Its not uncommon for men to ask a woman they're interested in, "What are you looking for?" This question presents itself in text, phone calls, first meetings, and always at least by the third date. Its such an odd question because there's no "coffee date" response. No 3 minute elevator pitch can sum up what a woman is looking for; especially a woman like me. Because, chances are, my honest response will likely repel you.
A 27 year old male I was chatting with last sunday afteroon over a few cocktails at a carnival themed bar (that detail is crucial...(imagine a whimsical lighthearted ambiance) looked me dead in the eye and started telling me he's looking for someone special to share his life with and he thinks that may be me. Whoa! slow down, buddy! Come ride the slide with me or lets throw bean bags around on the astroturf. I laughed (which probably hurt his feelings) and said, "You seem like the 'marying guy', honey. That's not my scene." His demeanor immediately changed and he relaxed, "I'm really not, but I thought maybe you were". That answer made things even worse and made me laugh even harder. "Dude, you can't just assume ALL women want to get married and more importantly, this isn't Sunday Funday convo with a thirty-five year old divorcee- just sayin'"
Been there. Done that. Not for me.
I didn't get divorced because I hated marriage. I had legitimately valid, life threatening reasons for divorcing. However, now that I'm on the flip-side (and older), I've realized marriage was only something I did because I felt I should. I felt like I had to. I was dating someone nearly seven years, we had lived together 85% of that time, we were both of age, why not? What else are you supposed to do, right? Ummmm....I wish I'd known back then there were other options! I wish I had known marriage wasn't the only logical next step and more importantly that marriage wasn't going to fix a bad relationship. The institution of marriage came with a heap of issues that tragically altered my relationship and subsequently me as an individual.
So, what am I looking for? I'm still looking for LOVE. I'm looking for my person! I'm looking for someone whose mind, body and soul all excite me and challenge me. Someone who has incredible goals for themself and their life and will NOT alter those dreams or ambitions because of me or for me, but rather allows me to be a part of the dreams. I'm looking for someone who will be open and honest with me and allow me into their life and become a part of my life, but together we encourage each other to live our own adventures. This person will not only adore my wild nature, but encourage it. This person will trust our connection enough that even when we're apart, they'll know we are together.
This person will also be secure enough in what we have that they won't need to legally "claim" me. This person will know I love them and they love me and it will be understood that love will always be there. We will be partners in love and in life however we choose to love and live.
This person is wild, soulful, adventurous, thoughtful, generous, kind, social, ambitious, patient, strong, gentle, warm, generous, honest, light hearted, optimistic, playful, confident, cultured, selfless, willing, trusting, affectionate, spontaneous, romantic, creative, forgiving...loving. They approach people with an open mind, approach me with an open heart, and approach life with an open soul. On our own, we are dynamite, but together we are a force.
"I'm someone who is looking for love. Real love. Consuming, inconvenient, can't-live-without each other love" -Carrie Bradshaw
Becoming a mom was the single most amazing moment of my life! From the moment I met my boys I realized that being their mom was my one, true calling, and...I'm really good at being a mom! In fact, its the one thing I do that I never second guess or doubt myself on. But being a single mom? That is still effing hard! Despite how a woman feels about being a mom, being a single mom can still force you into fetal position crying in the corner of your house IF you're not careful. So, flip the script. An untrained mind can accomplish nothing. Its crucial to gain control of negative thoughts and turn them into positive thoughts that serve you and guide you towards the greater good.
Why is the single mom gig so hard?
1. Money (or lack thereof)
No matter WHAT you do for work, or how much money comes in- it's just YOU. That's it. There's noone else carrying the weight of the finances, making money, budgeting, balancing books, paying bills, paying taxes, or deciding how to invest for everyone's future. And, let's face it, most single moms are facing huge financial strain because likely money was lost/owed in the divorce and you're still playing catch up, and childcare is WAY overpriced. Then, there's the added strain of actually securing a spot at a quality childcare center, most of which have a two to three year waitlist (news to you when you're child is old enough to need care) and you learn you have to wait for a spot to open up, which will most likely happen by the time they can enter kinder.
Flip the script: I AM a resourceful and capable person. Money is fluid and will flow in and out of our lives, but my relationship with my children will always matter.
