I can remember the two thoughts that overwhelmed me the day I received my divorce papers back in 2006; 1) I am finally free of the one sided marriage that was making me incredibly unhappy, and 2) Who will ever accept me now that it's me AND my daughter? No one plans for their marriage to fail. I certainly felt that my strong desire and passion for being a good wife and mother would be enough, and it would have been, had I had been with the right man. But I chose wrong, so I promptly made the decision to get out before my child was old enough to be affected by our splitting up like I was by my parents divorce when I was fifteen.
As it turns out, I am one of the lucky few whose ex is far better at co-parenting than he ever was when we were together. We made the choice to set aside our differences and make sure our daughter lives happily between our households and see us respectful to each other when it comes time for their weekends together. We keep communication consistent and cordial, doing the best we possibly can in raising her well and right despite coming up from a broken home since she was 2. Fortunately, at almost ten years of age, she's one of the happiest kids you will ever meet, regardless of the circumstance.
Just as I blindly leaped into marriage at the tender age of 18, I jumped right back into dating when my divorce was final. I had a terrible fear of being alone for the rest of my life (to this day, a small part of me still obtains that notion). Because I allowed myself to believe that with now being a single parent I could no longer be 'too picky' with my options anymore since I had 'baggage', I went down an awful road of dating disasters for years. I have been as they say, 'doing it all alone' for over seven years now (and counting). With each man who has come and gone into mine and my daughters' life, I've learned some valuable lessons along the way that I never would have, had my marriage had been the right one I was meant for.
1) Men are going to hesitate being with you.
It doesn't matter if you're out on a kid free evening dressed to the nines, the moment you meet someone who is interested and you announce that you have a child or children at home, it will be painstakingly obvious how quickly they want to bolt by the mixed look of panic, fear, and disappointment on their faces (none of them can hide it). Unless he's a father himself, he will be trepidant in wanting to getting to know you further past your Mom status.
2) You're going to attract a lot of men looking to be Mothered.
Amazingly enough, I have engaged in more relationships with men who were all about being doted on and cared for without equal and fair reciprocation, that of which, is exactly a parent/child dynamic. These types are fully aware that if you're one of the responsible ones, they can count on you to be there for them just as much as you are for your child(ren) because hey, you already have that skill down, right?! These partners never last because eventually you will be sick of their selfish behaviors, and once you bring it to their attention and stop providing them with the luxury of your giving nature, they use your responsibilities against you by saying things are 'too serious' for their liking and leave. Luckily, those men aren't the ones you want to make permanent ties to anyway (so, phew)!
3) Most men are convinced you're looking for a free ride/meal ticket.
This lesson has never ceased to amaze me.