The Single Swan

The Journey of a Single Mother

Twink and a twunk: the gay lexicon

I learned something at the weekend. I learned about a twink and a twunk, an otter, a cub, a bear, and a muscle bear.  This blog post isn’t going to be a life lesson shared or some inspirational quote for you all, but it might be good for a giggle. 

I went for a drink with my male gay friend.  We’ve been friends since university, which now means donkey’s years.  All of my other university friends have changed.  Their lives have moved on.  They’ve left London and moved out to the country.   They’ve got stable jobs, 2.4 children, a wine club subscription and a personal trainer. My gay friend hasn’t changed a bit.  He goes out drinking and dancing at least four times a week, re-tells stories if being dreadfully hungover at work.   After a couple of glasses of wine he also shares much too much information about his very active sex life. 

Anyway, he did tell me a bit about gay London lexicon which, as it is not too gratuitous, I thought I’d share.

Twink

A twink is a young gay man – over 18 but under 25.  Or at least he looks under 25 (my gay friend has a far more expansive collection of Clarins and Clinique potions than I do). A twink is hot property. Most gay men want one and most gay men want to be one.  The Oxford English Dictionary says the word twink means “a homosexual or effeminate, or a young man regarded as an object of homosexual desire.”  Apparently the term twink dates back to the 1970s.  I am clearly a bit behind the curve because for me the term dates back to Saturday night but hey ho.  

Twunk

A twunk has the face of a twink but the physique of a hunk.  A twunk is a hunky twink so to speak. Twunks are quite rare.  Most men under the age of 25 haven’t had enough years to have spent enough time at the gym be really muscly.  My friend likes twunks! 

twink

Otter

My friend was insulted when someone referred to him as an ‘otter’ the other day.  He still likes to believe that he is a twink.  He is clearly deluding himself because he is in his mid-30s. An ‘otter’ is a a gay man who is quite hairy all over his body, but is smaller in frame and weighs considerably less than a bear (see below).

Cub

A cub is used to describe a young bear (see below!).

Bear

A bear is very muscly and very hairy.  He is also slightly older.   My impression though is that once a gay man is no longer in the prized twink category age is less relevant. 

A muscle bear

A muscle bear is, as you might have guessed, like a bear but extra muscly. Having spent the other night in the gay bars of Soho in London I’d suggest that quite a lot of time and money is spent in the gym.  A muscle bear is muscly indeed!

It did strike me that there must be quite a few gay men who defy classification in this somewhat limited lexicon.  I asked what a slightly older, skinny, gay man might be called. 

My gay friend merely shrugged his quite muscly shoulders.   “Dunno, I don’t fancy older skinny men.”   

Right then, that told me!   

Reflections From Me
My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
And then the fun began...

Single mums and happy families

Sunday was a tough day for me as a single mum.  Often I don’t even think about the fact that I am a single mum.  I am just a mum.  I love my son and I’d do anything for him.  I am like almost every other mother in that respect.   

But today my single motherhood hit me.

Single motherhood hit me because I was surrounded by happy families. 

I took Cygnet to the park to play football, to build sandcastles and to play on the swings and slides. 

I was surrounded by happy families. 

I took Cygnet to the garden centre where we bought some trailing geraniums for the balcony and had cake in the coffee shop. 

I was surrounded by happy families.

I took Cygnet to the local village fete. There was a tombola and the scouts were playing music, the local gymnastics club had put on a display and there was a stand where you could throw sponges at the scout leader. 

I was surrounded by happy families.

I took Cygnet to a local food festival.  (Yes, we had a busy day!)  There was a live band, burgers, drink and games. 

I was surrounded by happy families sprawled out on their picnic blankets. 

I know that not all families are happy, and I know that family life, for a happily married couple with 2.4 children is rarely like this:

happy families

happy families

But on Sunday it appeared to be.  On Sunday, in the bright sunshine, the world looked blissfully content in family euphoria.  At times on Sunday, I felt a bit lonely.  Had I been with a group of friends or with my family, I may still have felt lonely, because I wasn’t, I am not, part of an idyllic family set-up like the one pictured above. 

We still had a fun day.  I know that Cygnet enjoys being with me.  He loves the one-to-one attention that he gets. He loves that I am 100% focussed on him when we are together.  He wanders off at the park to play with the other kids but always turns regularly to check that I am still watching him and that I am still smiling, and I always am.  I am always watching him and I am always smiling, happy to be with him.

