With Valentine’s Day approaching, my son asked me if I was afraid of ending up alone. Since he witnessed his father enter a relationship six months after we separated, and then move in with his girlfriend a year later, my son worries for me that I won’t have anyone. (And for the record—I harbor no ill will toward his father and wish him the best, which I state to my children.)
As a single mother, I don’t traditionally date, nor have I joined the online dating phenomenon. Instead, I’m a bit old-fashioned. I go out with friends, attend classes or events, and allow people to come into my life, rather than focusing on seeking out “the one.” The fact my son worries I’ll end up alone made me realize he’s taking in the ever-popular view that we all need to find one person who will complete us. Having made the conscious choice to view relationships and love in a different way in order not to repeat past patterns, I figured this would be a good time to talk to him about it.
Valentine’s Day has become so commercial that over the years I began to view it as a day to celebrate with a significant other at an over-priced restaurant and stress about the perfect gift. Who says Valentine’s Day is for couples only? For my kids, I buy chocolates and a card. I make a nice dessert to go with dinner. And most importantly, I tell them I love them. I also call my friends and family and let them know I care too. Even though I may see them on a regular basis, having a special day in the year to let people know you care is awesome too.
I explained to my son that I don’t feel alone in the least. In fact, when I look at my life, I have a lot of love from my friends and family, and relationships I wouldn’t have if I had stayed married. He thought it was lame when I told him that with him and his siblings, I’d never be alone! My children are a huge part of my life and we all love each other very much. I’m blessed to be a mother, and having the privilege of being a parent isn’t something he understands, but some day he might.
I didn’t tell him this part as it’s not something he’d understand yet either, however, I do not wish to equate sex with intimacy any longer. I am making the conscious choice to seek out relationships in which I can be my real self. Being real with people is difficult. It means you have to choose not to hide parts of yourself. Sometimes it means putting your best foot forward. Often it means you have to bare the parts you wish you could hide. It means trusting other people not only with your insecurities but also with supporting you when you need them. For me, it’s always easier to give. With my past experiences, it’s much more difficult to receive. Admittedly, while it’s wonderful to find such people to be myself with, it also scares me because anything new makes me anxious. When you don’t have any perception of how things will be, it is difficult to “see” how things could be. With time and patience for myself and on the part of my friends, I’m learning that being real with people is possible, and I’m taking each day a baby step at a time.
And to finish answering my son’s question: “No, I’m not afraid to end up alone because I love myself enough and I’m not alone when I look at all the people I love and who love me in return.” The most important person to love in your life is yourself. With that, anything is possible. I hope I gave my son a new perspective on love and life, since it’s my personal goal too.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Tell someone you love them today. And hey—why not start with yourself?