Maybe I am impossible to understand. Maybe believing that it is possible and desirable to be with someone who “gets me” is expecting too much. Maybe being with someone more like me means I am with someone who is too busy to pay attention to me. Maybe this is a mirror I didn’t want to see my reflection in and now I can’t stop staring.
Maybe I am too much, too real, my eyes too sad, my breasts too small…. Or maybe it’s because I have a kid.
Dating as a single parent is weird and more complicated than just dating, or at least I think it is. Since I never really dated before I was a mama, it’s merely a hypothesis, but a fairly accurate one it seems. Men my age are completely freaked out by me being their age and already divorced and with a preschooler on my hip. They cannot conceptualize a reality where this seems plausible, so after trying and failing to organize me into a sensible category, the fear that my misfortune will somehow rub off on them if they come too close begins to encompass them, and they carefully back away as if trying to calmly flee from Medusa before she turns her gaze on them.
At twenty-something they are not ready -nor should they be- to take on anything this complex, but when a thirty-something man is not ready, you have to wonder if he’s ever going to be. At forty-something it is no longer about being ready to have a family, but realizing that they never wanted one and are happy with their life as a single person now or already have a family and don’t want to start all over again with such a young mama and child. But let’s be clear that I’m talking about relationships (i.e. long term commitment) because all of these guys will date you, but talk about having a relationship and … oh look they’ve all found some pressing issue to attend to that keeps them from being able to use their cell phones or email. Disappeared. just. like. magic.
I think my ex-husband might be the only man on the planet who, when his girlfriend of two months brought up marriage, he went and bought her a ring. He is the one who should’ve been looking at me like I was Medusa and backing away. I say this with as much compassion as I can muster: What the Hell were we thinking? Single men should take heed from this experience. I know I have.
Marriage is not a conversation I plan to have anytime soon, maybe ever again, but I do know that I don’t want my son to have “Uncles.” Unless they are really going to be his Uncle because they are committing to being a part of his life in an Uncle-like capacity, as in going to his soccer games, coming to his birthday parties, school plays, etc, they are not allowed to be called Uncle so-and-so. I think it is extremely bizarre and creepy when single-moms tell their children to address their boyfriend as Uncle fill-in-the-blank, especially because it literally becomes a fill-in-the-blank situation where men get cycled through in what is a normal dating process regretfully put on display for the children to try to make sense of. And I cannot do that to my son. I will not.
Perhaps now is when I look in the mirror with my Medusa stare and turn myself into stone. These last few months, my first foray into the realm of dating, have made me realize that the dating scene is not designed for the open-hearted and whimsical (i.e. me) and that maybe being more stone-like and not quite so fleshy or a little more Medusa and a little less Aphrodite might be wise. The problem is: that’s just really not my style…