Success at dating? I went to Ibiza and came back with a pen pal.

pen-pal

Back in 1999, me and two single friends went to Ibiza trying to be Zoe Ball, recreating the bottle of Jack Daniels, straw hat and jean shorts vibe hanging out at Manumission, or whatever the cool clubs were at the time.

We were young, we were single and (most importantly) ready to embrace the party spirit. Booze cruises, skimpy bikinis, banana boats, beaches, phat beats, sun, sea and..

very, very little in the way of ‘action’.

I say very little because there was one encounter with a bronzed god – the only evidence of this pissed up and instantly forgotten rendezvous being a receipt from a photographer and an address in San Antonio’s clubbing heartland. As me and my friends went to said location brandishing the ticket, we found a small shop in one of the rabbit warrens of the West End district. Staring back a me was a lovely photo of him and someone who bared an uncanny resemblance to me looking like I’d won the lottery. Thinking back now I bet he was no stranger to the laydeez – he probably gained a dose of syphilis or fathered several children that summer.

Towards the end of our holiday, me and the girls became friendly with three boys from the apartment down the hall. They seemed nice and I found myself talking to one of them more than the other two. But he was even more awkward at the subject of hooking up with someone than I was, so despite some skirting around the subject (and a nice hour sat next to him on a beach while one of my friends went skinny dipping with one of his friends), there wasn’t even a kiss. We did however, swap addresses and I thought no more about it. But, a week or so later, a letter from my holiday friend came through the letterbox telling me all about his life and what he’d been up to since he had returned from the holiday.

My pen pal and I never hooked up, but the experience does spring to mind when people tell me that they are jealous of my new single status. ‘You get the chance to date again’ some have said rather excitedly as though their previous dating horror stories have all been forgotten…

I was open to the idea. Perhaps now as a late 30-something mum I’d be more confident, more willing to make the first move and less prone to falling for the boys who clearly weren’t interested in me.

But, my part of the world is a small place and the pond is not overflowing with suitable fish. And the chances of meeting someone diminish greatly when taking the demands of parenting into consideration. Which is fine, I’m not complaining about this… it just explains my next move..

According to some survey I stumbled upon thanks to the power of Google, seven million people living in the UK are using online dating – so that’s more than 10 per cent of us. Yup, I said ‘us’. Come on, you knew this was where I was going anyway!

Anyway, I dipped in a toe and made a hasty retreat. A few online conversations and all the social awkwardness and self consciousness of the girl with the Ibiza pen pal came flooding back.

For starters, WTAF is Tinder? I can’t work out what it’s aim is – sex? If that’s the case, how is it that I ended up talking about photography? (Of a beach, in case you were thinking anything a bit risque..). Pretty sure I actually managed to repel the men who showed up on my profile – I was fairly bullish about this in the beginning – especially those who went silent at the mention of the boy – as this helped weed out the undesirables. But after a while it became a little soul-destroying.

My next port of call was Bumble, where the women have to message the men. I’m a modern woman, thought I, so why not? Turns out I’m not as IT literate as I like to think as try as I might I could not remove the bit that showed the name of my employer. ONLINE DATING IS FULL OF STALKERS SO I CAN’T TELL THEM WHERE I WORK!! So I closed my account.

At this point I made the noble decision to take myself off the market. Time to ‘focus on myself’, new hobbies (one tap dancing class), writing (a couple of blog posts) and reading (other blog posts).

Curiosity got the better of me however. And I took a browse of Plenty of Fish – free obvs… A host of interesting individuals arrived at my mailbox – men who seem to believe the way to a woman’s heart is confirmation that they use drugs ‘socially’, describe themselves as being ‘back here again’ or ‘losing hope’ and go by names such as ‘Spermy’ (yup!) and ‘Sketchy’. Guys, seriously.

After this first tranche of interest I started to think that perhaps paying for an online dating service might bring me better joy? As the present situation seemed to bring me a sort of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’…

And then, just as I was starting to think I would have to delete my account or actually pay for a dating service, along came a nice guy who has hobbies, interests, a job and does his fair share with his kids (or so he tells me). I gave him my phone number, he texted and after I did the thoroughly modern task of a comprehensive Google and social media search to verify his identity we have agreed to meet up later this week. I am nervous and excited and terrified and trying not to become a crazy person. It’ll be my first, first date in 15 years.

I’ll keep you posted.

