“Tell me about yourself.”

In the world of online dating this is one of the questions I see at the beginning of the conversations, “Tell me about yourself.” I’m usually at a loss as to what to say. I ask myself and often write back, “Do you want my one minute elevator speech?” I know they don’t want that but where should I start? If I lead with, “I’m the mother of four children” I’m almost assured that’s the end of the inquiry. 

It’s a valid question. Here is my new standard answer:

I am a woman. With womanhood comes a multitude of experiences, feelings/emotions and opportunities. I walk with Love. I have loved deeply yet have been shallow. I am intelligent. I can be kind. I have been cruel. I was the conduit by which four lives have been realized. I nurture. I provide comfort and care. I am sensual. I am light. I give hope. I shed tears. I laugh out loud. I can mold a lump of dough into bread. I am a place to lay a weary head. I am woman. I am joy and peace. I am now. I was yesterday. I hope to be tomorrow. I am the stuff dreams are made of. I am some of what you need. I am some of what you want. I am some of what you never knew to dream. I am the sum total of my life experience. I am not the total package. I am who I am. I am woman. 

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Teen Dating

Let me give you a quick review. I have four children. I’m divorced. I prefer to say we are co-parenting rather than single parenting. I refer to my children collectively as the fan4 or fantastik4. The oldest will be 17 soon and I lovingly refer to him as The Teenager. Second up is my daughter who is now 14 and she is my Honeygirl. The third one, who has the qualities of the attention grabbing middle child, is 11 and referred to as Little Dude. The last one in our line up is my baby boy who is nine. He acts like he’s 39 most of the time. He’s the self appointed referee for Little Dude and often finds himself blowing the whistle, throwing flags and explaining the rules of life to him. From now on we shall refer to him as Ref. I determined early on to protect their identities since I share things that occur in their lives. 

Dating… (Insert eye roll and a deep sigh) (after I typed that I realized I should use some really funny meme but since I don’t have a stock pile of them to flip through and select from I’m using good old fashioned words) I will not lie, I’m not a fan of teen dating. After polling my daughter and her previous bff, we determined that from middle school to high school the average relationship lasts about four weeks. We have six six week grading session during the school year. By the time they begin middle school in sixth grade until they graduate they could potentially have “dated” 63 people at the rate of nine per year. 

But what is dating at 11 or even at 16? 

When I think about my daughter and her friend excitedly discussing dating and boys in general it made me sad and a bit anxious. 

Sad because the friend felt incomplete and was upset with her parents because they wouldn’t allow her to date. She really wanted her very own boyfriend. This disagreement sparked a rebellion and she began running away. My daughter has been asking me about dating for years. She asks her dad and me to define the timeline and allowed activities. His standard answer is 36. Mine is based on maturity and decision making ability. She is enamored with dating. I refer to it as the Disney effect. After watching those popular teen shows she thinks dating has perfect lighting, a laugh track, great clothes, hair and make up as well as a great ending. Periodically I like to dash their dating dreams on the rocks of reality and talk about kissing, hugging, touching and what if that’s not what you want? What’s your exit plan? How do you protect yourself from a person who may overpower or manipulate you into something you aren’t ready to do?

I was anxious because a lot of adults don’t have the cognitive ability to select a good partner and remain committed. If after years of education, reading articles, blogs, after video viewing and talking to other people we as adults make questionable relationship choices then how are they expected to make sound decisions at such a young age? Each dating partner is given a tiny piece if not large chunk of their hearts. They aren’t looking for spouses. They are looking for good times. They aren’t searching for anything deep and long lasting. It’s fleeting and shallow. 

Exhibit 1- the teenager went on a first date to the movies recently with some girl he met through a friend. He asked her to be his girlfriend the next day. She asked him to join her at church on Sunday, meet her parents and have lunch with her family afterwards. She prepped him on what her parents would say and how to respond. I texted his dad with my concerns of how quickly this was moving. She broke up with him the next day. 

I’m glad I never really learned her name or got attached. I don’t even want to know the newest interest’s name until they make it past the four week mark. 

I’m not into the whole bring people home so I can meet them thing. My two brothers ruined that for me. They brought everybody by the house. It wasn’t something special it was normal. I have a male friend who whole heartedly disagrees with me. He wants to meet any and everybody his daughter dates. The one time he and is ex found out she had a boyfriend they planned a family dinner and invited him over. They broke up after the invite but before dinner. 

I understand the desire to have somebody to call your very own.  Who doesn’t want their very own George or squishy? I have friends who met the loves of their lives in high school. It happens. Is it possible to somehow bypass the other 62 people to get to that one? Yes, it is. Serial dating does not have to become their norm neither does looking for someone to define or complete them. 

How are you helping your teen manuver through the obstacle dating course?

