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The Loveliest Liability

Loviest Liability

A few months ago in the New York Times Magazine there was an article about a community of single moms. These women, single either by choice or circumstance, created their own extended family with themselves and their children. They were fully committed to each other and had decided to dedicate themselves to the upbringing of their children. It was amazing to see how that was their utmost priority and, in the meantime, they had decided not pursue romantic relationships with men.

Yeah, that’s so not me.

That’s not to say that raising E is not my top concern. Because it is. But I know that I am also more than a mommy (although I know there are days when we all wonder if that’s actually true). That boy is the most important thing in my life. However, I also know that if I sacrifice my entire self to be a parent, I will be less of one. So I need my time to myself — grown-up books, lunch with friends, poker nights, dating.

Ah, yes — dating. Easier said than done. Especially for a single mom. There are plenty of childless single women out there. And that’s not to say that these women do not have plenty to juggle in busy lives, but it’s different when you’re a mom. For example, I’m tired all the time. One guy wanted to meet me for a drink at 10:30pm. 10:30? Doesn’t he know that if I am not already in bed by that time, then my tush is firmly planted on my couch? I mustered up my strength (along with a nap and a shot of Diet Coke) and proceeded bravely.

There’s also the guilt thing. I have pangs if I leave E with a sitter more than a couple nights a week. It’s silly, really, especially considering that when he’s not in school, we spend a great deal of time together. But I like reading Harry Potter at night and I miss our cuddle time. (Although, truth be told, cuddling with someone closer to my age range is very appealing as well.)

And the biggest difficulty in dating? (Drum roll, please.) Men don’t want to date a mom. Oh, I’m sure there are those guys out there but I have yet to meet one. I have had more than one instance when someone who seemed like a potential date dropped out of sight once the “mommy” factor came up. A friend tried to set me up last year with a guy she knew through work. We had a couple email exchanges and in the last one I mentioned that I had a fabulous son. The response? “Sorry, but I don’t date women with children.” And this was coming from a guy in his mid-40s!

At least he had the gumption to say it outright. Another set-up proved unsuccessful as well. We had a half-hour phone chat and things were going well. He asked if I lived alone, to which I replied no. The conversation then proceeded along nicely and he asked if I would be free for dinner the following week. He said he would call me. Never happened. When I told him about E, I was tempted to say, “Listen, if that’s a deal-breaker, just let me know.” But I didn’t. Who knows if he would admitted to it anyway.

I had a brief foray into internet dating last year. It was not a raging success. I put front and center on my profile that I was a mom. I’m damn proud of that fact and there is no way I’m going to hide it just so some guy will buy me a drink. A friend assured me that this might in fact be a good filter — someone not interested in dating a mom simply would not try to match with me. And boy oh boy, did it ever work. That’s not being fair. I did go on a few dates. Although never with a dad. I emailed quite a few, too — I even sought them out. And there were a couple with whom I had a few back and forth emails. They always dropped the ball. Not interested, I guess. My guess is (and I surmise this in order to keep my sense of humor about the whole thing) that these guys emailed both me and some stunning 26-year old (sans baby belly). I was the safety school and when the top tier accepted them, I was out the door.

For some reason I think men are a bit scared to date a single mom. Not all, I realize that, but certainly those in my limited experience. It must seem like a big responsibility – two for the price of one. I’m sure it must be difficult to think that if you fall in love with a woman, you will also be participating in the raising of her child as well. But there is so much more than that.

I want to take these guys, grab them by the shoulders and say, “Listen, I’m a mom but I am also so much more than that. There is no way you are even meeting my boy until I know you plan on being part of our future. And once you do meet him, you will probably want to stay with me just because he is so incredible. I make dinner almost every night, puke and blood don’t frighten me, and I could probably lift a truck off you if I needed to. Plus, I make a killer peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”

Phew. Maybe I should put that on my internet dating profile.

In the summer of 2008 TLC had a new reality show called “Must Love Kids” about three single moms looking for love. Each one started out with ten suitors and whittled down their individual groups from there. I don’t know whose reality it was, but these women all had very neat houses, flat stomachs and decorative tattoos on their lower backs. Oh, did I mention they also had perfect skin and wore their hair in cute, frizz-free braids for an au natural look. I sat in front of the TV rolling my eyes. I set my DVR to tape the series, and then thought the better of it and cancelled. After all, the show title is a variation of the movie “Must Love Dogs.” Kids, dogs — same thing, right? That’s a scary thought. Needless to say, the show did not get a second season. Although that’s not to say that I didn’t harbor a morbid desire to know if the producers plan to come to New York in the near future.

So I am not planning on joining a commune or hiding in a bunker. Nor do I plan on becoming a participant in a reality show. (Okay, maybe if they ask nicely….) So what’s a single mom looking for love (or, at the very least, a second date) to do? Persevere, I suppose. Continue to ask friends to set me up. Continue to keep my eyes open. And continue hoping that one day I will meet a man who loves me and E and would be thrilled to be part of our lives.

Besides, I always give a glass of milk and a cookie with that PB&J.


Author: Stacey Linden

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