I always thought that as a single mom there was only one way to go when it came to dating in my 40s.
I would meet a divorced dad, at least in his mid-40s, and with a kid or two. We would have an immediate bond of extreme body fatigue and emotional exhaustion. We would have a shared sense of knowing and a short track to understanding. We would "get it" when the other person wasn't available due to parenting responsibilities and our time together would be uniquely special.
And the whole "ex" thing when you have kids would be a no-brainer. He would get it when I was dealing with texts (all day) from my kids' dads. He would understand my sensitivity to accommodating everyone's needs as they pertained to my kids. Because when you have kids, your ex is still very much present in your life, day-to-day.
But wouldn't you know it, I've found myself in a relationship with a 40-year-old never-been-married-man-boy-dude with no kids. Let's call him Boy X. Turns out, what I thought would be a disaster, a childless man who never committed to someone else (legally!) and who couldn't possibly "get" my life, is actually getting me just fine. Things are light and fun, and here's why.
Exactly what I thought would be the one major thing to get in the way of understanding is turning out to have the opposite effect. Because Boy X has no kids, it's all a bit new for him and his empathy for my struggles is high. He's not burnt out or jaded. Also, I don't have more kids to deal with, meaning no more butts to wipe, mouths to feed or whines to tune out. That just cut my annoyance factor in half. Also I'm the only one with scheduling conundrums. I believe this is called a win-win for both of us.
I did worry that a childless 40-year-old man lacked the responsibility of the fatherhood tribe. I wondered if he had any idea of the sacrifice that comes with trying to keep a living thing alive. But to his credit, Boy X does have a large dog. The dog proves the guy can keep something alive other than himself and a cactus.
2. He has no ex-wife
See above. The only peeps Boy X is fielding texts from are his under-40 buddies. They do lots of inside joke group texts, sharing screenshots of ha-ha things on Instagram and put-downs of each other (this goes on a lot with the under-40-male species). But this is less of a pain in the ass than an ex-wife.
He willfully indulges my kids in every game they force him into.
This is because he can play with them in spurts—and get the heck out when he wants. He's rewarded and invigorated for being the awesome dude who buys them ice cream cones and throws solid pitches. And he's been cool during the whining and tantrums, of which he's witnessed many. Despite having only assumed Uncle status to his sister's kids, he's totally chill and not freaked out by the munchkins jumping all over him. And because he's not bone tired from laundering pee-soaked sheets at 3 a.m., he takes on way more "play" then I ever would and willfully indulges my kids in every game they force him into.
4. His life is easy and uncomplicated
As someone who's spent the last 10+ years involved in two long-term relationships and making babies, you forget what life was like before. Things were simple and it was just me and my neurosis to deal with. Now, just because a man was never married and has no kids does not mean they are not freaking disasters. In fact, it's usually a red flag waving major danger ahead. But at least it's a disaster with no major disaster baggage or mini-disasters on board. Relatively speaking, I only have one psyche to deal with. I am not constantly having to dismantle and analyze the motives of an ex-wife nor the psyches of little minds.
5. He's got get-up-and-go energy
It's inspiring. Boy X can literally get up and go whenever. Sure, physically there are a few expected 40-year-old aches and pains slowing things down a bit, but psychically and technically, he's light as a feather, stiff as a board (no pun). There's nothing to hold him down, tie him back or drag his life into a gutter of misery and "Why me's?"
"I wanna go to Big Bear!" Boom, it's booked. "I've never been camping!" Done. The only one juggling schedules, baby daddies and "nights off" is me. Given what a royal, nearly undate-able pain in the ass I am, the thought of dating someone like me has me fantasizing about signing up to be a monk.