At least I have my kids.
That’s another thing I tell myself when things are tough. When I worry I’ll never figure out the relationship thing. When I sit back and think, “How the hell did things turn out this way?” No one tells you these things can happen. There isn’t an afterschool special, a pamphlet, a talk with the school counselor that warns you to look out for the dangers of marrying a perfectly nice guy who then falls off a cliff and is irrevocably changed for the worse when he cracks his skull on a rock and nearly dies.
I believe in a God. And there are many days when I think: “Dude. WTF?”
But here is something that I never question: I am so, so glad I have my kids. I always wanted kids. I didn’t really know what that meant until I had them. I wasn’t one of those women who got jealous when a friend got pregnant, or have Anne Geddes pictures posted in my cubicle. But I knew I was supposed to have kids, and I did.
There are all those wonderful thing about children, but I don’t feel like they need to be spelled out here. Because if you read my Facebook feed you can read all about my children’s witticisms and generous hearts. The fact that the species keep perpetuating itself is evidence enough that kids are worth all the work and heartache. True, babies keep getting born because people are horny and none too keen on birth control. But I believe it is mainly because babies and children are unbelievably wonderful.
My point at this moment is that if I were 37, single and childless, I would feel very, very differently about my life. There would be the clock that dictates one’s every date, every interaction with a man, how you spend or save your money, your career choices and the real estate you inhabit. I knew a woman who was a perfectly attractive, sexually-active-in-a-normal-way, 28-year-old professional person, and ALL SHE WANTED TO DO WAS GET MARRIED AND HAVE BABIES. She asked me what I thought about starting a college fund. A college fund. For babies whose father had yet to be identified.
At least I have my kids.
True, dating as a single mom is a whole weird, new experience. It is also awesome. Last time I was dating, I was in my mid-20s and I was looking for a husband and father to my kids. This time around, it’s a totally different show. I don’t need anyone’s sperm — QUICK! before my ovaries shrivel! I don’t need anyone’s money. I need love and companionship and sex. Now my requirements for a relationship are culled from a part of me that is more tender and real and soft than I’ve known until now. I may want to get married again one day – in fact I think that might be just lovely – but there is no big emergency. No clock. That I have my children grants me the luxury of enjoying a man in a way that I never did before.
My kids also grant me the luxury to enjoy all the other parts of my life until I meet one.
Which brings me to what I see in other women's experiences:
There is something amazing and magical that happens when women divorce. They get beautiful. And they get horny.
It's no coincidence these two things go hand-in-hand. Or that they follow divorce. No matter how contentious or acrimonious or downright explosively miserable the end of your marriage was, being divorced is better. It always is. It was sad. It sucked. Now it's better.
After divorce, you feel alive again
When you finally sell off his engagement ring, that heavy, nasty weight of your ex leaves and you realize that you will survive and that life does go on, all of a sudden the sun starts to shine a little brighter. You start to notice the different shades of green of the leaves in that tree that has been outside your house for years and years. Your children seem unbelievably wonderful, and your own reflection in the mirror starts to not look so horrible. It is as if those cracks of light inside of you are now on the outside. And everything about you — on the inside and the outside — everything is better.
And the men. The men! All of a sudden, you start to notice that there are men in the world. Not just people with hair on their arms who smell different that we do. They are men who have bodies and hands and deep voices that offer compliments and eyes — eyes. Eyes that look at you and make you realize that those men are thinking things. Things about you. And that makes you think those things about yourself, too. And about those men. And those men? They're everywhere.
Sex can finally be just about pleasure.
And sooner or later you find ways to be with those men. On dates, and in bed. And you cannot believe how much better it was than the last time around. The last time you were in your 20s! You were silly and looking for a husband and had an agenda! This time? Who cares!? Well, you care — about everything. About all those feelings and the touching and the joy and the thrill and that passion and the love. Love wasn't this great last time, was it? Could it have gotten better? And yet you care about nothing. None of those things that were on your list. You have those things yourself — the kids and the house and the career. You start to see the spots in yourself that a man can fill. And you start to see men in different ways. Because you are different.
And the men — they are better, too.
There is no speculating this time, no guessing about what he might look like in middle age, or whether he will fulfill all those dazzling plans he lays out, or whether he has the capacity for love and friendship and joy. Because now they have track records and portfolios. Of life. And you shop for them, and try them on and enjoy them. Meet awesome men on eHarmony.com , one of my favorite dating sites. That is the thing about being divorced and dating. You enjoy men. Because you enjoy yourself. And life is full and secure like it wasn't before. And what is more beautiful than that?
Are you not so sure about dating again? Read this post about 9 ways to feel confident when you feel old, gross and fat.
Also check out my video course: How to get back into dating for single moms
It's not all romance and orgasms. Single-mom sex can be hilarious. Now that you are older, have gone through it, and came out the other side alive, you have the self-comfort to laugh at all the crazy shizzle that happens to us in bed.
10 crazy sex things that happen to single moms
All or some or none of the following may or may not have happened to me or women I know or met or heard of. You know who you are.
- Late-night phone sex is interrupted by your kid barfing.
- You discover at an inopportune moment that you have 27 My Little Pony stickers attached to your legs.
- You discover at an inopportune moment that even though you stopped nursing a year ago, you are indeed still lactating.
- You grab what you think is a pen from your purse to write your number on his hand, only to find yourself gripping a GI Joe.
- You dig into the nightstand drawer for a condom, only to have to sort through LEGOs and crayons and Barbie accessories to find them wedged in the far back corner.
- Just as things are getting frisky you get a text from your ex because your kid is freaking out and misses you and will you please call and calm him down? Like, now?!
- Somehow a Wiggles song makes its way onto your “Smooth Jamz” playlist.
- You leave the party to fool around in the car, but there are car seats in the backseat. And Cheerios in the other seats. And the car kinda smells like toddler pee. And maybe something rotting under the seat? Man, how long has this banana been under here? Let's just forget it, OK? It was nice to meet you, too.
- You're with someone new and you have to face the fact that your business is just not what it was. Either you have a scar above (or hidden by?) your furry bits, or your junk has been sewn up like a cross-stitch sampler, or things just aren't the same downtown.
- Despite it all, you can still stand naked in front of a man who will say (and mean it), “You have a beautiful body.”
Do you feel sexier after divorce? Is post-divorce sex really hot for you? Share in the comments!
Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.