Updated: Mar 2, 2021
God, I needed a break and at the time, the ever so perfectly-timed request was made for me to step out for dinner and drinks. My girdle was snug and hiding all the inconvenience of my rolls. My makeup laid on my face like paint on a canvas and my locs smelled like cactus and island oil. I was every bit of fine and ready to be wined and dined then I remembered; I hadn’t even checked with my mom to see if she could babysit. The baby’s bag wasn’t packed. I still needed to stop and pick up gas drops and I needed to pump before I left. Yep, I was no longer a single woman dating, but a single mother who couldn’t even figure out how to get out on a date.
There’s no way to make the truth taste like molasses in this case. The unsweetened reality is that nothing refashions the rules for dating quicker than having children. The once smooth currents of the dating world suddenly have ripples and waves new parents never knew existed.
As if dating is not already entangled and perplexing enough, try adding the constant demands of parenthood in the mix and you have a true catastrophe.
As a single mother, I’ll tell you, nothing crucifies the mood like a crying baby or your mind being too occupied for sex because you’re trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for diapers and milk and keep your mortgage paid. There is nothing sexy about a 5-minute shower and having to change your clothes 5 times a day because your little one chooses to use your shirt as a burp cloth. Even as your child grows up and you slowly find your way back to sexy avenue, the struggle still remains. How do I maneuver between motherhood and my personal life?
Tragically, women are indoctrinated to believe that because we “chose” a situation that put us in a position to raise a child by ourselves we should be complacent and grateful for anyone who is willing to take us and tolerate our children. Too many women have kneeled down at the feet of this ideology, believing that once they become a mother, they will never maintain another healthy relationship. You hear women say things like, “Who is going to want me with all these kids?” “Who wants to marry a woman with children?”
Falling in love with a single mom is to fall for a business woman, a multi-tasker, a scheduler, a nurse, a teacher, a bookkeeper, a financial consultant, and a chef. She is the woman who will empower you to your highest level while preparing a 5-course gourmet meal on a ramen noodle budget. She is religious in her devotion to her family and a fearless warrior. She is a righteous woman who will bring out the freak for you once the children are tucked in and sleep.
I may be married now, but my single mother days are not completely out of view. I still very clearly remember those days. If you find yourself in love with a single mother, here are some things to be cognizant of:
She Will Need Help and She Will Not Ask For It
For years, I thought the best way to maintain a relationship as a single mother was to not make anyone I dated responsible in any way for my child. The less I requested of my partner, the easier it would be for them to see that dating a woman with a child wouldn’t be a burden to our relationship.
The truth was there were many times I wanted my significant other to notice that I was slowing losing my grip on parenthood and simply ask me, “How can I help?”
After a long week of juggling two jobs, basketball practice, an impromptu trip to the emergency room, which left her with less than 3 hours of sleep, dinner and bedtime routine, and managing bills she may simply need a hug or to know that if sh*t hits the fan she can count on you. The best way to find out what your woman may need is to ask her. This leads me to my second point.
Ask Her about Her Children
I am by no means the spokeswoman for all dating mothers, but I believe we share the same sentiments when it comes to our children. We are just as nervous about dating with children as you are. We are constantly trying to balance and walk across an unsteady tightrope teeter tottering between the right and wrong decisions.
When is the right time to introduce a potential partner to our children? Is it too soon? Is it not soon enough? What will my children think of him/her? What will he/she think of my children?
The anxiety lessens when a woman feels like the person she is seeing is truly interested in getting to know her and her child(ren). If she mentions that one of them has a big spelling test coming up on Friday, Friday night you should be questioning her about how her daughter’s test went. These simple conversations make us feel more comfortable about talking about our children and less apprehensive about allowing you to get to know them.
Don’t Ever Make Her Feel Like She Has To Choose
You can not date around a woman and her child. While that woman may initially make the necessary provisions to get to know you by squeezing time into her demanding schedule for date night and late evening phone conversations, please know that eventually those one-on-one dates may be replaced with afternoons at the park, Saturday morning sports events, and kid-friendly restaurants.
Don’t isolate yourself from those occasions where you get to show her you are not just tolerant of the fact that she has children. Be engaged. If you only care to deal with her when the children are with their dad for the weekend, or in the late evenings once they have gone to bed, you are not available to be with a woman who has children. It’s OK to not want to date a woman or man with children, but it is not OK to distract that woman’s heart when you know you have no intentions of staying for the long haul.
Superwoman Cape On, No Damsels In Distress Here
A single mother is a woman who has instinctively learned how to navigate in this world with little to no real support. The fear that she will become dependent on you or want you to raise her child could not be further from the truth. Each situation is different and while some women may request a little more support than others, most women are not looking for someone to swoop in and be super dad to their children. On the contrary, most are merely looking for someone to build a life with, someone who cares to be involved and who can be a positive role model for their children.
We Want All The Same Things As Women Without Children
We want the same things as women without children, romance, great sex, a career, material possessions, and a loving spouse, but we would give all that up for the happiness of our children. Mothers have tunnel vision, the focus is always their child and what’s best for them. It is OK to be that occasional reminder to take care of our own needs as well.
When you see us getting wrapped up our children and we haven’t had a moment to ourselves in months, help us disconnect. This could mean a day at the spa, a foot massage at the end of the work day, or a home-cooked meal that we didn’t have to get in the kitchen and prepare.
We Will Never Tell You How Tired We Truly Are
This one is huge. I have been dog ass tired for the past 5 years. I honestly don’t know if I am coming or going sometimes. I went from juggling a newborn, working full time, and starting my own business to keeping two schedules, one for me and one for my daughter and her activities. I’ve spent lunch breaks running home to get her ready from school to getting off work at 5:30pm rushing to pick her up and get her to gymnastics by 6pm. I am drained. But, I keep going.
Here is the secret to getting women to perform for you in and out of the bedroom. Help around the house. Nothing brings the freak out of a woman like coming home to a clean house, a meal, and the laundry folded. Having the dishes washed is the equivalent to foreplay for a mother. This doesn’t have to be every day, but simply recognizing our exhaustion and taking it upon yourself to ease some of our stress is the greatest gift you can give a mother.