It's no secret that dating can suck. However, and I'd argue, dating as a mom takes some serious badassery. Thankfully, there a few things every grown-ass mom does when she's dating, to make it not only suck a little bit less, but occasionally rock on a major, rather enjoyable level.
When I first started dating again after leaving my husband, I honestly and seriously didn't know where to even begin. After all, I hadn't dated in over a decade. I was scared, lacked confidence, and didn't know how to "put myself out there." One night, after my kids were in bed and I'd had a few too many glasses of wine with a girlfriend, we wrote the most badass, in your face, take no prisoners OK Cupid profile imaginable. I put everything in there that I wanted in a partner and a relationship (and plenty of things I didn't want, too). I was entirely and unapologetically myself. In other words, embodied the badass warrior goddess single mom I knew I was.
I soon learned that some people on the internet lack serious reading comprehension skills, that so many men in my city love football and firearms more than feminism and felines, and that I needed to put on my big girl panties and learn to be grown-ass dating mom. After some time, lots of practice, and a few epic fails, I learned some mad skills and grew into a woman that I honestly didn't know I could be. I discovered that being a grown-ass dating mom was fun and empowering. Eventually, spoiler alert, I met an awesome grown-ass dating dad with whom I could share adventures. So, with that in mind, here's what I did when I was dating, in case you want to be a grown-ass dating mom, too:
She Is Picky
If you don't tell people what you want, you won't get what you want. If you aren't honest with yourself about what you want, you are seriously going to be disappointed.
This is important at all stages in life, but when you are a dating mom you need to have standards. Mine were simple: I only date feminists, my kids come first, I want you to be honest, and I expect you to respect me and the boundaries I set. If they didn't cut it, they didn't make the cut.
She's Gets Over Her Fears
Dating is scary, both in a, "what if it goes bad" way and a, "what if they hurt me" way. Great risks reap great rewards, though.
Yes, if you never leave the house you'll never get hurt, but you'll also limit your opportunities to have fun, have some great sex, and maybe even love again.
She's Kind To Herself
Love yourself first, and be kind to yourself always. It's OK to feel weird or different about your older, postpartum body (remember: growing humans is badass), and it's OK to feel ambivalent or insecure about having sex with a new person or new people. It's OK to worry that people you date won't understand your responsibilities as a mom.
Grown-ass moms learn to love themselves, despite and in the face of their fears and insecurities. No apologies.
She Has Fun
This is tough. Part of being a grown-ass mom is taking your responsibilities as a parent, pretty damn seriously. However, in order to be a great parent you also need to do things for you and have fun once in a while. Find some balance.
Remember the joy you felt chasing a soccer ball around the back yard with your kids, snuggling with your newborn, or finally pooping alone, and find people to date that make you feel that way. Grown-ass moms know how to have fun.
She Stands Up For Herself
Dating is not always a good time and certain dates can be creeps. Grown-ass women know what they want, set boundaries, and don't apologize for them. They don't date someone only because they feel sorry for them and don't want to let them down. They don't let dates pressure them into moving too quickly or doing something they don't want to do.
Instead, they tell people the truth, even if it means telling people off.
She Laughs A Lot
I'm not going to share all of the dating mistakes I made, but holy crap I had to learn to laugh it off. Grown-ass moms know to not take the small stuff too seriously. They laugh when their toddler finds their vibrator and carries it into the living room. They laugh with their partner when neither of them has a condom, so they have to walk to the store in the middle of the night to buy a pack. They laugh when they have to cancel a date because their co-parent cancelled his visit with his kids. They laugh at the end of a terrible date and think to themselves, at least I picked a place with really good pie.
She Hires An Awesome Babysitter
Grown-ass moms know that to enjoy dating, they need help. I was lucky to have friends and family members practically fight over who would help me get some (I mean, um, date).
Grown-ass moms don't disservice themselves by using their kids as an excuse not to do something scary. Instead, they find an awesome babysitter and give their kids an opportunity to have fun with someone else, so they can have fun, too.
She Gets Creative
Grown-ass dating moms learn to get creative about the when, where, who, and how of dating. They face logistic challenges head-on and roll with the inevitable changes.
I went for a lot of afternoon coffee, pie, and ice cream dates when that was the only time I could find a sitter. I chose locations that made me feel happy and relaxed. I found a new routine to help me balance work, play, and parenthood. It was way different that dating without kids, but also way more me and way more fun.
She Stays In
Being a grown-ass mom is exhausting. Especially a single, dating, grown-ass mom. Between kids, work, dating, and downtime, you quickly discover that there simply aren't enough hours in the day t0 accomplish all you want to accomplish.
Grown-ass moms learn to pace themselves. Not every date has to be dancing or dinner, and sometimes it's OK to stay in. (When your date suggests that you Netflix and chill, and you think he means watching movies and having nachos and beer, see my previous point about laughing it off.)
She Gets Past Her Fear Of Commitment
Grown-ass moms are scared of commitment, too (especially if they've been hurt in the past). They know that having kids changes what commitment means. Their kids come first.
However, as a friend of mine bluntly put it, "Your kids are your world now, but what happens in 20 years when they have their own relationships? Are you going to sit there and die alone?" Nope. Grown-ass moms admit it when they have found someone with whom they want to build a relationship, and they don't use their kids or past hurt as an excuse.
She Is Confident
Grown-ass moms date like they parent: with confidence. They believe in and put forward their authentic selves as they navigate the dating ocean full of fish (and the occasional shark or sting ray).
Being moms has taught them to be grown-ups and to be strong in the face of certain challenges. They know they can do anything they set out to do.