But, at the back of my mind there is this niggling voice.  There is a voice eating away at me.  I am enough now, but I won’t always be.  Cygnet is going to want more than just me.  He is going to want excitement.  He is going to want social interaction.  He is going to want siblings.  He is going to want those happy family days, pictured above, and that I remember from my childhood. 

I may be enough for him now, but I won’t be enough for him forever.   

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Reflections From Me

What women REALLY want

I was sorting through my books the other day.  I confess to being one of those terrible people who has a collection of high brow books on display in my living room.  I buy them because the covers look nice, the topic is intellectual or the author is well regarded.  Sometimes, I even read them, but more often, I am ashamed to say, I do not.

Whilst sorting through my books I discovered the book ‘What do Women Want? : Adventures in the science of female desire’ by Daniel Bergner.  Now, I am not lying when I say that I have actually read this book from cover to cover.

The main thrust (please excuse the pun) of Daniel Bergner’s argument is that women are in fact biologically and naturally the less monogamous sex.  Women are ‘animals’.  Women’s natural state is hidden and controlled by societal norms.  According to Daniel Bergner, we women are conditioned to want monogamous, emotionally secure and stable relationships to enable us to bring up our offspring. We are conditioned to crave closeness and commitment. 

Daniel Bergner describes experiments in which women are shown various images whilst hooked up to M.R.I scanners and have tubes inserted into their vaginas to measure vaginal blood flow.  He is seeking to measure female arousal.  What women really want.  

My more squeamish readers might want to stop reading now…

what women REALLY want

The images include images of heterosexual sex, a naked man walking along a beach, two women kissing, a man mouthing another man’s penis, a man masturbating and a pair of bonobos (a type of non-human primate) copulating in a forest. 

Bergner states that all of the women were turned on immediately, by all of it. Based on this research, he argues that women’s sexuality is an animalistic force, constrained by culture. 

The complicating factor, the factor that Bergner seems to ignore, is that arousal does not always equal desire. 

I met up with some friends the other night.  Unsurprisingly, after a bottle or two of Prosecco between the four of us the conversation progressed to sex (not masturbation I’m afraid, this is, as I outlined in my previous blog post still very much a taboo subject).

One of my friends married quite recently having been single for a about eight years.  Not to put to fine a point on it, but she slept with quite few men during that eight year time period.  She confessed that her husband was not that great in bed.  He certainly wouldn’t make the top third were she to rank a lifetime of sexual partners.  But, she is happy.  In fact I would say she is blissfully happy with her husband and their life together.

Another friend likened the satisfaction of having sex with her husband to the satisfaction of returning overdue library books.  A damning indictment of a sex life if ever there were one, but she is also very happy.  Trust me, I know, I have seen her sad.

So, it struck me that, contrary to Bergner’s argument, what women REALLY want, isn’t all about sex.  Our desires and our turn-ons can be random…sometimes very random.

The list of things that my group of female heterosexual friends and I were turned-on by included:

A man with muscly and veiny forearms

This was me. I have a weird thing for veiny forearms.  I can’t really explain why.  It does mean that I really enjoy watching car adverts on television in which a man with a veiny forearm is driving a car and reaches out to change gear.  These are confessions that you can only make on an anonymous blog!

A man in chinos

Chinos are my pet hate, but one of my friends loves a man in chinos. She said there was something about the slightly smarter than jeans, but still casual look that really appealed. I was a little baffled.

A man wearing a pair of thick rimmed glassesWhat women really want

Now I really get this. I fancy arty and creative men and my image of a creative man is a man who wears quirky, thick rimmed glasses.  My friend also quite liked it when a man in a pair of thick rimmed glasses peered at her over the top of his glasses frame. 


A man who carries a pen knife

To my mind a pen knife is a potentially lethal weapon and a man who carries one is therefore potentially dangerous.  My friend, however, felt that the corkscrew, the tin opener and the screw driver functions on a pen knife were incredibly useful and that any man carrying one was therefore incredibly sexy.  Again, I was baffled, totally baffled.

So, Daniel Bergner, if you want to know what women REALLY want, I suggest that you analyse the above list of turn-ons produced by me and my friends.

Suffice to say Daniel Bergner’s What Do Women Want? has not made it to the book shelf in the sitting room but has rather been confined to the cardboard box in the wardrobe. 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my post on female masturbation and my post on the men of Tinder.  

ethannevelyn

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

And then the fun began...
Reflections From Me

Female masturbation

When will female masturbation no longer be taboo?  I think I would feel less embarrassed if someone walked in on me having sex than if someone walked in on me masturbating. And that’s just crazy.

