‘Making it all fit’ as a single mom

I was watching Bridget Jones’s Diary this morning while making seed tape for my community garden. It was nice to have that quiet time to myself. My ex MIL is in town and she is helping my ex take care of the toddler for a few days. My ex, J, is still on the very long post-surgery road to recovery and can’t do much childcare on her own. She probably won’t be up for more than a handful of hours with kiddo a couple days a week for months yet… She has said she wants to take on more, but I don’t see how it is going to happen. I imagine it will be fall before I have much time to myself again. 

On the dating front this is extra difficult. I have managed to meet a few new people this year despite my full schedule, but on the last date I went on I was exhausted, felt rushed, and was generally not my best. The guy was nice and had a lot of outdoorsy interests, but he was in a whole different world in terms of personal freedom. We didn’t really connect on an individual level anyway, but even if we had, I can’t imagine how I could have kept up with him. I am physically capable of doing all the outdoorsy things I once did, but I am very schedule-impaired and don’t have the freedom to go on big adventures… Even the small ones are tough to arrange. I feel discouraged, because I am at core an outdoorsy person, and I am attracted to people who share that love of the outdoors. But I can’t keep up with these people who are childless.

I am still playing with Tinder, but for the next month at least I think I am going to focus more on posting Meetup events with the local hiking clubs. Online dating is fine if it feels fun, but my last couple dates felt stressful. Meetups are an easier commitment while still allowing me time to stretch my social muscles.

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Me Time

Does anybody look into the future and picture a time when 45 minutes spent sitting in the Albertson’s parking lot before daycare pickup would become a semi-regular highlight of the day? In this space between work and daycare pickup I can breath in a way that I struggle to during the rest of my days and nights. Most of the time I walk around feeling half-drowned in a sea of shoulds. In that most of the time landscape I can work and work and wonder what I have accomplished. I can make time to meet a new person and go on a hike knowing that I will be working half the night later, and still be told, “There is no such thing as someday,” by a nice man who has no children, when I admit to him that I have not made it out with the running meetup group in a long time. But I invite this attitude from others when I shrug first and say, “I really have no excuse for not doing better.” It isn’t that there are no excuses; it’s just that the shoulds are so much bigger.

In my office there is a sheet of paper my predecessor left that says, “I am a nonprofit unicorn. Every day I try to make the world a better place. I am good at some things and I suck at some things. I can’t make everybody happy. Every day I do what I can.” I like that paper. It looks like the parking lot at Albertson’s – there are no shoulds in it. 

Quiet April

This is a thoughtful kind of April evening. I am babysitting at a friend’s house and both my kid and hers are sleeping. I am sitting by a dark window and have been watching hail gather on the sill outside. There has been no thunder, only a little wind and the sounds of the house.

My ex, J, came over to hang out at my place the other afternoon for an hour or so. That we can do this now is still a little amazing to me, but even with some recovery of friendship, the divorce is inevitably part of the atmosphere when we are together. It is part of why we hang out only occasionally.

More specifically, I often feel a little sad when I see J because she is so full of regret. I don’t think she would be happier if we were together now; I think she is just a regretful kind of person these days, and any decision made is an unhappy one because it means there are options that are closed as a result. I don’t think she was always so unhappy… But she has been for several years now. I just don’t see her daily moods anymore. I think and hope she has a *little* more positivity than when she left me.

J said something recently about how devoted I was to her when we were together, and …how did she put it.. Something about how she won’t have that in her life again and how I won’t be like that again with anybody else. She basically thinks she broke something in me by the way she acted at the end of our relationship. I don’t think so, though. 

I do still sometimes feel sad for what we lost, but that is not something that can be recovered again, and I don’t tell her when I have those kinds of feelings.

Mostly I think I am a more whole person because of our past relationship. There were many good years and J was there for me during a self-doubting time when it meant everything to have somebody telling me through all their actions, ‘I choose you.’ I wish I could help her feel whole the way she helped me, but I gave her everything I had, and it wasn’t enough. 

I think there is a risk of me jumping into something with another person simply because I 1) miss sex, and 2) miss the friendly intimacy of a relationship. But new relationships are risky by nature. Getting hurt is always a possibility. As long as I keep safety in mind and protect my kid from potential negatives that might come from me dating, it is all good.

Meeting somebody on Monday at a climbing meetup. This will be the 5th person I will have met via online dating, since I started back in December.