At the start

by mssinglemama on April 13, 2010

I have been so wrapped up in my own happiness lately – with my work, with John, with Benjamin (and not necessarily in that order, fluctuates with the day or more often, the time of day) – that I have lost sight of why I started this blog in the first place.

A few weeks ago I received this e-mail from one of you and it felt like something I could have written when I started blogging and really dating,  when Benjamin was just a toddler and when I was just beginning to feel again. Her words had be gasping for air and grabbing John Bear, scrolling through my iPhone like a frantic person, enthralled at her beauty and strength and then wanting to punch the guy who said such a thing.

Alaina,

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this blog for almost a year now. I have an 18 month old and I was single throughout my pregnancy, had a 3 month attempt at a relationship with his father after he was born, then once again found myself under the title “Single Mother”. At first I was jealous of your creativity, positivity, and dedication to writing. Then I became jealous of your “abandonment” of the single mother title by getting involved with someone great.

Now I am just thankful for your articles, your posts, and for providing hope for those of us who have no hope, who feel like we’ll retain the hated title of “Single Mother” forever. I’ve been through the ringer when it comes to dating. I actually had a man curl up to me and whisper in my ear, “You’d be perfect if you didn’t have a child.”

After several failed first, second, third dates, I told myself I wouldn’t date again for 6 months. As luck would have it, I met someone great. We’ve gone on two dates, spent hours talking and laughing… if he wasn’t leaving the state in a few months he’d be perfect.

I cried after he hugged me the first time, as soon as his car was far from the scene and came home from both perfect dates more depressed than ever. Is this all I get? a temporary distraction with someone wonderful? Are these dates with an intelligent, insightful man the best I can get? Somebody wonderful and temporary? The conversation, the chaste hug (I ducked when he tried to kiss me), the laughter, the sharing… these crumbs of intimacy, are they the feast during famine for single moms like me?

Nicole

I count my dating years as a single mom by Benjamin’s age. I know, I know. But, it’s easy. His age – minus four months. Everything after the first year is documented here on this blog… well, nearly everything. I often stopped short of expressing my raw hurt, wanting to keep you all sheltered from my own feelings of complete loss, complete and utter despair at my situation as a single mom.

I, too, had no hope.

But then, bit by bit the hope returned because I started (thanks to you) to believe in myself again, to believe that even if a man didn’t show up I would be fine. I lived through Benjamin, letting his laughter and light carry me on in my darkest days.

I also avoided bad men like the plague. Had I bumped into one who would have said I’d be perfect if I weren’t a mother I may have actually kicked him out of my bed before promptly shoving his ass out of my door. Or, is that just easy to write now – now that I’m in the clear and far past those first few years? I’m not sure but I hope you know how absolutely ridiculous it would be for any “man” to not love you because you have children. Children are children. If you can’t love children than who are you? You are still you and love is still love.

Just know something, please, all of my single mamas – this is just the beginning. You can let this consume you, or you can rise above it and come out stronger, happier and yes, in love again (with someone far more worthy than your ex).

And as for having a love hate relationship with my blog. I totally understand. Feel the same way myself sometimes. But happy to be here, happy that you’re all here. And by the way – Nicole has since had a third date. I love her blog. It reminds me of mine when I started. Pop over and say hi.

Related posts:

  1. Want men to start falling from the sky?
  2. Single Mom S.O.S.: Will I make it?
  3. Single Mom Reflex #1: Take care of each other
  4. Hold up
  5. Single Mom Dating Tips, Part 5

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

RobinEsque April 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm

yes, yes … avoid bad men like the plague and think of the ones who say you’re perfect – sans the child, as one less decision to make — they already figured it out for you! So no surprises 3 months or 3 years down the road about the type of person they are. But … I have found it a little more tricky to determine the guys who love kids from those who will love your kid like their own. My Dad’s advice: Robin, you gotta find a special man, a man who will love (my child) like his very own flesh and blood.

Well, I met a great guy — single parent with a daughter — we were like the yin and yang … and I fell madly in love, my first relationship in nearly 4 years! However, it all came crashing to an end seven months later when he said that he could never love my son like his daughter … that my son would always have a measure of annoyance to him as he wasn’t biologically connected (or able to overlook and have long-suffering patience for my child’s “whinny” and “nancy” qualities).

