Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Numbers Game

I'm not so sure it is a numbers game.
That's what I hear... in order to find the right person, it's a numbers game. That's something people like to say - that if you just keep dating, you're bound to find someone who wants you as much was you want them.

It seems like a good idea, but I think I've disproved it.
Or at least I'm the exception to the rule.

I've just met someone who has never really dated. He married fairly young... stuck it out... and now he's dating for the first time.

It makes me a little uncomfortable. Like it's not fair that he hasn't been through all the scrapes and scabs that I've had to go through. But that's not fair. He's dealt with his own scrapes.

We joke that he's never dated, and that's all I've ever done!

Then he asked me how many men I've dated, and I thought... I don't even know! I mean, what counts as dating? A first date? A month-long relationship? Someone I've kissed?
Honey, I stopped counting after 40. And 40 was probably 10 years ago! (not that I was actually counting)

Funny, that has seemed perfectly normal to me. Meet someone, go on a date. Anyone I found interesting, I'd go on a date with them.
I've met a guy in the park while roller blading - I think that was one date. I met another guy at a bookstore - that was a couple of dates, lots of hanging out.

But when you start putting numbers to it - (even, blessedly, knowing I haven't slept with that many men...) it sure looks like an incredible amount - compared to someone who, at my age, is only on number two!

It reminds me why dating has been so frustrating. I have to explain that, while he's excited to have met someone he enjoys..  I've been there, done that. Everyone is interesting at first. Ultimately, someone ends up disappointed. And when you've been disappointed over and over and over again - the thrill wears off, even when it's thrilling.

All of those men, and none of them thought I was worth keeping.
Which, leads him to believe, he said, that most men are stupid!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Found the Silver Lining!

Ten years ago... I had just moved to a new city, a tad over age 30... and more than a bit worried about being single. I was living with my cousin and his wife for a few months, and in one conversation with her about my dating life, I said, "If I don't find someone soon, I might never have kids!"
Because when you're 32, people are constantly warning you about your waning fertility.  Don't worry, they shut up when you turn 40 - which is equally hurtful. 
She told me not to worry about it. Unless I was planning to have a child without a husband, there was no point worrying about it.

That's hard to accept.  We like to think we can control what we want to control, even though we know full well that we can't.
So I had a long talk with myself. Could I be okay with it if I never had children? Yes, I decided, at age 32, that I guess I could be okay with it.
That lasted about a year. Until one day I was driving in a homey neighborhood and it hit me. "If I never have children, I'll never have grandchildren. And that is NOT OKAY!"

Quite frankly, that's when I got a bit panicky about finding a husband. I didn't want to grow old alone.
I couldn't imagine a life in old age, and not having any grandchildren stopping in to visit me.  Can you imagine having no family in your old age? That's terrifying.

But I've just made a discovery.
I've realized that now, at my age (a touch over 40) you just have date divorced men.  Men who have reached 42-43 or older having never been married or had kids... you know what, they're just not right. I know the same could be said for women... and I'll get into that some other time. My nutshell answer... women don't do the asking.

Anyway... when you date divorced men, they tend to have kids.
One man I've been getting to know has a son who is 20.
Another man has three kids... one who will graduate from high school soon. And it dawned on me... step-mothers, in healthy family relationships, get to be grandmothers!!

Why that never occurred to me before, I don't know.  My own, dear nieces and nephew have three sets of grandparents. The woman who was someone's step-mother - is just as much their grandmother as their parent's mothers.

This is so exciting to me!
If I were to be so blessed to have a husband, I would accept any children God gave me. At the age I am now, I'm not sure I would choose to start a family any more. If God ordains that... sure. I'll do what He calls me to do.
If I'm not called to have children, that's okay too.

But having Grandchildren just became more likely than having children!!!  I LOVE that!

(this post dedicated to the wonderful woman who was the 'third grandma' in our family - please give an eternal hug to my daddy when you see him! We were blessed to know you.) 

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Still Learning.... So I Know Better

For the past few months, I've found myself thinking about Mr. Burns a lot.
Remembering little details from our relationship. So much it started to really bother me.

Of course I don't want him back. But yes, I miss being in a relationship.

Finally I realized, these thoughts swirling in my head, not obsessing, but clearly in the forefront of my brain... ah hah... I'm still learning from that relationship.

Still learning. I'd say that's a blessing. A painful blessing.

One of my good friends, as distraught as I am over my singleness... has asked, "Could it really not work with Mr. Burns? He was a good man."
Well, yeah. But that depends on your definition of a good man.

Very early in our relationship, it was clear that his family was very important to him. That's a good thing right? But then why did he speak so disrespectfully to his mother, on the phone? Right in front of me...  he was so short and curt and rude with his mother and didn't have an shame over it.
He'd explain that she had dementia, and that it was frustrating to have a conversation with her. I remember thinking at the time, "My dad is hard of hearing, and it can be frustrating to carry on a conversation, but I would never talk to him like that."

When I finally got to travel with him to meet his family, I found that his brothers treated his mother just as terribly. With no patience, and no respect. I met her. She was lovely, even if I did hear the same stories more than once in the short time I was there!

Later I learned that his incredible fondness for his family was for his many brothers and sisters. He would do anything for them, support them through anything. (through stupid, awful things quite frankly - like lying to their mom about one of them being in jail!) It took years for me to realize that it would be to the exclusion and detriment of having his own family. Or bothering to get to know my family. Yes, he held his family in high regard, but that was not an indication that he would care for anyone else.

When my brother brought his family out for a ski weekend, Mr. Burns and I were to drive up to the mountains to meet them. He actually told me, as we were driving, "I really don't want to do this."
What an @$$! Who SAYS that?!

There are lots of things people don't WANT to do in relationships. Things that take us out of our comfort zones. Things that, even if it's difficult, make us better people. Things that show others that we care about them. He had a tendency to never do any of those things.

One thing he would never do was meet my parents. He had lots of opportunities, but somehow his work schedule would get in the way... every time. (funny, if it was about his family, his work schedule never interfered.)

One thing about me, I have always talked about my dad a lot. I loved him so much, found him hilarious, and have always been proud of him. So naturally, I shared some stories of my dad's quirky personality with Mr. Burns. After a while, Mr. Burns used that information to feign a familiarity with my dad. He'd try to act out Dad's quirks, or say he was doing something like my dad. Even using the shortened version of my dad's name! That seriously ticked me off.  How dare you act like you know my dad?!??! Especially when you won't make the effort to meet him!

What all these memories have taught me, is that I didn't know how to articulate my frustration at the time. Inside, I would be hurt and angry, but because I didn't know what to say - I didn't say anything. I wanted to wait until I had the right words... and I never had the right words.
Mr. Burns even asked me on multiple occasions, why I put up with so much from him.
I thought it was because I was growing patience. And maybe I was.

But now I know what disrespect looks like, sounds like, feels like.
Now I have something to say about it.

Even in those moments when I think, it's still nicer to be in a relationship... that it was better to be miserable with Mr. Burns than to be miserable alone... because then, at least, there was someone to share the day with... someone to laugh with...  in those moments I know the pain of those years and some of the time since... was worth it. Worth it because, I know better now.

Because I know more about what love DOESN'T look like - surely I'll be more able to recognize it when it is real and right in front of me.