I am a. Dating. Mom …

There’s a new popular show on tv and in the advert for this coming week’s episode we see the father giving his sons advice “do not ever date girls that have children”. I laughed. I also remembered that this is actually a real thing that parents tell their boy children. It is also a preference of many many men – women with children are an absolute no go. This adds another layer to life as a single mother.

I was very lucky that I was always open to dating a man with a child or children (I have no limit to the number of children actually) and this is because I am all for the human, whichever form he comes in. This made my life easier when I started to date after my eldest was born, I found that I connected better with men who were parents themselves, I just found that explaining that I chose bonding with my child on a Saturday over attending his friend’s braai was just easier.

I say this ALL the time, being a single black female in South Africa in 2017 is tough, now add being a mother to that – it’s the Wild Wild West out there, kushubile straight. We are not only navigating lazy guys who think a WhatsApp or a DM is game, we are also dealing with guys who check out without letting you know. Now as a mother I am absolutely vigilant of the type of energy I allow around my children, in fact the only man my eldest met was the man I was going to marry. I refuse emphatically to introduce my children to uncle Thabo, then uncle Chris three months later, in fact there are no sleepovers in my house, no dinners, no drinks nothing – my home is absolutely off limit, my children often sleep in my bed so I don’t want anyone else in it. I have this theory that different people bring different energies into my children’s space and as such I avoid it completely. This adds a slight layer of complexity when dating, what if the guy I’m feeling doesn’t have his own house? Do we only meet at restaurants or I become a mahotella queen?

Dating when you have children is not at all easy and I believe that discernment is key in navigating that maze. I have also found that the kind of partner you choose needs to have a great amount of maturity and understanding, he’s going to need to understand that there are schedules to be adhered to – spontaneity is a dream when you have children, a gona surprise getaway, meticulous planning is required (babysitters, ICE contacts etc). There is also the time thing, if I sleep over at a gentle brother’s house on a Friday, I can’t still be there at midday on Saturdays for a lazy romantic lie-in because I probably have a birthday party or a play date or even a Papachinos trip to be involved in with my children. During the week is another challenge, there’s the morning school run and homework in the evenings making midweek sleepovers not so great, there are also extramurals that deny me post work drinks…that’s just the leisure time, I am also a working mother and I am at work during the day. So the question is when do I as a mom date?

A mate (guy) said to me in a conversation a few months ago – “you can’t exactly expect a man to be in a serious relationship with you, you have two children, that’s baggage”, it hit home HARD, but he was not wrong, I have so much baggage I may as well go by Samsonite Woman. I have met incredible young men, young men with the world at their feet, the kind of men that a single lady would be excited to get to know with long term view of exclusively seeing each other and building a life together and then I remember that I’m a Samsonite Woman – I come with two children, I have a career, a have an active social life, I have serious limitations on my time so when do I date? When do I really give this human real time once he’s shown that he is really interested? I have house rules that don’t allow him to be in my house (this is also for safety reasons because one can never be too careful really), I have weekend and holiday restrictions and of course I come with a baby daddy – if we co-parent well then that means he’ll be at all birthdays, sports events, family days etc. I simply can’t involve myself. I also know for sure that I will not have more children, which I believe is an unfair thing for a young man who wants to start a family of his own one day…see why I’d rather date a guy with a child then we can have a BOB – bring your own babies? I absolutely understand why parents tell their children not to date women with children (I might give my son the same advice one day, I am still undecided for now).

I find myself wondering though, am I hiding behind being a fiercely protective, busy mom? Am I shutting love out because I’ve been hurt and I don’t want to go through heartbreak again? Do I subconsciously feel that I am not the woman that should be taken home by an awesome man because I am the girl their mom has told them not to date? Do I actually believe that I am “tainted” because I am a woman with children? Is the very thing that I am proud of also the thing I am so ashamed of when it comes to meeting new people? Am I afraid of confusing my children by letting in a man only for him to wake up one day and decide that he’s no longer interested in our life? Being a single, dating, mom in 2017 in South Africa is wild, for now I remain a single black female with a lifetime of Samsonite…