Double Dating

The Man is a creature of routine.  Before The Boy and I came around, it was even to the point that he ate certain meals on certain nights of the week.  I think he misses this a little bit, but we’re both good for each other, pulling each other out of our comfort zones, just a bit.

The Man also has lots and lots of friends and acquaintances, and some of that comes from staying in the town in which you grew up.  But even more of it has to do with the fact that he’s an affable guy who has owned a business or two, and people just like him.  But he has few close friends, which is more like me.  I’ve always been able to count them on less than one hand, and he is much the same.

We're bringing the wine ;)

We’re bringing the wine 😉

Tonight, we are heading over to a friend’s house (his, of course) for dinner, and I’m excited.  People!  Real people!  And I get to hang out with them and have intelligent adult conversation!  And crab cakes!  I know these friends of his, and I like them – they are good people.  And so we are doing this thing that I’m sure lots of other people do lots of.  We just don’t.  Or should I say, haven’t?

We went out a couple of times with PITA and her hubby when The Man was in town and I still lived up north, and we had fun.  But it was difficult to schedule, with PITA’s hubby being a chef (working nights and weekends), and The Man only visiting every 12 weeks or so.

So this is new, this having dinner with friends thing.  And I’m very much looking forward to it. 🙂

Advertisements

Why I Chose to Date as a Single Mom

“Don’t let your struggle be your identity.”

Yes, I actively pursued dating after divorce, as a single mom, as a special needs parent.  Yes, I did.  Some moms in similar situation choose not to, choosing instead to, “wait until their children are grown,” or maybe even give up the idea of ever being with someone again.  “The kids come first,” they often say.  And I don’t disagree.  Not every child, nor even every special needs child is like mine.  Some have more intense needs, and I am not judging anyone who has made this decision for themselves, because I can’t know your personal situation – only you do.

I love being a mom, and that is an integral part of my identity.  I would never give it up, I would never trade that for anything in the world.  But it isn’t all of me.  I am much more complex.  I have my own desires, needs, dreams, foibles, interests, and personality quirks.  I have my own life.  Being a mom to a special needs child is part of it, but it isn’t it.

We only have one life.  I want to live with as little regret as possible, which means doing the best I can, while stretching my personal limits a bit, growing, and learning all the time.  Having a non-existent social life would be a huge source of regret for me.

Also, I want my child to understand that I was put on this planet to be his mom, but also to be a lot of other things, just as he was put on this planet to be my son, and also a lot of other things.  He has autism, but he has a lot of other really cool stuff that make up his identity.

“Don’t let your struggle be your identity.”

That is what I wish for him, and I hope I am modeling that for him by living my life to the fullest.

PS ~ I couldn’t find an attribution for the quote – if anyone knows, please mention in the comments!

On Being Older

By ArtisticZen

This past weekend was The Man’s birthday.  I may have mentioned that there is a considerable difference between our ages, and he would much prefer me to be in my 40s than still in my 30s.  He would also like me to have a few grey hairs.  He would be much more comfortable if I was a tad older, but there’s not much we can do about that, so he will have to remain just shy of his comfort zone on this one.

Besides the two times since we’ve been dating that he has been mistaken for my father (ouch!), it hasn’t really been an issue, and in reality, neither of us thinks about it much.  We get along so well, and rarely run out of things to talk about, as some would suspect a couple with such a sizeable age difference might experience.  It just doesn’t matter.

We have differences of opinion, sure.  But not on the big things, the things that matter.  Sometimes he will reminisce about something that happened in the seventies or from before I was born, and we sometimes giggle about that.  He’ll say, “Oh, don’t you remember that?  You were two.”

We’re safe on the “half your age plus seven” rule, and besides that, we’re both adults.  Neither of us has a a ton of money to chase, neither of us is a hot supermodel (although we are still extremely attracted to each other, even after three years).  There are no ulterior motives, so it’s a non-issue.  Besides, in another 20 years, who knows what we’ll look like?!

Single Moms to Special Needs Kids

I read a sad Facebook post on the Single Mothers who have Children with Autism Facebook page, that started, “YOU MIGHT BE A SINGLE PARENT OF A CHILD WITH AUTISM IF…” and listed 25 (25!!?) ways to identify yourself in that category, many having to do with the inability to even think about dating. I know this post was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but to me it seemed rather sad. And I guess it had to do with the repetition on the theme (and the assumption) that there is no hope for you in the dating world if you have a child with autism, and aren’t you better off anyway, being alone?

