I had to get up from my computer three times while writing the headline to this post, walking in circles and cracking my neck, inspecting the sink for any errant ants, wondering, is there maybe some pudding in the cupboard? Anything to distract myself from my nervousness at stepping into this taboo topic.
I picture Doctor Laura with her crackling voice and defiant understanding of the Way Things Should be Done: no dating for the single Mom until the child is 18 and out of the house, she would say and so I think: yes, you know what? I need to write this.
Married couple sex is discussed openly and with gaiety in the media: husbands make lecherous jokes, wives roll eyes, advice columns explain patiently how to keep the spark alive. Twenty-something relationships are highlighted in ad campaigns: naked, brawny couples rolling in white sheets in underwear and sexy tank tops. But there’s not too much out there for the Single Mom who is devoted wholeheartedly to her children, carrying around a bit of a hole in her own heart. Ecstasy for the Single Mom isn’t sexy, it’s taboo. It’s baked with guilt and suspicion and a half a cup of “you really shouldn’t be doing that.”
I’ve been single for a year and a half now. I’ve worked hard at working double time to support myself and my son, I immersed myself wholeheartedly in deadlines and proposals and honestly, my single-minded focus on work was therapy for me: a welcome distraction from the empty pillow beside me. There’s no place for a pity party in the land of exhaustion.
I took solace on the Internet, through real life friends and cups of steaming tea with my Mom. But the day arose, not too long ago, where I suddenly felt the full-brunt force of the realization that, man, I miss having a man to talk to. I miss having my hand held, my hair touched, someone to chase that determined raccoon off my porch. And I decided, I’m ready, I’m going to start putting myself out there.
It’s easier to make the decision than to act on it. I realize it’s a whole new ballgame: the wrong men will consider my son baggage, the right one will love us both. But how do I find the right man without introducing him to my son immediately? How can I explain who I am as a person without showing him my sweet little sidekick from the get go: here, see, this is Part II of my heart. This is the piece of my soul that walks on the earth. Do you get it?
My feeling is that it’s not right to let my son meet any man I am just getting to know: introductions should wait until it’s very serious and even then there are so many questions. Do I keep my eye out for a kind-hearted single Dad? Should I wait till my son is in school? Would I have to give up one of my jobs to even try to have a social life? Can I handle on more ball to juggle? Is the possibility of long-term love even worth it?
The short answer is that of course it’s worth it. It’s what we’re all after, isn’t it: someone who will love us with our all our foibles and quirks, luggage, sticky Kool-Aid hands and assorted Hot Wheels trucks.
I think my son would be happy to see me happy and fulfilled, to know that I sacrificed much for him, but thatI still placed a bit of emphasis on my own secret hopes, in the desire that both of us might live our best life here on this planet. I just wish someone would hand me a roadmap to the first street on this new bit of the journey, because solo navigation is pretty hard with a sidekick who can’t yet read.