I am not where I thought I would be at age 45. Twenty years ago, when I married the love of my life (or so I thought of him then), I believed that in our 40’s we would be parenting our children together, supporting each other through the teen years, reassuring our girls that we had found someone to love and so would they. Boy was I wrong!
For the past 10 or 11 years I have been dipping my toe in and out of the dating pool. Those who have read my blogs on dating will know that in that time I’ve waded through a whole swamp load of frogs and I’ve met just two men I really liked, one man who broke my heart and one who I am currently dating (that’s four in total for those counting along at home).
During that time I’ve not involved my children in my dating life, they were too young and they didn’t need to know. Oh how times have changed.
Who would have thought I would be dating at the same time as my daughter?
Certainly not me. It’s really rather awkward. My almost 16 year old is super keen on any and all boys. She wants a boyfriend, like most of the other kids her age and she is currently very keen on one young man who I fear will be her first real heartbreak.
I am fiercely protective of my children and as they have grown older and begun to notice boys and to have boys they like not like them back I find myself inclined to make grand statements of all the things I might do should a boy dare do anything which causes my precious girls pain. This is ridiculous of course, we cannot protect our children from any and all pain, as much as we might want to.
The young man who is the object of my daughter’s affections seems to be playing hard to get. Like her mother before her, my daughter thinks that if she likes him he should like her back and sees no issue in telling him how very interested she is. I have tried to counsel her on this, I fear his claims of “I’m not sure what I want right now” are claims I myself have dealt with before (they usually mean “I’m interested in so many other girls right now”). I can hardly bear to think of the hurt she will feel if this boy eventually tells her he doesn’t feel the same way. So I’ve tried to encourage her not to spend time with him.
A wise colleague helped me see things with slightly more sanity. She told me that if I protect my daughter from this boy, how will she ever learn about relationships and going out into the world? And of course, my friend was right. The best love songs are penned through tears and icecream after hearts explode. Extraordinary feats are achieved through pain and broken hearts mend and stretch, allowing for the more deserving to come in.
I, like everyone else ever, have been through my fair share of gut wrenching pain, when you’re heart actually hurts in your chest and you either don’t eat for days or consume your body weight in cookie dough icecream until you want to vomit, but don’t. Of course I want to spare the most important people in the world to me from this.
But I can’t. And so I won’t. Even though it means that all the years of bad dating seem almost for nothing if I can’t share my wisdom, I will instead laugh and encourage and sit with my girls and hold their hands through heartache and rejoice when they find the love I know they will have in their lives.
Meantime, I will try and curb my cynicism and try not to die from embarrassment when my child (my baby!) asks me if my new boyfriend has slept over yet.