By Dana Gornall
One of the problems with settling down with one person at a young age is that everything is new and young during that time.
Teenage intimacy means making out in the back seats of cars, holding hands at the movies, and sneaking various forms of touchy-feelyness in various not so private places in whatever moments you can get them. You eventually grow up, get your own place and finally get a little privacy—at least until kids come along (if they do). Dating as a middle aged adult with teenagers, becomes a whole different ball game.
As a full time working single mother, I have enough trouble remembering if I turned the dryer on after I threw the towels in or whether or not I shut off the coffee pot. Now that I was dating and had kids around the house, it was like being a teenager all over again except with a lot more responsibility. Any date could be the potential for some sort of awkward intimate encounter and I found myself trying to remember if I shaved both armpits or if I was wearing my cute bra or the stretched out mom bra.
The coffee meet up I had turned into a real first date that included dinner on a picnic table and a walk on the beach, which turned into a second date and then a third. We talked and we talked and we laughed a lot—there seemed to be so much we had in common. But there were still these big huge perforated holes of big huge parts of the past that seemed to hang somewhere over our heads. Places neither of us were ready to tread.
He was a widower for one. And that thought right there seemed like a page of a book that was so thick with history and meaning, I feared to go there or even ask much. I knew how death effected a family. I lived it, in one sense in my own life. I knew the way it can march in with large clomping feet and leave a wake of confusion and pain in its path. Knowing this, knowing there was probably a lot that needed to not be said (at least for now), we kept a lot of our conversation fairly light.
And then there was a simple, small thing that seemed to be staring back at me, rather obviously. We hadn’t kissed yet. It wasn’t like I hadn’t kissed anyone or hadn’t had any intimate encounters since I had separated, but for some reason both of us seemed unsure about where or when or how or…if. It was very much like being an adolescent again. I wasn’t sure if I should make a move or wait for him and there never seemed to be a right time.
On one particularly stressful late afternoon, I was grocery shopping with a haphazardly written list in hand when I glanced down at my phone to see a text from him. “I have two tickets to see John Waite in concert this Friday. Would you like to go?” My mind began to spin. This was my weekend with the kids. I hadn’t told them or anyone in my family that I was dating yet and I wasn’t sure what my excuse would be for being gone on a Friday night. On top of that, my daughter had dance class on Friday evenings which would mean I would need to make arrangements for someone else to take her (either my parents or my ex) and all of this seemed like a lot to consider in the middle of the cereal aisle while trying to choose between Captain Crunch and Reeses Puffs. I typed back a quick reply that I was at the grocery store and would respond soon. What a lame response, I thought, but really needed to buy a little time to think.
After getting home and unpacking all of the food, I decided I just wasn’t ready to spill the “I am dating” beans, and nor was I ready to have that discussion with my children. Sure, I knew it was coming. I knew I needed to set the groundwork for a future me that would not be the stressed-out, over tired, crazy, single mama and sure I knew that I was probably avoiding. I also knew they were old enough to handle it, but the impending deadline of this weekend seemed too daunting. I finally replied back explaining that my daughter had dance class and I wasn’t sure I could make other arrangements on such short notice. He seemed to understand and mentioned he would probably go with his daughter.
Falling back onto one end of the couch, my daughter exactly opposite, we both settled into an episode of Friends. There was a slight feeling of sadness that I wouldn’t be going and I wondered if this meant I was steering this potential relationship toward a different direction. Surely he would ask someone else. Surely he would most likely lose a little interest, seeing me as too busy with too much baggage to date. Squaring my jaw slightly as my inner stubborn nature pushed forth, I stared at the television screen. Hearing my daughter giggle at a joke Phoebe was making on our favorite show, I inwardly shrugged. Maybe I am just not ready for this—not ready for a relationship. Not ready to introduce another person into the crazy, mixed up, upside down life of mine. I glanced back at my daughter and my son walked into the room and nestled in next to me, placing his head on my shoulder.
Everything is already perfect, I thought, just as it is.
To be continued…
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