Before I became a single mum, dating was pretty awesome. I was living in NYC and working in publishing. It was Girls Hannah Horvath meets SATC's Carrie Bradshaw (as cheesy as that sounds). I was young, free, stylish-on-a-budget, having a crisis, not having a crisis, eating brunch, drinking champagne with celebs at press events—and I was doing it all on my watch.
No one was waiting up for me to make sure I got home—or even came home. I had roommates I met on Craigslist but we didn't really speak, other than the "Hi," exchange we did passing each other to the bathroom or fridge. I didn't mind at all. My whole life, I was always answering to people. My brothers were noisy about who I was dating and where I was going. My father wanted to meet the guy like three dates in. My mum wanted details. I wanted everyone to leave me alone and when I was living in the city, I got my wish.
Then I got pregnant.
Then my child's father split.
Then it didn't make sense to live in the city because it meant renting a new apartment and raising my child with no family around.
I moved back to NJ to my own place—not home.
And my family was always around because they wanted to be around my son and of course I didn't mind it—they were helping and I obviously wanted my son to grow up with his family all around him.
Then I started dating again and I seriously felt like I was back in high school, complete with the whining and moaning and LEAVE ME ALONE! I didn't trust many people with my son so when I go on dates I left him with my mum or dad or brothers. It was peace of mind because I knew my kid was safe. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling I was being treated like a teen. Here's why:
White lies happened (sometimes). Once in a while I told whoever was babysitting that I was meeting my friend Jemma for drinks and sushi. When I was in high school, I would lie and tell my parents I was sleeping over at Liss', but really end up in the city with Liss (she told her parents she was sleeping at my place). We partied all night and found some excuse to throw at our parents when we weren't home in the early morning. We were out running. Or getting bagels. Or doing something civic and lovely.
Curfew was back on. When I was in high school and not lying about sleeping at a friend’s place, I had to be home by a certain hour and you better believe someone was waiting up for me in the family room. I can remember feeling an urgency to not screw up and be home on time—or there would be consequences. It's the same thing as having a babysitter at your house. The clock is ticking. And by ticking I mean every hour = a dollar amount. So, even now as a dating adult, I have a curfew.
Make out sessions were risky. Like any healthy teenager, I totally made out with my boyfriend on the couch and loved the fear of getting caught—or not getting caught. So, when your child is sound asleep in his room and you're watching a movie with your guy on the couch and you know, you fool around a bit, there's always the chance your kiddo is going to wake up and have to pee. It's kind of fun to fool around in a PG way, stop yourself, check in and fool around some more.
Creative places to chill were a must. I've never been OK with having guys sleep over my house. This is our home and unless it's dead serious, there's no point in having anyone eat pancakes with my son. This isn't Jerry McGuire. That means finding other places to have fun. Spending a date night in at your guy's house or making out, old school, in the car is so totally high school. Just think about all the times, your HS sweetie, parked down the block so you guys could make out, before he dropped you off home.
Drinking was out. Hey, you couldn't drink in high school because you were underage. If you're a single mum and on nappy duty at 2 a.m., something tells me you're going easy on the cocktails, because being hungover while caring for your child is trust me, not fun.
My girls and I gossiped. Remember telling all your friends you made out with whoever in high school and how it was such a big deal? Single mums who have been off the market, but finally go on a date, that turns out not to be a disaster is something you'll be dying to tell your girlfriends. And trust me they'll be begging for details and high-fiving you!
So there you have it. My dating life is pretty similar to that of 16-year-old Chrissy. Complete with weepy breakups. And I'm actually not complaining this time around. It's fun! Even the breakups, because you have a good cry and play with your kid. The guy is not the center of your world. Dating is listed way below family, home, career and everything else being a parent entails.