Me First

Recently, I met a pretty great guy. Smart, funny, handsome. Someone that made me want to break my dating ban. A ban I’ve adhered to pretty consistently since getting divorce, though I have broken it twice and with great regret.

Regret one: a man who suddenly — knowing I’ve BTDT — wanted to get married and have kids. Ended that fast. Regret 2: The most awkward cup of coffee in the history of dating men. A blind date at the urging of a mutual friend. I still wonder if the mutual friend even likes me, or the man.

I’ve had the sort of brilliant success that reinforced my ban, kept my boundaries high, and my heart protected. Then this, the random meeting of the great guy in a fairly comical location. He asked me out within days of meeting. I said yes without hesitation. Shocked with myself, with the ease and immediacy of that yes. I was excited.

But due to scheduling with his work and mine, we are only able to go out on a night my children are home. Since getting divorced, I’d only missed parenting time for work, and only if I couldn’t orchestrate differently. Basically, missed time with the kids only happened when necessary to have a place to live.

There is an agony in lost time with my children, even so they can be parented by their father, an agony other single moms feel, too. It’s hard. Adding more missed time is something I had never done, for any one, for any man.

The single-minded focus on my children isn’t ideal or even healthy, I know. But there you go. My children are the reason for each move I make, each tear I shed, each fatiguing hour of late night work, each — sometimes humiliating — piece of legal paperwork I fill out.

Back to the great guy because this isn’t about my children. He really had my attention, and I thought about him all the time. But as I said, our schedules only worked if we had that first drink on one of my parenting nights, or waited six weeks for our jobs to calm down. I said yes as soon as he suggested we meet on Tuesday.

Then the giddy cleared for a moment, and I thought, “how could I put a guy, not matter how great I think he is, above my children?” Panic.

I did what a woman does and had a talk with a friend who would slap me straight about the awful mom I am, and I’d reenter my safe dating ban.

“Is this something you want to do?”

Yes. Duh.

“Are you doing it for this guy?”

Hardly know him. How could it be for him? Of course not.

“Who is it for then?”

Me?

“It’s okay to do things for yourself,” and she walked out to refill my coffee cup.

Simple as that.

It’s okay to do something for myself. And sometimes that means working within the schedule of the great guy I’d like to know better. It’s not putting him above my kids. It’s putting me first. For the first time in a long time.