Posted: Feb 18, 2014 7:00 AM
 
Kids take a lot out of you emotionally. How do you carve out space in your life to fall in love? A single mom talks about how after a year of being single, she's open to the idea of falling in love again.

When I consider my current identity, "single mom" is right at the top of the list. Lately, I live and breathe kid-related stuff. I'm so busy caring for my two sons that it feels almost like the newborn days all over again. How am I supposed to find time — and more importantly, emotionally availability — to date?

Two years looked like an awfully long time

What struck me the most was the insistence that serious relationships should not be pursued for about two years after splitting up.

When you have kids and you get divorced in Florida, the court makes you take a parenting seminar. I was more than a little cranky about attending it. I write about parenting for a living! Surely I have nothing to learn from a community college instructor. Wrong. I spent the entire class frantically taking notes. What struck me the most was the insistence that serious relationships should not be pursued for about two years after splitting up. That seemed like an insanely long time to me, but at the same time I couldn't imagine trusting someone or opening up to love again.

Yep, I was totally unstable

The community college people were right about one thing: For the first year, I was not prime dating material. I was still freshly angry at my ex-husband. I was scared. I wasn't happy about being alone. Every guy who showed interest left me running for the hills, terrified at the idea of commitment. After a long while, I started to feel more emotionally secure, and as I did I realized that every day of singleness was actually a gift from me to me. I was learning how to be myself outside of the context of a serious relationship. I needed every day, week and month to heal and become someone even remotely receptive to love. I don't know about the two year thing, but the first year has been restorative.

Good to go — except I'm crawling with kids

Remember Mrs. Hannigan's song in Annie? I'm not crawling with little girls — in fact I have only the two little boys. But I still feel more like Mom than woman or hottie or potential girlfriend material. The cuddles I get are from angular, wiggly kids. I mostly get dressed up to drive to my kids' medical appointments. I only have four free evenings a month. I have a hard time tapping into the part of my identity related to flirting or romance. I get anxious when I think about doing things that are for me and not at all related to my kids. In short, I need to get off of this mom train, stat.

I want to know what love is

I might be short on free time, but that doesn't mean my entire life has to revolve around my kids.

OK, it's not all that dramatic. Sort of. I do want to experience love again, but I'm not sure I know what a healthy relationship consists of. Plus, I've become so comfortable weighed down by the stresses of motherhood and my career that I've forgotten how to devote energy to anything else. This year, it's time to tip the scales and even my life out. I might be short on free time, but that doesn't mean my entire life has to revolve around my kids. They don't need that any more than I do. I might be a little short of the recommended two year healing period, but I'm ready to open my heart to life's possibilities.

More on single moms

What a newly divorced mom wants you to know
5 Ways for single moms to carve out me time
Dating tips for single moms

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