With the all the challenges and difficulties of single motherhood, the day to day isn’t that different from what moms in relationships experience. Most kids tend to be whiny at the end of the day, and for the most part, the kids all go through the same phases and stages that we need to figure out, adjust to and understand. As moms, our patience runs out at different points depending on our personalities and we all tend to reach levels of ecstasy when looking at our sleeping child or smelling their yummy baby smell. The basic dilemmas, problems and highlights are similar. We are all exhausted at the end of the day.
Last night I was out with some of my mom friends and at 10 pm we were all stifling yawns. They are all married; some have one, two and in one case, four children; some are pregnant, but at ten at night we were all ready for sleep even though we bravely battled on with smiles until the first soldier (me) fell at 10.45.
The one thing that is definitely different between solo moms and coupled moms is what happens after the kids go to sleep. Let me preface my remarks by saying that while never a party animal, and always a fan of sleep by 11pm, in my heyday, I definitely went out quite a bit more than I do now. Additionally, while a multi tasker with jobs, errands and tasks, I am definitely not one to divide myself amongst people…specifically men. Never have I dated more than one man at a time. Even if it was just a couple of dates, I generally tried to start and stay with one guy before embarking on another potential relationship.
Frankly, I am at a loss about dating with kids. So far I have not come across an article in Vogue, Glamour, Elle, Laisha (Israeli women's magazine) or even a magazine as "intellectual" as Vanity Fair or Time that discusses dating and the single mom. And I do differentiate between the single mom and the divorced mom. Because my kids do not have a father and I don’t have an ex - spouse who at least to some extent helps out; either financially or actual face time, the man who enters my life will to some extent become my kids' dad. Unless I get a babysitter or my parents come, we're not going to have a free weekend twice a month and on alternate Wednesdays. This is not because I am daddy shopping, necessarily, but because my girls are almost three and in their world man=abba(daddy) or saba (grandpa) depending on the gentleman's hair color. So while before I may have jumped into any potential relationship for a variety reasons, today I am much more deliberate and careful in my choices and in including a man in our daily life.
So here is my question for coupled women with kids….How do you do it all? And more specifically, because I'm pretty good at juggling, how do you change roles so quickly and easily?
Today I had coffee with a friend who is married with a child. I remarked on this phenomenon. She admitted that at times, especially during the first year after their child was born, it would’ve been nice to be alone with the baby and not have to navigate a personal relationship with her spouse as well. How even now, when their daughter is three she knows that she neglects her husband to some extent. Personally, I barely made it through the day that first year. If I had had to think about cooking, cleaning, straightening up, shaving my legs or nether regions, or even chatting with someone, let alone doing anything other than sleeping in my bed, I don’t know if I would have survived. It seems to me that the most natural state of being; the "normative" family is something very difficult for me to conceptualize in terms of the mom vs. woman aspect.
Ladies, I am looking for input here. How do you manage to be mother earth by day and sexy goddess by night? Does the sexiness start seeping through your torn and tattered "play clothes" as soon as the kids are in bed or do you need to shower and put on lingerie? Do you need a glass of wine first? If you have spent a Tel Aviv summer afternoon in the park and made dinner, given baths and read 2000 stories and cuddled your babies to sleep, how do you make the switch to woman and not simply maid and caretaker? How do you not simply crawl in a heap of exhaustion to bed and to hell with your womanliness, his manliness and your hazy memory of sex?
I was recently kind of dating someone. I say "kind of" because we didn’t really see each other that often. He decided that I didn’t want to have a relationship because I was very involved with my kids and because I told him that for the immediate future I didn’t see the need to get together every day, although had he bothered to ask I would’ve told him that every other week was a little meager, in my opinion. While it is disappointing that it didn’t continue it is far from devastating. I learned two things from the experience; that I do want to have a relationship and that I need to feel more comfortable with these two roles coexisting.
So ladies out there, please tell me your secrets, since I am trying to get back into the land of love, romance and relationships and enjoy life more fully.