Passion or Stability?

by Molly Undercover on August 22, 2017

Like all real things, there is a complicated side to ‘uncomplicated’.  

Oh, how the lovely romantic entanglements we have can also be heartbreaking. My dream date with Adonis , for example. It was lovely, but also puzzling. Sharing each other’s presence, I got more of a sense of his vulnerability and intimacy than I get from most people ever. (I know, I know, women confuse physical stuff with love all the time. But read about the date . . . the connection was on many levels.) But, he has proved to be also only ’emotionally available’, for fleeting hours of face time, and with no promises. In between dates, we have been practically strangers to each other. He’ll ignore my texts until he wants to talk to me. Much of our lives–such as the part in which we are both single parents with past baggage and future desires and mundane daily activities and other romantic involvements and struggles, are kept sealed away like nuclear waste. Now, part of me is very much ok with this kind of compartmentalization. I actually like it, because of the escape, and the passion. But. . .

There are times when I question whether I have the stomach. 

This past Saturday felt like too much with regard to the ‘compartmentalized romance’ thing. I went to a breakfast cafe that happens to be a place Adonis and I had enjoyed together once in the past. I went with Tim for a fun mom-and-kid breakfast–after all, Adonis doesn’t own the place, and I wanted some avocado toast on sourdough, damnit! I made sure I was on my game, beauty-wise, as I usually try to do these days. You never know who you’ll see out and about in my city and I also just enjoy myself better if I feel proud of my appearance. And, in the back of my mind I did consider he might grace the place with his presence. I live in the same neighborhood with Adonis, and considered ahead of time that it could happen that we’d run into each other. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment? Anyways, I wore a cute bare-shouldered top, hair in beachy waves, and a glossy red lip. Meow.  And then it happened. As Tim and I were finishing our trendy plates, in saunters Adonis with a beautiful lady who seemed conspicuously dressed in the previous night’s date-dress. Hm.  

Now, that may sound like a nightmare, since I’ve been involved with Adonis recently, but actually, it’s ok. Neither he nor I have spent one fraction of a second together under the impression that our involvement was monogamous–not by a long shot! He’s just a captivating guy I’ve dated with absolutely zero promises, and good for him. This morning, as Tim and I walked by and he waited for a table, he buried his head in some reading material, the brim of his hat jauntily hiding his divine, Greek godly face. No eye contact. No love. I have to be honest. I didn’t love that he didn’t look up. I felt squirmy.

And yet, it’s kind of fair; he couldn’t have been sure I wouldn’t be weird, wouldn’t do something uncouth or dramatic. Maybe it was even unfair for me to pop into ‘his’ cafe on his street on a Saturday morning?

Being ‘uncomplicated’, we hadn’t overtly discussed what we’d do.

I would have loved to have caught his eye. Not to stop and talk and get things tangled up in introductions or conversations–ick, nobody needs quite that level of complication. I just wanted to maybe just to give him a wink, a knowing glance to let him know ‘I see you. Rock on with your sexy self’. It would have been a human and decent thing for him to do, to show recognition to me, as someone he’d been intimate with recently. In my opinion, it is actually not cool or very nice to ignore people you are on good terms with and even less nice if they’re an object of your affections. But, it’s a complicated thing, to show that recognition in public, with other entanglements present. I’m not mad. But I’m a bit squirmy about it. 

But what did she know??

As Tim and I stood out front messing with our bicycles, I did what I probably shouldn’t have; I glanced back in the restaurant window to see if I was being seen.  I almost turned into a pillar of salt; the lovely lady was gazing over her shoulder at me! I wondered what was going through her mind, and even more, what did she know? I mean, why was she watching me? And–oh, ick. Had he gone through all of the same activities of the dream date he and I had shared, but with her, the night before? Was it all just a routine, not real, and an act? Was I just a passive subject in his self-absorbed Adonis Show?

Ah well, I’ll probably never know. And even if so, god that was fun and I don’t care that much. That still wouldn’t erase my take aways from that dream date. My feelings of inspiration and return-to-self and joy that I’d felt around Adonis. Those were real to me. 

I didn’t even exactly feel too jealous. After all, I’m a pretty lovely lady with a delightful son, and I don’t really need all the men’s attention all the time. I thought, jokingly in my mind, about how, later, I’d tease Adonis, saying that I didn’t say ‘hi’ to him because I was just trying to be discreet, knowing Adonis would surely be jealous of my captivating date (Tim). I rode away with Tim feeling both smug and disconcerted. 

I know, some of you might say this guy’s a snake. That his weakness is that he is unavailable, uncommitted, unkind. But I’m not so sure. I feel I ‘get’ his behavior, and if it’s inexusable, then I am also inexcusable, for he’s more like me than not.

