Dating as a single mom pretty much sucks, but I’m a find-the-silver-lining type of girl, so I’ll admit, being treated to dinner is nice (Ruth’s Chris? Sure!), men offering to pay for my babysitter is pleasantly surprising (cha-ching!), and the interest some guys show in completing my neglected honey-do list gets me swooning. It’s true there are some not-so-crappy parts of this dating life, but regardless of the perks, it’s still awkward AF, so let’s take a trip down that lane just for fun.
Below are 4 things I’ve noticed about dating as a single mom:
1.) It’s okay if the man I’m going out with isn’t my future husband.
I used to get a case of “mommy guilt” every time I left my kids to go on a date. I felt this pressure to figure out if we could potentially have a future by date three. If not, I felt bad for taking time away from my children. But the thing is, I spend every waking moment with my girls. I know that’s true for many moms, but there’s something extra challenging about it when I get no relief. I can’t count down the time til Daddy walks in the door. No after dinner help. No adult conversation. No one to appreciate the newest adorable thing our toddler said. No one to play with the littles while I take a shower by myself. No after-bedtime sex or even someone to breathe next to me while I catch up on Modern Family. I have my children 365 nights a year, and although I love it, I also need some balance. So, if a man treats me nice, talks about something other than Disney princesses or bodily fluids, and has a sense of humor, I’m calling it a win.
I realized it’s okay to enjoy a date for what it is at first- adult interaction, outside of my home, away from my children. It’s perfectly okay to get to know someone and not marry him. That’s the reality of dating with or without children at home. All is not lost if it doesn’t work out. Date night just might be what keeps me sane as a single mother, regardless of who the date is with. Married moms benefit from date night, and so do single moms.
2.) What to wear on the first date? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
When I went on my first post-divorce date, I wore a dress that I often get compliments on and brings out the features I feel most confident about. Well, I’m not sure if it was me or the dress or our chemistry, but it was a date for the books, and he asked me on date number two. Despite several outings with bachelor one, my dating adventure continued onward, and for my next first date, I wore that dress again. I received a last-minute invitation, and for the sake of time, I threw it on without giving it much thought. Low and behold, SUCCESS. Date number two was in the works. This pattern repeated itself a few times, and I came to realize that I have never not been asked on a second date while wearing that dress. It’s not only practical, flexible, and protective against breast milk leakage, it’s magical, and my official go-to.
3.) Breast milk… a blessing and a curse.
When I first started dating, my second baby was six months old, and I was nursing without plans for stopping anytime soon. I’d have to pump before dates, and if one was going really well and kept me out late, I’d probably have engorged breasts and possible leakage. Ugh. NOT EXACTLY bringing sexy back…. or was it? Y’all, if you didn’t already know this, men are interesting creatures. I’ll never forget the first time I accidentally revealed to a man (via conversation) that there was milk in my breasts. I assumed this would be scary to a guy, or at least awkward, which didn’t worry me since I live for a good awkward moment, but I was completely surprised by his reaction. I understand some men find the breast milk of their baby’s mama to be a little sexy or at least normal, but when a dude who is not my baby’s father seemed aroused by just the thought of my boobs filling up with milk at that very moment… I was all: what the what?! I brushed this off as a rare, partly endearing and partly strange reaction. But then, on a different date with a different man, I legitimately lactated on my shirt from spending too many hours away from my baby and pump. I was embarrassed at first, but low and behold, same reaction! He was thankful the dinner table came between my field of vision and his, um, man part. Every time a man finds out about this apparent gold we call breast milk, they act like a kid on Christmas morning. I can’t make this stuff up. Even the most reserved men get a twinkle in their eye at the thought of this sweet nectar. I now purposely bring it up on dates just to try and prove this bizarre opinion wrong.
4. There’s good stepDILF material out there.
I know I said goodbye to mommy guilt, but considering a stepdad for my children makes me extra selective. One guy I dated was the son of a couple from my church, so he invited my girls and me to roast marshmallows around a fire with his family. The invite alone had me swooning, but then my youngest started to gag on her apple slice and puked all over us from head to toe. He handled it like a pro and even told me I was beautiful with vomit dripping from my hair. Had he not been so amazing, I probably would’ve thought twice about his stepdad potential. Another guy was a youth coach and picked me up for one of our dates in the soccer van. Between the fourteen seats in the back and the net full of soccer balls, it turned my baby fever on max. I instantly wanted to fill every seat with little athletes and become a soccer mom. Sick, I know, but it was doing it for me. This same stud taught my daughter how to catch fairies in her garden the first time he [accidentally] met her. All the hearts eyes! Another prospect, who has been the only one to spend any significant time with my family, blew me away with his stepdad game. He baked brownies with my oldest, went grocery shopping with us, strolled the farmers market with the baby, and pretended to be a mermaid in the pool. MELT. While things didn’t work out with him, he gave me hope there’s a man out there that will lovingly take on my babies one day.
The truth is, it’s going to take a special person to deserve all of me- me as a woman, me as a mom, and the precious package I come with. Until that man comes along and hits the ball out of the park for me, I’m going to enjoy this awkward, hilarious, and unpredictable single-mom-dating-life for all it has to offer.