When a single mom goes out on a date with somebody new
It always winds up feeling more like a job interview
A few years ago, Brad Paisley– the country singer who married the cute girl from Father of the Bride– wrote a song about his step-father, and the opening lines have stuck with me. Back when the song was new, it was because I have two step-fathers, but now, it’s because I am that mom. Date me, and you’re applying for a whole lot more than just buying me dinner- even if we dance around it, even on a first date- it’s in the back of my head, and it’s a package deal.
These kids are the center of my world, for better or for worse, forever and ever amen. They are the reason I am busting my hump to finish school, make Little House a semblance of a home, juggle homework and parent-teacher conferences, and still try and be a decent human being. So when a guy asks to take me out, it’s nothing like when I was footloose and fancy free. I look at him with a different eye- and I ask myself hard questions.
In my younger single days, I cut a ton of slack to the artists and free-spirits and bad boys. Today, those qualities come with sirens and bullhorns that blare “danger! danger! danger!” I’ve been down that path, got the t-shirt. No thanks! This time, I am of a far more discerning palette. A man in my demographic who is still trying to find himself sends me running for the hills. No offense- but at this point, I know who I am, and with three little people looking to me to lead the way through life, I want a man who knows who he is and is prepared for me to walk next to him. I want a man who has an education, can compose a decent sentence, knows how to wear a suit and tie a tie. I don’t need a project, and I don’t intend to be one.
Now, this doesn’t mean I expect perfection- far from it. I want someone real, who can see me and my flaws as well, and slowly grow to love each other. I’m not in a hurry- and I won’t subject my children to meeting any man that I’m not reasonably certain has future potential. That means you cannot pick me up at my house, you cannot drop me off, and you cannot come in after date. Sorry. That fact also makes it really, really hard to date non-LDS men.
Yesterday I deleted my profile (yes, again!) from an online dating site. After more emails and winks and lascivious propositioning (oh yes, I kid you not- some men think asking a woman for a booty call in the opening email is the pinnacle of suave) than I could abide any longer, I just quit the whole thing.
This may be unpopular to say, but going out with non-Mormon men helped me see clearly just how wide the gulf is between Mormons and regular people on some things. Sure, you can absolutely have an interfaith marriage- I know many people who do and are very happy. And who knows what the future holds for me- but as a convert who has battled and fought for my testimony and how I chose to live my life against tremendous opposition, I don’t want to fight that battle anymore. We like to think we’re not so different than everyone else, paint ourselves as close to credal Christians, make ourselves the family next door- and we’re all those things, but we’re also not like everyone else, and I’m not going to pretend we are.
Is my dating pool looking shallower and narrower to you, too? Yeah, I know- it’s grim. Yet, I’m fairly certain this is what I need to do. I may be looking for something rarer than the mythical purple-glitter rainbow-tailed unicorn, but I know there is someone out there as perfect for me as I am for him. And if he’s perfect in other ways, I can add my own glitter anyway.