Dating as an indie mama has been… a ménagerie. I mean, even in my pre-kid days, I found dating to be quite the ride. Luckily, I made just about every possible mistake in my twenties, so now that I’m in my thirties, and with a kiddo in tow, I feel a hella lot more equipped to steer clear of potential trouble.
My child’s dad and I have been navigating (and pretty much nailing) the co-parenting lifestyle. He’s a really good guy, an incredible dad, and this alone inspires me to work through whatever we need to work through. Misunderstandings are fewer and farther in between these days, though on occasion when things get out of balance, we seem to get back up on the horse in no time.
Because, at the end of the day, I manage to see beyond the issue and instead concentrate on the greater picture: how this man shows up as a dad for our kid time and time again.
Given that we’ve been separated for almost four years now, dating other people has been part of our co-parenting equation. Long ago, we agreed that we would only introduce a certain someone if we felt like it was the real deal. I, for one, have no interest in knowing about his random hookups, and I see no point in divulging my personal life with him in detail. But if it’s the real thing, as we call it, then communication is in order, because then it’s only a matter of time before the child becomes involved.
I’ve met my co-parent’s significant others, and one in particular I simply adored. She created such a deep bond with my son that she immediately had a place in my heart. And even though the relationship didn’t work out, my son and I still remember her fondly. Her involvement in our lives set the standard: whoever would be part of our day-to-day simply had to have a loving connection with our child.
I once tested these waters with someone I thought was a potential partner. Looking back now, perhaps I should have realized that there was something missing; of course, I should have known better when, upon meeting him, I ended up with teenage poultry in my apartment. (Yes, you read that right. The story is long, and perhaps not appropriate for this publication, but that’s exactly what happened and I’ll leave it at that.) All of this to say that, even though this man and I had a connection of sorts, there was no magic on the handful of times that my son was around. There was no effort on his part to engage the little one.
It boils down to this: the “real thing” means not just having a meaningful relationship with me. It also means making the effort to cultivate a relationship with my son.
And up until recently, I decided to release all efforts in trying to find someone who fit that description. Instead, I threw myself to the whims of the internet gods, seeking nothing but fun and adventure, and made myself a Tinder account. Internet dating has always felt like shopping at a garage sale or a thrift shop: with some patience, you’re bound to find something interesting.
I once cringed at the thought of meeting someone from a dating app. The romantic in me clung to the idea that the connection had to be in real time, face to face, in person. It’s an antiquated idea, and it’s also narrow-minded. I began to think differently about it, seeing it as simply another avenue to meet someone. And by looking at it differently, I’ve also approached it differently. As a result, I have met some fascinating people, some of whom have become dear friends.
I had no high aspirations this last round when I made myself an account, other than to shake up my routine. Best case scenario? I’d hang out with some cool people and do some cool things. As I began to swipe my way through the singles in my area, the longing in me to meet the real thing dissolved.
What is it that they say: when you stop looking for it, you find it?
Right. That. The good old internet led me right in the direction of what very much feels like the real thing. And while I’m thrilled (‘cause let’s face it: who doesn’t LOVE the beginning of a new romance?), I’m also realizing that the time will come for my worlds to collide.
Will sparks fly when he meets my child? Will there be a loving connection?