I’m So Emotional …

I always try to keep my feelings in check – I realize I am sensitive, but being aware of this helps me to stay rational and sane. Last week was a great week overall – gym, outings, a wedding, but this week, I feel like I can’t get my shit together. I know I am not the only one that experiences this, but it sucks. Today, I am sitting in a coffee shop because I didn’t trust myself to be productive at home. But as I am sitting here, I am fighting back tears and it become harder when it hits that I have no friends in the area to reach out to.

9/1 is the 20 year anniversary of my father’s death – TWENTY YEARS! How is it that the time that I had him in my life is the same as the time I have been without him? While I am thankful he was there when I was young, I sure wish he was here to guide me now. I wonder what advice he would give me for dealing with my mother, my job and my siblings. I wonder if he would recommend ways to meet new friends. Most of all, I wish he had the opportunity to meet my daughter.

My father and I had a great relationship, especially in the last few years of his life. He was the only family member who seemed to get me and if I am honest, I haven’t felt that closeness with family since his death. I have always felt as though I didn’t belong. My family is great and I love them, but without my dad around, I feel like I am trying to fit the mold they made for me. My dad embraced my independence, encouraged my tomboy ways and seemed legitimately interested in my life. He wasn’t perfect and I am aware of his flaws, but I tend to overlook the bad things because of how he loved me.

Hoping writing things down will make me feel a little better. The below quote is the best compliment my mother has ever given me – as we were fighting.

You are so much like your father. – My Mom35548137_667788410219809_2586602616171528192_n

I Need ‘Online Dating for Dummies’

So I have been divorced for about 10 years now. I got married young and before meeting my ex husband, I only dated one other guy, like ever. I didn’t have boyfriends in high school and met my ex pretty early on in college. I have never been the girl who needs, or even wants a guy. After the divorce, I was in an unhealthy relationship for longer than I care to admit.

I provide that background because I think this puts me at a disadvantage to now trying to dating at 40 (I have tried for about 3 years). Online dating has proven to be very difficult for me and I know I am not alone, but I do hear success stories and it has me wondering – what am I doing wrong?

All the lies –  mostly surrounding married/separated/divorced. I have tried all the dating sites now and they are all the same one, whether free or not, I never know if someone is married. I think the benefit of meeting someone out is (1) it is harder to be in a relationship and out than it is to be in a relationship and texting/email another woman; (2) you can see signs of a wedding ring; and (3) they are usually out with friends, so their friends would have to be ok with the lies. Not foolproof, I know, but better than nothing. Recently, a guy’s wife found my number and hired a private detective to gather information on me. We were never involved – she just saw my number. He had told me he was divorced, otherwise I would not have bothered.

Another lie – employment. Online and in person is difficult to find out whether someone has a job. For me, employment is important, not how much you make, but just having a decent job. I am currently friends with a guy who is unemployed and has been since we met, but because he wasn’t honest. Sure, I could have cut him out, but that seems extreme, he is a nice guy. How much are you supposed to share with someone before meeting them and getting to know them? I pretty much lay all my card on the table pretty quickly, but I think that could be the wrong approach.

Which leads me to a quick story about another guy I met online. He’s very sweet and employed. Single father of 2, mom is not involved. On our first meeting, we discussed the pressure single parents feel to work and earn enough money to provide for their kids. He slipped in there “and food stamps don’t cover everything.” What? Food stamps – I wasn’t sure how to respond and should I pick up the tab now? Does the fact that I am not interested in dating him make a judgmental bi*ch – maybe.

Also, I am not interested in just hooking up. I think only about 10% of the guys online are looking for relationships, regardless of what their profiles say.

I do have some standards, which I will not apologize for: (1) be kind; (2) be unattached; (3) be employed; (4) likes kids. Are these standards too high?

Maybe online dating isn’t for me – I have currently given up. But now what? I am now wanting to share my life with another adult and I don’t know where to begin. I don’t focus on it, because we don’t have time, but tonight it is on my mind. Any advice is appreciated, I know my story is not unique. Seems like online dating is like a part-time job and I don’t have the time to devote to it. But I’d still like to think there is some hope.

Now My Dream of Finding Love Can Be Crushed More Efficiently and in the Privacy of My Own Home. – Anonymous

Days 5 – 7: Wedding with No Date

wedding  Day 5: Airport counts as Outing!