Recently, I came across the poem I Know Someone, by Mary Oliver.

I Know Someone 

I know someone who kisses the way
a flower opens, but more rapidly.
Flowers are sweet. They have
short, beatific lives. They offer
much pleasure. There is
nothing in the world that can be said
against them.
Sad, isn’t it, that all they can kiss
is the air.

Yes, yes! We are the lucky ones. 

-Mary Oliver, Felicity

It is an appreciation of beauty, life and pleasure that takes my breath away. Adonis astonishes me. He loves life and makes no promises. Maybe he’s just figured out some secrets. Maybe he’s found his strength, and is playing to it. Maybe, like a gorgeous flower, he’s giving himself and others experiences of pleasure and beauty when he can. Maybe he’s living his life honestly but trying not to overthink. This is a quality I want for myself, more and more. What is the harm? After all, he’s never lied or broken a promise to me. Like a flower, what can I really say against him? All’s fair in love and war.   

If I had to choose right now, for all time, whether I wanted a string of enchanting dream dates without attachment, or a stable, serious, long-term, monogamous relationship, I’d chose the former, hands down!  

But here’s where I get complicated, Debbie Downer and cerebral: 1) It takes a lot of energy for me to get past that ‘squirm’ at something like what happened today. I had to do a little deep breathing and a little emotional gymnastics and a long phone call with a wise and polyamorous friend. And, 2) What about finding someone to be a stable man-person in Tim’s life? What about having a ‘relationship’ where domestic life can be shared, that is recognized in the public sphere? That gets some respect? Shit, that allows ME to be recognized as someone’s important lady in the public sphere?Aren’t these things aspects of love too? Isn’t that long term relationship the ‘right’ thing to do, that all romance movie plots slide down into in the end? What about going home to someone and talking about your day, or getting to know someone’s flaws and loving them still, the way you do in a committed relationship? I either kind of want those things too, or something, (Hollywood, patriarchy, capitalism, heteronormativity, whiteness, the illuminati?) has convinced me that I should want those things. Do I have to choose, or can I have passion AND stability? Right now, stability sounds so heavy, boring, and oppressive. 

I’m just going to let this complicated knot of conflicting ideas just BE

Like I tend to do when I’m at my best. I’m not going to try to make perfect sense of it right this instant. Today, Tim and I left the cafe, went for a beautiful summer bike ride. We got really hot, then found a Mexican grocery with cold beverages and nice guys who shared a spicy tamale with us, bringing me back to my senses and out of my head. We went thrifting and Tim started crafting his nefarious Halloween costume plans with our thrift store booty! I told Tim, as we biked through the city that we were basically living my perfect day–thrifting, biking, good food, and being with a loved one. Yeah, I’ll always have my memory of the perfect date with Adonis, but what’s way more important, I’ll always remember the joy of spending time like this day with Tim. My love and my family. Whether I ever settle down into something stable again some day, or stick with a string of passionate encounters, I’ll always have myself, too. And that is what I call complicated, messy, sexy happiness. 

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Happy Eclipse Day!

by Molly Undercover on August 21, 2017

I love the idea of experiencing a reversal of night and day. Illumination in the shadows. Feeling very trippy and emotional. It’s also the first day of seventh grade for Tim. God, I cannot believe how fast time has flown! He’s at the same school he started at when he was three, and it’s crazy to see how all the kids have changed in what feels like literally a FEW years to me. 

STRUGGLING to get work done today. Too much excitement in the air. 

Also, does it mean something if a man I’ve been casually dating lately with wants to watch the once-in-a-lifetime in our region solar eclipse with me? That feels very heavy and even relationship-y! I’m not sure I’m cool with the conclusions he might draw if I took him up on his invitation–might infringe on my single self. Or am I being a worry wart? 

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Dating Horrors, Molly Undercover Version

by Molly Undercover on August 21, 2017

It’s time for another round of dating horror stories:

A date with a guy that was not nearly as hot as I’d first thought:

I am getting over being sick and only out with this dude due to boredom. This guy is AWFUL to talk to. When a guy launches into a speech on the first date “I’m almost too nice. . . “: methinks thou dost protest too much? Why are you telling me this? You are either really boring, or you’re a monster! When he gets up to go to the bathroom I decide to risk asking him about his politics when he returns. It’s been a rough political season and this could be an easy way to find out whether he’s got ANY potential or not. If we can’t talk intelligently about what’s going on in the world, forget it. Well, he returns and I waste no time. Turns out we cannot talk intelligently. And he’s not cute. All I can think about is how people in earshot must be so annoyed to have to listen to our attempt to connect. It’s like nails on a blackboard. 