And that day I learned the overwhelming power a “mama bear” can have to protect her cub — to cut out my heart and say, I can stand anything you throw at me and still love you, but hurt my child by not fully accepting and loving my child for him, no, that is the line in the sand. It’s been almost a year since that break-up and I am still not over him … but I keep walking — hoping that I will soon forget him and knowing I made the right choice — because finding a man who loves me and loves kids just isn’t enough. I need a man who is in love with me and who is in love with my child — there is no compromise there!

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mssinglemama April 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Oh, how awful.

Didn’t know this about your dating past Robin. How heartbreaking but you made the right choice.

John doesn’t love Benjamin as his own (yet) but he respects him and isn’t annoyed by him – on the contrary, they enjoy each other and love each other tremendously. I think expecting someone, especially men, to completely love a child as their own within a year or so is a tough order to fill. I could be wrong in that but I think about how it would be if I dating a single dad and I think that kind of kindred bond takes time to form. BUT, for a man to say he was annoyed with your son and call him a Nancy – not cool. And as a father himself, so unexpected.

Man. But, the way the Mama Bear comes out is so amazing. That’s happened to me quite a few times – you made the right decision and thanks for sharing this.

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RobinEsque April 19, 2010 at 8:33 am

Yes, the experience opened my eyes to the fact that you can’t “assume” anything — as in just because he is a father that he’ll understand the way things are in single-parent world — And, I do get the fact that a guy is not going to be in love with my child right off the bat (and if he is, I should probably take that as a warning sign, too, and run!). But, I am looking for someone whose embrace is open to that being a very real possibility … as I am sure you already know John Bear is.

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Amanda April 13, 2010 at 11:08 pm

Tears rolling down my face right now. Emotions I’ve experienced as well, as a single mom to a five year old girl. It’s hard to hear that you’ve had bad times too! I guess I’ve just always imagined you were always chipper and positive. You’ve kinda been the strong one, the blog I always turn to for uplifting, but I didn’t even realize you must have gone through those cold lonely days too. I’m thrilled you are happy, and I’m glad Nicole is too!

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Dawn April 13, 2010 at 11:44 pm

We single mamas build our foundations on our values. We are bound to meet unconscious others as we cut our own path in this life. Sweet words Alaina.

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mssinglemama April 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

Unconscious others. You nailed it, as always. ; )

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Stac April 14, 2010 at 8:19 am

It’s amazing how this blog seems to be following the same path as my life these last few months. When I first started reading I hadn’t dated in 4 years (my son will be 6 next month), and then I started to get dangerously too close to getting back together with my son’s father. I told myself that he had changed, that our failure at a relationship was my fault back in the day and that we could fix it now. Until I found out in the years he had disappeared from our lives he had created and abandoned another child in a state far far way, until he started pressuring me to stop hanging out with my friends, to skip work to hang out with him, to stop going to family functions because he hates my family and they hate him—I remember writing a hopeful comment on here about my hopes for a future with him, blaming my mother for our issues and while mom and I have our problems, and she is usually way off in her opinion of me, she was absolutely right that sometimes you just shouldn’t go backwards. But now, well now I finally feel ready to move on and start dating. But it’s so hard. A few weeks ago I meant an adorable sweet guy. Flirted like I hadn’t in years, gave him my number–he told my friend I was “cute and sweet”. He didn’t call, but that was ok. I didn’t really care that he hadn’t called, I told my friends when they attempted to express sympathy that he didn’t call, that the important part was the fact I had flirted, I had finally made myself open up enough to someone to get to even that. It was definately a turning point for me. And the days from the point I gave him my number and the point when I realized he wasn’t going to call…I did some soul searching. In my flirting I hadn’t told him I’m a single mom, and I spent those days figuring out how I would, when I would (before the first date or during?), and how I would feel at his reaction. I still have a long road ahead of me…but I feel ready to allow someone in to my life. Of course only if they are worthy of myself and my son :)

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littlemansmom April 14, 2010 at 10:25 am

le sigh…….I was so there once upon a time….I was fully prepared to be single for the rest of my life and happy with it. In fact, (as you you know Ms. Single Mama), I was a single mom for almost 9 years!

Tons of ridiculous dates, lots of dates with potential but the spark just not there and then one day TBM just magically appeared. Of course it wasn’t an easy road…but we wlaked on down anywyas….

