Loving a Full and Less-Than-Perfect Package

 I love deeply and expansively—and I also come with a tribe. I am a single mother with two children, one who is a freshman in college and the other who is completing eighth grade.

 Their wings and mine are spreading, but still I know, I have been passed over in dating occasionally (or more frequently than I may be aware) because of my at-home responsibilities. 

 I am not “free” in the ways someone with older or no children is, yet it is my children who contributed to enhancing the loving woman I am today.  I love nurturing and being nurtured by others.  It is a huge part of who I am.  The ways I unconditionally love my children are skills I extend to those with whom I partner.  In turn, I anticipate those who love me will embrace my children—not parent them, but enjoy spending time with them, because they are a part of me.  Sometimes, they have been even the best parts of me (although not necessarily as teenagers).

The truth is all love involves some sort of sacrifice.  There is no perfect package.  I recall a grieving widower with four daughters once telling me his life is “baggage-free.”  Really,   I wondered.   Four girls who just lost their mother and he is entering a potential new relationship without any stressors?  Walking into that home as a new woman in a man’s life would be the greatest challenge I can imagine in dating.  In their rawness of grief, those girls want their mom, not dad’s new date, to be there for them.  The woman who chooses to love this man will make many sacrifices to integrate his daughters’ lives into a partnership.

 Another man without a job told me he only dates financially stable women.  Good luck to him in this economy where the most successful people I know have been humbled in ways they never imagined.  He, like all of us, must learn to be for himself what he seeks in another.  There are no rescuers who save us from our flaws, challenges or insecurities.  We must do that for ourselves to come to another in wholeness, where true fullness and the potential for lasting love lies.

 Each time I have let go of pre-conceived or society-defined notions of what the perfect package “should” be my life has been enriched.   Staying open to the fullness of genuine love requires listening to our heart’s and body’s wisdom, and sometimes making some very real logical and practical sacrifices that will baffle the mind.


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  • Kimmie says:

    What true words! Gail, you are a woman who gets it. Having been a single and dating mom for 12 years I can relate to your comments. My first priority has always been my kids but as a woman, the comfort and emotional support of a man helped along the way. I have spent many years exploring who I am and how I behave in relationship. Unfortunately I have come across many men who haven’t been emotionally available when they claimed they were. It takes a lot of work, we all have baggage we bring to a relationship. After much personal work, I know I am whole, wonderful and have alot to give. I won’t settle for someone who hasn’t done his work because I am worth the best. And you know what? I firmly believe he is out there and I will enjoy life until he arrives.
    Thanks for your eloquent honest blog.

  • Cynthia says:

    So insightful. Yes, having been a mom to three children (now all grown), then a widow, and now married again, I know that love involves all kinds of sacrifices. We have no choice but to be true to ourselves – and that means that our children will come first. The right man will know that and love us even more for that. You are so right in advising to listen to our hearts and our bodies’ wisdom. It is the best compass there is.

  • angela says:

    Let’s turn the tide and say that those who have “passed us over” because we have kids, have actually done us a favor.

    We don’t ever want to find ourselves with man who cannot relate to the demands of our single parenthood. So, I’d say a great big thank you to them for knowing their own limitations.

    When I was a single dating mom I quickly learned that a man who has never had childcare responsibilities was not for me. At the end of the day we had nothing in common. Our kids ground us, and I say Amen to that. I’d not want a live a life without experiencing the yin and yang of motherhood. I’d not want to share my life with a man who could not relate to the heaartache of letting your child go to away camp for the first time, or on a trip without you, or off to college.

    Every path we head down is a lesson. If we don’t venture down the path how will we know where it will lead? Here’s to always being wise enough to go down the path that is not always “paved in gold”.

  • sarah says:

    “[We] must learn to be for himself[ourselves] what he [we]seeks in another. There are no rescuers who save us from our flaws, challenges or insecurities. We must do that for ourselves to come to another in wholeness, where true fullness and the potential for lasting love lies.

    Thank you for your beautiful words, Gail. There is no greater offering we can give to a partner than our wholeness, which requires nothing from him or her to make us happy or complete.

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