Dating a Mom

Recently, I dove back into the dating world. I don’t know why I decided now was the right time. While we’re past diapers, nursing, and the terrible twos around here, we’re also still dealing with occasional clinginess and nearly nightly co-sleeping, and have yet to have a non-family member babysitter. Not an ideal combo for wanting to go out in the world on a weekly basis.

Despite this, something pushed me to give the crazy world of online dating another go, and it might have been fate, because within a matter of days I connected with someone who is quickly becoming quite special to me. And it’s a good thing she feels the same, because dating a mom is no joke.

The biggest challenge is that, well, I’m a mom, and motherhood doesn’t come with an off switch. Being a mother means my kid will always take precedence. His schedule, his needs, his feelings will always be my first priority. My cell phone will always be within reach just in case there’s an emergency. I will always feel the tug to respond to his cries, even if it means putting on pause whatever else I am doing. Most days he will be the first person I think of and take care of upon waking and the last person I check on before drifting off to sleep. Dating a mom means accepting that for quite a while in the relationship you will play second-fiddle to someone who can’t even wipe his own butt yet.

Just as dating a mom isn’t easy, dating as a mom isn’t easy. I have less time, less money, and more responsibility than I ever dreamed of when I dated as a single and free twenty-something. I can’t go out as easily as I used to, but I need to be even more careful whom I bring home because of who is already at home. And both dating and motherhood are emotionally exhausting—exciting, intense, and at times exhilarating—but exhausting.

Luckily, moms, especially single moms, know how to multitask, schedule, and just plain make shit work. Sure, I have fallen asleep some nights in my son’s bed when I had said I’d try to call my new girlfriend, but I also have managed to do dishes, play fetch with the dog, and fix my son’s iPad 35 times all while chatting with her. Long before returning to dating, I had learned to make time for all that needs to be crammed into one day or at least learned to deal with the stress of knowing it’s impossible to actually fit it all in. I learned to prioritize and let go. If you become a mom’s special someone, she will make time for you. It might mean being invited over after bedtime despite a sink full of dishes and a floor full of Legos, but a mom with a mission will make it work.

I’m making it work. And I’m so happy I dove in before thinking of all the challenges or worrying about each and every possible roadblock. Because dating a mom and dating as a mom is doable. It takes patience, understanding, organizing, and a touch of faith and fearlessness on the part of both parties, but it’s doable. Maybe even ideal. After all, a mom knows her heart can grow exponentially. She knows caring for someone isn’t always easy, but it’s worth all the hard work. Being a mother has given me confidence and strength, and over time has taught me how to share myself with someone and allow that person to change me for the better without losing my old self completely.

And on the flip side, anyone hardcore enough to take on the challenge of dating a mom is worth the effort and the wait. He or she’s interest and commitment must be beyond what is normally required, so if it’s there, it’s probably pretty special and intense. And very much appreciated!

Maybe it was fate that brought me back into the dating world. It certainly feels that way whenever I’m with my girlfriend. But I also think I was finally at the right place in my personal growth to accept another person into my fold, and I credit that to the last four years of parenting. Being a mom certainly adds layers to dating and finding the right person, but it also has made me ready to take on those challenges.

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