually clicked his dentures at me and winced when his chest hairs got caught in his gold chain.  We’ve already established that my life is in fact not a movie, so I’m not likely to meet someone on the Northbound 101.

That leaves what?  Me?  What is the old saying? If you don’t have a friend that (insert phrase here) then you’re probably that friend.  If I have found a problem with every option open to me, then the problem must be… me.  As uncomfortable as it is, I have to look at what I myself am doing to prevent myself from moving forward, finding happiness, being loved.

On paper, I’m not a bad catch.  I make my own money, I’m self sufficient, independent… I like action flicks as much as super-hero movies and have the sense of humor of a college freshman guy.   I cook, I clean (occasionally); I’m funny and smart and caring.  I don’t like chocolate, hate knick knacks or frilly anything and I detest shopping.

In real life, however, I have baggage, demons, and come complete with an insta-family.  I want the fairy tale and the man who loves me and appreciates me… and I am just scared and insecure enough not to try and find him.

I have a whole host of flimsy excuses including, “I don’t have time”… but as we’ve discovered these last two months of the kids being on vacation, I’m actually quite adept at making time for friends and fun.

“I am perfectly happy all by myself.”  Well, I’ve cried myself to sleep plenty of times to know that’s an outright lie as I type the words.

Of course, there is my personal favorite shield of armor, “whatever I do will affect my kids.”  Sure that’s a legitimate reason but this particular shield is foiled with the knowledge that I left an abusive relationship to protect my children.  I would never do anything, or make any other decision that would ever bring harm to them again… and they wouldn’t even be involved without there being enough time for me to know that whoever my future man turns out to be is worthy of meeting my kids.

Those mysterious know-it-alls are always saying lines like “it’ll find you when you stop looking for it.”  They’ve also said, “It’ll happen when you least expect it” and “You’ll know when it’s meant to be.”

I say that I moved my family out of expensive California because I didn’t want my kids thinking that life was all about struggling to make ends meet.  I left an abusive husband because I didn’t want my kids thinking that a relationship was about control and fear; and I quit my job because I didn’t want my kids thinking that life was working five days a week in a place that made you cry and sick to your stomach from the stress.

Why should dating and the search for love be any different?  I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that happiness exists only in dreams, books and movies.  I want them to feel the happiness I know is out there, and experience the warmth of knowing you’re loved.

So, if my main go-to parenting style has been doing by showing, I need to love myself, appreciate me for the person I am, and give more credit to the saying, “if you don’t love yourself, how will anyone else?”  In order to do that, there needs to be less “if it hasn’t happened by now…” and more “When it happens…”

Maybe – just maybe – if I do that, I’ll forget all about looking and hoping for love, and might actually find it!

But what do you think? Where did you meet your partner – and when did you know they were ‘the one’.

 Wendy Syler

Wendy Syler Woodward, 37, has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 11 and 16.   Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and is preparing to go back to college before the end of the year. 

7 Comments

  1. Smarty P. Jones

    July 18, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    The only experience I have to call on in this situation is that of the child of a single parent. My parents split when I was 3, my mom met my stepfather when I was 6 and they married when I was 11.

    I have to say that you are absolutely on the right track with this. The best thing you can do for your children is to show them what happy looks like. Whether you’re dating someone or not, the best thing your kids can have is a happy, healthy parent. And yes, I think dating is a part of that.

    Don’t get discouraged, dating is just as hard for the childless. It is hard putting yourself out there after you’ve made yourself unavailable for a while. Once you start putting yourself out there, it’s actually pretty fun, for the most part. And just think, when things get crazy, you’ve got built-in bodyguards. LoL!

    Good luck! I look forward to your later posts!

  2. Gloria

    July 18, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    Wendy,
    As alway you have made me laugh till I was crying. Then had me crying–because you my dear have come so far! 🙂 I love you. And I am even more proud than ever.
    I know how hard it was for you to write this. But YOU did and it is a great step for YOU!