My ex essentially "left" us while I was ICU status after the birth of my twin boys. He let me know it was "too much for him to handle" and advised me to call my mother for help. Although we were still married for another 18 months, caring for these two tiny humans was on me. Every feeding, bath, diaper, sleepless night, meltdown, and new stage was mine to navigate (times two). Single mothers don't often have a chance to recharge their batteries. In fact, I bet we could all swap stories of having food poisoning or the flu and rocking a crying baby (or two) while hanging over the toilet puking. We are exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Flip the script: I AM much stronger than I know. Pushing past my boundaries and doing what it takes to care for my young makes my stronger each time.
This word may be foreign to many of you. Time is that thing everyone else has, but you. When someone says, "let me know when you have time" you laugh, because when you're in charge of other humans, you're availability gets cut down significantly. While as an adult you may only need 8 hours of sleep a night, you're stuck at the house for likely twelve hours each night so your kids can rest. Then, add in naps, and depending on the age of your child(ren), this could mean another 4-5 hrs you're unavailable.
Flip the script: I am avaailble for THESE hours and I WILL make that time productive and meaningful. I will accomplish what maters to me.
To me, this one is the hardest because I'm an extrovert. I get my energy feed from others...groups even. The shock of the way my ex retreated and left me alone after having the boys was draining on me mentally and emotionally but, even though he wasn't ever around, I still knew I had someone somewhere that knew I needed them. The isolation for a single mother is tenfold! Some days you find yourself oversharing with the mailman just to have someone to talk to! You run into an acquaintance at the store and find yourself word vomiting your deepest darkest secrets just to feel some kind of connection with someone. And then, theres dating...ick! It's so hard to keep your cool and not latch yourself onto the first normal guy you meet just because you need another adult human in your daily life. You're addicted to your phone and social media because it's a reminder there's life out there and even a mom like me who's ALWAYS out and about...you're still doing it all alone.
Flip the script: I AM the single most important person in my child's life. THEY need me more than anyone else out there and I matter to THEM. They are where I'll find my strength.
5. Future Trippin'
This phrase is a Gabby Bernstein term for what people (especially women) do when they're in tough life phases. We start to trip out over what our future holds. A single mom is constantly in her head wondering, "will I always be alone?" and "are my kids going to suffer being raised by a single mom" and "can i really do this?" Our projection becomes our perception and it can spiral OUT of control when we allow our ego to get control over our ID (the deeper self).
Flip the script: I AM fully present in the moment and will not focus my energy on what hasn't happened. I WILL focus my energy on what I can control, which is here and now.
Notice each time I "flipped the script" I used assertive language. Try to focus on what you CAN do rather than what you CANT. Focus on what you ARE rather than what you ARENT. Your self talk is THE most important tool you have because what you think about you bring about. You can change your world by changing the way you react to the world.
Typically I'm turned off when I hear an early childhood program talk about what a child will "learn" while they're in school. I don't want my children to "learn"; I want them to think. There's a BIG difference!
Progressive schools are moving away from content development and focusing more on brain development instead. The infant brain contains for neurons than there are stars in the galaxy. These neurons are constantly firing and rewiring as the brain grows and develops for the next twenty-five years. Yup, that's right...it ain't done growing til 25 years old! The fastest, most rapid growth is these early years- zero to three. Unfortunately though, if certain neurons are not stimulated, they get pruned away and disappear. When they are stimulated; however, they get stronger and build connectors and receivers. By providing rich, stimulating experiences for young children, we're keeping these neurons alive so that as they grow they're able to access ALL parts of the brain.
Picture two toddlers. (A) One toddler is sat on the floor in a classroom with fluorescent lighting, multi colored cartoon photos on the wall and shown a picture of a pig. His teacher sings a song, or reads a story about a pig and teaches each child the animal sound a pig makes. Perhaps they go a step further and talk about it's snout and curly tale.
(B) Toddler two is playing outside in the fresh air and sunshine. The teachers calls the kids together and the run, skip, gallop, or cartwheel over the group. The teacher has invited a petting zoo to the school including a pig. The children gasp as they see the pig, touch, the pig, and can smell the pig. They hear his snorts (not an "oink" by the way) and laugh and try to recreate the sound. They watch him gorge himself on slop and then fall over into the dirt covered in mud and flies. Then they paint about the experience and tell a story from the day to the class.
