“I have the perfect person in mind for you. She’s hilarious. Smart and sweetly shy,” my friend Elle explained, trying to convince me to let her set me up on a blind date with her old friend from college. As a look of hesitation swept across my face, my 2-month-old daughter started to fuss in her stroller. “And she loves kids!” Elle added right on cue with a little too much enthusiasm.
Elle continued on, insisting that my status as a single lesbian mom shouldn’t mean I was destined for a life of being chaste and alone. Despite my reluctance, I agreed to the blind date.
Two weeks later, I found myself having coffee with Elle’s friend, Diane (not her real name). She was every bit as sweet and funny as Elle had promised. But in the lulls in our conversation, all I could think about was my baby, who was being cared for by someone other than me for the first time in her short life.
A month after our first date, Diane and I went to a summer concert in the park. I heard a baby crying in the crowd and moments later my shirt was adorned with two large, wet circles, drawing attention to my lactating breasts and lack of baby. I left the concert early, mortified at what had happened and aghast at the nerve I had in trying to date at all.
What the hell am I doing, thinking I could have a life outside of my baby? Later that evening I told Diane I couldn’t give her more than friendship.
Seeing Diane wasn’t my first foray into dating at that point in my life. In fact, I dated while pregnant. In my early 30s, I decided I had my shit together enough that I was ready to become a mother. I had a stable job, was financially secure-ish, and felt as ready as I’d ever be to make my lifelong dream of becoming a mother true. There was only one thing missing from my life: a partner.
As a lesbian, I always knew I’d need the help of a donor to conceive. I just didn’t imagine going through the process by myself. Thanks to the help of a known sperm donor, I got pregnant via artificial insemination at 32 years old.
Though I felt comfortable with my decision to become a mother on my own, I was still interested in dating and never gave up on finding love. Though it felt strange to be doing things “out of order” ― getting pregnant and then looking for love ― I placed an ad on an online dating website.
“In my spare time, I enjoy reading, playing Scrabble, kayaking and musical theatre. Full disclosure: I’m pregnant as a single mom by choice.”
I published my profile with sweaty palms, anxious as I considered how surreal it felt to be looking for love or something like it while pregnant. I wasn’t sure I’d hear from anyone ― who would want to date a pregnant person?
When I logged in a few days later, I was surprised to find several messages waiting for me. Some were from women curious about my single-mom-by-choice status because they had considered it themselves and wanted to know more about the process. Others were intrigued about what it would be like to have sex with a pregnant woman and said as much in their messages. I wasn’t interested in fulfilling anyone’s pregnancy fetish fantasies, so I skipped over those ones.
A small handful seemed sincere in their interest in me. One, in particular, caught my attention ― a second-year pediatrics resident who seemed unfazed by my pregnancy. Our first date was a late-night dessert and by the end of the night, I was smitten. The conversation flowed and one date turned into another. But after our third date, I heard nothing from her. Radio silence. I cried to my best friend, lamenting my first time being “ghosted.”
As my belly (and the rest of me) swelled, I began to feel like Jabba the Hut; the idea of being intimate with anyone new felt wildly uncomfortable. As my due date approached, the thought of nurturing a new relationship felt out of the question. And once my baby was born, she quickly became my whole world. Dating was the furthest thing from my mind.
Still, there were moments I wished I wasn’t single. I felt the absence of a partner most acutely when my daughter would do something adorable or new; I longed to share those beautiful moments with someone who loved her and doted over her the way I did. But it wasn’t until my daughter was nearing 18 months old that I felt ready to get back on the dating saddle again.
Once again, I turned to online personal ads. I thought my single mom status would deter people from being interested in me. I’d heard all about the “don’t date a single mom” trope. But in the lesbian world, it seemed to be the opposite ― women seemed attracted to me because I was a mom, not in spite of it.
Though my intention in dating wasn’t to search for a co-parent, I had to consider my daughter in all of my dating endeavors. Red flags I would’ve disregarded pre-motherhood could no longer be ignored.
I went on a lot of coffee dates, none of which are remarkable enough to remember unless you count the woman who went through a list of her exes and told me all the reasons why they were all “crazy.” Next! Or the woman who asked me if I was still lactating moments after we sat down to chat because she was “into that sort of thing.” Next! I went on repeat dates with a couple of women but always got cold feet when they started seeing us as a family, even before meeting my daughter.
Already tired from working and chasing a toddler around every day, dating exhausted me. It wasn’t long before I resigned myself to being single until the right person walked into my life. I was expecting the universe to deliver this person right into my lap because I was done searching.
As it turns out, she didn’t fall into my lap. But she did show up in the most unexpected way.
Throughout my pregnancy and my daughter’s infancy and toddlerhood, I blogged about my life as a single mom by choice. My intention in blogging was to build a community with other moms, and it worked. But after 3 years of blogging, I grew uncomfortable with the (over) sharing I was doing about my daughter’s life in that space. I wrote one final post and said: In closing this blog, I open space in my life for other things.
Less than 24 hours later, one of those “other things” showed up in my inbox. It was a message from a fellow mommy blogger with a young daughter who let me know she would miss reading about my adventures with my daughter. We began emailing and texting every day, and after months of communicating through technology, we finally met in person. When we hugged at the airport for the first time, I knew: This was my person, and I’d move mountains (or, as it turns out, my little family) to be with her.
Bri and I have been at this long-distance relationship thing for nearly 3 years now. It’s been difficult, with a border and over a thousand miles between us most days. We travel to each other when we can, and plan on closing the gap and blending our families this summer.
Though I’d given up on dating as a single mom, I held on to a sliver of hope that I would find love. I just didn’t want to go through the work of finding that love through personal ads and countless first dates, so I had resigned myself to singledom indefinitely.
What is it that they say? Love comes when you least expect it.