  3. COURTNEY

    July 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    WELL,

    I’M A SINGLE MOTHER OF THREE AND I THINK THAT I WILL ALWAYS BE A SINGLE MOTHER ,UNTILL MY YOUNGEST CHILD, WHO WILL BE 2 IN SIX DAYS , TURN 18. I DON’T KNOW WHY BUT I FEEL SO GUILTY TO HAVE MALE COMPANY OR TO LEAVE MY KIDS AND GO ON A DATE ,WHEN I DO THIS I FEEL LIKE I’M PICKING A MAN OVER THEM .
    WHEN I LWAS A LILTTLE GIRL I ALWAYS FELT AS IF MY MOM CHOOSE EVERY MAN THAT EVER SAID HI TO HER OVER ME, I PROMISE MY SELF TO NEVER DO THIS, I ALSO WAS MOLESTED BY MY MOM HUSBAND AND HE WOULD ALWAYS TELL ME , ” YOUR NOT GOING TO BE ANYTHING IN LIFE ,NO ONE IS GOING TO LIKE TO BE AROUND U “. HE NEBER TREAT HIS BLOOD SON BAD BUT MADE ME FELT LIKE I WAS A SLAVE I ALWAYS HAD TO CLEAN UP HIS MESS WHILE HIS SON WATCH T.V ( WE WERE ONLY ONE YEAR APART )ISAID ALL O THIS TO SAY I’M SCARD THAT IF I START DATING THAT MY KIDS WELL FEEL THE WAY I FEEL OR THAT THE MAN MIGHT MISTREAT THEM .
    GUYS ARE ALWAYS FLIRTING WITH ME, I A NICE LOOKING WOMEN ,IM A VET OUT OF THE NAVY , GOT A NICE JOB ,IM A GOOD CAUGHT ,WHO IS SCARD TO GET CAUGHT!
    PLEASE HELP ME

  4. Nicole

    July 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    As of now you are a friend in my head. We can have drinks and compare crazy stories. Everyday I wonder why I am single. One of the reasons is b/c I am waiting for my kids to get out. One down one to go. I am not looking for the “one” just a good guy who can be my friend. I know he is out there, but I am not rushing his arrival.
    I am still working on me and trying to be the best mom I can be.

  5. Byrdie Goodloe

    July 19, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Ms. Wendy,
    You are so awesome! You make me laugh! I love you. I am so proud of you and This is soooo for YOU!!! . Love it…Keep it comming.

    Byrdie G.

  6. Uncle Rick

    July 20, 2011 at 6:50 am

    …and as we were saying, you stop looking when you choose to be satisfied with your singleness. You stop worrying that no one will love me, that I’m a failure, all those negative thoughts and self-doubts. You take on a project to heal yourself – mine was rebuilding the house. And then, out of the blue!
    You’re on the right track, my dear. Thanks for letting us read this – that takes courage. As one of your posters said, it is a great step for the most important one in your life – you.

  7. Will Jones

    July 20, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Wendy,

    Hilarious stuff!

    One of the best parts of being a guy is that most of us aren’t smart enough to think this deeply into anything. A guy doesn’t think “I’m a single dad, so most women won’t want me and I shouldn’t date” or “I have a lot of baggage so it will make it harder for women to accept me.” We don’t even care that we wear dentures or that our gold chain gets caught in our chest hair! We seldom tear ourselves down or beat ourselves up. Instead, we take the shot, on the off chance that a woman is adventurous enough, crazy enough, or desperate enough to go out with us. It’s a numbers game. Even if we get turned down 90% of the time, that still means we only have to ask ten women out to get a date (hell, we could manage that in one supermarket!)

    To a woman, this way might seem a little pathetic, but for a guy, it’s par for the course. It’s part of the hunt; we take the shot, and if we miss, we miss. The whole “it will happen when the time is right” stuff is nonsense. That’s like saying, “I’m hungry, but if I’m meant to eat, then a steak will come walking into my life when the time is right.” Hell with that! If you’re hungry, GO HUNTING!

    …And you seem way too creative to stop at the short list of hunting spots you mention above. Figure out what kind of guy you want (design him on paper from head to toe if you have to), figure out where that guy would be, and then go there! And don’t stop hunting until you find him. Some clues: techi-guys are at Best Buy. Smart guys are on school campuses or at the library. Construction workers are on construction sites. Guys with teenage sons are coaching little league. Guys who run everyday are running. WE’RE EVERYWHERE!

    Now you’re thinking, “Oh, if it were that simple.” Well, think about it. If a single guy is really looking for a wife, how long does it usually take him to find one? And if guys can do it, how hard can it really be? 😉

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