Child A is leaving school having been TOLD a pig is pink and says oink. Clearly he has "learned" something today. Child B EXPERIENCED a pig and all of his senses were stimulated, meaning his brain was actively engaged. He was in control of his movement, his involvement, and leading his learning. His teacher has engaged in brain development, not content. Therefore, when he is school aged, his brain will be much more ready to receive new information. His early childhood experiences have encouraged thinking, observing, and experiencing. As a thinker, he'll be more able to learn.
"If a young child has been able to play...to give up his whole living being to the world around him...he will be able in the serious tasks of later life, to devote himself with confidence and power to the service of the world" -Rudolf Steiner
A man in my life just bought a home. As he was giving me a virtual tour of the home he described one of the rooms as the "king suite" which made me laugh out loud and mentally take note that he didn't use the term "master suite". Internally I thought calling it a "king suite" clearly demonstrates he's staking out this home as his personal kingdom. A "king suite" implies a strong desire for independence, personal space, and solitude; a clear signal to me, as someone he's dating, that he has no interest in a relationship. I later mentioned this to him and laughed at his word choice to which he responded, "Every king needs a queen".
Now, the little girl in me felt my heart go pitter-patter because that's such an adorable thing to say, but the woman in me felt I needed to think a little deeper on this statement and figure out what that really means. What is the role of a queen for a king and what's the role of a king to a queen? Where have we gotten things twisted in regards to relationships?
He and I would both describe ourselves as anti-relationship in a "traditional" sense. In fact, I can be dating someone, good dating, and the moment a "relationship" gets brought up I feel my insides twist and I enter fight or flight. Friends say its because I haven't yet met someone I want that with, and I would agree to an extent, but it goes beyond that. Not only do I have high expectations for the person I decide to share my time and energy with, but I need to be with someone that can understand my counter-cultural view of relationships. I'll get to this...I digress...
In the game of chess, the queen has more mobility than any other piece, able to move any direction on the board. She is less valuable though because the game can continue without her; however, the king is relatively powerless without his queen. The role of the queen is to protect the king. We can assume from this a queen is to be flexible, respect her king, and protect her king from all sides at all times.
But, unfortunately, many women opt for rigid, demanding, clingy, and nagging. They demand to be treated like a "queen" but they don't behave in a way that warrants that honor. They rely on the king to make them feel like a queen, but a true queen is secure in her role and is a natural born leader. What she needs from her king is love and respect.
"Invest in your queen for she can move in ways a king can't" -Vineet Sharma
In Northern folk religion, the belief is that each man should strive to be king of his inner circle and each woman should strive to be queen of hers. They are each rulers of their own domain, but the king and queen that share a household are equal rulers of the home (their kingdom). They work together in complimentary, mutually beneficial ways, never in competition. "They are sovereigns individually with the complete ability to function independently of each other. Yet they are also able to function collectively, interactively, producing together even more than what they could independently." (KindredKreators.org/roles). The King is considered the "ruler" and expected to conduct himself according to the rules and expectations he sets for others in his domain. Without justice, there is no peace in his kingdom; therefore he holds himelf to the same standards of those he leads.
The Queen is an advocate of mercy. The queen is said to support the kings rulings and conduct herself accordingly, but also provide the balance he needs in order to rule justly. The king rules with his head, but a queen rules with her heart; both are equally important to the success of the kingdom. Logic without love becomes heartless and stoic just as love without logic can become permissive and chaotic. Together, they live in perfect balance and harmony.
"Therefore, they need each other for constructive life giving balance" (Kindredkreators.org)
Our modern day take on kings and queens is very narcissistic in comparison. We've bought into this idea that one is more powerful than the other and one should bow to the other, rather than both should give respect as equal rulers. There's the belief a man should "put your woman on a pedestal", but what about respecting the king on his thrown as well? We've designed certain roles and expectations for each partner, often unfair and unnecessary to maintain connection and strengthen bond. Far too often demands are placed on the submissive; leaving that partner confused and weak. Instead, a King and Queen should both conduct themselves as rulers of their own domains and equal rulers of their shared kingdom. They should turn to one another as trusted advisors, support each others goals, and respect each other's visions. They are not in each others lives to hold each other down, but rather lift each other up and together conquer the world.
If I am lucky enough to find a King, my hope is that he will recognize me as a true Queen, treat me as such, and most importantly trust me to rule in my own way. Together, we will be more powerful, unstoppable as a force, supporting one another's dreams, passions, and interests. Our minds will be open to all possibilities for our future and there will be mutual love, trust, respect and acceptance.