I am a female masturbator.

female masturbation

To avoid this blog post just turning into another one of my rants (have you read my rant about the anti-abortion campaign?) I thought I would do a bit of research…into female masturbation and into vibrators. Women’s sexuality and vibrators certainly have an interesting history. 

Until the twentieth century it was thought that women did not experience sexual desire or sexual pleasure.  Women were merely fleshy receptacles for male lust.  ‘Ladies’ had no sex drive and were required to ‘put up with’ sex in order to keep their husbands happy and to have children. 

In this culture, where women’s sexual desire did not and could not exist, there was no explanation for women’s erotic fantasies or wetness between the legs.  Doctors, perplexed by this condition that seemingly had no explanation, started to call this syndrome ‘hysteria’ which, incidentally, is the Greek word for uterus. 

For hysteria unrelieved by husbandly lust (which was quite common) and for single women, widows and unhappily married women, doctors advised horseback riding, which apparently caused enough clitoral stimulation to enable some women to orgasm.  Hmmm. 

For those for whom horse-riding just wasn’t good enough (and I would have been one of those women), doctors developed the reliable treatment of massaging oil onto women’s genitals and inserting one or two fingers into her vagina. 

This is certainly not a treatment I would expect to receive upon visiting my local GP!   

Oh, and because women had no sexual desire, their orgasms were called paroxysms.  Women couldn’t possibly orgasm. 

Unsurprisingly paroxysms administered by the doctor became quite popular.  By the end of the day, doctors’ hands ached having massaged a steady stream of women to paroxysm.  Our poor doctors were suffering from severe tendonitis. 

The vibrator was born and proved to be a much needed labour saving device.  It was not until the late nineteenth century that electric vibrators really revolutionised hysteria relief.  The electrical vibrator produced ‘paroxysm’ quickly and reliably. 

Women started buying their own personal massagers and were able to relieve their own hysteria. 

The birth of pornography changed all of this and vibrators were soon featured in porn films.  They quickly became socially unacceptable.  It was not until the Feminist campaign of the 1970s that vibrators for female sexual pleasure became a bit more mainstream.

But female masturbation still isn’t mainstream is it?

Female masturbation isn’t really something I talk about with my female  friends.  We talk about sex, but we don’t talk about masturbation.  Even in the University course I told you about, the one in which we talked about sex a lot, we didn’t really talk about female masturbation.  It is a taboo subject.

I think it is because female masturbation is taboo that men seem to find the idea of a woman masturbating a massive turn on.  At least in my experience they men find female masturbation a turn on.  There is a ‘dirty’ narrative that accompanies female masturbation.  Only girls who love sex masturbate.  Only girls who just can’t get enough.  This is a man’s fantasy right ? (Apologies to all of my male readers who may or may not find female masturbation a massive turn on –  you can let me know below in the comments 😉 )

This modern day narrative that female masturbation is dirty and illicit and immoral and forbidden is reinforced by the likes of Mack Major, a christian author from Florida.  Mack Major has published a letter stating that female “masturbation is a direct path to Satan”.   This makes me angry.   This religious fervour directed against women is part of a powerful movement trying to control women’s bodies and women’s sexuality in the name of religion. 

So, this is me ranting against it all.

I am a woman.
I am sexual.
I am not hysterical, I am horny.
I have orgasms not paroxysms.
I am a female masturbator.
And I am proud of it.

If you liked my rant on female masturbation you might want to watch this video advocating the need to talk about female masturbation. 

P.S.  I promise it is not porn.

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The truth about being a bad mother

bad mother

I am a bad mother.

I’m feeling rubbish about myself today.  Cygnet was snotty this morning.  In fact he was more than a bit snotty, green bogies were flying everywhere, his eyes were gunky and tired, he was under the weather, he was feeling sorry for himself and he needed a day at home sitting on the sofa reading books and watching Thomas the Tank Engine on the iPad (we watch the old style one where Ringo Star does the voice over).  But I took him to nursery.

I am a bad mother.

I dropped him at nursery this morning so that I could go to work.  I knew that he wasn’t well enough to go.  I knew that he would be really upset when I left him.  I knew that he would cry a lot.  I knew that the nursery staff would look at him and think that he should be at home.  I knew that other parents would see me dropping him off and resent me because Cygnet was about to infect their child with the snot monster.  I prioritised work over an ill child. My ill child who hardly sees me as it is because of my work and the fact that his time is  split between me and his dad.

I am a bad mother. 

I did it because I had a meeting with a guy at work about my career future and some job opportunities he has available. I did it because I had been trying to get some time in his diary for a month.  This is no excuse. 

