The decision I made to stop dating in order to raise my son was an unconventional one. I sometimes wonder if I had done myself a disservice by doing what was best for my child. A thirty eight year old woman who hates going on dates and gets overly nervous isn’t exactly what any guy (well at least the ones I seem to be interested in) really wants. Still a stream of men hit on me so I suppose I just have myself to blame if I am not actively pursuing the relationship I would like to have.
My decision not to become romantically involved with someone during that period of time wasn’t the only thing that has skewed my perception and my overall apprehensiveness of men. I watched many of my friends, other single mothers, struggle to obtain the ideal of a two parent household and fail miserably. There are many ways single mom’s hustle men but the two most common reasons are financial and emotional.
Hustlin’ for Cash
It is financially difficult to raise a child on your own. Many single moms wound up pregnant in high school or shortly after graduating. Completing high school and/or going to college can be very difficult when you are raising a child on your own. Not having education means you may struggle financially. I have several friends who would start relationships in search of financial security. The goal was to bring a man into her life, often using her children to secure a relationship. If you get a man to care about your children then it is difficult for him to walk away. I have seen men stay in relationships where they knew they were not loved by their partner but adored her children. These women often date up. They look for men in higher social classes, are eager to have the relationship progress quickly and by the time her kids are calling him “Daddy-[your name here],” he is stuck. This kind of hustle normally results in short term marriages and ultimately alimony for mommy. Her problem is solved; even without the man she is now financially secure. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
The Woman Who Can’t Be Alone
As young women it is instilled in us at a very young age that things are done in a certain order. You meet your soul mate, develop a relationship, have children and live happily ever after. So what happens when things don’t work out that way? What happens when you don’t get the happily ever after? For many of us, finding “the one” is no easy task. A woman meets a man, builds what she believes is a lasting relationship, has a child with her lover and things just don’t work out. Now she has a child and in many cases, primary custody of the child but something is now missing from the equation. In an effort to solve the problem many woman continue to search for a new prince charming. This seldom has much to do with her child. She genuinely needs a man. She needs the emotional support and security, and clingy single mothers seldom get what they searching for without many attempts. Often these attempts lead to even more children, decreasing the odds of actually finding a man willing to commit to a woman with multiple children by multiple men. Rather than assessing and correcting her behavior she continues to search, introducing then removing men from her children’s lives. This only skews her children’s views of male/female relationships. Because the mother is often seeking companionship, primarily for herself, these women often resent their children and blame them for their failed relationships.
I have watched many women practice a variety of hustles to provide for themselves and their children. Dating is complicated enough without having to worry about how your child is going to be affected. I don’t know a single mother who hasn’t used some kind of hustle when things got tough as a single parent. I was no exception. Sometimes it was nice to accept an invitation to dinner just to have a night out with another grown-up. There would be no second date and there would definitely be no one night stand. I just wanted a chance to go out to dinner with another adult and pretend that I could have some semblance of a normal life. My discretions were minor and seldom.
The affect this behavior has on our children, whether it is an obsession with money or romance, is obvious. They wind up with their own warped views of relationships; dating based on material needs or allowing themselves to be mistreated as they have seen their mothers do. I didn’t want that to be the example I set for my son. I wanted him to grow up knowing he was my priority and my sole motivation for as long as he needed me. I wanted him to treat people and himself with respect. Those are the lessons that stuck with him. I struggled financially and I was very lonely at times but I wouldn’t have changed the way I raised him.
Now things are different. My son has moved out and I live. Now I make decisions for me (sometimes poorly.) I don’t make decisions that will hurt my child. I lead by example.