Jessica Ashley facebook twitter babble voices pinterest is a single mama in the city, super-savvy editor, writer, video host and shameless shoe whore.
read more »
Mama Needs New Shoes
Subscribe to Sassafrass by RSS or Email
Follow by RSS feed


Follow by email to have Sassafrass' blog updates delivered to your inbox:

Mama Likey

This area does not yet contain any content.
Search Sassafrass

Dating is hard, y'all

Lovepinup It's not something I discuss here often because I'm still turning over in my head and heart how to merge dating and motherhood. It's difficult to figure out how to write about both of those parts of my life here, and it's even harder negotiating the two in real life.

Plus, I've come to be very good at compartmentalizing. When my son is with his father, that time is mine alone. When my son is in my care, that time goes first to him. I defined these parts of my life with pretty strict boundaries. For a long time, I didn't let any man into my home at all. And in the last few months, I've realized, I didn't really let them fully into my heart either.

But I did what I could. I gave what I could. I was who I could be to the men I've chosen to go out with in the time I've been dating. I offered up as much as I had in the moment to the many men I've been out with -- sometimes that has been too much information and sometimes that has been too little emotional investment.

Yes, I said many men.

Or at least many more than I would have expected to meet or meet up with in the time since I had date #1. I'm not ashamed to admit that, in part because I was committed to an 11-year relationship before I signed myself up on a website and started meeting new people for drinks or dinner, an occasional awkward coffee and once a great all-day hike. On the other side of my marriage, I didn't think it would be healthy or wise to leap into another committed relationship, to be too serious or to settle down before I'd come to a better place with the grief still left in my divorce compartment.

In the process, I've met some great people. I've had some amazing times. I've laughed a lot and had terrific meals at restaurants where kiddie portions of mac-and-cheese are not on the menu.

I've also met some real wackadoodles and realized that I am apparently a real magnet for 48-58-year-old ultra-conservative men in Kansas (ummm, thanks but no thanks). I am not sure how things work out that way, but they do.

Despite my resistance, I've found myself in a few situations that some people might call relationships (but not me...oh no). Some of those have left me broken-hearted (or as much as I would let myself be) and in some of that, I have done the hurting. I handled it all by keeping moving.

All along, in the pain and in the head-shaking and in the great fun, I've been learning about myself. How could I know how important financial responsibility was to me until I dated someone who didn't pay for anything (ever) and was fine with that? How could I have realized how honesty rises to the surface from the depths of a person's personality until I went out with someone who couldn't bring himself to tell me he didn't drive (at all)? How could I have known how critical I think it is for a man to have forthright manners until I went out with one man who watched me drive away in a snowstorm and didn't bother to see if I got home OK until five days later (buh-bye)?

I've also learned some surprising and sweet things. Like how much I've missed listening to live music. Like how generous, kind and in search of a deep connection some men my age are. Like what a thrill raw chemistry is at this age, and how being or not being a parent can impact a dating (gulp) relationship.

What I never, ever expected was for the feelings to get serious. I honestly thought it was fun and that I could make an investment without falling or being fallen for. I was wrong.

I pushed back on it. A few times. The timing, the situation, the man -- something was always not right. And, I rationalized, I am still learning. I am still trying. I am still working this all out.

As I type, I realize that this -- and that I -- sound cold, removed, raw. Perhaps I have been. At times. But I do think this has also been -- and I have also been -- engaged, delighted, open.I have laughed a lot, sometimes during delicious late-night conversations with a man I've liked and sometimes with my grrrlfriends about one of those non-driving, non-paying wackadoodles.  It's been hard, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been good or worth it.

I'm not on that dating site anymore, for several significant reasons. But I am dating, just differently than I did before. This time, trying to be even more open. And this time, even more scared. Maybe both are because the compartmentalizing is getting harder, and I am in a very different place  -- in my life and with myself -- than I was on that first date a long time ago. Again, hard but worth it.

What do you think, whether you are married or single or dating or not, is the most important thing that a mother can know when she's dating? Or as she makes over the way she's dating?

« In which I ignore the pile of the review products taking over my dining room table and just talk about reviewing products | Main | Just a peek in to (another) fascinating conversation between my brother and me »

Reader Comments (9)

dating is hard, no matter what you've been through, but dating after divorce with kids - so darn complex
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfuriousball
I rarely write about dating online...for me it's just too personal. But I have stories, oh, do I have stories. I have kept it 99% separate from my kids for the 6 years I've been single. I only dated when they were with their dad -- which made for some amazing weekends -- but for the past 4+ years it has been hard.

The last time I met a man for lunch, 8 minutes from my house, my daughter called me 13 times. I kid you not. Granted I didn't hear most of the calls, but she was freaked out and it was midday. I was with a stranger. There is no other adult for her to go to or be with or be scared to. That's when i decided at long last and once and for all (for now, lol) that I'm done w/ dating. She leaves for college in 2013. Line something up for me, would ya?

Would LOVE to share stories sometime though!!!
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Sue Nathan
OK, I scoured my old blog because I *knew* this post was there.

I will tell you that I had to read the entire thing to even know who I was referring to. I didn't remember...but the rest of it reminded me of what you wrote today.
April 22, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy Sue Nathan
This sounds so incredibly familiar. You do feel cold for a spell. Here were my phases:

Learning -Dating again for the first time, learning what I liked and disliked.

Basking -Finding someone and just enjoying them

Hurt -Feeling your first heart ache after a divorce

Open, Ready, Satisfied, Comfortable -I'm ready for anything. It could involve a man or not. I'm not even trying to date but letting them come to me. I am just so damn happy and content with my life. And when I feel fear in dating now I know I can conquer it. Feelings are okay.

Not sure what is next... but it's taken me three years of all of that to get to this sweet spot. I think I'm going to coast for a while and just hang on for the ride!!!

Speaking of.... CAN NOT wait to see you in Chicago when I pick up the Fiesta.
April 23, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMs. Single Mama
For me : one of the great romantic date ideas is to spend it out with nature. Go on a picnic trip in a secluded area with a great view. Or a candle lit dinner in your own backyard, patio or terrace. Use the stars as your backdrop and the candles to create intimacy.
June 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLondon Escorts
I'm terrified and excited about dating again. Really dating. Not the hooking up thing I did before I got married AT 20! I'd like to meet different people and just have fun. Not committed relationships. Still too soon.So for me, this really is about how to do that with children who definitely come first and who I do not want to incorporate into my dating. I barely want them to know I'm doing it.Thankfully I'm finding lots of men interested and it's fun to have choices. Now, if only I also had time. ;-)
April 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterImani True
Nice blog as for me.It would be great to read more about this matter.Thanks for posting that information.Yours faithfully Angela!escorts in Kiev
September 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKiev escorts
The worlds smallest paintball pistol is so small it can fit in the palm of your hand.
May 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthreaded barrels
but when did dating become such a mission
September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOnline Dating Services

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>