I am still a bad mother. 

I am now leaving work an hour early, an hour that’s nothing, to collect him.  Part of me is dreading collecting him because I know that I will feel guilty again.  I know that he will punish me.  I know that he will ignore me for a while because I left him…again.  

I am a bad mother.  

Cygnet deserves better and I hate myself for being a bad mother.

Absolutely Prabulous
And then the fun began...

An ode to unconventional relationships

At University I took course entitled Feminism, Stories of Love and Desire. During this ten week course we studied various novels by French female writers which talked about feminism, love, unconventional relationships and sex.  We discussed these novels in class.  It probably won’t surprise you to hear that we discussed sex in class a lot too.

One of these novels really struck a chord with me, and today, nearly fifteen years later, I am thinking about this novel again.

The book was called Les Vaisseaux du Coeur by Benoîte Groult.  Les Vaisseaux du Coeur literally translates as The Vessels of the Heart, but when it was made into a film it was given the English title Salt on our Skin. 

Les Vaisseaux du Coeur is about a female Parisian intellectual who has a decades long ‘relationship’ (liaison might be a better descriptor here) with a Breton sailor.  They meet with varying frequency over the years, often in exotic locations, to escape, to indulge and to have sex.  Good sex! (Like I said, we discussed the sex A LOT in class). 

Early on in their unconventional relationship he asks her to marry him.  She declines. As a Parisian intellectual she cannot envisage a future as a sailor’s wife.  Their liaison continues in secret (he ends up marrying someone else) and they meet, at least twice a year, for the next 20 or so years. 

There are two things about their unconventional relationship that I do not like. 

First, I cannot condone the extra-marital affair that he undertakes and that she is complicit in. Although I am not married, and have never been married, marriage is an institution that I believe in. Once two people have made a promise to each other I think they should keep it.  I am sorry if I am being excessively traditional in this regard.

My second dislike with regard to their unconventional relationship is perhaps more subtle and relates to their social class.  There is an implied superiority / inferiority dynamic in their relationship. She is the intellectual; he is the dullard.  She is refined; he is a sexual beast.  She is a city dweller; he is most definitely not.  She is complex; he is simple. 

Les Vaisseaux du Coeur is branded a piece of feminist literature.  If the roles were reversed and she were the dullard, simple, country bumpkin sex object and he were the refined Parisian intellectual, I can’t help but think that feminists would be up in arms.  How dare a novel objectify, simplify, patronise a woman like that?  To me, feminism is about achieving equality of the sexes.  If Les Vaisseaux du Coeur is ‘feminist’ literature, it is certainly not a brand of Feminism that I would subscribe to. 

I was thinking about Les Vaisseaux du Coeur today because, like the protagonists in Groult’s novel, I need some time just to focus on me.  In fact, having left a controlling relationship not so long ago I need to focus on restoring me. 

unconventional relationships

These days, I often feel that I live three parallel lives. 

First,  there’s the planet of Cygnet.  My son and the apple of my eye, he is the person who I look at and wonder what I have done to be so lucky in life. When I am with Cygnet I am with Cygnet 100%.  He has my undivided attention … or at least that’s the aim.  He still managed to cuddle a random stranger from behind (thinking she was me) as I knelt down to pick up my dropped keys in a coffee shop at the weekend. 

Then there’s the planet of work.  I returned to work when Cygnet was 7 months old, 6 weeks after I had separated from his father.  Cygnet’s father and I were still living together. It was an horrendous time and sometimes I look back and wonder how I got through it.  But I did get through it. I got through it by using my work as my escape.  By focussing 100% on work during the hours I was there (which are full time hours) I was able to put the other stresses to one side.  Not forever, but for eight hours a day 5 days a week.  The distraction of work got me through a difficult time. I also excelled.  I am proud to say that when I am at work I excel.  When I am not at work I don’t even think about it.

Thirdly, there’s the planet of ‘me time’.  This time is limited.   In my experience, and I recognise that my experience is different from many single mothers, one of the differences between lone parenting and couple parenting is that as a coupled parent you may get your free time in short but frequent bursts.  Your partner might take your little one to the park for a couple of hours while you meet a friend for coffee or have your nails done. Wishful thinking?  Sorry!

My experience as a single parent is that this ‘me time’ comes less frequently but in larger chunks.  For me these are chunks of 24 hours when I can get my nails done, go to a gallery, meet a friend for dinner and the theatre and get an uninterrupted nights sleep. In reality I tend to do the washing and strip some wallpaper and potentially dabble in a bit of dating.

