Okay, before I start into this piece, let me be as clear as possible: this is not a man hating piece. The majority of my close friends are men. I have known many good men in this life, including the father of my child who is still my best friend.
That said, dating, when being a birthmother, can be terrible. After having my son, his father and I broke up about a year later. Not really due to our son and all that happened. More due to a matter of distance (we live in two cities over a hundred miles apart) and time and being in different places in our lives. As I said, we are still the best of friends. And maybe one day we'll be together again. Just neither of us are certain at this point.
Since then, I have dabbled on a dating site, although my profile is set to "only looking for friends." That's about as far into the dating realm as I have gone. And I know it's partly due to fear. It's hard enough for me to explain to new friends about my son and all the things entailed with him. Trying to explain this to someone who I might be dating and when in the world to do that in the course of a date or a relationship, ugh, just sets my head spinning. As I've said before, Ms. Manners did not write a chapter on how to best approach any of this. But some days I really wish that she had. I'd have some idea of what to do. But like most every birthmother I know, I do the only thing I can: whatever makes sense at the time.
In the past month, I have had two birthmother friends have problems with their significant others. The problems, while unique to us, were easy for my others friends to understand. One shouldn't have to hide away another part of their life because it makes the significant other feel uncomfortable. One shouldn't have to explain why they are still in contact with their children. One should never be put in a position where essentially one must choose between the child they still love and the man they are dating. And I hope one never has the fact that they are a birthmother thrown out at them in anger by their significant other when in the middle of a fight. It's unfair and it's uncalled for. And in the end, it most likely has absolutely nothing to do with what the fight was about in the first place. It's just taking a part of ourselves and using it as a weapon against us. This is something I hope no one ever has to experience. But I know that others have, and will have it happen. I just hope that if any of this does happen to you in a relationship, you are willing to leave that person. I know it might break your heart. But I know it would break more to cut off communication with your child (if there is any) and even worse when who you are is used against you because we cannot change who we are. We are birthmothers. And anyone who wants to be in our lives has to accept that fact or, unfortunately, walk away.
In my anger and confusion, I turned to a couple guy friends of mine. I know that may sound a little odd, but what I really wanted was an outside perspective. So I talked to them and asked them a couple important questions: Would you date a birthmother? Would the fact that a woman is a birthmother and still in contact with her child bother you? Both of them did say that while they would wish that the first time they were a father it would be the first time for their wife as well, sometimes it's simply not possible. And in this instance, obviously, it wouldn't be possible. But that would not be something that would bother them and by no means would be a deal breaker when getting into a relationship with someone. As one of them said, we all come with baggage. The only thing is whether or not you can deal with the baggage someone comes with. If you can't, you should move on. But if you can, then you should stay and see what happens.
All this said, I know it is disappointing when trying to get into a relationship with someone and it turns sour because they cannot accept who we are. But my guy friends also agreed with me that if you want to be in a relationship with someone, you need to accept everything you are. Certainly, some things can change. But this is not one of them. And any person worth your time, should be able to make peace with everything you are.
There are good guys out there. I know several of them. So be brave, keep looking forward, and know that, whoever you are, you are an amazing person. Don't let the stupid boys get you down.