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Single Mom Seeks...

Photograph by Getty Images

I had dinner the other night with a friend. Her boyfriend and a buddy of his joined us, each traveling from out of town. This spare man had a girlfriend, so this wasn’t a double date, but I should probably acknowledge how attractive he was. He also excitedly held and played with my daughter (my constant sidekick in life) while sitting next to me flashing smiles and engaging in the kind of adult conversations I haven’t had with many men since becoming a mother.

Over the course of that meal, I could almost picture what it would be like to begin dating again.

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I never planned to become a single mom. Not until I found out I was losing my own ability to have children. With that one medical diagnosis, my entire world flipped off its axis, and my perception of what I could and could not handle became drastically altered. Before that, though, I would have called you crazy if you had told me I would one day be raising an infant on my own.

Now, I am part of a growing demographic of women: single mothers by choice. Experiencing infertility while still young and unmarried changed everything for me. It was a devastating series of events that eventually led me directly to my daughter—the rainbow at the end of a very long storm. I adopted her as a newborn, taking on the dirty diapers and late night feedings as a party of one. And never once have I regretted that decision.

I can even tell you that there have absolutely been benefits to this whole single mother by choice thing. I don‘t have to consult with anyone in my parenting decisions, and I can devote myself completely to my daughter without having to factor another person in. I understand why it is that some marriages struggle when a baby is introduced. Most days I can’t imagine having much energy for anyone besides myself and her. The first three months, especially, I’m not sure I could have even acknowledged an additional person in our lives. She was that all-consuming. From the very start, though, it worked being just the two of us. It is only ever very rarely that I find myself wishing I had help.

The problem is I have no idea where to begin.

But obviously, I haven’t been dating a whole lot since bringing my little girl home. I count myself as lucky most days if I manage to get two meals and a shower in for myself. It’s difficult now to picture making time for all that goes into searching for love, and I don’t really like the idea of regularly dropping her with a babysitter so that I could conduct that search.

Still ... watching a handsome man coo at her at the dinner table, allowing me to eat unencumbered while she explored his chin stubble with her fingers? I think it might have reignited something in me—a desire I haven’t felt in a while, after a dry spell which has lasted longer than I care to admit.

Perhaps I am ready to start dating, to find the man who is right not just for me, but also for her.

After all, the plan was never to be a single mother. Not really, anyway. I always wanted it all: the man, the baby, the picket fence. And while I can proudly proclaim that we will be just fine if it is only ever she and I, there is also this part of me that wants the complete picture for her as much as I want it for myself.

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The problem is I have no idea where to begin. I swear I used to be good at the whole dating thing, but that was before I acquired my little buddy. Now, I’m not even sure what the search for Mr. Right should look like.

I just know that I don’t hate the idea of finding him.

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