The first time I was asked about my interest in dating after Steve died was about one month in. One month! And I was pregnant – not exactly prime dating material. I was kind of horrified when I was asked about dating then. I couldn’t think about it – there was simply not enough room in my brain and the thought was about as appealing then as hot French onion soup on a sizzling summer day. I wasn’t sure I would ever date and I didn’t care at the time. Who could think about such things while expecting your third child? I suppose some could but it just made me laugh.
Fast forward about 3 years – my baby was two, my big girls were bigger and life was starting to seem a bit more manageable. Ah, not really. It still doesn’t feel manageable. But the thought of dating, of finding someone that I could have some good, quality adult time with – that seemed worth making manageable. I would say that dating in and of itself did not seem appealing. Good Lord – who wants to go through all the BS that entails. How do you even go about it at the age of 39? Bars? Online dating? Yuck. No thanks.
I have a really great male friend – that I have never met. He knew my husband professionally when we lived in Massachusetts. He reached out to me after Steve died to offer condolences but also to let me know that he understood what I was going thru as his wife had died just a few months earlier, leaving him an only parent to 2 girls about the same age as mine. Of course, he wasn’t pregnant. But we connected through Facebook and have had a fun, unique, supportive relationship ever since. He had started dating and was encouraging me to do the same. “How?” I asked. “Tell your friends you are open to it. They will know someone who will know someone. Trust me.” He likes to tell me to trust him and I usually do. I do not always listen to his advice – he doesn’t like that.
So I did it. I told a friend that I was open to dating and right away that friend introduced me to a lifelong friend of hers that was single. We were introduced electronically and that made it a bit easier for me, a bit of a gentler entry into this new uncharted territory. Thank God for technology! I don’t know how single parents did this before texting and Facebook and messenger. How do you incorporate meeting and getting to know a new person without the covert means of texting? I certainly didn’t want to tell my girls that I was dipping my toe into the dating world – I wasn’t sure I was ready yet, let alone them. This man and I started a conversation and then met in person about a month later on a…. date. I was 39 years old and hadn’t gone out on a first date since I was 22. And I had children. And a wagon full of baggage.
I have always had incredibly low self-esteem and here I was hoping this new person would find this 39 year old, widowed version of me attractive. I was beside myself with nerves – changed my clothes 3 times and kept calling friends for reassurance. My girls were at my in-laws that evening and I was on my own – such a rare occurrence. We had agreed to meet at a restaurant that was in a really busy shopping area – and it was a week before Christmas. I made a critical error in coming up with that plan and another one in not leaving enough time to get there. I was late. Everyone that knows me will not be shocked by this but I felt terrible. I was really late. And I texted him that I was trying to get there but traffic was crazy heavy. I was worried that he wouldn’t wait for me, that he would think that it was a waste of his time. That was the low self-esteem sneaking out. Hell, that night it wasn’t sneaking out – it was balls out and making me doubt everything from my outfit to my butt to my eyebrows. But he waited for me. We had a lovely time through drinks and dinner. He walked me to my car and then it was done. I did it. I went on a date. What the hell? But it felt good, felt great to remember a whole other piece of myself and to look at myself in a whole new light. It seemed really significant at the time, like a whole new milestone had been reached in my life. How funny to feel so accomplished over something people do every single day all over the world. But this wasn’t just any date. This was a moment for me to really move forward in my life and to let the universe know that I was in, that I was ready for what was next and that I was hopeful that there was more for me out there. Feeling hopeful felt really good.
As I type this I am realizing I had a very similar first date many years later. I was almost 45 minutes late, totally unintentionally, but so late and felt so badly. He also waited for me – thank goodness. I have discovered that I am worth waiting for, worth fighting for and worth all the excitement, pain and disruption of loving me. I am worth it all and that I know for sure now, in a way that I never did before. I’m fucking amazing.