I feel like my three planets are being held in a solar system at a precise distance from each other by a series of complex and delicate magnetic fields.  It is a tenuous and temporary balance, easily disrupted. 

A don’t think that my delicate solar system could cope with another planet, a planet of relationships entering the magnetic field.

I already have a fractious co-parenting relationship with my ex.  We are currently going through a difficult patch as he is being his normal controlling self and I am trying to pluck up the courage to resist (more on this in a future post).

I often think about the challenges that a prospective partner would face entering into a relationship with me.  The ex…the omnipresent ex…who still dictates my mood and sometimes my self-esteem will be around for the next couple of decades.  

Then I think about the challenge of ‘blended’ families and step parents and logistics and finances and the complication. Oh my god the complication!  I just can’t face it.  My three delicate planets would collide and explode.  I don’t think that I could manage it, or that I want to try to manage it.

So this is where, at the end of this blog post, I finally return to Les Vaisseaux du Coeur.  Putting aside the extramarital affair and putting aside the inequality in the relationship, there is something about the relationship described by Groult that is very appealing. 

I could meet with someone twice a year, we’d perhaps have some sex, but we’d definitely have a lot of relaxed, meandering and indulgent conversation.  Conversations that don’t have to end because a deadline has to be met, or because routines and complicated schedules have to be followed, or because we are just so bloody knackered by the complication of it all that we just don’t know who we are any more.  This is what I want.  This kind of relationship really appeals. 

I want the easy-going, the unconventional, the escapist, the part-time, no not even the part-time, the very-little-time version of a relationship. 

Run Jump Scrap!

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#BiBs2016 and my fantasy blogger dinner party guest list

The problem with being an anonymous blogger is that, in order to maintain anonymity, any relationship that I have with my fellow bloggers has to be virtual.

I have read some pretty awesome blogs and some absolutely hysterical blog posts over the last year or so and there are some lovely ladies (and my blogging superheroes are all heroines I’m afraid) out there who I am dying to share a bottle of wine and giggles with.

So, my lovely ladies, please accept my invite to my fantasy dinner party, as I nominate you for a Brilliance in Blogging award 2016.   My invites and nominations go to:

Vicki from http://www.honestmum.com

I am a rubbish cook.  I can’t even assemble things in the kitchen.  Now that I am a single mum I cook for Cygnet, whose taste buds are not particularly refined (anything with sweetcorn seems to do the trick), but I tend just to eat whatever happens to be lingering in my cupboard.  My current favourite is hot-crossed buns with Nutella. 

I need you at my dinner party Vicki, not to be the cook, because no guest would accept an invite to spend an evening in my kitchen which looks like a throwback to the 1970s, but because your inspiring recipes will provide my fantasy dinner party menu.  I mean just look at this roasted vegetable stack.  My mouth is watering just looking at it.  Vicki is the only person I would consider nominating for the Food category of the #BiBs2016 awards. 

Tor from http://www.teacuptoria.co.uk/

I owe Tor a lot.  Tor’s blogs was one of the first single mum blogs I stumbled across when venturing into the world of single motherhood myself.  I read all of her blog posts on divorce and separation.  She had some great advice.  She’s probably doesn’t realise it but the advice on her blog and her happy relationship with Dan and the gorgeous boy that Seb has become have already got me through some really tough times. 

What I love about Tor’s blog is her honesty.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and is not scared of admitting that life does not always smell of roses.  I also love Tor’s quirky doodles and for this reason she gets my Reader’s choice vote in #BiBs2016.

Kate from http://www.poutinginheels.com

I found Kate’s blog through Tor’s.  There are some absolutely gorgeous photos of Kate on her blog.  She comes across as effortlessly glamorous, which ordinarily I would find hideously intimidating, but Kate also shares the ups and downs of her life which makes her very real and very likeable. Kate gets my fashion and beauty vote in #BiBs2016.

Prab from http://www.absolutelyprabulous.com

There are a couple of times when I have nearly wet myself laughing at one of Prab’s blog posts.  But there is one of Prab’s blog posts which stands out a mile for me and that is “the anniversary card I never thought I’d write”.  This is a letter from Prab to her husband on their anniversary explaining why she wants to grow old with her husband, but why, like all of us I guess, she feels a let down and disappointed. 

The fact that her husband knows that she wrote this and they have been able to talk so honestly suggests to me that their relationship is really strong and will get through anything, but my God it must have taken a whole heap of courage for Prab to write such a post and a whole heap of courage for her husband to consent to it being shared on the world wide web.  For this post Prab gets my writer vote in #BiBs2015. 

