Several months ago, when I was settling into the still-uncomfortable role of Sole Head of Household, my brother told me to stop being such an antisocial old lady and get the hell out of the house, meet someone of the opposite sex who didn’t enjoy peeing in his own bath water.
I remember the moment clearly: my 29-year-old sibling and my two-year-old son were sitting on bar stools in the kitchen of my half-decorated new home, eating toasted sandwiches, one of them with breadcrumbs surrounding his lips and trailing up into his cowlicked blond locks.
“I know,”I sighed,”I miss people my age. I miss flirting. But what? I’m not going to meet a hot prospect in the canned fruit aisle. I’m too haggard for the club scene, and I am totally not asking anyone to set me up.”
“Online dating,”my brother replied, and I looked at him suspiciously. “I did it,”he continued,”I had no time for the bars and I met some cool chicks that way.”
My brother is a good looking man; he’s athletic, fun, and well-employed and he’s never had a problem with the ladies. In fact, it’s kind of the opposite, he’s mostly had to fend them off.
“You dated Internet girls?”I asked incredulously.
“Yeah,”he said nonchalantly,”It’s not weird anymore. Seriously. There are a lot of single Moms on there. You have nothing to lose.”
So, furtive and with my ears burning a little, I signed up on a free dating site. And tentatively posted my picture and a few paragraphs. I emphasized that my son is my number one sidekick and waited for the deafening silence.
I was kind of bowled over when the emails started pouring in. Dozens of men, many wildly inappropriate with bare chests and astonishingly blue humor. But some were cool. A few inspired a little stomach-flipping. While my son was with his Nanny, I met a few for coffee. And one, a man with curly black hair and uncommonly kind eyes, has been hanging out a little bit. A coffee here, a martini there, a walk on the beach, and, OK, a weekend away. This man (I’ll call him John) is 35, never been married, no kids. And I wonder if that is a distinct disadvantage.
John’s brother has two little girls, but they live far away and he rarely gets to see them. I wonder if the fact that he doesn’t have kids dooms our potential relationship, a little. He, after all, knows nothing but off-the-cuff getaways, Saturday sleep-ins till close to noon, leisurely brunch with the weekend paper. My world is foreign to him; though he knows my son is everything to me, I don’t think he can possibly understand what that means. He doesn’t know about 5:00 AM wakeups, bathtime that ends up with water covering every inch of the house, what it feels like to have a little piece of your soul holding your hand in complete trust. I couldn’t have understood it, before becoming a parent myself.
Since starting to write this column, I’ve discovered a lot of fabulous blogs I hadn’t read before. Many of them talk about dating and single parenthood and I’ve been inhaling their words with abandon. It’s helping, but still don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
Single parents, I’d love to know your stories. Would you date someone who has never had kids? Would you rather date someone who has children? An inquiring, inexperienced dating Mama wants to know.