Single, With Children
There’s something about the Fourth of July that reminds me of my marriage. Must be all the fireworks. And it’s likely because of all those colorful explosions within many marriages that some of us find ourselves celebrating a different sort of independence—as single parents.
I don’t know about you, but when my marriage ended, I couldn’t wait to start dating again. After throwing one bad fish back into the sea, I imagined a bounty of great catches. I knew what I didn’t want, so hooking the right guy would be easier this time, right?
I soon discovered that single moms are not a hot commodity on the dating scene. The rules are different for us. You’re no longer evaluated on individual merits alone. Instead, you’re regarded as a “package deal.” Forget looks, personality and intelligence. They aren’t enough anymore. What matters now are how many kids you have, their ages, their personalities, your share of the marital debt and your relationship with the ex.
Can you say, “pariah?”
While I’m certainly not a dating expert, I’ve dated enough in the past to make this assertion: A good majority of available men don’t want to get involved with women who have children—even if they have had all their shots. So when did these blessings in our lives become such a bad thing?
Friends in similar situations offered questionable advice. “Don’t tell a man you have children until you get to know each other better.” Excuse me? But isn’t being a mother a HUGE piece of the getting-to-know-me puzzle? What am I supposed to do, sneak my kids into a relationship like a Trojan Horse . . . surprise!
From the beginning, I’ve been up front about my “package deals” with every date. It’s an invaluable screening process. After all, I don’t want to become involved with someone who won’t embrace my children, anyway. So I cut to the chase immediately. It’s rather comical to see how long I hold a man’s interest after I’ve worked motherhood into the conversation. Three, two, one . . . he’s outta there! However, it works both ways. If I’m not interested, I’ll tell the pseudo-Don Juan I have six children (not two), rendering him paralyzed from the vocal chords down.
So what is it about single moms that spooks men? Have they bought into that myth that we’re all looking for some knight to rescue us from life’s abyss? Is it that our attention and loyalties are a bit divided, the “my-children-come-first” thing? Or maybe it’s our inability to be spontaneous. “I’m sorry. I’d like to meet you for an impromptu evening stroll on the beach, but I have to help my kids with homework and clip their toenails before bedtime.”
But after the disillusionment of entering the dating scene again, a funny thing happens. It becomes OK to be alone and independent. More than OK. It strengthens who we are, as women, on our own two feet. Lately, I’ve turned my thinking around completely. It’s no longer, “Would this man like my kids?” But rather, “Is this man worthy of my children?”
I’m not looking for Mr. Right anymore. If he’s out there somewhere, he’s going to have to find me. I’ll be the one skipping through life with both my children, hand in hand . . . far, far away from life’s abyss.
Freelance writer Lynn Armitage is an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin. She is a single mother in Northern California, and loving every minute of it.