It gets better though. As I was leaving the nightmare awkward date, above, I looked to my right and realized The Centaur had been sitting there the whole time, hearing every word. This was before we’d ever gone out but after I’d met him, decided I thought he was super cute, and asked him for his number. At least it gave me a funny excuse to text The Centaur a few days later, and a good conversation starter and bonding point to talk about what a disaster that date had been. Just another embarrassing Centaur experience.

Sorry, the role of ‘My Baby Boy’ is already taken:

Then there’s the night where I was hanging out with a guy that I’d pegged as quite confident, cool, and cute. We started to make out a little. . . whoo hoo!! Kissing is fun! But then, something so strange. Abruptly, his face turned away from me, his left hand sliding up to mouth. He’d stopped kissing me to suck his thumb. He gently embraced his cheek with his palm. What about me? I want a gentle embrace! I mean. . .I’m ok with it, I get it. It’s a tough world out there, and if there’s something that brings you comfort and hurts no one, by all means, you do You! But right now?  Your thumb is better than my luscious lips? Even worse – was he showing me he needs a mama? It doesn’t help that Mr. Confident here was substantially younger than me. Forget it! That slot, of baby boy, is filled in my life. I don’t need an overgrown child hanging around, thank you! 

DO NOT pet the feral rats:

Another very cute guy, I met while out for a walk in my city neighborhood. (In hindsight, red flag, obviously – be careful when somebody picks you up on the street!) We got a drink and got to talking. At first he told me he lived alone. I pressed. I got excited, it seems we had something in common! We were both going through divorces, with kids. But, as I pressed, I realized he was avoiding answering my questions about it his family life. Here’s why: actually after some questioning I learned he was still living with his wife, the mother of his children, and she didn’t know he was out picking up ladies AND he’d just right then lied to me first and told me he lived alone. Very ratty. I should have known by the way he scurried along the gutter. Their divorce wasn’t even fully decided on!!! Why do men do stuff like this? I got the heck out of there. This dude had NO business talking to me until he sorted this stuff out with his wife. Infuriating and icky!

Wishing you better dates,

Molly Undercover

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Single Mama Bear and The Centaur

by Molly Undercover on August 20, 2017

He showed me his and I showed him mine. . . 

Nicknames, that is. When you’re trying to help your besties (or blog readers) keep date-people stories straight without the benefit of faces, nicknames help. A couple of weeks ago, ‘Wild Animal Man’ aka, ‘The Centaur’ and I had a funny exchange. It was endearing and revealing to learn what he calls me and to see his reaction to my secret name for him.

Background: When it comes to communicating verbally about matters of the heart, The Centaur is not great. For example, he’s never, ever, said many of the usual sweet nothings to me, such as “I like you a lot” or “I think you’re attractive/pretty.” We just don’t really talk along these lines. This may seem like a bad thing—but bear with me! That quality certainly keeps my walls up, which is kinda just the way I want it right now. And he has other lovely qualities: he’s extremely fetching, he’s wild and passionate for life, and he’s great with his dog. 

I arrived at a music festival  knowing I’d see him there. I was looking cute in a woodsy-hippie kind of way  (lace-up sandals and and a thrift store bohemian dress). He looked gorgeous. He is very tall, with broad shoulders and sinewy limbs. Chocolate chip eyes, olive complexion, a mess of dark, long wild hair all over the place. Untamed, sexy. I always get a little flustered when I see him and do weird stuff like spilling beer all over him, having awkward first dates with other men while sitting next to The Centaur the whole time, tripping over my feet like an idiot or accidentally sending him texts about himself meant for my besties. It almost seems like there is something about the Centaur that’s meant to get me SO flustered that I eventually give up, stop overthinking, and stop trying to control my reality. It’s part of the brilliance that besides his physical attractiveness appeals to me about him. This time, I saw him just as I was rubbing handwash all over my hands with a grossed-out face after leaving the Porta Potty. Very cute indeed. 

I flirted. He introduced me to his friends. I didn’t think a lot of it. A little later, he came over to my blanket. Was he gazing at me? That’s the only way I know how to describe the goofy look on his usually distant face. His head was back, and he was half-grinning and looking at me as if he’d never seen me before in his life. Later, I went up to the front of the crowd to enjoy the last band. He popped up beside me and we had fun like we’d never had before. Dancing together, goofing off with his friends and loving the music. As the band took a break he leaned into me. He’s so tall. He has to stoop to talk closely to me. Swoon. The rest of the scene faded out and I was visually, olfactorily and physically fixated on his undomesticated presence and let him pull me close. He said something to me along the lines of “My friend wanted to know who I was flirting with and I was like ‘Oh, that’s just Mama Bear’ and she was like, ‘THAT’S Mama Bear? But, she’s really beautiful!’ and I was like. . . ‘DUH!’”