This Mum's Life
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A rose by any other name…

id

I’m currently leading a double life – oh it’s all very exciting, don’t you know. Totes a post millennial thing. Think baggy topped legging-ed single mother living with parents by day, sultry vixen-like divorcee by night solving crime on the mean streets of Cornwall…

Yeeesss, maybe not. More back-in-childhood-bedroom watching Gilmore Girls reruns on Netflix trying not to demolish a bag of Maltesers. (And now that lots of people are describing their evenings as being of a ‘Netflix and Chill’ nature, I guess I’m not the only one doing this. Because that is what it means, yeah?!)

So anyway, rather than the mystery and intrigue, we’re talking a fairly low level double life here. Married mother versus single mum with a different surname to her son.

It’s a bit of a half way house situation at the moment – pure laziness on my part has meant some know me by one name, others by another. Which has been awkward at times – particularly at work when I was congratulated on the recent marriage. It was more awkward for them though, to be fair…

I always knew that I would revert back to my maiden name after the divorce. This was about me and my identity, not what rules ‘Society’ says I should conform to. (Get me, next I’ll be in my Doc Martens carrying a placard and wearing a nose stud)

Problem is, it’s not just ‘about me’ anymore. It’s about that gorgeous blonde haired, blue eyed, pain-in-the-arse toddler sleeping in the next room. And while I know I did the right thing for me, my resolution wavers a little when I think of him. Especially for as he gets older. Will he be teased at school? Will he think this was to do with rejection of him? Or, as – for the most part…no politics here… – times and the make up of families has changed and we’re becoming a bit of a more tolerant society, is this all in my head?

I ploughed on regardless with changing my driving licence, bank details and work email. I even changed my name on Facebook and Twitter – now you can tell I really meant business…

But, the Judgey McJudgerson in me is stopping me from making the change with the doctor’s. Even last week at the walk in clinic, I gave my old, married name, fearful that someone would question whether my son was actually mine.

The prejudice lies with me, I know. So until I can be completely at peace with my decision, I guess I have to keep reminding myself that the only names that truly matter here are ‘Mum’ and ‘Son’.

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The curse of the ingrained habit…

battenberg

During my first year at university I developed a weird addiction to Battenberg cake. I would wake in the early hours  desperate to devour a slab. Sponge first, of course – you have to save the marzipan til last. I’m actually embarrassed to confess it here, but it does illustrate the point I’ll make shortly.

This night snacking went on for about a fortnight – each night, around 2am, I would just have to eat some. No matter how much food had been consumed earlier in the day, the hunger pangs were there.

How does this fit in with today’s blog? Patterns. Or rather, how something you do for a couple of days suddenly becomes ingrained habit. I’m guessing that’s the psychology at work with the whole eat-something-you-don’t-like-at-least-20-times-and-then-you’ll-like-it. (except that really hasn’t worked for me with fish…)

Oh I’ve persevered with fish but I still really hate it (except for a good fish finger sandwich). Anyway, where was I? Sorry, patterns. Habits. Now, unless we’re talking about the serious stuff of drug and/or alcohol abuse, breaking a pattern is fine when you’re an adult, because you can get your shit together. As I did with the evil Battenberg – on the realisation of the role it played in the rapid weight gain and return of the dreaded teenage acne, I soon banished the pink and yellow squares.

Try telling a toddler though that they can’t keep eating the sugary cereal that you were forced to buy in the absence of anything vaguely healthy when on holiday, or join you in bed at 2am because ‘a lobster pinched my elbow’, ‘Mr Sun’s up’ (he most definitely is NOT) or ‘I can’t find my Transformer’. You will have a battle on your hands of epic proportions, my friend.

What may have made life easier for a couple of days has now become much like when your child has a firm grip on the lead of your hair straighteners while you’re trying to use them – delicate extrication is required.

You can try distraction (praise the Lord for CBeebies at breakfast), threats (‘eat your breakfast or I’ll make you come shoe shopping with me’), a heartfelt plea (‘please, please, please go back to sleep’) or prayer (‘Lord, could you please assist in this whole not sleeping malarky, because I’m going to lose my shit very soon… I swear if I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, I’ll let the boy do some painting tomorrow. Heck, I may even let him do some baking’.)

None of the above has worked so far – my son clearly has an iron will – it took a good fortnight of ‘the shop doesn’t sell your cereal any more’ to end the morning tantrums over the teeth-rotting crap. But before I have you thinking I’ve cracked this whole motherhood thing… this has  been replaced with a Biscotti before milk at bedtime. And he’s still joining me in bed most nights… *big sigh*  He doesn’t get his willpower from me.

So, what wisdom can I impart from this experience? Pick your battles – if it’s not going to kill him, or you (although we’re borderline with sleep deprivation…), then let it go. Chances are it’ll be much like every other phase up to this point so far, short lived and replaced with something a little more complicated next time.