So my plane left at 2:30 PM – as I am sure you can imagine, there was no time to go somewhere before then. I need to get the dog ready, pack for Julia and myself – and worked late so it didn’t get done the night before. But I count trying to look nice to go to the airport a win.

I have known about this wedding for a long time and I would not have missed it for the world. The couple is one of the nicest couples I know and I was so excited to share this day with them. But — I definitely had some anxiety about going alone. I have never gone solo to a wedding. Mostly because I was married young and for 7/8 years and most of my friends got married during that time period. Those that didn’t I managed to take a friend (not a boyfriend because my dating life has been pretty sad). This time, there was no one who wanted to make the trek (fly to indy and drive 2 hours) or they were busy. The groom is a coworker as well, so I knew there were going to be other coworkers and I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me (not sure they would, but I over think). I also could have brought my LO, but the thought of making that trek with her alone, made me exhausted. So there you have it – I was going to a wedding alone for the first time at the age of 40.

So I made myself cute and headed to the airport. I stopped to grab some food and a drink before boarding. I sat next to an older women who provided unsolicited advice on what I should order. I heard her story about where she lived, where she was headed and how her plane was delayed. I thought to myself, why I can’t be more like her, just start chatting with the person next to me. But then I also thought she was annoying and all I wanted to do was try to finish some work and enjoy my food. There must be some happy medium there that I have yet to discover.

Plane to Indy was uneventful. Rented a car and drove 2 hours to the rehearsal dinner/pool party. In the parking lot, I ran into another coworker with his girlfriend. They seemed so young – ready to swim without hesitation. I was feeling more reserved and a little insecure about not having a date. It was very cute and fun – I didn’t go down the water slides as I was more concerned about my hair than the thrill.

We then headed to a local brewery. I have to pat myself on the back for being more social at this part than I expected. As I sat at a table with some of the bride’s friends, who i didn’t know prior, I felt confident and even humorous as I shared some stories about myself. I had a very good time and happy in my decision not to bring a date.

Day 6: The Wedding

The morning came and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do until the ceremony. There was a shooting range outing, but I don’t feel comfortable around guns so I declined. The day was mine. I ventured down to the hotel free breakfast and then headed back up to the room. Work started to come in and I caught myself responding to emails almost convinced myself it would be ok to work and rest – not leaving the room until the ceremony. But I managed to talk myself out it. I put on some running clothes and headed to the Watermelon festival and River Walk.

This small town made me feel like Rory Gilmore. Everyone knew everyone and they were super friendly. I scrolled the festival picking up some yellow watermelon and then went for a short run (it was very hot). Very proud of myself for not staying in my room.

As I was getting ready for the wedding, anxiety set in again. But I was there and couldn’t change the fact that I didn’t have a date, so I headed out. I was late, didn’t miss the start of the ceremony, but still later than most (I forgot my shoes and needed to buy new ones  – I didn’t realize this until 20 mins before the ceremony was scheduled to start). The ceremony was perfect (outside, so a little hot and sticky).

The reception was fun — here are my tips to enjoy a wedding without a date:

  1. Drink
  2. Dance – a lot – you won’t be the only one without a date, so grab some dateless people and dance. For me, the others found me and we ended up dancing the entire night.
  3. Talk with the table my table was mostly coworkers and dates, so I knew them, but I got a chance to interact outside of work and with the booze coming, this became easier.

These could be wedding tips to enjoy wedding under any circumstances – but I think they are definitely needed when you are flying solo.

As you can see from the picture above – I had a great time.

Day 7: Time to Go Home

When I got back to the hotel, I received a text from a girl I met at the brewery and hung out at the wedding, asking me if I would join her for breakfast in the morning. She had asked the groom for my number. She is super sweet, so despite me thinking that was a bit much, I agreed to meet for breakfast around 8:30 AM.

Question: Do you think this was creepy? She also asked to sit at my table. She didn’t bring her boyfriend so perhaps she just wanted to hang out with someone. She also sent me a text message when she made it to her destination.

At breakfast, we ran into a couple we met at the wedding  – so great conversation. I was happy I met the girl for breakfast despite thinking it was odd. I left breakfast knowing that nice people exist and attending wedding alone is not so bad (I would still rather have a guest).