Did a grown man just use ‘DUH’ in an attempt to compliment my beauty?

:::::Cool story, bro:::: But also, his friends have had a nickname for me? Meaning he talks about me when we’re apart? My head spun a little with surprise and delight at this unusual, for him, self-revelation and the awkward attempt at a compliment. 

As a moniker, I LOVE ‘Mama Bear’! I like it so much I almost want to trade out the name Molly Undercover for it! It’s cute, and also fierce. When ‘Wild Animal Man’ moves on, as I’m sure he will sooner or later, I’ve decided I get to keep this nickname. And I love it. Thanks, hairy and huge Wild Animal Man. 

A little background on how my nicknames for him evolved: ‘The Centaur’ was coined by a mutual friend one night, after this undomesticated man-person had stomped around at a party in only cowboy boots and sparkly spandex. It was quite a sight. The nickname just fit his oversized, beautiful presence. ‘Wild Animal Man’ came from another friend who exclaimed that he was a wild animal when I recounted to her how  he’d curled up one weeknight right on my front porch and fell asleep, snoring like an bear, feet sticking eighteen inches off the porch furniture.

As the rest of the festival crowd seemed to fade away from our fleeting, intimate, bubble of mutual adoration, I revealed to him what I call him to my friends too. He paused a moment. And then, I could swear I saw his chest puff just a little, he rocked back on his heels, and nodded. “I like it,” he said with a grin as the band started to play and we began to dance again. Maybe he likes being seen, named, recognized as much as I do.

Centaur and Mama Bear soon went back to the no-talk situation.

The brief expansion of our verbal exchanges ended there.  But we danced, listened to music and partied with friends in the woods. I had such a good time, and I will never forget the night, even long after the Wild Animal is gone, which he surely will be some day. How totally just right for my newly single Mama Bear self!

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Dream Date with Adonis

by Molly Undercover on August 19, 2017

A dream date so unwordly that afterward I’m unsure that it really happened.

The opposite of dating horror stories; on a dream date, you feel like a million bucks, and your date seems equally delighted. Like the best dreams, it stands alone, carrying no obligation to the future and needing no memory of the past. While I want to recount dates like this to all my closest friends and family at length, the audience of who actually cares is limited. For the married, it might invoke annoyance. My single friends might misconstrue and think I’m engaging in obnoxious one-upmanship. But really, I’m just excited. I want to re-hash this all, caught up in the romance and fantasy of it. I suppose it is part of sorting out what affairs and relationships all mean to me, now that I’m a newly single mom. So here goes:

James Dean + a satyr + a Greek god = Adonis 

This dream date story involves ‘Adonis’ (at least that’s what I’ll call him). Adonis is a dashing, motorcycle-riding, vintage-car restoring pilot; he’s my age, but an old soul. He is a poet, a painter, dancer and musician. He’s splendid, with a confident swagger, broad shoulders, strong jaw, perfect stubble, luscious lips, and multicolored green-blue-brown eyes. He’s a muse, who inspires me to live an elegant, beautiful life. And, just the way I like it these days, he’s not looking for anything committed or serious. When we are not together, we don’t talk or text much (I have my friends for that!) and there are no promises. Just the present moment, which is, for me and for now, perfect.

It was to be our second date. The afternoon of the planned date, he texted to say that he really felt like flying in his meticulously restored vintage plane, and would I like to join? Terrifying, but come on! Who says no to an offer like that? Plus, he’d been a legitimate pilot for twenty years. I trusted he’d keep us alive, and if we did crash and die, at least I’d be having an amazing time with a hot guy in the process. There are worse ways to go.

Getting ready for a good date is approximately 55% of the fun.

I called just before we were to meet, to ask if there were any clothing requirements for flying. He said no, and I decided on something timeless, and not too restrictive, that I hoped would match the old Cessna: dark, flared, high-waisted jeans, a bright colored sleeveless top with a cute peter pan collar, and strappy red sandals. He asked me to hold off for a few more minutes so he could better groom his magnificent self. “I like to look good and be clean, just for myself. Even if someone beautiful wasn’t about to come over I’d feel the same. . . ” he joked. Maybe overly smooth, but Adonis has got game, I’ll give him that.

I arrived at apartment, an old victorian place full of patina. His artwork, books, musical instruments, and antique furniture filled the high-ceilinged rooms. He offered a drink. I held off, for now, and he wouldn’t drink yet either, because he’d have to fly. Driving in his car to the small airport, we conversed about passionate living, death, and friendship. He quoted Kerouac. It was truly an inspired exchange. I LOVE a good conversation. If that conversation had been the whole date, it would have been a dream in itself! But that wasn’t the end at all, it continued to develop like a seven-course meal. . . . 