Alice from http://morethantoast.org

There are days when I think I want to be Alice.  She is a single mum (there is a bit of a bias towards single mums at my fantasy bloggers dinner party) with two gorgeous children.  I don’t think that I fit the stereotype of a single mum, whatever that may be, but for me Alice smashes it.  She is stylish, successful, gorgeous, has two lovely children, works hard, eats healthily and appears totally cool, calm and in control.  But nothing in life is perfect and I like the fact that Alice is happy sharing her not so fairy tale existence:  her post-natal depression;  her haemorrhoids and her dating stories and most recently her loneliness all get an airing on her blog.  Thank you Alice.

The reason why I really want to be Alice though has to be this post.  Alice has an admin cupboard, but unlike my admin cupboard in which things disappear never to see the light of day again, Alice’s admin cupboard is perfectly organised.  When a torrent of papers, files, old photos, suitcases fall on my head when I open my admin cupboard I think to myself ‘Jeez I wish I were Alice’.  Alice gets my Art, Craft and Design vote for #BiBs2016 (and not just for her admin cupboard). 

Min from http://singlemumspeaks.com

Min very kindly put me on her list of award winning bloggers, but this invite to my fantasy bloggers dinner party, isn’t just me returning the favour.  Min is super smart and super funny and I read her every blog post. 

Min’s son, Piglet, came into the world thanks to a sperm donor and some ladies and gentlemen in white coats.  I am voting for Min in the Family category of #BiBs2016, because not every family is comprised of a mummy, a daddy and 2.4 children.  Families come in all shapes and sizes: single parent; quadruple parent; co-parent; blended; grandparented and fostered.  All are great and I love blogs which celebrate this variety.

There are loads of other brilliant bloggers out there, but as it is three of us are going to have to sit on the floor at my dinner party because I only have four chairs.  I would love to host and banquet and I promise that if my blog gets a few votes in the #BiBs2016 I will hire a banqueting hall and invite the lot of you.

You can vote for me in the #BiBs2016 awards here

You seemed to quite like my post To the men of Tinder, this is why I didn’t reply  so how about a vote in the Writer category. 

#BiBs2016

You also seemed to quite like my post On compliance and control in a relationship so maybe the family category would be suitable…because not all families are happy. 

#BiBs2016

My blog is also less than a year old and if you felt so inclined you could vote for me in the Fresh Voice category too.

You’ll need these details:

Blog name: The Single Swan

Blog URL: http://www.thesingleswan.com

Blogger’s Twitter ID: @thesingleswan

Loads of love and bon appétit to my dinner party guests.

Pen xx

Reflections From Me
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Single mum dating: My biggest challenge

Single mum dating is tough.  The challenges are many and varied.  Let’s explore a few:

Single mum dating challenge number 1:   Finding a man willing to date a single mum

I thought that the most challenging thing about dating as a single mum would be finding a man who even wants to go on a date.  There aren’t that many single mum’s in their mid-30s on the dating scene. Why would a man date a woman in her mid-30s who has a child, when there are literally hundreds of thousands of childless women in their mid-30s on Tinder?

The mid-30s is an odd age in the dating world.  There are women who want to settle down immediately and to have a family – the clock is ticking.  There are women who have decided that career is their thing and who don’t want any kind of commitment.  There are some single mums like me, but there are certainly not many.

OK, so there are some guys on dating apps who just want a one night stand. 

Here’s a conversation I had on ‘Bumble’ the other day:

Me:  Hi, how are you?  (On Bumble, because it is “the feminist version of Tinder”, women have to message first.  As it turns out, finding anything to say other than ‘Hi,  how are you?’ is actually quite difficult particularly when said match has an uninspiring selection of photos – maybe there’s a clue here and I shouldn’t bother messaging them..)

Mark:  I’m great, and you?  You’re very pretty. (Reading between the lines, I think he probably wants to get into my knickers)

Me: Thank you

Mark:  What brings you to Bumble? Looking to hook up? (Yes, I was right.)

Me:  Not really my scene I’m afraid

Mark:  That’s too bad. 

Me: Yep, sorry, good luck.

Mark: …………..Radio silence.  (I think common courtesy would have dictated a thank you here, but common courtesy doesn’t seem to apply in online dating). 

Aside from the hook-up merchants, who I suspect are indifferent to children, there are actually quite a few men on the dating apps which I frequent who don’t seem remotely phased by the fact that I am a single mum. 

