I have finally figured out why I can't figure out this whole dating thing. It's because the rules have all changed since the last time I was dating. Or maybe the problem is that I have changed.
The last time I was in the dating scene, I was a career woman with no children. Aside from the 40 hours, plus or minus, that I had to put in at my job to pay my bills, my time was my own. The choices I made affected only me. My own needs were the only ones I was responsible for meeting.
Now, I am a homeschooling mom of four children. My time is not my own, my choices affect five people, and I have five people's needs to meet.
This means that I have limited time for dating. No longer do I have every evening and weekend free to go out. Going out now means making sure one of my older children or some adult family member or friend is available to watch my younger kids. I feel guilty if I leave them too often. Additionally, I have to plan around their schedules, which aren't always predictable, because since none of them drive yet and we only have one vehicle, I am often in the role of taxi-driver.
This also means that I can't choose dating over all other leisure activities. No longer can I afford to choose not to sleep in favor of dating, because without sleep, I can't function well as a mom. I also can't choose to put off grocery shopping and allow my dates to provide my dinners, since most dates wouldn't want to buy for five extra people. :-) Nor can I choose to go out with just anyone. Plain and simple, if my kids don't like a man, he is out of the running.
This means, too, that I have others' needs to consider. No longer can I think first and foremost about what I need...I am responsible to meet my children's needs, and quite frankly, their needs come first at this stage in our lives. So things that could be put off or recheduled in favor of a date no longer can be. My children's needs must be met before I can go out and have fun.
All of this makes dating a totally different experience than it was in the past. Now dating needs to be more utilitarian. (Anyone want to go out for a fun night at the grocery store?) It needs to combine fun with responsibility, even if that responsibility is just taking my kids to their next event. (Anyone want to ride along while I drop the gang off at AWANA tonight?) And my date needs to impress not just me, but also my four children. (Anyone think you can outdo the man they've already picked out for me?)
So I will muddle through this. If I am honest, this time of not dating is good for me. It is helping me to figure out what my kids and I need and want in a man, which means that I am becoming more choosy and more responsible about who I will go out with. I'm also learning to wait on God and let Him bring the right man along, one who is willing to put up with all the complications of dating a mom-of-four. :-)