After the dust of my divorce had settled, many friends remarked that they could not imagine dating again. Granted, dating after marriage is, frankly, terrifying. However, attending my daughter’s Meet the Teacher event for the new school year brought an epiphany: it’s exactly like dating. SERIOUSLY. Hear me out, married mommies. You know more than you realize about stepping into the dating scene again.
The week before school is abuzz with anticipation in my house. The new teacher will be calling. What will he/she be like? What is his/her teaching style? Will it match with my family? Is he/she approachable? Newsflash: this feeling is exactly like first contact with a date after a divorce. You get all the giddy feelings of a new introduction, without the benefit of having your school district conduct a background check on the candidate. You will question your sanity. Am I ready for this day? Is my daughter ready? Of course I’m ready—it’s been a long, dry summer.
The teacher makes phone contact. Real conversation, not a short text message where I can think before I reply. This is the moment when I try to act nonchalant: “Hi! We’re so excited to be in your class! No, no questions right now. Can’t wait to meet you later this week.” This exchange is just like the first call with a potential date. “Hi! I’m so excited! Thursday works for me. See you then.” In both cases, I attempt my best not-a-care-in-the-world tone to mask my “holy crap, is this really happening?” thoughts.
When the big day arrives I have all the usual work craziness and morning routine, plus my daughter is in full summer camp mode: sunscreen (check), swimsuit (check), towel (check), change of clothes (check), lunch (check). Good Lord, do the checklists ever end?? Apparently not, because I am also thinking about myself: Will my outfit take me from day to night comfortably? Do I look too professional, like I’m not capable of having fun? Clearly I overthink the details.
Ten hours later the moment arrives, my makeup has mostly melted away, and my little cyclone looks like she has had A LOT of fun at camp. Last minute lipstick for me, a bow for her ponytail, and we step into the building to meet a smiling teacher who is filled with just as much excitement and anticipation. While I’m happy, a small part of me is a little sad that life has moved on and my little mini is another year older.
Post-divorce date nights feel remarkably similar: The usual morning routine, long checklists of forms, and lunches and to-dos. Thoughts about myself, what I’m wearing, and if it will take me from day to night because I won’t have time to change later. Logistics and custody and babysitter considerations. Even the stolen moment before entering when I make an attempt to appear well-rested with the power of lipstick. Makeup is amazing, y’all!
Life and time march on. Jumping into the dating scene while managing a professional life and motherhood is tough. But rediscovering who I am and the excitement of meeting someone new bring a happy sadness, along with a feeling of pride about how far I have come on my own and a dash of self doubt—all the same emotions I felt when I became a mother and those I experience watching my daughter grow up. It is the ending of one phase and the beginning of another.