Point is….there is more out there…stay optimistic, stay true to you and just love your little angels with everything you’ve got.

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mssinglemama April 14, 2010 at 12:41 pm

And your forgot to mention your new house! So exciting… pics are up on her blog btw everyone.

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Lara April 14, 2010 at 10:44 am

“Children are children. If you can’t love children than who are you? You are still you and love is still love.”

Amen, sister. “You are still you and love is still love.” I refuse to date anyone – or even go through the motions of flirting and exchanging numbers – without disclosing I have a daughter and she is my priority. I’ve realized a man who is deterred by that is not a man with whom I want to spend time. I’ve also realized I don’t have time for petty distractions, for the drama that is so often involved in the dating scene. It’s taken me some heartache to realize my self-worth has been wrapped up in who I wanted to love me, but no more. I refuse to take responsibility for what another lacks at this point – especially if what they lack is the will, courage, maturity (and the list could go on) to love ME the way I deserve to be loved. Maybe someday I’ll find a partner. Maybe not. Either way, I have a life to build for my little one and me…and it’s gonna be great.
To all single mamas, there IS light after the darkness of falling apart…and it’s more hopeful and brighter than anyone can imagine.

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Stac April 14, 2010 at 11:04 am

I totally understand the part about disclosing your single mom status before even exchanging numbers. And I even agree. It wasn’t an intentional omittion at the time. It was one of those as he drove away I realized my son had never come up in conversation…..I did however disclose my dream to have a pink vespa one day. That just shows you how deep the conversation was, and that was the point, I was able to just have fun for the first time in a long time.

PS—-I’m an awful spelling so please don’t hold that against me :)

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mssinglemama April 14, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Stac – same thing happened to me once, completely just didn’t come up when I met him. Remember the guy on the plane?

Here’s the post: http://mssinglemama.com/2009/02/05/no-worries/

And I understand what you’re staying Stac. Meeting him and not being upset when he didn’t call is a HUGE emotional milestone for us dating single moms – closer to reaching that point Lara is talking about!

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Lara April 14, 2010 at 2:12 pm

I’d like a pink vespa, too! Actually…I’d prefer a black Harley, but vespas seem safer somehow! :)

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Karissa April 14, 2010 at 1:12 pm

I’ve added Nicole to my Reader.

As for being a dating single mom: I joked that I would start dating again when Bean turned 18 – I would be 49 – but I wasn’t totally joking. What a surprise when a co-worker friend and I began spending more time together last spring and within a few months were declaring our love for each other.

I waited at least four months before introducing my son to him (my ideal was six months), and it was just a casual trip to the park. The two of them have spent a few single days here and there over the past six months and they get along really well.

Last week my sweetheart told me to drive safe, because of the special cargo – the two of us – and that we were both so important to him. My heart swelled.

Tell your writer Nicole to hang in there. My sweetheart had to move four hours away for work and he drives every Friday night to visit me (my son is at his dad’s most weekends). We talk on the phone every night. The relationship is strong. I never would have guessed this would happen one year ago.

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mommybella April 14, 2010 at 5:11 pm

I have been a single momma for 2 1/2 years. It sometimes feels hopeless, that I may never date again. But through this blog and the readers I have a lil bit of hope… just a little.

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Beth April 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm

You have helped me so much that I have stareted a blog..its not great its not pretty mcy hateful but i will get there eventually. thank you
http://needtostartover.wordpress.com/

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mom23inmd April 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I want to share with other single moms that love can indeed happen, and better than it ever was before kids. I have 3 kids, and very little time to date, because my ex lives in another city and only visits the kids every couple of months. I thought I’d be a single mom forever, and I was very ok with that … frankly, I couldn’t figure out when I would have the energy to start dating again.

Once I did dip my toe into the dating waters, I was very unenamoured with who I found there. After kissing several frogs, I was REALLY okay with being a single mom forever, because nobody was really worth giving up my independence. I grew to love being the only decision maker in my house, and parenting the kids the way I felt was best, without having to deal with another person’s opinions or disagreements.

Then last summer, a dear friend of mine died from cancer. I has set her up on a blind date with her husband 20 years before, and they were married for 15 years. She left behind 2 kids, a boy my son’s age, and a 13-year-old girl. About 5 months after she died, her husband (my former co-worker) asked me out to dinner. I said no, I still thought of him as her husband, but as two single parents, we could certainly still be friends.