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new. – Brian Tracy

Days 3 and 4 – Not 100% Successful

Day 3 – stayed home (I know, I failed already). Worked too late and my LO didn’t want to go to bed. I did make it to the gym though, so not a total loss.

Day 4 – back on the horse. I went to Amilie’s French Bakery (http://www.ameliesfrenchbakery.com). I wasn’t wearing workout clothes, but I was wearing a Syracuse hat.

So, question: Do you think people are more likely to talk to you if you (1) look nice or (2) wear something that distinguished you from others (not to say I didn’t look nice, but my hair definitely wasn’t done, hence the hat)?

Well, this one lady stopped me on the street on my way to the cafe and asked if I had attended Syracuse. We chatted for a bit and she lives in the same suburb as I do. It was nice to be reassured that Syracuse fans do live in the area. The conversation ended after that …

Question 2: Is is appropriate, after having a short conversation with someone to ask (as I have in this case) – “I recently move here and don’t know many people. Since we live close and support Syracuse, do you think you’d like to connect?” Or is this creepy? My social skills are average at best, so I am not sure. I think I typically over think other’s potential boundaries and try to respect them.

The cafe was wonderful. People were working and the coffee and food hit the spot. Not much happened after that – I was buried with billing, so I think I was even less approachable than usual.

I did make it to the Burn Bootcamp again, despite being so sore and having a pulled muscle from trying to water ski, so overall, I am calling this day a win.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein

cafe.jpg

Day 2: I made it to Day 2

It might seem like a small accomplishment, but to me it is huge. My work/life balance is non-existent at the moment, meaning I average around 4/5 hours of sleep. So, every morning I wake up and manage to be ready to go by the time my LO needs to go to school is a win (yes, I often drop her off in basically my PJs – don’t judge).

Today I went to Not Just Coffee. (http://www.notjust.coffee). There are multiple locations and since I have no idea where I am – I picked the closest one. This was not the one that I intended, but it was nice. This one is located in 7th Street Market. I think a lot of cities have these little markets, Charlotte’s is smaller, but it was cute. I tried to sit at the coffee bar, but there were no outlets so I was relocated to the “Work Zone.” Less interactive, but I needed to work, so no choice. Before moving, I attempted to start a conversation with another coffee enthusiast – this is progress! She was talking about her upcoming trip to Hilton Head and since I have family who lives there, I inquired. The conversation was short because I am socially awkward, but baby steps. Other than that there was no real interaction, other than my lunch order.

I know it was only Day 2, but do people not meet people out and about anymore? I suppose not because of all the dating apps and social media platforms (more on this in another post). Again, I don’t really put myself out there, but I do smile and am polite. I guess that is not enough. I will continue trying to keep this going, but I am really not sure where to meet people – I can’t do apps, I have tried mom groups, I joined a gym. A friend suggested I frequent a local dive bar — well 1. I have a small child; 2. Not judgement, but do I really want to be that girl? 3. I am a not a guy. Yes, the friend who suggested this was a guy.

I did make it to the gym – 2 days in a row. But the evening went down hill after that. LO don’t want to go to bed and my dog was freaking out because of the storm. I think most nights I am able to stay calm, but knowing the hours of work I had in front of me, I lost my cool – so the dog, my LO ended up sleeping with me (it was a super cute photo opp) and I wasn’t able to sneak out until 11 PM.

I think it is important to make clear that I am a pretty happy person. Despite being a single mom and not having any local friends, I have a great life. This blog is a way for me to arrange my thoughts and try to grow from my experiences. I always try to be my best self, better than I was the day before.

