I have met some people who swear that while growing up, they never had dreams of getting married and raising a happy family. Growing up, I didn’t know many of them. If you met me now you wouldn’t believe I was once that starry eyed child; I was going to meet a man just like my father and raise gorgeous babies with him. Today, I am 32 year old single mother of one and very far from that dream, through both choice and destiny.
I, together with many South Africans, watched on Sunday as DJ Zinhle wrote a series of heart-breaking tweets over what we could only assume must be over her much publicised split from the father of her daughter rapper AKA. One tweet stood out for me, ‘I have been humbled but I accept’. As a woman who has been humbled by life a couple of times, I empathised and sympathised that she felt compelled to make such a public declaration.
It got me thinking about what it means to be over thirty and dating, and a ‘dream’ whose life has just been snuffed from it. When you are pregnant, you make promises to your unborn child, including giving them a happy home. We never imagine that a happy home might mean a home with just mommy or daddy. It does not help either that the circumstances around a one-parent- home are often heart-breaking and shattering, in many ways. These situations may be humbling but as Zinhle so aptly put it, we do move on.
When we do move on though, as you can imagine, our hearts are no longer what they used to be, they are hardened in parts and are overall second-hand. With these changes, surely the rules of engagement should be different? For example there are things that I know I have had to compromise on, like the way a man looks in jeans. Giving up my ideals is not my only change though, here are top three things MY second-hand heart is no longer willing to accept.
He loves me, he loves me not! Like an American kid who has woken up the truth about the existence of Santa Claus, a thirty two year old no longer believes in the false cuteness of uncertainty. It’s really very simple, are we doing this or not? If you take my number and start texting me random ‘good mornings’ does not mean we are dating. Otherwise I have things to do and places to be.
Bad sex. Most of us have been here. You meet a guy, he’s nice, texts you and knows to sit in silence while you lose yourself in a great book; but the sex isn’t amazing. But you stay because ‘he’s really nice’. Until he breaks your heart and you are left crying over a glass of wine telling your friends of the nights you had to finish the job. Luckily for the guys I will meet, this means that there will be no ninety day rules here, I am not trying to be met by surprises.
Oh, and this second hand heart no longer wants a man like my dad, I love my father but one of him is enough for a lifetime.