Monday, January 10, 2011

{Bringing Up Boogie} Single Mom Dating Is Confusing And Kinda Sucks Ass

I’ve been single since before Boogie was born. I was not with his father while I was pregnant or any time after that. I’ve dated since he was born. I’ve met people I liked but I’ve never introduced him to any of them. It didn’t seem necessary. None of them lasted that long and I didn’t want to complicate things that weren’t that complicated to me. I’ve even hung out—dated is a strong, strong word—with a few single fathers; we’d talk about our kids, but I didn’t want to meet theirs and they didn’t need to meet mine. Plus, I wasn’t sure what was appropriate anyway. Like, do you intro your kid after two dates? After two months? After sex? And if I already knew going in that whatever it was I was doing with this guy wasn’t a “long term thing,” then what was the point of an introduction anyway? Had I met someone that felt like relationship material, I would have been screwed because, really, I didn’t know how to respond or react to that. I figured I’d burn that bridge when I got to it. I haven’t been to it yet. 

Not even close.

But there was this man I met about four or so months ago. I actually liked him a lot. He was a single father and his son was his entire life and everyone else who was in his life knew his son, too. That was weird for me because I didn’t think it made much sense to meet his son if we weren’t actually in anything. It makes sense for Boogie to know my friends. I mean, everyone that’s in my life has met or will meet him if the opportunity arises. I guess it says a lot about my mind (and why I remain single) that I separate my friends from “men I like.” This particular man didn’t have such divisions.

We set up a play date that consisted of our two boys playing in the living room while we sat and talked and drank wine. I wrote about it last Halloween in my Bringing Up Boogie post, "Pumpkin Patches, Pumas & Play Dates: When Parenting Solo Takes On New Meaning." It was all too “family-oriented” for my taste. That situation has since run its course. Very recently actually. And I’ve been thinking about what happens now. Boogie absolutely adored him and his son and still speaks of them both—always asking when we’re going to see them and if he can call the son and invite him to go to the library with us. 
See, this was exactly what I was trying to avoid. That attachment. I change the subject or say, “Oh, he’s with his mommy now and they don’t live around here.” Or make up something else.
The man in question is an amazing father and he was very good with Boogie. There was no weirdness. I was weird because as a mother, I wouldn’t want some random woman being all Carol Brady with my child, so I had more of a hands-off approach the first time I met his son. Plus I’m kind of scared of other people’s children. The next couple of times (there weren’t that many) I tried a bit harder to not be so scared of the idea of interacting with them. It’s a fine line and I was anxious about crossing any. But I did watch as Boogie grew wide-eyed with this idea of a “not uncle and not grandpa” with whom he got to wrestle around and play Nerf guns (God help me) and hide-n-seek.
The last time the boys were together I noticed that Boogie was getting very comfortable with them and that worried me because there was no sign that this “thing” was really going anywhere.
I don’t want to put all my business in the street but even that last time was a weird space and part of me regrets ever bringing Boogie into the picture because now what? And I mean that for myself, too: “Now what?” I kinda got attached my damn self. I realized that the “hanging out” I was doing prior to this was because I was too scared to really get involved with anything or anyone. I was making subconscious decisions about men/boys that I knew weren’t a long-term match just because I wanted to avoid that inevitable confusion. I’m the kind of person who sees the end before I see the path. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

This time, I saw the end and it didn’t look that bad. Actually, I liked it. I let myself get comfortable with it. For good reasons.  I’m not sure how much I’ve spoken about my post pregnancy body here, but while I was pregnant with Boogie, I also had ten pound growth/tumor/mass/whatever in my uterus. It was a very high-risk pregnancy and there were times when—well, let’s just say it wasn’t fun. I had the mass removed when Boogie was two months old, so between the time he was born and the time I had the surgery, I still had a ten pound mass in my uterus. I looked six months pregnant AFTER I was pregnant. It was dicey and embarrassing when I was out with an obviously newborn baby and still looked like I was carrying another one, and I became very uncomfortable with my body. And after I had the surgery to remove the mass, not only did I have this ugly scar down the middle of my belly, I also had this flabby and stretched mark lump of skin. I’m a small person—about a size 2/4 in dresses. But no matter what I do, that skin isn’t going anywhere. Because of that, I avoided intimate situations. Not to say I didn’t have them—a girl’s got needs. But I avoided getting too close. I kept at least a T-shirt on at all times. I never ever got naked. I avoided mirrors and hated looking at myself without a shirt on. It made getting close to men very difficult because there would always be that barrier—something disconnected.

