Once upon a time, when I was 24, I had a birthday gathering. It was a Princess Party. We wore colorful feather boas, fake sparkly tiaras and wonderfully gaudy costume jewelry. My friends joined me at the Holy Cow in San Francisco and we danced and drank and had a blast while we celebrated my 24th year of gracing this earth with my presence. A good looking young man even took the time to ask why we were all decked out and ended up asking for my number.
One of the two times in my life anyone ever asked for my number. It was a good night and by far my best birthday.
Up to that point in my life, I believed in fairy tales. I believed in happily ever after and that for every girl/princess there was a guy/prince waiting for her to be his.
Silly, maybe. But it was what I wanted. I wanted the fairy tale and magic that all tales possess.
By the next birthday, I was back home celebrating quietly with my family while I felt my son kick and move around within me. I was pregnant and not up to celebrating.
So much had changed so fast. I had gone from eagerly waiting and anticipating my birthdays to wishing them away, wanting not to care and not to be noticed.
And with a baby came those thoughts and fears every parent has. Worried about the future and about what kind of parent you would be. Concerns about education, the state of the world, finances. And in my case, becoming not just a first time mom but a single parent right off the bat, there were more than just the usual concerns of every parent but a few extra thrown in for good measure.
But one issue I didn’t think all the way through. Maybe I couldn’t at the time because I didn’t have any experience to base it on. Or maybe I was just naive.
While pregnant, much talking happened between myself and others about the issue of dating and possibly marrying someday. In my naive thinking and mixed with my strong belief in fairy tales and the magic of true love, I felt that dating and the future possibility of getting married wasn’t something I needed to worry about. It would happen when it was time to happen. I had other things at hand to work through like legal and visiting rights of my son’s co-parent and my job and health insurance.
Then he was born and another birthday of mine had slipped past without notice. Then the first two years were a whoosh and were gone without blinking. And suddenly I found us clear and available to pursue dating as an option.
But there was a catch. It was no longer ME or I, it was US. This was the issue I hadn’t fully considered.
I was dating for us because no matter what may come, I will always be a mother and any prince that gallops into my courtyard clamoring for the attentions of this faire maiden will have to deal with the fact that I’m a two for one deal.
Relationships have come and gone since then making me realize just how tough it is to date when a child is involved. I’ve slowly started to dread my birthdays, too. There isn’t any more joy about celebrating another year, instead there is the fear that another year has past and I’m slowly becoming more uncertain.
And, as the joy of birthday celebrating becomes mute, I’m also losing my belief in magic. In happily ever after.
In fairy tales.
I never took into consideration that while there would be people out there willing and happy to date me and my son, that I wouldn’t be willing to take the chance on them. I always imagined any road blocks to finding my happily ever after would be because of the lack of worthy candidates and instead find the one blocking my path is actually me.
Reality is a far scarier monster than any dragon guarding a castle.
Now I find myself conflicted between the girl who wants to believe and the woman that doesn’t.
I want to believe in the good and the magic and in love and happiness. But my sensibility is taking over and I’m finding it hard to see beyond reality.
I also want to believe that even a single mom can find a happily ever after that suits her life and the choices she’s made. That even though the gowns and tiaras of yesterday are long gone and now time is spent taking care of herself and her family, that there is room for one more.
That love isn’t a luxury.