The airport was bathed in early summer dusk light. First, he performed what appeared to be a quite serious safety inspection of the very sexy airplane he’d restored to mint condition over a decade with his dad and best friends. He then showed me around. As he nerded out over the aged Cessna, I could sense his slightly obsessive love for it. I was touched that he’d share this part of his life with me. In a move that I thought was quite considerate, he took some time to explain the science behind how tough it would be to crash the thing.  

A confident and fearless woman. . . 

Each laying hold of a wing, we pushed the craft out to the open field beside the runway. It was so fun to feel the weight of it and heave with my weight against it to get it rolling. We did a couple selfies together with the plane under the big sky. He then snapped about a hundred pictures of me on my phone with the airplane, ‘for your grandchildren to see what a confident and fearless woman their grandmother was’ he said. I have to admit, I basked in the attention. I now have the souvenirs of this experience, great photos that he later spent some time cropping and filtering to just how he liked them. These are helpful when I’m wondering if I dreamt it all!. 

We went up, and not only did he show off, flying for a bit, but as an instructor, he gave me a chance to take the controls as well. This was a thrilling, magical broadening of perspective on my region and myself. As I observed him in his element, I also began to learn what a physical and mental and dance it is to fly a vintage small craft. I felt enchanted. For me, learning something new and getting out of my own element is my comfort zone. It makes me feel alive! He decided he wanted to try landing on grass, and warned that it could feel bumpy but would be fine. As it turned out, the landing was one of the most graceful things I’ve ever experienced in a plane. I hopped out, full of adrenaline and blissed out. Waiting in the wide open field while he shut some things down, I burst into a free, ranging, dance, leaping, turning, and cartwheeling. (When I’m a happy camper, open spaces naturally do that to me.) It’s been a tough few years, going through divorce and before that, an awful struggle of a dying relationship. Dancing freely like that, that’s the real me. I haven’t seen that part of me much during these rough times. I felt at that moment, I was thriving. I felt so alive, and grateful for the experiences we’d just shared that helped me remember my awesomeness.

It continued to unfold back at his apartment. 

Back at his apartment, there was just enough red wine and good lighting to make me feel like a goddess. We sang together. He played guitar; he sang songs I didn’t know, too, with a gusto that gave me a feeling of permission to wildly express myself in this little world we were creating. At a few points, he’d thrust a harmonica or a violin at me to solo (both of which I happened to used to love to play a million years ago when I was in high school). I played very badly, but he was charmed. We danced together and he lifted me in the air. We went outside and played in the pouring rain like toddlers. We ordered food in, middle eastern. We had incredible conversations about philosophy, work, jealousy, and more. He serenaded me in candlelight, a song he’d written on his guitar. 

I left many hours after the date had begun, feeling I’d been swept up in a spell.

By that time, I was pretty convinced that I am a captivating princess witch who can fly, and who should always and forever be treated, toasted and entertained with no less passion, skill and beauty than I had been that night. Any argument or thought to the contrary was pure delusion! And why not? I’m pretty special. I am basically ruined for average dates now. Thanks a lot, Adonis! Up your game, dudes!!

I savor my memories and photos from this night. (I’d show the pics to you, but then I’d have to kill you). Adonis, you have inspired me so much! The’re one thing bothering me. Does it take a lovely man to make me feel so alive? Why can’t I find that feeling on my own? Why can’t I learn to inspire others as much or more than Adonis had inspired me? I’d like to learn to bring facets of our pleasant dream into my waking single life, to become my own muse and inspiration. To, increasingly, live my single mama life with the sophistication and passion I see in you, dear Adonis.

Anyways, thanks readers, for doing what you do, and letting me tell you my dream date story. And please stoke my romantic notions. Tell me your dream dates, please, in the comments!

XO,

Molly Undercover

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Redefining Family Vacations

by Molly Undercover on June 28, 2017

I’m going to need to be complainey here just for a minute, ok?  I promise, I’ll get it out of my system so we can get back to interesting and fun things tomorrow. But today, I had that ‘cry in the car’ kind of day, and each of my friends and siblings have done their patient duty of listening to me prattle this already month, and now it’s your turn, dear readers.

Lately I feel like I’ve slid back months in the process of letting go of my marriage.

Today, it’s the process of planning vacations that sets me off (I know, I’m pretty lucky if this is the type of thing that gets me upset).

I’m planning summer trips and adventures. Tim has his two middle-school aged cousins in town this week, and life is good. They are so cute together, cracking each other up all day, developing inside jokes and having fun. It’s early summer and we have tons of plans with family for the Fourth of July. I also have weeks of vacation saved up at work, and only need to make a plan in order to be on the road somewhere. I’m in a great situation.

