By: Kai McGee
The last time I was on the dating scene, Lauryn Hill was still with The Fugees, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air was a fresh faced, endearing teenager and we all believed that Carrie and Samantha would be best friends forever. A few decades have passed and the Fugees are nothing more than music nostalgia, The Fresh Prince has salt-n-pepper hair and Samantha’s tweets have destroyed any ideals we had about the Sex and the City ladies being BFF’s.
It’s also been over twenty years since cupid’s temperamental arrow was in my vicinity. My ex-husband and I started dating when we were fresh out of college, responsibilities were few and fun was the priority. We married at twenty-eight in a whimsical ceremony in front of family and friends. Ours, after all, was a forever kind of love. Fourteen years, one beautiful child and lots of good times. We experienced the ups, downs, twists and dips that all marriages endure but ultimately, we grew in very different directions. Dissolving the marriage was the most painful decision I’ve ever made but I knew if I didn’t have the courage to break both of our hearts we would remain in an obligatory, passionless union that was quietly suffocating both of us.
I never imagined that I would be a member of the middle-aged dating club. But here I am and it’s not for the faint of heart.
It’s been almost three years since my divorce; it feels like it happened yesterday, but it also feels like a lifetime ago. My days are filled with a busy career, car pools, checking homework and finding misplaced shin guards. I haven’t made the time to date or to find a “maintenance” man. My romantic nights consist of curling up on the sofa with wine, Netflix and my fluffy robe. Don’t judge until you’ve binge watched Narcos with a vintage bottle of Pinot Noir.
As another spring makes its way back around I am reminded that I’m still solo. The thing is, I like being single. It’s not all bad. In fact, it’s kind of fantastic. It’s allowed me the space to rediscover my passions and to explore parts of my personality that were buried and or attached to a different identity. I like hanging out with myself and I’m proud of the evolution and growth I’ve experienced as a mature, single woman.
Since I’m in the tween mom club, I’ll have to force myself to make dating a priority and allow myself the space to have “me” time. There are moments when I’m in between laundry and soccer games that I let tears flow. I experience mommy meltdowns and feel completely unprepared to enter the world of dating. Eventually, I’ll have to start scheduling mommy play dates with real life adults who are tall, dark and chiseled. Keep your snickering to yourself; I’ve waited this long, chiseled is an attribute worth pondering. Like most of us moms, putting myself first does not come naturally. Quite frankly, it has become a foreign concept. However, I realize that if I don’t, I’ll never leave my couch and no matter how good the bottle, wine is much better when it’s shared.
I haven’t entered the realm of dating apps, it frightens me. I’m going rogue and will attempt to meet my future love interest through “real life” introductions. Baby steps. I can’t just jump from my couch to the mean streets of cyber swiping. Many of my fellow Gen X friends are divorced and the feedback on the dating scene is not the greatest. Several are swiping their way into carpel tunnel with no matches in site. There are a few that have remarried and are happier than they’ve ever been.
Ultimately, it comes down to taking this leap into my new reality with courage and grace.
Companionship (in the romantic form) can be fulfilling, comforting and magical. I’m finally ready to explore opening my heart to love again. I’ve exchanged guilt, resentment and judgment of myself for unconditional love. I’ve learned to love myself unapologetically and it’s invigorating. I’ve forgiven myself for unintentional self-neglect and I’m finally comfortable enough in my own skin to live my life with free abandon.
It’s ironic that even though I’m divorced and still solo, my life is in full bloom. It is filled with a richness of spirit and a depth of appreciation for finally understanding what it means to live in the moment. It’s empowering to know that whenever I enter a new relationship I’ll be bringing my best self. I’m certain that love will find me again, in many ways it already has. This journey into my forties has been kind of fanciful, despite the inevitable unplanned detours, bumps, and setbacks. When I think of the next fifty years, I can’t help but smile from the inside out. I’m going into this new phase of life with optimism, excitement and openness; if a new love is on the horizon that’s just a bonus. Now that my broken pieces are healed, I’m ready to embrace being vulnerable enough to see where romance will lead whenever the day comes.
Kai McGee, J.D. is a writer whose work has appeared on Hello Giggles, Motherwell, & My Brown Baby, among others. She has started wearing lipstick to Whole Foods just in case she locks eyes with Mr. Right by the organic berries. Connect with her on Instagram @onanaturalkai