Does every single mom to a child with autism end up with a great guy? Heck no. I know how incredibly lucky I am.

But.

I’m happy today because I stuck my neck out there and risked it all. I’m happy today because I decided I wasn’t going to be lonely for the rest of my life. Yes, you read that right, I DECIDED. I’m happy today because I valued myself as a person, no less than my son.

After my divorce, I was told, point blank, that no man would ever date me if they found out my son had autism. And I half-believed it. I joined the online dating scene, landed a semi-regular guy to see, and it was over in about a month. I was devastated until my gynecologist (Yep, you read that right, too!) asked, “Did you love him?” and I said, “Uh… No.” “Then you’re free!” he said, and it clicked. He was so not right for me, and I was not really myself for that month (although it was so nice to be back in the swing of things again!). I learned a lot.

Then I dated “Bachelor #2”. That’s actually what I called him, although not to his face. That lasted two, count ’em TWO dates. You can read all about it here.

And then I gave up. I started to believe I would never find a partner and would only be lucky to date a guy here and there. So I quit. I quit the online dating scene, and didn’t pursue much of anything for a long time.

But.

I had already known The Man a few years. We came into contact a couple months later. And then we hung out again a couple months later. And then again a couple months later, and every freakin’ time I walked away with a huge crush, and a long list of reasons why it wouldn’t work. And a few months later, inspired by a blog post (I’d link it, but I can’t remember which exact one it was…), and Fidelity by Regina Spektor, I decided that I wasn’t going to settle, and I was going to take a risk with my heart, if a risk was made available. And it was.

And here I am. Single Mother who has Child with Autism and a Partner (fiancé!).

I’m certainly not writing about this to brag, and this hasn’t been all rainbows and lollipops, not by a long shot. But it was definitely worth sticking my neck out for. And because I am happier, we are all happier. Much, much happier.

And I know how tough it is to make arrangements to just get out of the house. I KNOW. Listen! I don’t even have family in the area! I am lucky enough to be able to afford a babysitter, but even if I couldn’t, I’d hook myself up with a friend and swap time, or apply for respite from one of the many great nonprofits out there that provide it.

Single Mothers who have Children with Autism, you and your happiness are worth the time, effort, and risk.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford

Dating and the Single Mom

The second guy I dated post-divorce looked great on paper.  He was an engineer, about my age.  He had a daughter, so he knew what single parenting was like.  He not only listened to NPR, he liked the same programs I did.  And he read books.  We seemed to hit it off in our emails, and agreed to go out on a date after I returned from Spring Break (this was back in 2009).  We met for coffee and walked around town a bit.  It was OK, but I wasn’t sure about seeing him again. We get along well, and there were times when we were talking when I forgot I was on a first date with the guy. I had a good time. He was a bit geeky, but so am I. I just got the feeling that he said things because he thought he was supposed to say them, and I didn’t like that. I just wasn’t sure.

John Denver's Greatest Hits

John Denver’s Greatest Hits (Photo credit: thejcgerm)

The next week, I had tickets to see David Sedaris and no one to go with, so I figured I’d give the guy another chance because first dates can be nerve-wracking.  Afterwards, I tried to pinpoint the moment in the evening when I decided it was a no-go… Maybe it was the suggestion to go canoeing that weekend (I had already explained my aversion to camping-type activities)? Or was it the “Who is your favorite musician?” question (Really? Do people still ask things like that? And hello, I teach music!), or the revelation shortly thereafter that his favorite was John Denver?… Yes, we seemed to get along well, but he wasn’t all that interesting or funny, and he stared at me A LOT. Maybe it was the mention of going to some weekend-long bike race the following month… Or the thousand times he asked me something I’d already told him…

In any case, David Sedaris was hilarious, and it was well worth it all. I would follow that man on his book tour like a groupie if I didn’t have a day job.

And I learned a bit more about what I wanted and and more precisely, didn’t want in a partner.  Always a good thing to figure out when you are a dating single mom.

PS I’m not a John Denver hater.  His Christmas album with the Muppets gets played every year in my house.  But favorite musician of all time??…