But for some reason, I am having a terrible time committing to any particular plan for weekend trips or longer vacations. Even for this weekend with the cousins here. On the surface, it’s just indecision, but if I sit with my feelings a little bit I realize I’m feeling alone. This is the kind of stuff I used to get heavy input from Tim’s dad on. My decision-making skills are weakened from years of letting my spouse take the lead. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

In addition, I worry that every plan I come up with will be inadequate. To me, vacation = family time. And up until recently, family was always the three of us; Tim, his dad, and me. At a time like this, I would have enjoyed sharing the fun of seeing the cousins together with Tim’s Dad. On vacation with just Tim and I, I’m afraid I’m not enough; not interesting enough, not good enough at planning. And I can never make our family go back to what it used to be for Tim, and what if a vacation with me as the only adult is just no fun?

None of these negative feelings change the situation that brought me here though. Vacations with Tim’s dad didn’t make up for a marriage that didn’t work. Yes, vacations were happy experiences, but I tried to use to make up for weeks and months of isolation and lack of support in my relationship.

It’s a good thing that I’m no longer sitting passively by and letting some man make decisions for me all the time, and feeling unhappy. It’s a good thing that I have a choice over how I spend my time, and that I am lucky enough to have vacation time and good friends and family to plan things with. It’s not light. It’s not fun, but it is what it is.

Today at work I went out for a walk. We have a little nature trail you can take that leads to a coffee shop. I walked with stress about whether I could give Tim enough fun this summer running through my mind. Then, I just started to feel like it was all pointless. What’s the point of having fun if families can break up, people get old and die, and everything can go to hell? Some dark shit was running through my mind.

Then I noticed. Some kind of fluffy wildflowers along the path were sending seed puffs waving in the wind and flying up into the sun. The weather was just about exactly 80 degrees, with light streaks of clouds and no humidity. The breeze blew across my face. I got lost in the moment. The words came to my mind, “All we have is Presence,” meaning, the only thing that matters is right now. Suddenly the pressure to create the perfect experiences when Tim and I are together lightened, and I realized that the elegance of every little moment matters so much more.

Especially with how quick he is growing up! My experience on this walk made me want to just hang out with Tim, just let go of any idea that I need to be ultra-fun. I like this super-zen, wise version of me. Maybe this is how I single mom, at my best? Still, I gotta plan a vacation. There’s so many places I want to go, both as a free single lady and with Tim. I’d love to take him on a bunch of weekend trips and a road trip out west. I would love to read comments – have you had any good single mama adventures with your kids?

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Early Summer Update and the Ex’s New Girl

by Molly Undercover on June 26, 2017

June has been a single parenting/adult child of dementia patient/dating/work/social whirlwind! The highlights since I’ve last posted are the following:

  • Tim stayed with his Dad for a week and I used the eerily free time to catch up on my social life–that’s why there have been so few posts!  I went to my first music festival, had one of my first parties at my house as a single to host some awesome new work friends, and took a quick flight for a weekend getaway with a girlfriend.
  • I took Tim camping. First time just the two of us. Tim set up the tent! I was very proud.
  • Tim met his Dad’s new girlfriend.
  • The dissolution of our marriage is not yet final but the lawyer’s working on it. This requires equal doses of paperwork and dealing with my sad and angry feelings. We technically hit our seventeen year anniversary this month, ironically on the day before the ex introduced Tim to the new woman in his life.  And no, I don’t approve that my ex chose to do that while we are still legally married, but I’m picking my battles.
  • I went on a few amazing dates myself! Nothing serious, though. In the mix: Adonis, a very romantic and fetching pilot; Centaur/Wild Animal Man; and from time to time, Cat Guy, who was looking for a relationship, but he now knows I date some other fellows, and that I’m keeping it light. I got a few asks for dates from people I just didn’t have time to see. The dating life is exhausting and fun.
  • My sister moved out of her family home and into an apartment by herself, starting her own, difficult single mama journey many hours away. My heart’s breaking for her and I’m concerned for the hurdles she has ahead.
  • My parents, two hours away, have reached a crisis point due to the onset of dementia – Alzheimers, (likely, dad), and Speech Aphasia, (confirmed and rapidly progessing, mom). They still live on their own, for now, and are pretty stubborn about accepting help. Their situation is terrifying and needs urgent attention. My newly single sister is taking a leave of absence to care for them while she can.

I feel like the true sandwich generation! Single mom, parents need care, and I’m still trying to achieve in my career, make a contribution to this world, and parent my pre-teen single. It feels busy, to say the least.

Of all of these joys and stressors, meeting the ex’s new girlfriend, having Tim meet her, definitely threw me for the biggest loop this month.

