Dating with children is really, really hard. In fact, I found it to be impossible. I never really dated when I was single and childless, so as a single Mom…. oh please. Too tired, too busy, too  tired, too busy, and oh yes…TOO TIRED. There is also a level of fear that shows up in most women the first moment you look at your baby that translates to a fierce instinct to protect and shield and put yourself squarely between the evils of the world and your child.

My mother was a single mom after divorcing my father. She too would have done anything within her power to keep me safe. I never saw my Mom really date. There were occasional gentlemen callers who would respectfully visit the house, but they were kept very far from me and with good reason. My mother never casually exposed me to her male friends –  and those male friends were probably terrified of me. Any man found even remotely sniffing around my mother would have to deal with my wrath…. head on. Interest in her was an automatic declaration of war and I was perfectly willing to die for that cause.  Not only was I good at discouraging potential suitors, I was successful at it. After my father and her beloved George, (the one man I believe my mother ever truly loved), there were no men in my mother’s life. Selfishly, I reveled in that accomplishment, keeping her to myself until it was time to fly the coup.

I left home at 21 to begin forging a life for myself. My mom was alone. Bitter is the taste of regret. My mother had sacrificed the woman that she was to the ravenous beast that is the mother.  Like a lamb to slaughter it devoured her juicy hips and ample breasts, her twinkling eyes, and throaty laugh. No woman ever truly forgets the feel of good lovin’.  But memories fade and nights grow long and kids don’t call and the TV stays on.

It was a source of guilt and great sadness to me when in later life I realized what I had done… and more poignantly what my mother had allowed me to do. I swore I would never do that to myself or to my child. Yet when my 3 year old daughter sat across from a perspective suitor at our dinner table, while smiling, looked him in the eye and very slowly said, “I think I’m going to set you on fire….then I’m going to call the fire department………. and they are going to come….. and Put You Out!!” I stopped “dating” then and there.  Thank God, I did not also give up of finding The Beloved.  I just knew he would literally have to walk up to my door and knock, and in the end, Mr T did just that. Our tale is a good one, which I shall relate at a later date.

I have fought for this relationship for myself and for my daughter. It has not always been easy. The mother is strong in me, and often threatens to consume the woman but whenever that battle commences I still make sure my sweet juicy woman remains intact, and stays alive. Everyone loses if she dies. She makes me a better mother.  So even in the face of my daughter’s ongoing battle of emotions, and unwilling to relinquish her exclusive ownership of me since birth, we three continue to push through and forge new ground.  To Mr T’s credit, he has stood strong in the face of  stink eye, teeth sucking, eye rolling, frigid silence, one word responses, and all around ‘the sooner you leave, the better.’

So here we are some 6 years later (give or take a couple of years off for bad behavior), and we are for the most part happily cohabiting in a lovely home Mr T and I bought together 6 months ago. It is often still a push/pull with my daughter on one side and Mr T  on the other, but in those moments I call upon my Wise Woman to navigate the waters with patient awareness, and  a compassionate embracing of my Little Lorraine and her sweet mama.

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Both Mr T and I worked late. I sent him flowers. We met at a restaurant just before closing near our house to have a glass of champagne and a loving moment before getting home to release the babysitter. Sam was asleep as we let out the dogs, closed curtains, put dishes in the sink. In the midst of all that, there in the middle of the kitchen table was a large Valentine’s Day card with Mr T’s name on it. It was his very first Valentine’s Day card from Sam. Silenced by the magnitude of that tiny gesture, I quietly went upstairs to take off my work face and shower for bed. With cold cream slathered on my face, peeling off an eyelash, I sheepish whined “Hey, how come you didn’t send me  any flowers today”?  To which he replied,  “Because I got you this instead.” Out of his pocket he handed me a tiny blue box tied with white ribbon. Inside was a three stoned diamond ring. One stone for the past, one for the present, and one for the future we are all walking into together. It was a lovely, perfect, ordinary Valentine’s Day.