Here’s the truth: dating is hard. But dating as a single parent is even harder.
Whoever said dating was fun and easy was so wrong. Sure as a sixteen-year-old and maybe into your late teens there is a sense of ‘fun’ that comes along with being somewhat promiscuous and the idea of meeting someone new. The sparks are flying, you get butterflies, and you question whether this could this be love at first sight. Fast forward to your early twenties and you start losing that appeal you once had to the opposite sex. Throw a child into the mix and you’ve got yourself a winning combo.
As someone who willingly went into parenthood on the path of ‘single’, let's just say it hasn’t been a walk in the park. From family members who had far too many questions, the judgment of friends telling me I needed to find someone so they can support me, to strangers who just needed to mind their own business. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of what I was getting myself into, but to be scrutinized and judged for it - please, do yourself a favor and just stop.
I’ll be the first to admit I am far from perfect, but I do a damn good job at raising my son and providing for our family. Did I have a fear of finding love? Yes! But who doesn’t in this day and age? When it comes time to start dating, there is going to be a lot of trial and error. You’re going to need to weigh out your pros and cons and what truly matters to you. You’re going to constantly get asked: 'Are you dating? Are you ready?’ For me, I started to notice within myself, and from other relationships around me, what I truly wanted and needed.
As a parent, once our child is born our protective instincts kick into a whole new gear. This also included my BS meter. Once I started to toy with the idea of dating (joining sites, reaching out to friends, using social media to explore options), I soon realized I didn’t have time for petty games, the witty banter back and forth, and hours of texting and talking on the phone.
Aside from a job, my child, my personal life, and now dating I was overly concerned with the amount of time I had to invest. Priorities had shifted and now dating was on the bottom of the barrel for myself. Don’t even get me started on the idea of childcare because as a single parent with little to no help, this almost made it impossible for me to meet anyone. Plus, if I am being honest - if and when my son was being watched by his grandmother I wanted to be doing something for myself (likely shopping).
So when it came time to consider dating I knew that whoever was going to be considered needed to possess certain qualities I looked for in a partner and now a potential parent to my child. I will openly admit to being one of the most self-conscious people out there, which made it harder for me to step back into it. Often people would comment on how I looked, that as a mom I was too polished, there was no way I was able to shower, get dressed, do my hair and makeup while keeping my child alive. Excuse me? Just because I wasn’t in sweats, or wearing a top knot, or had coffee stains on my shirt doesn’t mean I am neglecting my child by being put together. Plus… looks aren’t everything and can be extremely misleading. I likely felt like overcompensating because of my insecurities of being a single woman. This had to stop. I needed to learn to love myself and see myself as how my child did.
What I started to eat, to how I dressed myself, and my son all started to heavily matter to me. I didn’t want someone to look at me and see all the things I was embarrassed by or concerned with, yet alone raising a human alone. Soon after this I started to learn I was hiding my true self. That those days I wanted to veg on the couch or wear yesterday's makeup shouldn’t be a problem, they should be embraced. To learn that this is the new way of life and that it’s perfectly fine and ‘normal’.
Far often there is a stigma behind single parents and that there must be something ‘wrong’ with us. Why else would we be single? It’s taken me a long time, over three years, to really understand nothing is wrong. People are going to judge and ridicule because you're not the ideal ‘perfect’ family. Guess what, that’s fine by me. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. When people out there claim to be a ‘single’ parent when their husband is off to work and they have to hold down the fort alone for the weekend, it’s hard not to scream and roll your eyes. Just remember ignorance is bliss and there are people out there like you and me who do it alone, 24/7. Something like that should be celebrated.
Be kind to yourself, practice self-care, soak in all the wonderful goodness that comes with being a solo parent. Something magical happens when it’s just you and your kid, that’s indescribable. Don’t let someone new come into your life and shake it up. Never put anyone’s needs above your own or your child's. Find that person who complements it in all the little and imperfect ways you didn’t know existed.
I’ll say this, I truly believe there is nothing wrong with dating when you have kids - I did it and thousands of other parents are doing it. At the end of the day a happy mom is the best mom regardless of your relationship status. Some of the best kids come from solo parent homes, just ask mine.
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About the Author:
Samantha Lenz is a freelance copywriter and journalist by trade, turned PR and communications extraordinaire. Sometimes known to make too many inappropriate jokes and get herself in some interesting situations with her dry sense of sarcasm, you'll be sure to have a few good laughs when you're with her. Can't forget to add that when she's not busy writing or working on social media posts, she is consumed with far too many tantrums, diaper changes, and cold cups of coffee. With over a 100 wpm skill set... it's no surprise how she has a way with words.