Combining dating with full-time single parenting is good training for a juggling act with a circus. The balls in the air have contradictory labels such as "me time," and "don’t neglect your responsibilities," but the heaviest ball that threatens the airborne existence of all the others, is "exhaustion". Why is it impossible to convey to a man I’m dating just how great the exhaustion is that a single parent feels.
Working and parenting full-time and taking care of an old house prohibits me from accepting a spontaneous invitation to Paris for the weekend (yes, I’ve actually had two offers from two different men). Maybe some women reading this just said "I’d make time," and to them I say plus vous alimenter. I guess I’m more naturally a tightrope walker than juggler. I don’t know how to be spontaneous when I know the dogs are crossing their legs to go out or I have my kid’s theatre performance to attend.
Most of the men I date are also single parents, so I expect them to understand why I occasionally prefer to stay at home than go out. Yes, I know I’m but one of many tired people walking around whether single, married, or employ servants, but stuff that doesn’t get done only accumulates, and I remain the only one to make most of it disappear.
Another thing that bothers me with each new man I meet is when he asks where I’ve vacationed. For the past ten years my definition of "vacation" has been the additional five-minute interval delay on my alarm clock, or splurging to buy pre-washed lettuce.
It’s not that I don’t want to date, I do. Well, I want to fall in love (yes, I still believe that happens), and remarry, and of course that can’t happen without dating.
Now there must be Mr. Moms out there who are as busy as I am. But then no they’re not, because they don’t require the personal maintenance that women do. For those who’ve been comfortably with someone for years, let me put in perspective what it takes to get ready for a date at my age. Imagine that preparing for your twenty-fifth high school reunion is the first chance to show your successful, more-attractive-than-ever, sexy, brilliant self. You start watching what you eat, getting more exercise, get a great haircut, get your nails done (both sets), and shop for something sexy to wear. Well dating at my age is like preparing for a high school reunion every week! If I get lucky and date the same man for at least three months (and that requires that he not be a liar or psycho and that he like kids and dogs), then I can relax the routine a little, but imagine the stress at maintaining this routine before narrowing the pool.
One ex boyfriend approached the perimeter of gehanna when he said I was making too much of date maintenance. I gave him a copy of Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck with post-its between the chapter on female personal maintenance. This man is a DNA researcher so I know he must be smart, but I suspect there’s a male antibody that prohibits absorption of female empathy because his response was, "her attitude is extremely narcissistic, don’t you think?" I refrained from shouting "We do it for you, you moron, not us."
Men must think that we wake up looking the way we do. Well we don’t. Our manicures don’t last when we’re peeling potatoes, and cooking for a family causes us to eat more than yogurt each day so we develop lasting curves. When we’re responsible for a kid’s education (or these days, simply his yearbook or class ring), it’s rare that we’re able or willing to splurge on "date clothes".
Before assuming the "ex" status, many a boyfriend has told me A couer vaillant rien d’impossible! I’ve echoed their words when they complain about having to wait to be with me.
Like figuring out how to pay seven bills when I only have enough money for five, or how to pick up two children in two different places at the same time while delivering the dog to the vet, if I like a man I begin the juggling routine by mentally finding room to pencil him into my life while still leaving room for the guilt at missing a kid’s game when I finally go away with the guy.I’ve heard many women complain about not getting asked out on dates so complaining about having too many dates is not a politically correct thing to do. I am grateful to have options. In the meantime, each week I’ll tack five new French phrases to my mirror to learn while I’m brushing my teeth (someday I’ll say "yes" to that weekend). But today, like so many potential suitors, the Parisian landscape will be deprived of my silhouette. S'il vous plaît m'attendre, Paris.