So I decided to be more open-minded, and cast a wider net. I met Dan online and we hit it off with our mutual snobbery in all things music, locavore, and microbrew. Around three months into the relationship, he introduced me to his beloved three year old son, who he has half the week. Thankfully his son was not a shrieker or a goblin, but an adorable and well-behaved little boy. He took to me right away. As our relationship progressed, talk of a shared future together organically emerged.
When he asked if I wanted to one day have kids, I responded honestly: It was a dip in the waters that frantic thirty-something-year-old parents who are also professionals are trying to navigate today.
I took a lot of sleeping pills at night and downed a lot of coffee in the morning in a miserable attempt to make myself into a morning person so we could all be on the same schedule--the schedule of a creature still overcome with excitement about waking up at 5: Because I was not feeling particularly excited about the part-time parenting role that I was starting to play.
Months rolled along, and surprising feelings clawed their way out of my gut that I was totally unprepared for. I am a reasonably confident, attractive, and competent woman. I do damn fine work at my job, and although I suffer the recurring existential crisis, I manage to hold myself together in a composed fashion fairly well.
Yet being around someone who was always gushing about how much he loved his son made me feel somehow inadequate. He was always going to pick his son over me--always--and I had to just accept it. I hate to admit that I was jealous of a three year old. Even writing it now I feel ashamed. Sadly, Dan was in a no-win on this one because if his attention had NOT been on his baby when we were together, I would have considered him a negligent parent not worth seeing and walked on the spot.
This was one thing I had always feared about dating a parent, and it completely came true. Other gross feelings crept out of their hiding places in my psyche too. To see how much Dan truly relished his role as a father, the joy that was evident when he was with his son made me yearn for the feeling of having in some way contributed to that happiness. That she gave him a beautiful baby who enriched his life in every way according to him and the best I could do was snuggle his head after he would fall into bed exhausted at night grew into a gnawing, furious burn.
And there was more. His baby cherry was popped. I realized that I didn't want a coach or a teacher--I wanted to experience the excitement of having a baby together with another nube. I wanted an equal. I wanted the intimacy that being an equal in a shared first-experience brings.