More fool them because…

Single mum dating challenge number 2:  As a single mum, I come with ‘baggage’.

Not all single mums come with ‘baggage’.  Let’s be clear, Cygnet (my son) is NOT ‘baggage’.  Cygnet is wonderful. He may limit my availability for dates, quite significantly as it happens, but he certainly is not ‘baggage’.

Any date who called or implied that a child is ‘baggage’ would be given a stern talking to and then be left nursing their pint all alone in the pub because I would have hot-footed it out of there. 

My ‘baggage’, and as much as I hate to admit it I do have baggage, is emotional.   My emotional baggage is getting gradually lighter, but I will probably always carry a bit of it around with me.

Then there’s the baggage that you wouldn’t think about, the baggage which co-parenting with someone who I really do not like very much brings with it: 

  • I can get a bit down when I have been at work all week and then I have to hand Cygnet over to his Daddy for a day at the weekend.  All I want to do is to spend time with Cygnet.
  • I can get a bit annoyed when Daddy delivers Cygnet back to me both hyper and exhausted.  Daddy then explains that our 18 month old Cygnet has eaten a big portion of his Granny’s coffee mousse.  This is homemade coffee mousse made with real espresso coffee.  Sugar and caffeine for an 18 month old –  wonderful!   I am not sure whether Daddy is spiteful (on a Sunday night knowing that I have work the next day) or just stupid.  Probably just stupid, but I get annoyed nonetheless.
  • I can get a bit bitter when Daddy announces that he is going skiing next month and therefore won’t be able to have Cygnet on his night during the week and for his normal childcare day.  This means that I have to take annual leave from work.   Daddy has done very well financially from our separation and also seems to be galavanting round the globe on regular exotic or adventurous holidays.   

But, do you want to know the biggest challenge of all? 

Well first, let me tell you about this guy who I have met.

I swiped right on Bumble and I got a match.  I messaged him and he replied.   He didn’t seem weird.  Now those of you who have read my blog post about why I didn’t reply to many prospective dates on Tinder will know that the ‘not weird’ variety of man does not come about often in the online dating world. 

He seemed chatty and easy going when we were messaging each other.  He also seemed honest. We agreed to meet up.  He wanted to speak on the phone first and by speak I mean to hear each other’s voices rather than speaking in Times New Roman font. 

We met in a pub on one of my rare nights without Cygnet and shared a bottle of wine.  He was easy going, agenda less, able to listen but also showed that he was actually doing so by asking questions.  Questions to show that he was interested, genuinely interested in what I had to say and not just feigning interest because he wanted to sleep with me or, like my ex, he felt that the time had come to settle down and I met a few of his criteria.

And he is interesting.  He is a musician and he spoke about his music with such dedication and passion that, despite my ignorance of music, he was really interesting to listen to.  We have since met up a couple of times and have been to the theatre. We have shared a couple of bottles of wine and I think, I hope, that we will become great friends.

But, and this brings me onto my final and most significant challenge as a single mum back on the dating scene…

Single mum dating challenge number 3:  I am not ready for another relationship.

Separating from my ex and getting out of my toxic and controlling relationship has been empowering.  Really empowering.  And I am loving it.  I feel alive again.  I feel that I am free and worthy again.

Single mum dating

Life is busy.  I work full time (well almost).  I look after Cygnet.  I have a whole load of decorating and admin and just general stuff to do.  I manage my life by focussing 100% on the task at hand.  When I am at work, I focus on my work. When I am with Cygnet I focus on Cygnet 100%.   I don’t spend my time with Cygnet on the phone to work colleagues or checking my work emails or even on Twitter. Pen and Cygnet time is just that, time for Pen and Cygnet and nothing else. 

I have created a little nest (our flat) for myself and Cygnet.  It is our little sanctuary.  It is our safe place.  I feel totally comfortable here.  Cygnet owns the floors and covers them with his toys.  I own the walls and cover them with artwork.  That’s just how things are. 

I do have some free time, not much, but I do have a bit and I want that free time to be about escapism.  I want to meet interesting people and to do interesting things. 

Relationships aren’t about escapism.  Relationships can’t be about escapism.  A relationship is real life.

I am just not ready for my different worlds to collide.  I know that it will be a long while before I ever introduce a new partner to my son. I just don’t think it would be right for him.  But I also know that it is not right for me yet either. 

I am not ready to let a new person into my life.

The biggest single mum dating challenge of all:  I am not ready for a new relationship. 

My Random Musings
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Anti-abortion campaigner: how dare you?

