My little lad is pretty wise for his age, goodness knows where he gets it from but, our conversations are usually very enlightening and he is an excellent conductor of ideas!
We have a good bond he and I and whilst I enjoy being his friend, I am acutely aware that I am, first and foremost, his parent. Actually I’m both his parents and aunts and uncles and grandmother.
It’s quite a lot of pressure sometimes to be all those things and try to balance it with being just me, er, who am I these days?
Even so, several weeks ago when I tried to keep my dating forays under wraps and was on my way out for yet another rendezvous, I admitted to him that I was actually going to meet a guy for a date, I asked him what he thought about this.
He hesitated a moment then said “Mum, I think it’s good for you and you enjoy meeting people. It would be nice if you met someone who could look after you a bit ‘cos you look after me and your students and your friends, I think a nice boyfriend would be good.”
“OK” I say, pleasantly surprised that he sees me as human,”what kind of boyfriend do you think he should be?” I’m curious as to what he will say.
“Well, not a boyfriend to be a dad to me, I don’t need one I’ve got you and anyway, I’m older now” he ponders then says “I think you should have a boyfriend for just you, someone who is kind to you and takes you to nice places like you take me.
Someone who wants to find out about you and do things to make you happy. I think he should be a nice person to me too but, not trying to be a father, maybe he can be my friend”
Where the heck does this kid get his wisdom? I struggle to hold back the tears as I hug him tight.
“You are A-MAZING” I say as I gather myself and sniff back the tears before they trail through my mascara and down my face.
And off I go to meet a man who I hope is kind, wants to make the effort to see me (and plan to see me), someone who knows themselves and is OK with that and does NOT see me as either a threat, a potential conquest, a convenient ego-massage, free-therapist or booty call…
“So, how did your date go last night Mum?” my little ‘un asks the next evening. “Well,” I reply “he was very nice but, he seems to be VERY busy with his work. I’m not sure why he put himself on a dating site when he hasn’t got time to meet people”.
“Oh, that’s a shame, did you like him?” he asks.
“Actually, he seems a very decent person but, but..”
My son senses my hesitation “but what, Mum, what is it?”
And the frustrations of the past couple of months dealing with inaccurate profiles, texts, ‘Winks’, messages, Skype, the perverts, the ‘I’ll-ask-you-for-a-date-but -will-be-too-busy-to-meet types, the ‘not-even-bothering-to-reply’ guys, the players, the cynics and seeing the pain of loneliness written all over some of the profiles, their souls laid bare in the hopes that someone will pull them out of this murky dating pond and into the warm, healing warmth of the light of love …it all gets blurted out in one sentence.
“I’m so TIRED of dating” I sigh.
“Really…why Mum, what is it?” And the answer just pops out, “I want to…to…stop looking and start living!”
And there is is, the sweet relief as I say this. I feel released, free and joyous. I just want to live my life, I just want to be ME. I was tired of trying to be all things to all these different guys.
I was tired of trying to be beguiling, trying to be interesting, and interested in people with whom I had far too little in common.
This isn’t a slur on those people, every date I had was ‘successful’ – neither I nor any of my dates ‘did a runner’ therefore the date could be deemed a success as per my objective: to get out there and meet some guys – I certainly hadn’t set my sights on meeting my soul-mate so I didn’t feel in the least bit disappointed.
I was simply tired of the dating game – a game where the rules seemed to have changed but nobody told me!
My eyes and head ached from trawling through books and websites on how to catch him and keep him, how to have the relationship I wanted, how to be a vixen AND surrendered all at the same time!
I felt lost, confused and disorientated but, one thing I was sure about, I knew, right there and then that I would find my own map and get myself out of this dating jungle.
I also realised, with some clarity that I didn’t actually want a boyfriend, I want to help others like me, who were confused by the new dating landscape, to help them find their own maps to navigate themselves to a good place.
Nope, I didn’t want a boyfriend, I’d got caught up in the whole “are you still single then Stephanie?” and I’d allowed myself to be defined by my relationship status and pulled in a thousand different directions to please everyone else but myself.
I didn’t want a boyfriend, I was just….well, er, wanton!
A couple of cold showers would see to that!