"Don't look for a princess that needs to be saved. Look for a queen willing to fight by your side" -Anonymous
An acquaintance of mine posted an image on facebook this past week showing a 38 year old male with three options for his future- single forever, ugly girls, or stepdad. Now, I dont typically get offended by stupid shit like this on social media; however, the "stepdad" part hit too close to home for me. This implies that being a stepdad is something one will have to deal with like, "I found the woman of my dreams, but she's got kids. Oh well, I'll put up with it because my options are nil at this point in life". So much of this post irritates me; however, I don't want to digress. I want to focus on the purpose of this blog which is, "Yes, I am a single mother who is dating; however, I am not looking for a stepdad for my children".
I am not dating in hopes of finding someone to "step in" and be a father to my children. That's not anyone's responsibility other than their dad; however, I am looking for MEN that want to be a part of their lives because...
1. They realize its an HONOR
Wise women don't introduce men into their childrens lives unless they're a quality man. I've been out on dates with men and realized there's not a romantic connection or future as a couple, but still asked them to meet my kids. Perhaps they help with a project for them, read stories to them, wrestle them, introduce their dog to them, or just play with them. Either way, There have been men I've introduced them to that realize how cool it is to be invited into the lives of these two special boys because their mother considers them a positive example of how a man should be. These men are strong, respectful, kind, silly, intelligent, and adventurous. They treat my children with love and engage with them in a way that makes them feel special. I watch their faces light up at the sound of a man's voice, the shapes of their faces, and their masculine energy. I want to surround them with good men because they need men in their lives, but none of these men are expected to date me because of my children. Instead, they accept the privilege of being a positive role model to them and are honored to be included.
2. They love me
I am also looking for love and expect the man that loves me to set an example for how a man should treat a woman for my boys. I am no longer married because I did not consider my relationship with their father a quality example of a male/female relationship. I knew my little men deserved to observe better as they grew up. I want to find a man who loves me in such a way that my little boys don't need to be told how to treat a woman, its just known because its what they've observed their whole lives. I will find a man who loves and adores me, who is affectionate with me, romantic, respectful, chivalrous, courteous and even MORE important- can have a discussion with me that doesn't involve being hurtful mentally, emotionally or physically. A man who loves their mother whole heartedly will be a man they admire and hope to be like. This man will be irreplaceable in their lives because of that person's connection with me; their first true love.
3. Hes a MAN
A boy lives a life of flight and fancy with no grounding, but a man can see the value of family. I 100% do NOT want (or need) a man to marry me, provide for me, protect me, and dedicate the rest of his life to me and my kids. In fact, that thought makes me want to vomit and gives me an overwhelming sense of guilt. My life doesn't have to be his. At this stage in life, I'm likely to meet a man that doesn't have kids of his own because he was focused on career or travel or whatever else, and doesn't need kids of his own to feel fulfilled. However, hopefully this man is drawn to the family environment I've built for me and my boys and can find joy in a vacation with us, cheering them on at a soccer game, or helping me make costumes for their talent show on a Sunday afternoon. I do NOT want, or expect, the man in our lives to turn his life upside down for ours, but I do hope to find a man that finds joy in ours from time to time because he sees the value in being a part of a family.
A MAN will want to build things for them, take them camping, teach them about girls, go hunting, and talk sports with them. A MAN will follow through on his word, be consistent in his actions, and love them wholly for who they are, not who they aren't (his own). A MAN will not feel threatened by the fact he's not their biological father, but will feel excited by the challenge to be a better example of a man than their father is. A MAN will love their mother for who she is as a woman AND who she is as a mother and will not cower at the thought of being involved in all three of our lives.
My attorney and a few others have advised not to introduce men to the boys. Let me just say, at the risk of sounding cocky, advice on family dynamics or best practices as a parent is NOT something I need, ok? This is my forte and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that surrounding them with GOOD men to be positive examples for them and positive influences in their lives is FAR better for them than being brought up by a single mother, a grandmother, two aunts, a slue of female babysitters, and likely 90% female teachers. WE can tell them how to be good men, but only a man can show them.
I will actively seek good men and quickly dismiss the others. This lioness is looking for a lion to show her cubs how to be king of the mutha fuckin' jungle!
"Come out of the masses. Stand alone like a lion and live your life according to your own light" -Osho
Parenting expert, blogger, inventor, single mom to twins, barefoot nomad, adventure seeker, boho spirit, advocate of play