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Dating

To Anyone Trying to Date a Single Parent, Read This

Young smiling African American mother and daughter coloring together. There are people in the background.

I am not a toy or a sex object. I am not an easy lay or a hook up or your late night booty call.

I am a person, with real feelings and real hurts that need healing. My days are hard. I have work to do, laundry to fold, and tantrums to dispel. I step on Legos, wipe up sticky substances, kiss boo-boos, and have a project due at work. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and I think I’ve figured it out.

Other days end with a glass of wine and tears—because I have to do it all myself. Some days I am independent, strong, and self-assured. Some days the loneliness is so fucking hard I can’t imagine how I’ll make it to the next day.

Dating me is hard work, and it won’t always be fun. Dates will be interrupted by sick children and phone calls will end abruptly by last minute science projects. The number of serious conversations we have will far outweigh our opportunities to laugh and chill out. I’ll answer the door in my pajamas instead of dressed for a night out. I won’t text you back until the next day, and I’ll fall asleep on the phone.

You’ll think I’m going too fast (is this going somewhere real?) and too slow (we have to take our time to really know each other) at the same time. You’ll want to meet my children so you can prove that you can be a good parent—but I won’t let you. I won’t let you near my babies until I know I can trust you completely. You won’t think it’s fair, and you’ll be frustrated that I won’t let you in.

Because before anything else, I want to know that you have my back. That you understand the weight and the importance of the road we’re on. There is nothing I take more seriously then finding the right person to share my life with.

When you pick someone to marry you’re picking them for everything, not just sex. You’re picking them for the kids throwing up in the middle of the night and early morning tantrums. For unpaid bills and uncooked meals. Laughing until your sides ache when your toddler says, “Fuck!” and the bickering about whose fault it is that the milk was left out overnight. For stolen kisses in the laundry room and quickies in the last few minutes you manage to stay awake at night.

We won’t have the luxury of starting from scratch together. There’s no “just us” before the kids come. We won’t be baffled about how to change a newborn’s diaper or try and figure out how to sleep train. You’re jumping in the middle of the game, and that’s a rough ride. You’re picking them for the good times, but more importantly, you’re picking them for the bad times.

But here’s the good part about dating a single parent: We’re honest. We’re truthful. We’re loyal. If I say I want to be there for you, I will. If I tell you I like you, I mean it. You’ll never have to wonder where I stand or how I feel about our relationship because I’ll tell you. If I spend time with you, it’s because there is no place I’d rather be. There is not enough time in the day for bullshit or game playing. I don’t want the chase or the guessing game. I won’t wait by the phone to hope you will call—I’ll pick up and call you myself. I’m confident and independent—because I’ve had to be.

You don’t have to be my savior or my therapist (I’ve got one). You can show me your serious side, but you can get down on the floor and play with the kids too—because when you do I’ll like you ever more. Gifts will please me, but if you make my child smile, my heart will soar. I won’t want fancy restaurants, because I’d genuinely rather relax with you on the front porch for an hour.

Dating a single parent is hard. It’s wonderful. It’s intimidating and challenging. But the rewards are priceless. Because you won’t just get me, you’ll get a family. Because maybe you’re the one who can be my team. My partner, my friend, my lover. I’d love to find out.


Read More:

Sheryl Sandberg Discusses Women’s Silence in the Workplace

Electroconvulsive Therapy Saved My Life & Helped Me Be Myself Again

How to Help a Parent Whose Child is Suffering From Mental Illness


 

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