Monday, November 09, 2009

Patience is a Vrtue...When Parenting or Dating -- by Jamie

Before I became a single mother by choice, I was a highly-experienced serial dater with very specific intentions. No matter how I’d first “encountered” my potential suitor—be it in-person, or online—I always pushed for our first date to occur ASAP. Even if I’d clearly felt a connection with a guy after speaking to him in line at Starbucks, or as a result of the emails he’d sent me on JDate, I kept to my agenda: we needed to have a phone conversation quickly after our initial contact, and we had to meet in person as soon as our calendars were clear. My reasoning came from experience: I’d often gotten excited about a guy just from his flirtatious emails, or from a brief but memorable encounter that I’d replayed over and over in my mind, only to discover that we had no chemistry when we finally went out on a date. So, rather than build up my anticipation for a date that could, ultimately, disappoint me, I eagerly sought a face-to-face meeting as quickly as possible, to really gauge a guy’s potential.

This technique worked well for me when I was single, and on a quest to find Mr. Right. I had the flexibility to be spontaneous and have a date on the fly, as well as plenty of spare time for a very social social life. With nothing better to concentrate on (aside from work and working out!), I focused on fast-tracking my dating. After a good date, I’d often find myself obsessively waiting for the man to call or email me. It was hopeless for me to divert my attention, or to just be patient, while my all-consuming desire to be in a relationship took over. Even when I was getting attention from a guy, and he seemed interested in going out on more dates, it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t stay “in the moment,” and just enjoy dating for what it was…I kept wondering where things were leading, and if we’d have a future together. Before I decided to have a baby on my own, I was always hoping to get to the point where my life was entrenched with Mr. Right’s, and, ultimately, I never got there.

As a mom, it’s easy to get impatient with my daughter. Toddlers find wonder in the smallest things, and I often find Jayda dawdling to pick up a rock while we’re walking to the car, or stopping and staring at the people in a crowd we’re trying to push our way through. In addition, Jayda is now at the age where she constantly insists, “I do it myself!” which can sometimes mean that a simple task will take three times as long to achieve. When we’re in a rush, it’s hard for me to relax and just let Jayda be Jayda, and take her time. But as we both get older, I’m becoming more successful at it. I’m learning to be patient. I’m learning to be ok with letting things evolve on their own (or on Jayda’s own!). It’s a good lesson for dating, too.

A few weeks ago, Jayda and I went to a fair in a neighboring town. It was a beautiful day, and Jayda enjoyed her pay-one-price wristband by hopping on ride after ride after ride. At one point, while I watched Jayda circle around endlessly on a motorized car next to a slightly-older girl, the man beside me began chatting with me about our children. By the time the ride had ended, I’d discovered that he was a single father, and was raising his daughter on his own. We wound up walking around the fair together, with our girls, for quite some time, and it was clear to both of us that we’d made a connection. When it was time for us to leave, we exchanged business cards, and promised to talk again. And we have…through a flurry of emails—lengthy ones, written when our kids are asleep, or in daycare. Slowly, but surely, we’re getting to know each other. We’ve discussed meeting for lunch—but we both can’t seem to find the time to do so in the near-future. And so, we continue to write, and continue to “hope” to talk on the phone soon (there never seems to be time for that, either), and nothing more. And you know what? It’s enough. Because, as a single mom, my life is quite full, and while I’d love some male companionship, I don’t “need” to find Mr. Right right now. I’m not even in a hurry to find out if this man has the potential to be my Mr. Right. He’s kind. He’s funny. And I anticipate his emails…but I don’t obsess over them. I have some patience now. And it makes being a mom—and a dater—much easier.

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