Just A Date

How Pursuing My Dream of Motherhood Made Dating More Fun

I had always assumed that unlike me, many women were able to date lightheartedly. Unconcerned with a hoped-for long-term outcome, these women could treat a date as just a date. They found a way to relax and have a good time. These women, I further suspected, were free to be themselves with their dates and so were the ones finding the right partner.

As these musings might indicate, my single dating life was often fraught with worry. When dating a man, I was rarely fully present. My mind ran the back story. I’d size him up, then rocket mentally into an imagined future. Is he the right fit for me, and I for him? Is he commitment-phobic? Am I? Are we wasting our time? Of course, sometimes, there was true hope and love. But the stifling “what-ifs” commanded my attention.

Revelations. Then about a year ago, a crossroads moment appeared. My father was in the hospital, in what would turn out to be the last month of his life. I was about six months past the most painful breakup of my life, and about six months away from 40. While chatting with a friend during a business trip to New York, I blurted out to her, apropos of nothing, “I think I’m going to become a mom on my own. Do you know anyone who’s done this and how on earth they did it??”

She grinned at me. The biggest, most joyful grin I have ever seen. I knew in that moment —we were in a bar, but I’ll take revelation where I can get it — that motherhood was where I was headed. That I was going to do this.

For many women, the decision to become a Single Mother by Choice (SMC) comes with intense mourning for “the dream,” that happy imagining most little girls grow up with of a traditional marriage and family — or whatever version fires one’s personal aspirations. Giving up the dream was one of my roadblocks. I tried to focus on letting go only of the order in which the dream would take shape, but it was hard. In my pained and somewhat perfectionist heart, I was letting go of ever finding love, before or after motherhood.

And for a while, I lived this out. In the initial trying months of fertility tests and treatments, dating was the last thing on my mind. Regular appointments with the vaginal ultrasound technician can do that to a girl. My thoughts were directed at my ovaries and the vials in my doctor’s deep freeze.

As difficult as my trying to conceive phase has been so far — including unexpected surgery and other things — the rebirth I first felt when I committed to becoming an SMC has remained. Out from under that pressure to find a mate, I have made space for lots of other types of fulfillment in my life. I’ve learned to better appreciate my friends, and I enjoy them more than ever before. No longer does every sighting of a traditional-appearing family cause envy and anxiety. My focus and confidence at work has improved, even as I mentally rehearse methods of fitting a child and my career together. The last thing I expected at the (previously dreaded) age of 40 was to blossom, but that is exactly what I felt. More than 20 years of dating and not quite getting what I wanted and hoped for were over. I was going to give myself what I wanted. It was a new era.

2 thoughts on “Just A Date”

  1. Thank you for posting. I decided to become a single mother a few months ago. However, I don’t think I realized, and fully appreciated, at the time that I’d also decided to give up on the “dream” of falling in love and having children with a man. Since then I’ve been working with an R/E doc, beginning the journey of conception, and twice I’ve walked out of his office thinking “this isn’t right” and “there’s something wrong here”. At first I thought it was my intuition speaking loudly about the doctor (which it may be), but now I wonder if it’s my resistance to giving up the “dream”; perhaps I haven’t properly “grieved” the loss of the dream. There are certainly times when I feel sorry for myself that I have to do this on my own. But then I remind myself I could go out, marry a man I don’t love as much as I want to, get knocked up, and do it with someone. I know that sounds so crude, but it’s true. I also remind myself I GET (!) to do this even though I don’t have a man in my life. Many women don’t have the means or opportunity. Thanks again for the post as it helped me acknowledge and begin to work through this mentally and emotionally.

  2. Good post. I relate quite a bit–and the last 2 sentences sum it up perfectly. And I will say, now that I have my baby boy, it feels better than any first-date magical kiss I’ve ever had ( and I’ve had a ton of them over 20 years of dating). Frankly, if Mr. Right shows up someday, it would be a nice bonus, but I am no longer looking for him because I’ve got all I ever truly needed peacefully sleeping in his crib in the next room. 🙂

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