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 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.