I’ve been determined since March 6 of this year to graduate from my grief over the end of my marriage. I don’t want to mope forever! I felt like I lost months of progress the week Tim met his dad’s new woman. I’ve got all kinds of feelings about it. Beforehand, I was just concerned that she might not be cool, or might not be good to my 12-year-old Tim. But she seems like a normal person and Tim really liked her. That brings me to my next worry. What if he likes her too much, and she’s gone in six months or a year? That seems like so much for a kid to deal with. And then, there are the bizarre feelings of jealousy. What do I care if my ex is with someone new? I know completely that he’s not right for me, yet it feels upsetting to think of him being with her. I catch myself in the middle of thoughts I’m not proud of, that their relationship fails spectacularly and that they both end up suffering. Not feelings I want to feel. I guess these tell me that I have more progress I need to make in letting go of the past and of my anger and bitterness.

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Texting while Dating: A Cautionary Tale

by Molly Undercover on May 24, 2017

Some typos can’t be deleted.

Introducing Wild Animal Man. I’ll explain plenty more about him in future posts. All you need to know for the purpose of this tale is, we first met when we randomly ran into each other twice in two weeks, and then we had one great date. Also, his name might seem like an insult, but I mean it in the very best of ways! He’s wild and lovely. More on that later.

On one fateful Friday, I knew I wanted to see Wild Animal Man again, so I texted to ask him for just that.

Me: how’s it going?
Wild Man: Pretty good, Molly.
Me: I’d like to see you again. Can we make that happen?
Wild Man: Soon! I’ve just been so busy working this week. . . I need to get some free time soon so we can hang out!

There were some emojis, an illustrated laundry list of his work, and some flirty words included. So far so good, right? But unfortunately, this was one of those annoying texting situations where it was hard to tell what the real meaning was. Had he really been working hard, or was that just an excuse? Was this an awesome message? Or a terrible one?

As one does in these situations, I enlisted a trusted friend.

(Oh the joy of having wise women around you to interpret the cryptic man-text!)

MSM: Hey! What’s going on with Wild Man?
Me: I’m texting with him right now! I don’t even know if he likes me.
MSM: Send the text! I’ll analyze.

I rapidly took a screen grab of my exchange with him, and promptly sent the picture to. . .

You guessed it. . .

Wild Animal Man.

“No. no no no No NO!!!! HOW do I undo this???” I thought in a panic as the ‘sending’ bar traveled relentlessly across the screen. In a ridiculous attempt at damage control, I texted him again, playing dumb:

Me: Oh! that’s how a screenshot works on the iPhone!

***LONG PAUSE***

Wild Man: Thanks for the admiration 😉

So. Embarrassing. Since the above incident, I’ve attempted to retain some tiny shred of my dignity by not mentioning this to Wild Animal Man ever, EVER again. I’m guessing from his response at the end there that he figured out exactly what happened, and my little attempt at cleanup only made it worse, a la Bridget Jones. Gah!

My critical errors: 1) not picking up the phone and just calling him. Remember phone calls? 2)These two conversations, the one with Ms. Single Mama and the one with Wild Animal Man, were basically simultaneous. 3)Moving too fast.

Want to minimize damage potential when texting with a date? Here’s some advice:

  • Keep texts brief, for in-the-moment facts, not feelings.
  • Call him on the phone. Or, even better, hang out in person!
  • Avoid texting more than one person at a time and avoid texting too fast. It only takes one slip of a finger to make a big mess!
  • Consider NOT broadcasting his messages to others in the first place! And, men, fair warning: We do share from time to time.
  • Your children may know how to get into your phone. If that’s likely in your case, keep it Disney!

On the positive side, my little gaff may have accidentally shown a little of the truth, which is that I think this guy’s the bee’s knees! And, it didn’t seem to bother him too much, because he has turned up a few times since then. Hey, somebody’s gotta get egg on their face and show they like the other person at some point, right? Might as well be now.

It’s never been easier to find and communicate with the objects of our admiration–and to make dumb mistakes at a rapid pace, too! Do you have a super embarrassing digital-age blooper under your dating belt? Make me feel better! Leave it in the comments.

With Love,

Molly Undercover

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Very First Date After a Divorce

by Molly Undercover on May 17, 2017

 

To date post divorce you just have to dive in.

In her famous Ted talk on vulnerability, this Brené Brown says, “vulnerability is. . . the first date after a divorce” I couldn’t agree more. I was terrified before my first date! Three months after my husband and I separated, I wasn’t looking for someone to date yet. I felt repulsed by the idea of being in a relationship again and hopeless that I’d never be able to connect with a man again. But I was also worried that if I passed up dates, I’d calcify and never get back in the game. I did miss romance, for sure. When someone cute but not ‘my type’ asked me out, my fear of becoming a lonely cat lady if I didn’t start dating pushed me to just try it and see what happened.

