No dates for Mommy
Repartee and Mojitos are a step too far for a single mom, regrets Tracy Engelbrecht.
It’s happening again. The well-meaning matchmaking busybodies have begun to close in, armed with their little black books and heartfelt advice. ‘Tis the lot of the single woman, I guess. Especially the single mother. People can’t help trying to fix you. And by that, I mean fix you up, of course. 

But it ain’t gonna happen folks. Many people are certainly imminently suited to marriage or partnership. It makes them happy. They enjoy companionship, and they are prepared to make the necessary compromises. It completes them. Yes indeedy.

Me? Not so much. I am one of Nature’s loners – selfish and lazy, requiring obscene amounts of personal space, physical, mental and emotional. Of course, I also completely suck at being a girlfriend, and not in any of the ways YOU’RE thinking. I have tried it (the single-mom-dating thing, I mean. Ahem) on several occasions, putting aside common sense in favour of hormones and ill-advised fairytales. Results? Not pretty. Catastrophic, even. So I can safely say that I know what I’m missing and no really, I’m fine thanks.

Single mother dating is a tricky business. Logistical nightmare of World Cup proportions. First, you must find somebody who doesn’t hate children. And who you actually like as well. And who likes you. Not sure which is more important.

Then you must decide when to introduce the two sides. You need time first to ensure that Romeo is not a crazed stalker, and that there is actually something worth pursuing. But you also need to see how he interacts with the kiddies before you invest too much time.  Introduce too late and you might become attached, only to discover they hate each other.

Do it too soon and it doesn’t work out?  You get confused children who need Post It notes to remember the name of This Week’s Dude.  Can you say Bad Mother? Oh yes, I thought you might.

Then the question of time – you need time for children, time for boyfriend, time for me and time all together. Without anybody getting resentful of any of the other slots. United Nations diplomacy and cutting down to three hours sleep a night will help.

I see my children for two hours, max, before school and then 3 or 4 hours after work, depending on how lazy I am about bedtime. Now I must find more time to go on a date? To get dressed up? To blowdry my hair? To partake in witty repartee and imprudent Mojitos, when what I should be doing is covering the Spelling book in plastic and snuggling up with The Magic Faraway Tree?  Nah. It’s not worth it to me.

My feet are still firmly planted in Mommy Land, where they shall stay until nobody else needs me. Loads of people multi-task like nobody’s business, creating seamless blended families out of thin air. Me – again - not so much with the juggling thing. 

It’s not a case of just finding the right kind of guy. As far as I can tell – to make a relationship work, first of all you have to be the right kind of girl. Which I am not. In spades. I know this about myself, and self-awareness is a beautiful thing, see. I’m not prepared to make those compromises, to change my children’s world, to rock the boat. I’m a much better mom by myself. And that makes me happy.

Perhaps 50 years from now I’ll marry the octogenarian gent I met over blancmange at the old age home.  Until then, no really, I’m fine thanks.

Is dating as a single parent a minefield?

Read more by Tracy Engelbrecht

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