The Parting Gift

She tried. She gave it her best effort. If you know her or if you’ve heard of her then you know her best effort contained thought, action, love, maybe even a few tears and lot of her emotions as well as time. He tried. He gave her his time, shared his space, and fed her body and spirit. It just didn’t work out. That’s the thing about relationships sometimes they don’t work out. 

Where did things go wrong? They never went wrong. Things just never went completely right. They laughed, held hands, had inside jokes and shared special moments. She prayed for him. He encouraged her. All the stars seemed to have lined up. Maybe it was her insecurities or could it have been his inability to let go of the past? Perhaps she wanted more than he was willing to give. It could have been as simple as they both lost interest. Either way, whatever the reason it was over. Neither of them had verbalized their unwillingness to move forward. Their actions told the story. The time between phone calls and dates became fewer reminiscent of a couple who had been married for decades. Text messages were scattered throughout the week like the first fallen leaves in autumn.

He was kind enough to provide her with a parting gift. He did not refer to it as such but in her mind that’s what it was. For him it was a well thought out gift that she would enjoy for years to come. A gift that would bring a smile to her face and create gratitude to her heart. For her it was a parting gift which is never to be confused with a consolation prize. Neither of them were losers who needed consoling but winners who would separately celebrate the opportunity they had to get to know each other. One last hug. One last look into each other’s eyes. One last goodbye. No broken hearts. No tears to shed. No sad songs or movies. No dramatic ending. They were two people who shared a moment in time that they may or may not fully recall in a few years. 

Tales From a Real Life Drama

She felt somebody looking at her. She scanned the area to see who it was. Their eyes connected. She smiled. He looked at her with an intensity that made her blush. She blinked, breaking eye contact, and turned her head.

In a matter of seconds she had completed a full assessment of him. He was an inch or two taller than her. It was obvious he worked out. She could see the definition of his pectoral muscles through the shirt he was wearing. He was casual but fashionable.

He made his way over to her. Leaning in and whispering in her ear he introduced himself. He td her his name and said he was from Tennesse. She agreed to dance with him. He held her hand and looked into her eyes then led her to the dance floor.

He leaned in again attempting to create an illusion of intimacy in the midst of a crowded dance floor. “Where is your man? I am sure a beautiful woman like you is dating or married.” She responded, “where is your wife? I noticed your wedding ring earlier but I see you have taken it off.”

He Loves Me He Loves Me Not

Lauren was no more than about eight when she learned about this practice. Her best friend told her it would work and if she said so then it was true. She closed her eyes and giggled. She could see his face and laughed at the thought of him running from her as she chased him all over the play ground. As she sat in the middle of the field she picked a flower with lots of petals and began the ritual. As Lauren plucked a petal from the flower she said out loud, “He loves me”, then she pulled another and said “He loves me not”. She continued this pattern of plucking flower petals and reciting the words until she reached the last one, “He loves me not!” She picked up another flower and started again. He just had to love her.

Twenty years later she was sitting in a coffee shop thinking about her fiance Mark. She absent mindedly picked up a flower from the vase in the middle of the table and started plucking the petals and reciting the words. She knew it was a silly game but she continued until the last petal lay on the table, “He loves me not?”

She thought about the six years they had been dating. He was not perfect but then who is? They met her senior year in college. She has just ended a six year relationship year with her high school sweetheart. She was going through a tough time. Jeff had been her world since the end of their sophomore year. She would find herself sitting on a park bench crying. It wasn’t just any bench, it was their bench. At least they claimed it as theirs. It’s where they sat and talked for hours. It served as their dining room table. This bench was where they discussed their futures. It was also the place of their breakup. 

As tears slid down her face she had an overwhelming sense of being watched. She raised her head and looked into his eyes. Those eyes were beauitiful, intense, questioning and sympathetic. She tried to smile but according to his version of the story it was more of a painful grimace. He did not say anything that day but he came back a few nights later and gave her a lace handkerchief. He later revealed to her why he brought her the lace handkerchief instead of tissue. He told his mother about her and she said a brokenhearted woman needs permanence in her life, not temporary.

After the Ball

once upon a time…
life is not a fairytale
i didn’t wake up like this
this look took hundreds of dollars in make up and clothes
be in awe of my efforts
the ball gown?
that was for one night
tonight is flannel pajamas
yes i have bags under my eyes
the crows feet become more evident every year
it’s called concealer
the only time you know its there is in bad photos
my hair?
which hair are you speaking of?
i have wigs and pieces and clip ins
no, i will stay up with you past midnight dancing the night away
i’m tired
you like my hour glass figure?
what is life without corsettes and spanx?
i’m not the person you fell in love with!
of course i am
i am still the same on the inside
i deceived you?
i convinced you
i am Cinderella but everyday isn’t a ball