And then the first post-divorce date finally happened…

Over text messages, I awkwardly informed him that he was a true rebound, meaning: I was just looking for fun and flirtation. He reassured me that we were just going to have fun together, no matter what. Putting me at ease, he stated that he’d probably be a nervous dork and super awkward at first when we met because he thought I was gorgeous! This brought on a little ease and excitement. I arranged for my son to go home with a friend so that I could meet him for a patio happy hour one afternoon.

We met on a lovely spring day at a fun neighborhood bar. I was still nervous that he might expect something I didn’t have to give at the time, like a relationship, or even sex. I just wanted to flirt. I was excited too–to show up and trying something new.

We were the only people there, which amped up the awkward feeling. But contrary to his warning, my date was actually laid back and fun, totally confident, and looked and smelled great. He put me at complete ease.

As we played giant Jenga on the patio, his confidence and masculine presence infused me with my own confidence. He was starting to get a little handsy. Brushing my wrists and finding other ways to make contact as we goofed around and talked. He was making me laugh and dammit, this was fun! At one point he leaned in for a kiss. Nervous and feeling vulnerable, I did the old ‘cheek turn’ trick and let him plant one there. It felt great, so I changed my mind, and we kissed for a little bit. I was kissing a man! I had almost forgotten how fun it felt to kiss.

We enjoyed each other’s company for a little while, then I had to go and pick up my son. I went from feeling closed off and hopeless that I’d ever date again to goofing around with a sexy man on a patio on a sunny June afternoon. If you’re like I was and a little scared to try out dating, know that it can be fun!

Based on what worked well for me about this, here’s my advice for the first date after becoming a single mom:

  • Be clear with him upfront if you’re on the rebound!
  • Obviously but worth stating: have your own way there and home and let someone know where you’ll be.
  • If you’ve been in a relationship for a while: don’t turn someone down because they are not ‘your type’. Someone very different might be just the thing!
  • Plan to keep it short. Happy hour or coffee when you’ll have to pick up your child is one idea. Your time is so precious as a single mom and realistically, you may not see this person again.
  • Just be yourself.
  • Be easy on yourself. You don’t have to meet prince charming on your first time out after marriage and parenting.
  • Remind yourself to be open and not compare your date to your old relationship. They are two totally different situations for many, many reasons.

xoxo,

Ms. Single Mama II , aka Molly Undercover

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The Kid’s First Birthday as a Single Mama

by Molly Undercover on May 16, 2017

I’m navigating Tim’s birthday as a single parent for the first time. I just had such a hot mess of a phone call with his Dad about it. Background: we’re cooperative, but keep the communication to a bare minimum. I’m trying to be cool and functional and reasonable, but inside I’m still dealing with some strong feelings about him, and I know it shows in my voice and my decisions.

Here’s what happened: I emailed an invite to a bunch of parents about a fun party night for Tim for his 12th birthday. I’m always so last minute about these things! Right after I pressed send, I panicked; should I have consulted with my ex before unilaterally planning? Would he be angry and retaliate? Would  be hurt if his dad wasn’t there for his party like he always has been in the past? On the other hand, I’ve always handled this kind of planning, and I don’t want to interact with the ex any more than I have to. Ugh! Minefield! Without resolving my decisions for myself, I hastily decided to just call his dad and fill him in.

My voice on the phone was fake polite, anxious, and over-compensating, with an edge of passive aggressive anger. In short, loaded down with baggage. I filled in the ex about the plan I’d made, and asked what he’d been hoping to do with Tim for a birthday celebration. He asked if he could take Tim for a birthday dinner on his actual birthday. Thinking that Tim might be sad if both parents weren’t there, I countered that maybe we should do it all together and invite some other relatives. Immediately I felt myself recoil from my own suggestion. I didn’t feel up to hanging out with my ex and his whole family! I stammered something about not being sure that was the best plan and ‘let’s work it out later’ and got off the phone. What a mess! Clearly I’m in no state to have a fun birthday dinner as a reconfigured family. (Happy birthday, son! Let me turn into an emotional mess all over your birthday dinner, isn’t this fun?) What was I thinking??

Here’s what I wasn’t being honest about: I’m assuming Tim’s going to be heartbroken to have only one parent there at a time. I’m trying to keep him from experiencing any more loss and pain than he already has. But if that hurts me, maybe it’s worse for him in the end? I think these are the questions we consider over and over in the process of becoming single parents, from the decision to separate or not to the way we navigate custody and holidays.

How do you keep birthdays and holidays fun and joyful, and how to deal gracefully with your child’s other parent?

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