As I was getting ready this morning, I was thinking to myself. You know....no matter how many decades of motherhood you have under your belt nor how many kids you have raised, there will always be things that come up in the world of parenting that you wish you had an instructional manual for. Or...at the very least....a guide book. I have been doing this mother thing for a long time now and once again....I am stuck. My quandary this time? How do you be a mom and date? Yeah....I know, this week in blogs seem to be referencing my dating life (or lack there of) a lot. However, it is a very real and valid issue. Especially in this day and age.
I remember a time....in my life time in fact, that parents having to date and juggle children was almost a non-issue. Divorce was not prevalent and a lot of people chose not to try again after widowhood. Only in more recent decades has multiple marriages and dating with kids become a "thing!" And I must say, my own mother did not set a very good example for me. My parents divorced when I was in the 3rd grade and Mom never dated again. Heck. Mom never had a social life again. She made myself and my brother her entire life and not one move did she make outside our house that we weren't attached at her hip. I have no idea whether it was because she didn't want to go through the hurt of a relationship again or if she felt that she owed it to us kids to give us as "normal" a life as possible. Whatever the case, I didn't get my post break-up dating finesse from my mother.....which maybe explains a little (or a lot).
Now don't get me wrong. I have been a single mom and dated before. Back when it was just Man Child and me, I was very young and I did date then. Much of that was because a) I was very young and b) my mom sent me out the door with the security that she was always available to babysit (because she had no life of her own.) Also, I had my priorities pretty skewed back then. I was too young to realize that Mom was not suppose to be "helping" me raise Man Child. I was suppose to be raising him on my own and quite possibly sacrificing some of life's pleasures such as an active dating and social life. My how times have changed. I am an old single mom now and the rules as well as the life style have apparently changed.
Now......I don't have "help" doing a lot of things, much less raising my kids and making sure I have an active anything! So how do you do this thing? In the last few months....it is has been the first time in 10 years that I felt I might be ready to put myself back out there. My friends I think.....believe I am more ready than I am, but they are right....I should be out there at least making the effort. And since I don't have the luxury of a nanny or a close by grandparent, often my socializing options are limited. This is the very reason I broke down and tried the whole on-line dating thing. So many people seemed to have success with it and the convenience of getting all the preliminary dating garbage out of the way before you actually had to leave your house seemed somewhat appealing. Strangely, my on-line dating experience doesn't seem to emulate anyone elses I have heard of. Mine has been like stepping into some convoluted episode of the Twilight Zone....or perhaps one of the many levels of hell! I am sure I have done something wrong....but at this point, I really don't care. It is not working out at all. However, one question has been asked of me several times by several of those who claim to want a chance with me and that is......Are you always going to put your kids first? Huh??? Really??? And this from guys who say they themselves have kids. I am floored at this question.
Perhaps there is a double standard here. Maybe I am being unfair just because of social norms. It is quite obvious to get the reaction that I do that these guys either only raised their kids part time, or their kids are grown and working around their schedules is no longer an issue. However when I point out that I am first and foremost a primary/only parent and that David does now and most likely will for several years to come need me above an beyond what most kids need, my stock in the dating world seems to plummet. WHY? Or maybe a better question is.....what am I doing wrong....short of abandoning my children so that I can have a social life, what are the rules to this game?
Now I am sure single/divorced/widowed dads have some of the same issues, but since I can't speak for them and only myself, it appears that most men get the better end of the deal in this whole thing. Where kids are concerned...it shouldn't be this difficult. If I were dating a guy with a kid(s) first of all I would be fully aware that a certain amount of flexibility would be necessary to make things work. You never know when a child is going to get sick, hurt or have a melt down which will make all previous plans (no matter how long planned for, how much the non-refundable deposit is, nor how badly you needed out of the house) null and void. Also I know that when you are a single parent....especially if you are a single parent, all sporting events, music recitals and parent teacher conferences take presidence over a social life. And finally I realize that very few dates are going to be just him and I. Many are going to involve him, I and variations of our children. That is just the world of dating with kids. To fight it is futile and if you have a guy with kids who doesn't play by these rules with his own kids.....you know he won't play by them with yours. Simple as that. And sadly....most that I have run into don't.
So again I ask....how does this work? I have kids. My kids are now and always will be my priority. With their dad....it was easy because they were his priority too. Now though....no one but me apparently sees them as a priority. So all things are contingent upon what is going on in their world before I can commit to anything (including a date) in my world. Am I being ridiculous not just dropping my kids with sitters or leaving David with Z all the time so that I can go find me a man? Am I out of line or simply out of my mind thinking that a guy is going to come along who realizes how important raising kids is and understands that even if I wanted to, I couldn't drop everything on a whim and be with him if David is sick or Z had a music event? Why can't there be some guy out there that would say, "I will just head on to your house, pick up some burgers and help you take care of David," or how about "Do you mind if I come with you to Z's concert? I would love to see him perform?" Where is that guy and honestly....does he even exist?
Sigh....this whole motherhood dating thing is tough. Again...instructions would be nice and short of that, advice from someone who has been there and survived to come out on the other side not stark raving mad would be wonderful. More and more to me...this seems like a lose lose proposition. If I don't make my kids a priority just so I can date....that makes me a bad mom and if I do make my kids a priority and insist that my dates do too....or at the very least respect the fact I do.....then that makes me an undesirable date. Where is the happy medium? Oh this dating game is tough one. Too many twists and turns and crazies on the side. I am not sure that this is a game I can win. However...I have not given up yet and we will just have to see what tomorrow brings.
So here is hoping that your life handbook has better instructions than mine. Happy Friday everyone!!!