My Facebook feed and the news are flooded with images from anti-abortion campaigners.  I am not going to show them here, or add links to this blog, because there is no way that I am going to do anything to support their campaign.

These images are upsetting.  They are chosen to be upsetting.  They are chosen to upset you so much that they will put off having an abortion.

Now that I am a mother, I know that there would be very few circumstances in which I could bring myself to have an abortion.  A life threatening medical condition affecting both me and the foetus might be one such example.  But I know that I would not, in my own mind, be able to dissociate the pregnancy from the wondrous little thing that Cygnet has become. 

Now that I am a mother, these images affect me more.  Those photographs of tiny limbs, torn apart and smeared over a blue hospital tissue.  Those diagrams of how the foetus is torn apart inside the womb to remove it from the woman in pieces.   They are horrific. 

Now that I am a mother, I more and more angered by the immorality of the anti-abortion campaign.

What these images don’t and can’t show is the upset, pain, anguish and suffering that a woman may be going through when she has an abortion. Getting an abortion is not something any woman would choose to go through. An unplanned pregnancy is highly stressful, and for many it is humiliating evidence of a failure in judgment.  And what about all of the other scenarios in which a woman may have an abortion?  Rape.  A serious medical condition affecting the foetus.  A serious medical condition affecting the mother.  A serious medical condition affecting both! 

If I am ever fortunate enough to be pregnant again, I know that abortion would be torture for me.  A torture which may be in the best interests of both me, the foetus and Cygnet.  Depending on the circumstances, abortion could be the only sensible option. 

By publicising these images, by harassing women outside of abortion clinics, by spamming my Facebook feed, anti-abortion campaigners are wielding the weapons of torture.

Anti-abortionists: how dare you?

How dare you?

How dare you?

How dare you?

You have no right.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Reflections From Me
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
And then the fun began...

A not so evil stepmother ?

A not so evil stepmother ?I have found out a bit more about the stepmother.

She is 43, so seven years older than me (my ex is 45).  She has a boy and a girl of 5 and 6.  She is  currently going through an acrimonious divorce.  She left her husband;  I don’t know why.  She works. Her mother looks after her children while she is at work and she pays her mother for the childcare. 

In many respects we have a lot in common.  I reckon we could get along pretty well, with the help of a nice bottle of Shiraz of course.

I can’t help but notice that my ex has been a lot more accommodating since the stepmother came along.  He drops Cygnet off on time, whereas previously he was consistently fifteen minutes late on principle.  He is terribly polite to my mother, who also looks after Cygnet, but for free.  I don’t feel that he is constantly looking for an argument for no reason.  The barrage of angry text messages and mildly threatening emails has stopped.  He is still inconsiderate and selfish, but this is just him and the way he will always be, but the malicious undertone to all of his actions seems to have abated.  I can’t help but wonder whether this is her influence.

She has been able to repair his pride a little bit after I left him.  He’s getting some sex.  He’s able to be his most charming self and have a new woman swoon in adoration.  It’ll wear off.  I’ve no doubt. But I really hope that it lasts.

I also think that she has made him realise how lucky he is and how reasonable I have been during our separation. 

  • Grandma  looks after Cygnet for free.  Grandma wouldn’t have it any other way, but as the stepmother has probably pointed out this is saving my ex (and me to be fair) an extraordinary amount of money.  I have no doubt that childcare costs feature as part of the stepmother’s divorce settlement. 

This cannot have gone unnoticed by my ex.

  • I came away with one third of our jointly owned house when I was legally entitled to half.  Had I gone to Court I may well have been able to stay in the house with Cygnet on the grounds that it was our child’s home.  The stepmother is in court this week fighting for the house so that she and her children can stay in it. 

This cannot have gone unnoticed by my ex. 

  • The stepmother won’t allow her children of 5 and 6 years old to stay more than one night in fourteen with their father.  Cygnet spends four nights out of fourteen with my ex.  Now as you know, I firmly believe that four nights out of fourteen is too much and was most definitely too much for a 6 month old baby when we first separated, but I didn’t have the courage to pursue the issue in a Family Court. 

This cannot have gone unnoticed by my ex.

So, although the stepmother in the co-parenting relationship does complicate things somewhat and I absolutely dread the day when my ex asks to take Cygnet away on a ‘family’ holiday with the stepmother and her children, I do hope that their relationship is for the long haul.

I am not sure that we will ever share a bottle of wine, but I will toast her this evening for making the last couple of months of co-parenting noticeably easier. 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Mummuddlingthrough
My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
Reflections From Me
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
And then the fun began...
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