Don’t give up, don’t ever give up! – Jimmy V

Rant: Mom Groups

So as I mentioned in my Intro, I actually tried to make friends. As soon as I moved here, it was recommended to me that I join some Mom Groups. Great idea, right? So I wasted no time and joined all the applicable groups in my area. Herdropoute is the list (this is not a joke):

  • Neighborhood Moms
  • Running Moms
  • Single Moms
  • Moms’ Night Out
  • Moms’ Night Out – Booze Free
  • Foster/Adoption Moms
  • Nearby City Moms
  • Relocated Moms

Pretty extensive list, right? If I became active in all of these groups, I am bound to meet a friend — but no, didn’t happen. Here’s why:

  1. I am not married. I do not have a significant other. I now live in the south and I feel that is uncommon in my area. The first question you are typically asked in these groups is about your husband. I am not offended by this question – I get it. So, I would answer politely and attempt to carry on the conversation on other topics, such as, job, kids, hobbies (sort of like being on a date) but that didn’t work – it became very awkward. The underlying reason for this could be because wanted to have couple friends? I am not offended, just difficult for me to get around. Also, if these are kid-free events, I need to find a sitter.
  2. I am not a stay-at-home mom. Not sure why this is such a barrier to friendships, but it is. Some of my existing friends are SAHMs and we have maintained our friendship. Perhaps is because we have history together? I am not sure, but new friends, one working and the other SAHM is unlikely. I can’t meet during the day for playdates.
  3. I am not the typical single parent. I am a single mom by choice and there is no father figure. So, I cannot share in complaints about child support or fathers not pulling their weight. It is all me, all the time and I am very happy with my decision.
  4. I am not thrifty. I am very fortunate to have a good career – but because of that I don’t have time to shop for the best deal on certain items. This seems to be a common conversation at these groups and I don’t have anything to add but also cannot say that because I will come across as snobby.
  5. I am not religious. Which is a bigger thing in the south. People literally introduce themselves as a “Jesus-loving Mom.”
  6. No one really shows up to the events. This is probably the biggest problem because the group you meet is so much smaller than online. This one single mom asked other moms to meet somewhere and then wrote the following sentence in a post: “Unlike other event posted in this group, my son and I will be there even if no one else shows up.” I was impressed by her boldness and responded “We will see you there.” I went, she did not.

Maybe these are my issues? I am not sure. Most of my friends in Chicago do not have friends, the ones that do, I don’t see that much (because they are moms). So perhaps mom groups aren’t the place to find my local tribe. Or my social awkwardness is more of an issue than I realize. My hope is to meet people similar to me in that:

  • Financially Stable
  • Open-minded
  • Kind

Marital Status and kids/no kids, not important. Where are these groups? Where does a single mom who works a lot from home meet people who meet the above 3 criteria?

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too I thought I was the only one.  – C. S. Lewis

Day One – Let’s Do This

Day onePNG

Well, I was not off to a great start – my LO is 2 and she hasn’t been sleeping well, common parenting issue. She wakes up in the middle night, grabs her ‘Teddy’ and comes into my room. Some nights, I get up and bring her back to her bed, but after working until 2AM, that didn’t happen. So now it was 8:15AM and we are just waking up. I had conference call starting at 9:30AM and the morning list of things to do typically takes an hour. But I was determined – so her hair will be a mess today, it’s fine, I will make sure her outfit is cute today to offset.

I made it! Perhaps my hair didn’t look as nice as I’d want for Day 1 – but I made it AND with a summer dress. I settled down at a cute coffee shop in Davidson, NC (Summit Coffee  – www.summitcoffee.com) and it felt great to be out of the house. The weather was cloudy and cool, so I was able to sit outside and start work.

In between conference calls, I made sure to look up and smile at the people around me. I was there for 4 hours – didn’t seem like anyone smiled back or was looking to start-up a conversation. My feelings weren’t hurt and I am sure I could have initiated something – but I’m shy – so maybe I will get to that point, but not yet. I decided to leave to find lunch.

Instead of lunch, I found shopping  – hey, I needed a new dress for a wedding, so it worked out. Monkee’s of Lake Norman (monkeesoflakenorman.com) is a really cool place to shop. It’s expensive but I found a dress. I managed to converse with the employees who seemed interested in my upcoming wedding  – I mean they get paid to, but the interaction with adults was needed.

The rest of the day was a typical Monday, picked up LO, went to soccer (tried to interact with other moms, no luck), dinner, Burn Bootcamp (burnbootcamp.com) with my sister-in-law, worked until 1:30AM and crashed.

This may not seem like a success but it was for me. I had a great day and it was a Monday. I am excited about starting this blog and my 14-day challenge. If nothing else, I will get to know Charlotte a little better – a city I hope will feel like home one day.

The beginning is the most important part of the work.  – Plato