Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Dating with a daughter

There are many aspects to single parenting that can be a bit scary. I'm about to start sleep training in an attempt to get my little one to sleep in her own bed for the whole night. I'm not looking forward to the utter exhaustion that will bring about. Especially tackling it on my own. I know that I sometimes worry I don't discipline Ava enough. Or even properly. And I worry about that more now I am alone in doing it. But the scariest part for me personally has got to be dating. 

Because dating with a kid is weird.

 And a whole other kettle of fish.

I recall commenting to my sister (shortly after I split from Ava's dad): "who the hell is going to want to date a single mum with a toddler?". But at the time it didn't really bother me. Because dating was the last thing on my mind. However a couple of months later, after we were starting to feel settled in our new home and we found a pattern of nights Ava would go to her Dad's, I started to get a bit bored. And thought I might give this whole dating thing a whirl. I didn't even want a boyfriend. I was just curious. I had been out the game for a few years. I was interested to see what was happening.

The actual dating bit was fine. Obviously reserved for the nights my wee one was spending with her father. I would get dressed up, have a glass of wine, stick my lippy on and head out for a nice dinner or a few drinks. Given that it's not really the done thing to introduce your beau to your child on the first meet-up, Ava didn't really come into it. It was a world completely separate to her. None of the dates particularly stuck out to me. None went onto a second date. And so after each one I just got myself back on Tinder or Plenty of Fish and gave it another bash. However,  four rubbish dates in a row caused me to get right back off Tinder and back into a box-set and I abandoned the whole dating thing for a good couple of months.

But the New Year brought a new bout of boredom and I gave it another go. And this year I have actually met people I've liked. And discovered how complicated and tiring the world of dating as a parent can actually be...

  • If you are dating a man who also has a child then you can be pretty sure that he will have his child on the nights you don't have your child. Laws of attraction. Laws of probability. Laws of typicality. Whatever. It makes it bloody impossible to see each other.
  • If you are dating someone who doesn't have a kid or kids of his own then expect some lifestyle clashes. These guys tend to think it's cool to turn up at your door at 3am pissed. Or to walk around Ikea with you stinking of booze and still in last nights clubbing gear. You will constantly have to remind them that you are not 21 any more and that you have responsibilities which will make you feel like a boring old nag. And they will probably end up dumping you for being a boring old nag.
  • Then there is the supremely utterly devoted Dad. Which is the Dad we all want to date isn't it? But how devoted do you want them to be? Obviously you expect to come second. And for their little bundle of joy to come first. That's a given. But at what length? What if their brat is completely rude to you every time they see you and thinks it's funny to spit in your drink and pull your hair? What if the love of your life sees no reason to chastise their child for it? You can bet your life that relationship is going to go downhill. Quickly.
  • Then there's that sort of weird 'when do you meet the kids' type situation that always rears its ugly head. Obviously you want to. If you really like the person then the quicker you get to know each others offspring the quicker you don't have to get a taxi home from theirs at 11pm on a week night. Or creep around their flat like some sort of hidden fugitive trying not to wake the kids up. But it's difficult to know when the right time is. Too soon and you run the risk of 'confusing' them and too late and you start to wonder what the hell is so wrong with you that he doesn't want you to meet his kids. Suddenly those box-sets and M&S ready meals for one start to look more appealing again...
  • And if you do both have kids then there is always the risk that one of you doesn't want any more, while the other does. I've been pretty much broody since I got pregnant. And it shows no sign of dissipating. A further pitter patter of tiny feet is something that I most definitely want to hear more of in the future. But if I met someone I really liked who felt that his child-rearing days were over - that would be a deal breaker for me for sure.
  • On a plus side, if he does have kids, your prospective partner will be much more attuned to a Saturday night of take-out, Merlot and The X-Factor. And will be much more accepting when your attempts at getting frisky on the sofa are interrupted for the 13th time that night by a small voice shouting from the deep recesses of their bedroom that they need a pee pee. Again.

And I thought dating in my twenties was exhausting.

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