‘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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Heart and Brain

I love this comic. I hope you do, too, because it is awesome. 

My heart and brain are currently having the following discussion:

Heart: I miss the Backpacker. Maybe if I didn’t send him that angry text he would have apologized for cancelling our date last-minute by actually giving a reason. And maybe he would have gotten better at communication if I was clearer in my communication needs. And then we could have had great sex and also maybe become adventuring buddies.

Brain: He was a terrible communicator and he was not making an effort to see you.

Heart: He had hiked the Pacific Crest Trail! He knew about the 5 lb pancake challenge in Seiad Valley. He likes hiking off trail and he packrafts and has a beautiful, oversized dog he takes backpacking! He kissed my hand when he was holding it on our last hike. And he cupped my face in his hand when he kissed me. It was the best kiss ever.

Brain: You don’t need him. There are other guys out there who would treat you better.

Heart: But…

Brain: Here. Open up your Tinder app. See if there is somebody else you might like.

Heart: Hey, swiping is fun…

Heart: None of these guys seems as great as the Backpacker.

Brain: Oh, Heart… Come on. Let’s go get the laundry out of the dryer.

Heart: I have to get up? And shoes?

Brain: Yes. You will like it. 

Heart: I dunno… But can I eat some cheese from the fridge now? And oatmeal. Can I have some sugary oatmeal since we are out of interesting food?

Brain: *Sigh.* Go for it.

The Toddler Test – Day 2

After a second night of 12:30 – 4:30/5am sleep, I am feeling really hazy this morning. I sent out an application for a pretty great job, and I sent check-in emails to all my work references. I also talked on the phone to the woman who is going to be my study buddy for the teaching certification test. We reviewed a few standards together, but I was too tired to get much use out of the study session. We agreed to talk again later in the week, and hopefully I will be more awake and able to process information then. 

Last night I also messaged my ex, who was at the Seatac Airport around midnight and was just about to board a plane for Bangkok. Her current partner posted a screen shot of the plane’s progress early this morning, when it was just past the tip of Alaska. Three and a half years ago my ex and I were flying a similar route, on our way to Siberia for an adventure. A lot happens in 3.5 years.

This is a morning in which I need to spell out each next step for myself…. Or take a nap so I can think again. Step 1. Shower. Step 2. Schedule ABCTE exam. Step 3. Stop by apartment office to renew my lease. Step 4. Get health insurance (time is running out on that one). Step 5. Probably go to work…. I have a job as a Title I Aide this afternoon. Not at all sure what that will entail. Tonight I am definitely getting more sleep.

Not sure if I should keep messaging people on the dating apps right now. It might be better to set thoughts of dating aside until my ex is back and I have more free time again. Getting out with other adults at all is going to be a challenge, I think. I also want to make sure I am emotionally present for my kiddo, and not distracted all the time. On the other hand, I really do miss sex and physical imtimacy, and I really would not be opposed to another relationship. Online dating gets me out into that world of possibility again.

“Write them a lovely message”

This is the last weekend for the next 1 – 2 months that I will be kid-free. My ex goes to Thailand for major surgery in about a week and will be gone for a month. When she returns, it is very uncertain just how soon she will be recovered enough to help with childcare.

I knew this was coming. It was not a not a big deal because I love the toddler, but it is a sad thing to be losing all my free nights. There are so many things aside from parenting that I want to do. Meet friends and develop new friendships. Have dates. Study for my teaching exams. The time crunch of life is very real when you have a young child. At least I can be thankful that my ex is a part of the picture with our kiddo. I know people who don’t have that.

Speaking of dating… I have been using OkCupid for some time now, but I also signed up for Tinder recently, and it has been interesting to compare the apps. There is more activity and more people on Tinder, but I feel a little more overwhelmed by message volume there. To be clear, I do not have a ton of matches (I stopped swiping), but of the 5 or so I have maybe 4 sent me a short “hi.” Sometimes even a more thoughtful note. But between that app and OKC it is just too many potentially interesting people to communicate with, and I can see why lots of people are flaky messagers: it is too much work to make small talk introductions with a never-ending influx of new people when you are talking to more than one or two at a time. I prefer to keep my convos limited to just a couple guys at once tops, or better yet, only one at a time. It gives me the space to feel interested in the conversation and allows me to make a judgement without falling prey to the Grass is Greener sickness. Maybe my method will change over time. Right now I am establishing basic practices…. Like, I will start or attempt to jumpstart a convo with somebody new (even if they sent a lazy “hey” my direction — as long as their profile has something interesting that I think might make them worth knowing). If, after the first few exchanges, they don’t seem to be holding their end of the conversation and really engaging, I break contact. They can message me more if they are really interested, and then maybe we will talk. But I have had some choppy conversations because of this pervasive distractedness that exists online. 

Thus far the really interesting conversations I have had have come from OKC. There is a guy I am interested in right now who I have been communicating with for maybe half a week now. I noticed him first because his profile photo was a pair of boots by a campfire by a river. No face, just scenery. And next to the endless abs pics on the site, I really appreciated that notion. It was in fact the kind of photo I tried to post when I first joined OKC, but I think somebody reported me and my picture got blocked for not including my face. Anyway. I figured here was a guy who was outdoorsy, had a decent chance of being fit, and any other concerns regarding his looks seemed less important. He had a decent profile with no red flags. I sent him a message asking him what river he was camped by in the photo, and I shared a random misadventure story from one of my previous river trips. He responded, and we really seemed to click. The one thing I have to say about Coffee Guy (see previous posts) is that he was athletic, but he was not a dedicated hiker. This new guy, let’s call him The Backpacker, is just that. And he packrafts, something I also have experience in. Talking to The Backpacker made me realize just how much more fluid conversation can be when you can share similar stories with another person. Bushwhacking, gear talk, getting lost… He gets all that. The Backpacker said he took his actual picture off OKC because he got lots of messages from people but that they had nothing in common with him. After he and I had been talking for a day or so he changed his profile photo to show his face… And it was a nice face. The only problem I see right now with The Backpacker is that he seems in no hurry to meet. He has mentioned things we might do when we meet (not sexual, just to clarify), but when I suggested he come on a hike I was hosting through a local Meetup group he couldn’t come, and he has not suggested an alternative. I have zero problem asking a guy out online, but this is one I think I need to wait a little on. Not super long… But I need to sit back and watch for another day or two. If he doesn’t make a move I will likely say, “Hey, I’ve enjoyed our convos and you seem like somebody I would want to meet in real life. Do you wanna get a beer or coffee sometime?” And based on that response, it will either move forward or it won’t. I hope it does.

The final thing I wanted to say was how surprised I have been to discover that it is easy to feel attracted to different guys within a short span of time. I have always been a slow (think glacial) mover with romance related stuff, not the kind of girl to have my eyes looking in more than one direction at once. This newfound flexibility, if you will, is really thrilling. And maybe a little dangerous. So far I like it.

Update:

Hey, look at that! A little progress.