We went out, and very unexpectedly, sparks flew anyway, and only a few months after that first non-date, he proposed to me. We laugh and joke and parent all 5 of our kids together, and life is happy beyond any measure I could ever have dreamed about even a year ago. Because we’ve known each other for 21 years, we went the untraditional route and involved the kids in our dating from the very beginning. We made a pact early on that these are OUR kids together, even though I don’t replace his kids’ mom and he doesn’t replace my kids’ dad … but we live up to that promise in the way we care for and show affection for all 5 kids equally. We get that love and affection back from all of them, because they know that they are being nurtured by both of us, and that BOTH of us would sacrifice for ANY one of them. Because of that, there were no complaints from any of the kids when we told them of our marriage plans. They all know that they will be living in a secure family.

It CAN happen, and it does happen all the time, and when you aren’t expecting it. I didn’t find love when I was looking for it, but it did find me. There were men that I dated that were “nice” or “sexy” or “interesting”, but it was never the total package.

HOLD OUT FOR THE TOTAL PACKAGE, including making sure that he loves and nurtures your kids the way they deserve. Look for the man with whom you want to grow old, someone who will love you unconditionally. I saw how my fiance took care of his wife when she was sick, and I knew that he would love me unconditionally, even when my body gets old and fat and my memory starts to fade. LOOK AT HIS TRACK RECORD and that will tell you how he will treat you when life throws you curve balls.

I know it seems like you are looking for a needle in a haystack, but if you stay true to yourself, you will find that relationship … and you will understand that happily-ever-after does still happen to single moms like us.

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RobinEsque April 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm

poignant … and so well said! thank you!! And very glad to hear of your “success!”

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J.R. Reed April 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I’m happy that you’re happy. Happiness rocks!!!!

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Anonymous April 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

I have to respond to something Nicole said. She used the phrase the “hated title” of single mother. I would like every single mother that thinks of herself with such a brand to take a moment to think about the labels we place on ourselves. Sure, society has some labels too…there are those that say the welfare system is full of single mothers and even some of our former “friends” that treat us like we have a plague that is contagious (speaking of welfare: did you know that J.K. Rowling- the author of Harry Potter- was a single mother on welfare prior to making her fortune?) When I was a newlywed, pregnant, and newly abandoned by my husband, I worried so much about what friends, family, facebook acquaintances, colleagues, former colleagues and society would say. I was embarassed to tell people. Even my obsetrician didn’t know when my husband left me during my pregnancy. I am an intelligent, hard-working, generous and attractive woman. I went to an Ivy League college. I am into philanthropy. Things like this don’t happen to good people, right? The birth of my daughter and my new life as a single mom has brought me more joy than I can imagine. Sure I am exhausted. Sure I don’t always feel beautiful. No, I haven’t bought one single piece of clothing for myself since before my baby was born 8 months ago. Yes, I cut corners wherever I can. Sure, I get angry at what my ex did. Yes I’ve cried and cried and cried. (Though not since I was forced to make the decision to end things when he creeped back in.) I am sad and lonely sometimes too. But you know what? Most of all I am so proud of myself. I am a single mom and I am doing a great job on my own, with no relief pitcher (other than my daycare providers who afford me an extra hour a day outside of my workday to myself). In fact, I am doing what so many new parents struggle with as married couples, and I’m doing it on my own. I am PROUD to be a single mother. (And yes, I did need some help from the government when I relocated to the US after 3 years abroad and didn’t have health insurance to cover the costs of childbirth in a hospital.) No, this was not how I planned it. No, this was not how I always imagined it. No, this was not what I wanted. However, I don’t let myself feel embarrassment and I don’t get apologetic. I am not too nervous yet about meeting a significant other in my future because I feel I will find a wonderful man who absolutely adores me and respects me for the great job that I’ve done under difficult circumstances. Of course, what has helped me most has been knowing single moms like myself who have been there and done that and who give me lots of hope for a bright future. Those are the people I call when I have a tough day, not the people who tell me how “impossible” it would be for me to date and remind me what I can’t do. By the way, the first thing I told my new boss (I started a new job when my daughter was 4 months old) after I let her know that I would be taking time out of the work day to pump was that I was a single mother. Please, single mommies, take pride in everything you accomplish. So many of us are doing it with much difficulty financially and emotionally but there is nothing that should be “hated” about us.

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