Single Mama Manifesto: The Dating How-To Guide

by Michelle
Originally Published: 
single mom
Rostislav_Sedlacek / iStock

Dear Single Man I Just Met,

Recently, you and I, we hit it off. You smiled at me, I smiled back. We chatted, and at some point between my witty comebacks and your story about three men and a lost cab driver, I mentioned I was the mother of two children, and you didn’t bail right there; good work. In fact, we found we had enough in common to set a first date.

Perhaps you’re thinking it’s not a big deal, dating a single mom. Maybe you’ve never tried it before and are looking for a more “serious and settled down” kind of woman. Whatever your reasons, I just want to give you a few tips, some things you might want to know in advance, just in case (of what, I’m not sure, but I’m a mom, so it’s my thing).

Speaking of (my thing(s)), here’s the deal:

1. My kids.

They come first. Every time. No matter what. If my plans change suddenly, please don’t take it personally. If I choose to spend a night in with my small humans eating popcorn on the floor watching another fucking Tinkerbell movie instead of going to that fancy pants gala with you and feeling guilty all night, it’s because I chose to do what felt most right instead of what was more fun for me. And, at this point in our lives, I’m really trying to limit intentional injury and am admittedly a bit gun-shy about bringing men into their lives who might not stay. So, if I don’t introduce them to you, it’s because we are not ready. We. Not me. WE.

2. Schedules.

I live by them. When I ask you what your week is like, it’s not because I want to stalk your every move on social media or keep a running list of what kinds of shit you are into that corresponds with the kind of shit I’m into.

For serious.

It’s because between juggling my career, the health, well-being, and social lives of my children, running an entire household by myself, and trying to keep my own mind and body in shape, chances are good that the two nights a week I have “to myself” are already booked. So unless you’d like to “play it by ear” until the next solstice, if we are going to see each other anytime soon it’s probably a good idea to let me know now if and when you’d like to spend some time with me, whatever that looks like.

3. My time and resources.

See #2, above. They are limited. This means that if we have made plans to go out on a night when I’m not willingly watching fairies solve world problems and I’ve put them to bed and booked a babysitter for a few hours, then dude – show the fuck up. I’m literally paying to be on this date. Don’t flake. Also, related sidenote – I’ve already put in my time dating hot and unavailable men; if this describes you, then please say so now so I can save myself from the heartbreak later.

4. My kids.

Again, yes. Let me talk about them. Let me tell you how our family works and the funny things they said and did today. Let me complain about the wet fucking towel on the wet fucking bathroom floor I fucking stepped on the for the 15th fucking time today, and then ask me how my son’s last baseball game was and watch me light up when I talk about his big hit. If you don’t want to hear about my life as a mom and how amazing my kids are, then we have zero future here. None. That being said …

5. I have a shit-ton of things to talk about that are not related whatsoever my children.

Bucketloads. Talk to me about them. Let me get to know you. Tell me about your world and ask me about mine. Appeal to my inner adult. See me, the real me. Get me out of mom mode and help me feel like the beautiful, interesting, smart, funny woman that I am. Please. And for fuck’s sake, call me by my first name, and often. Because someone should.

6. Mind your manners, but don’t be a prude.

I’m not looking for a G-rated date, nor am I packing a copy of 50 Shades and looking for an unrated night out. Treat me like a grown-ass woman who likes to have fun, not a mommy. I speak fluent sarcasm, but I’m also a fucking lady, mmkay? Yes, I know this is confusing; it is my daily reality. Eventually I’m told this will all make sense. Until then – it’s a hot (beautiful) mess.

7. My ex-husband.

Let’s not shit talk him. Is he a good parent? Ummmmmm, let’s please not get into that; don’t get me started. Really. Please don’t. It doesn’t end well for anyone. He and I are constantly still figuring out how to do this, so just be there to support me, if we get that far, and weigh in carefully.

8. Do not, under any circumstances, assume I am either desperate or helpless.

Is it easy doing this alone? Fuck no. It’s the hardest goddamn thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not looking for your pity or your praise, just respect. Do not tell me what to do; show me gently or let me ask in my own time. I am not a damsel in distress and you are not my knight in shining fucking armor. This is the real world, and I’m looking for a partner-in-life, not a parent, a boss, a handyman, or a babysitter, for me or the kids.

9. However, please be forgiving.

I have a self-sufficient attitude, and it’s gonna be a slow release. I’ve learned to do it all by myself because that’s the way my cookie crumbled; it doesn’t mean I’m not ready to make a new kind of, um, dessert. Help me let my guard down a little and take help when it’s offered.

10. And, most of all, be patient.

With all of us. This is a process, and it’s entirely different from two single and childless people dating one another; there are other lives involved. I might get scared and panic. My kids might say they hate you. You might get scared and panic. You might not like my kids at first. Let’s just agree from the get-go that nobody makes any sudden moves, late-night hasty decisions, or acts on any life-altering impulses.

Thanks, Single Man I Just Met, for reading all of that. Still wanna grab that cup of coffee? Just, like, um, let me know. Please.

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