My son was three weeks old the first time someone asked me when I would date as a single mom.
“Soooo, when are you getting back out there?”
As I stared down at my son sucking on my bloody nipple (yeah, breastfeeding was a hoot!), I contemplated how much effort it would take to wash my hair and find something to wear that didn’t smell like vomit. I was by no means ready to waste precious hours of possible sleep to humor whatever guy I could meet on a dating app, so my “Are you FUCKING crazy?” bark and menacing stare bought me a couple of months.
But then time passed, and what I assured myself would be just enough time to heal from childbirth and get into rhythm of being a mom (plus give myself some time to lose the baby weight), was always pushed back with an excuse: I’ll start dating as soon as he is sleeping through the night/walking/ goes through X transition/I’m not so busy at work/is in daycare/ I lose 15 more pounds (any day now…)
And so months turned into years. And now, having celebrated my son’s third birthday, I’ve realized that what I’ve always thought of as excuses, have really been me preparing myself to do things right for once and truly figuring out what I want out of a partner. The time I’ve spent focused on myself and my son has served me for something I hadn’t given much thought to before — standards. What do I really want in a guy? What guy is worth my time? And, more so, my son’s time?
I have gone on the occasional date here and there, but unlike Julius Caesar: I went, I saw, and I did not conquer. I retreated, way into the depths of my couch, in the familiar comfort of bad reality TV and a glass of wine.
Should single moms date? Fo’ sure! We should definitely model what healthy adult relationships look like to our children — and if you’re a single mom dating will be part of that deal. I am by no means saying that single moms should tell their young children about her dates or bring home any random guy, but kids should know that their mom takes care of herself, and part of taking care of herself is socializing and having fun.
Maybe you’ve considered dating as a single mom and run into the same thoughts I have. For all it’s worth, here are some of my best ones.
I don’t date as a single mom because…
I wasn’t ready to let go.
As a solo single mom since pregnancy, you’d think I’d have enough time to bury any feelings towards my ex by my son’s first birthday. But while I was able to let go and move on faster than you can unhook that bra before I was a mom, it was incredibly hard to let go of the relationship to the father of my son. Letting go didn’t only mean overcoming the breakup, but losing all hope of being a “traditional” family. In my case, it unfortunately also meant that he would not be present in my son’s life and THAT was a tough pill to swallow. So I waited it out and tried to fix things with my son’s father. So. Many. Times.
A while ago, I finally acknowledged that I am not responsible for my ex’s relationship with his son — he is. And as much as I mourn my son’s relationship with his dad, I cannot sacrifice my whole life for it.
Dating with an infant? Ha!
I’ll give mad props to any mom that manages to date with an infant child. I’m just not one of them. Between midnight wakings, a full-time job, eternally running to (or from) day care and poop everywhere, I barely managed to give myself a bath once in a while, much less invest enough time in front of a mirror to look presentable for a guy. Which leads me to…
Losing sleep… for this??
Whatever hours I have while my son sleeps are precious. I mean, the shit’s worth more than designer shoes. And mama likes her shoes. So, if I’m expected to shave my legs, Spanx my ass into a nice dress and pay a babysitter, the guy better be WELL worth it. Like Nutella-stuffed chocolate truffle sprinkled with gold leaf worth it. And sincerely, when was the last time you randomly ran into a Nutella-stuffed chocolate truffle sprinkled with gold leaf? You see my point. Because, really…
Where did your hair go?
I’m 36 people. Way too young to be a cougar, way too old to be interested in someone much older than me. 20-somethings freak me out with their weird chat code (are you really that lazy that you can’t be bothered to spell shit out???). And if guys my age are losing their hair, I don’t even want to think about what happens to their… stuff past 40. So late 30’s it is for me, which is a rather small pond to swim in if you’re adamant about him either being single or fully divorced, having a career in which he makes at least the same amount of money I do, wants to date a single mom, and knows the difference between your and you’re.
And while I know I could stand to lose a good 20 pounds, I don’t look bad enough to settle for a guy that looks like he’s taken a beating or two from life. Yes, looks matter, let’s be honest here. Plus, there is all that…
Listen, I’m a woman. I know how we can be. I hardly want to deal with my drama, let alone yours. If your ex-wife, baby mama or psycho ex still texts you past 9 pm, I’m not interested. I repeat, NOT INTERESTED. Go figure your stuff out and then call me. And in the meantime, can someone explain…
WTF is Netflix and chill anyway?
I’m a solo single mom — solo as in no nights or weekends off — so no, I’m not interested in you chilling on my couch if we’re not in a serious relationship. Like serious enough for you to meet my son. Because that shit won’t happen overnight, or even in a couple of months. So take your Netflix and chill somewhere my son won’t run into it.
Also, are you saying I am to get my son to bed early and find the perfect “I look naturally sexy and comfy” outfit so I can sit on my couch? Nope, you better take that outfit out to dinner and drinks somewhere I can order off the regular-priced menu. I call them standards. I am, after all…
Looking for father-figure material
Let’s be clear: I’m content by myself. I have a perfectly fulfilling life on my own. I care and provide for myself and my son, have an amazing career, and a solid group of friends and family. So while I know that at some point it’ll be nice to have a partner, I am in no rush to let just any guy get into my pants. When I do venture out, I’ll be looking for the real deal. For that guy that’s not only going to adore and respect me but my son as well.
Remember the Nutella-stuffed chocolate truffle sprinkled with gold leaf? I’m not wasting my time with any regular old truffle, a plain spoonful of Nutella, or any other pseudo-fancy imposters that might be nice, but not fulfilling enough. I’m not settling. And if that means spending years alone, so be it. My life is pretty spectacular already.