Learning How to Date as a Single Mom

October 18, 2012

in Naked Girl Has Guests, Singledom

Guest WriterToday’s guest is Mikki Morrissette, moderator of Choice Moms website. She is an amazing example of someone who can excel at motherhood and career, while also providing a much-needed resource for women who choose to be a mother without a partner. She is also author of Choosing Single Motherhood: The Thinking Woman’s Guide

To quote Mikki from her About page:

“Like the journey of single motherhood, one step leads to the next, and before you know it, a new life has evolved.”

Mikki’s newest journey is dating, and while she states she is trying to find her way, she seems to have valuable insights already for single parents who are dating. After you read Mikki’s post here, please follow Mikki on Facebook and check out her website, too.

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I have a love-hate relationship with dating. Maybe that’s why I became a Choice Mom – a single woman who opted to have children (now 13 and 8) on my own.

The worldwide network of Choice Moms have kids alone not because we “don’t like men” (as some suspect) nor because we feel men are unnecessary to our lives. Rather, we tend to be practical, self-sufficient women who realize we have a limited window of time in order to build a family and we don’t want to wait to find a partner. Often, we divorced before we had children and don’t want to rush into baby-making with someone new. Or, we opt to leave a partner who doesn’t want kids.

In my case, I do occasionally “fall into relationships.” Interestingly, nearly all of my closest friends over the past several decades have been men. Generally I am good friends with men for a long while before, on occasion, we tilt our head a different way and suddenly go from “wow you are easy to hang out with” to “hey baby, whatcha doin’ Friday night?”

My inclination toward platonic relationships might have something to do with growing up a tomboy in a neighborhood full of boys, having several poker/four-wheeling friends in high school, and being a sportswriter through my 20s. But whatever it was, I never got the guidebook about “how to be a girl,” or how to flirt and otherwise make yourself act like someone who is open for business.

I did marry (and divorce) twice. The second with someone I met when I was five months pregnant with my second child. And I remain very good friends with my first, who is guardian of my kids if anything happens to me. For me, it is a passive idea to sit back and wait for someone I barely know to “ask me out” – no eye contact, no flirtatious “open” sign unless we’ve been buddies a long time and get to that magical head-tilting moment. Yet that model also means that most of the men I have dated became full-blown relationships. The idea of dating simply for fun passed me by.

It is only now, at age 50, mother of two, that I am actually “dating.”

What I find interesting – as I talk with women around the United States at Choice Mom networking events that I host – is how often we report that our concept of dating changes significantly after we become a mother.

Granted, in the first year of new motherhood, brushing our hair and getting out of the house without spit-up or milk stains is a feat. We might remember to put on lipstick after our kids start kindergarten. Gradually, as our kids begin to hang out more with friends, wanting sleepovers on weekends, we begin to look around and say, “what else?”

Yes, we have a lot of “Do Nots” on our dating list now that were not there before motherhood. We are busy, so we don’t want to waste our time. We don’t want anyone who doesn’t accept that our children are priorities. We don’t want to spend serious time with anyone who does not show great skill with our kids. Quite a litmus test.

But this is also a fun, relaxed time, even for a date-phobic woman like me. Because we aren’t looking for a job now. We already have a job. A great one. We are mothers. So the right candidate – the one we’d be willing to pay a babysitter for (our version of the “sponge-worthy” test) – simply needs to succeed in one or two primary ways:

1)    Re-engage my mind in something other than cutting up vegetables, watching Disney movies, or keeping my kids from playing i-games all evening;

2)    Re-engage my body so I feel less like Mom and Dad and pack horse and maid, and more like a… (really? truly?)… female.

Dating without baby-making (or even child-raising) on the horizon seems, for me, a much easier order.

What about you?

What do you think about dating after becoming a mom?


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Ellen at Defenestrated Feet October 18, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Wow! I knew about the existence of “Choice Moms” (but hadn’t heard them referred to as such) but truth be told I had never thought to consider the quite sensible reasoning behind such a decision.

Finding love – especially truly compatible love – can be really tricky and the timing isn’t something we can just decide on. So to separate being a girlfriend or wife from being a mother – both of which are very fulfillling roles – is a truly innovative idea when put in this light. It would sure beat rushing into a not-so-great relationship just because your “clock is ticking!”

Thank you for the interesting perspective exposing me to new ideas! =)
Ellen at Defenestrated Feet recently posted..The painfully realistic guide to looking FIVE* years younger – instantly!My Profile

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Naked Girl in a Dress October 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm

I am glad you enjoyed Mikki’s post here. I was happy she shared this unique perspective in dating challenges.

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Olivia Watson October 19, 2012 at 7:25 am

Each of us is responsible for the decisions we make in our lives. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react. And becoming a single mother forges something in your heart that either brings you down or makes you stronger and better for it.

I prefer the term “sponge-worthy” test :-)
Olivia Watson recently posted..Argan Oil Benefits are Too Many to Mention…My Profile

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Naked Girl in a Dress October 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm

What a great comment, Olivia! Thank you. I believe becoming a single mom has made me much stronger.

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Bonnie October 19, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I so relate. I am a choice mom and now that my sons are getting older I am interested in dating. I just would like more articles from choice moms who have been successful in dating and are in a long term relationship or married as most choice moms I know are on the same level at me… unsuccessful at dating, so I would love to read from someone who actually made it and how she made it.

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Naked Girl in a Dress October 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Thank you for this comment, Bonnie. I have sent your comment to Mikki, the author who runs the choice moms site. Maybe she can connect you with someone who has made strides dating. Best of luck to you.

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Mikki October 23, 2012 at 10:48 am

Thanks Bonnie.
It’s a great idea to feature Choice Moms who have married or are in a long-term relationship (I married someone I met when I was five months pregnant with my second, but that was short-lived because we didn’t think through some particular challenges we faced). I know a few women who have and will reach out. But what typically happens is after they do move into a relationship I tend not to hear from them anymore and don’t know about it. The women who stay in the community tend to enjoy the support and companionship of the other women on like-minded path, so it’s not surprising that the ones who move on from that lifestyle do in fact move on.

I’ll keep my ears open, and put out the call in my next e-newsletter.

Mikki

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Mikki October 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

And note, Bonnie, that I actually think I am more successful at dating now that my kids are 8 and 13 than I ever have been before. Mainly because my particular goal is to have Me time now, and expanding my circle of “date-able men” relationships is enabling me to do that. I simply don’t want to get involved in anything more serious than that until after I’m done being the primary caregiver to my kids.

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Angel October 29, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I love that choice moms are finding love after having children. But at the same time it kind of makes me out of place with choice moms. I am considering this option not because I have a problem finding a mate but because I don’t want one. I love being single and would dread getting married just for children but I am glad I don’t have to.

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Mikki Morrissette November 7, 2013 at 11:15 am

Angel…. thanks for your comment.
Actually… you are very much in step with most Choice Moms. Many women who make this choice have consciously decided that finding a partner is not important to their life, but raising kids is.

Myself… I do keep making the attempt to meet new people and keep socializing outside of being a mom… but dating in general…. not really my thing. :)

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