I bring this up because this last situation, he wasn’t having it. The others just accepted it and didn’t talk or touch or whatever, but this one made me feel beautiful for the first time in years. I didn’t feel disfigured or ‘broken.’ He was very comfortable with the scar and often placed his hand on my belly as we slept. I didn’t realize how much that meant to me as far as my personal need to feel loved that way. I thought I could go the rest of my life avoiding that and then here comes this person who challenged me and challenged it. I mean, we had actual conversation about this scarred elephant that I’ve avoided for four years.
So here I have this man that’s met my son and met my scars and didn’t run from either. And then there’s me who loves to run and hide. And as soon as I started getting a little comfortable, things ended. There’s always a reason. 
This one is too complicated and too personal to really get into, but the same way that Boogie felt “something” with this new friendship, so did I. You would think that it would make things easier moving forward—you know, now that I’ve been here and now that I know what it looks like, I should be ready for the next one. But it doesn’t get easier. And I’m not ready to go there again. If anything, it makes me wish I hadn’t even been there. I’m not one of those, “It’s better to have loved and lost” people. Fuck that. Don’t show it to me if I can’t have it.

I guess Boogie and I have even more in common than I thought.

* * * *
About our MBB Contributor:Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic. She’s half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the left over bit is a caramel creme center. She’s also the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. Get more Bassey at

If you would like to be a featured contributor on MyBrownBaby, email your essays/ideas/blog posts/rants/musings to Denene at denenemillner at gmail dot com.

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  1. This brought up so many of my own single-mom dating issues and a recent break-up that I've recently come to terms with. The only difference being I have two girls, so my neuroses lies in the whole, "Can I trust this man around my young daughters?"

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Favorite line: I’m not one of those, “It’s better to have loved and lost” people. Fuck that. Don’t show it to me if I can’t have it.

    Me too.

  3. I'm a single mother to an infant and although I am years away from dating again, I can totally imagine how difficult that is going to be.

  4. keep dating. don't deprive a man of you! and yes write about it for us single mothers out there trying to make progress and love happen.

  5. i'm loving yr journey and feeling bad for how stressful it is. keep going girl. It is better to love. and keep loving cuz sometimes you gotta have storms in order to get your rainbow

  6. Thank GOD! This must mean I am not nuts, cause you spoke straight from my mind. I have reached a point that I am just working on myself and my long term goals b/c the mere thought of "dating " put me in defense mode. But that need to be love and accepted wholly still surfaces now and again. Eventually that One comes when it's time, which is not always when we want it.

  7. First off, thank you for being so personal in this post. I love that about your posts. Even though you may think you're not being all that personal, it touches me.

    Second, where is the world are you finding people to date?! I'm a single mom and would like to start dating again, but where? And with whom? Sigh.

    It's really not easy as a single mom for all of the reasons you mentioned. Honestly, that is like one of my biggest fears with dating again. Will he love the scars on my belly and my son? When do I introduce my son? DO I introduce my son? Who the heck knows!

  8. I think that was really honest of you to express your feelings about single parenthood dating. More women (and yes, men) need to know how to be cautious about letting so many folks in their child's life. My cousins went through that many years ago and they have so many issues right now that it's insane. My aunt never properly screened the cats she dated and every six to 12 months there was a new man in the picture, some abusive to their mom, some sexually abusive to them.
    I said what I said to scare any single mommy from dating, but to encourage them to hopefully get a feel for the man they are dating before really causing a world of hurt (physically, mentally, and emotionally) on their children.
    I for one really can't wait to get back out there...hopefully soon.
    Good luck on your search and glad I found the site!


  9. BarbV aka TearfulTellall (sometimes Beastie)January 10, 2011 at 6:30 PM

    Bassey -
    Though we've never met, except via annoying tweets I send your way here and there, I believe I've read enough of your tweeting and your writing to be able to say with confidence that you are (in no particular order): Kind, self-reflective - sometimes too much so and slow to forgive yourself; funny, loyal, loving, compassionate and empathetic. And beautiful. And you met a man who knows what beauty is. I also am self-conscious about various issues I have about my own appearance, and I know that no one - not my best friend, not my mother who I would die for - can change my mind about how those make me feel. After all that you went through, with bearing your gorgeous one-of-a-kind Boogie and terror of having a tumor (I didn't know this before now, and I pray that all benign and all removed forever and ever), with becoming a new mother and having invasive surgery, look what you allowed to happen in the last few months. Look at what you allowed to happen with a man! My Gawd that is an incredible achievement! Please see it for what it is -- you let someone you were attracted to in, and he made you feel beautiful. YOU allowed that to happen. So, look in the mirror, and as a wise woman once wrote: kiss your shoulders, kiss both wrists, love yourself and mean it.
    Hugs, BarbV aka TearfulTellall (or Beastie, depending on what time of day it is).

  10. Loved this piece. Like a lot of the ladies who have already posted, I too, am in your shoes. I just keep hope that it will get easier, and that the One will find me before my daughter leaves the nest at the end of this decade.

  11. so sad story, but fortunately the end is happy:) online term paper

  12. I've joined this site mainly because I wanted to organize a cool trip. But it was awesome when I found that you can actually find a travel mate. There are plenty of handsome men out there. It really helps if you're not looking for something serious.

  13. Even if you are a single mother, but you're a great person. To tell the truth, I'm proud of you! Just look around - there are a lot of handsome men out there. ​You won't stay alone:) P.S. Online are produced and supplied by the specialists. Visit to make sure!


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