So another relationship ended a couple of months ago and I am back to the wilds of dating life. This week I have my first first date in a couple of years and am of course contemplating how to juggle dating and caregiving for Mom.
I find myself staring at the question on the online dating site I frequent: “Would you date someone who still lives with his/her parents?” Answer– from every guy who appears like an interesting date for me: “No.”
And then there is the message from someone who thinks he is being creative by asking me what the movie about my life would be titled. I ponder whether I share one of my possible titles for my memoir about this whole caregiving journey. Not quite the plan?
At what point does one mention, by the way, I live with my mother with rapidly advancing dementia? Is this a topic for the first or second date, or the twentieth? Or even via email before the date if I share my honest answer to this man’s question? How will any of them react? The questions overwhelm me. I know and value the incredible life lessons caregiving has taught me but fear my choices make me a far too complicated woman in a pool of less complicated and of course younger women.
Even Google provides me with no answers. An internet search for dating and caregiving finds me various musings on dating for caregivers caring for spouses who explore dating on the side as their spouses’ conditions worsen. Complicated also, but nothing like what I am navigating. An article on Match.com only depresses me as it explains, ” 40 million people — most of them baby boomers — provide care to an aging parent.” It does however provide the helpful advice to manage my time wisely.
This does however give me a new idea for my memoir title: If only I was a baby boomer.
For my friends who read this blog, let me start by clarifying that I have not recently acquired a husband.
Yet, in Mom’s mind, some days I have. There is a guy friend of mine who has been coming around to dinner on occasion for quite some time so Mom has gotten to know him rather well over the past years living with me. He and I have recently started dating under Mom’s observation. Just barely into our dating phase, Mom was talking to me one day and mentioned something about my husband.
After a moment of conversation it became clear who she was referring to and that there was no way of correcting this particular confusion. Mom has been despairing of finding me a good guy and is satisfied with this one. Some days Mom seems to think we have babies as well; yesterday she asked me the name of my baby boy. I guess wishful thinking gets especially interesting when one has dementia!
So when NotHusband came over to dinner a few weeks ago, still before even some kind of relationship defining conversation, I had to explain to him as we walked up to the house that Mom had defined our relationship for us. I warned him of his new role or roles in my life and that Mom might be using some loaded terms to describe us. It might be at the top of the list of most awkward conversations ever. NotHusband asked if he had missed the invitation to his wedding. As I said, most awkward conversation ever.
Both of my parents had a tendency toward the match-making, but this takes it to a whole new level. Mom always used to joke that she would do a better job picking out my husband and I guess at this stage she is simply done with giving me the chance to do it myself.
As a typical 30 something, online dating has been a constant in my life for the past few years. When not in a relationship, I have profiles up and active, in the hope that one day I will find someone and join the ranks of my friends raising small children. How this will happen while balancing a job and the caregiving, I am not certain but I am not willing to give up on it.
Since one of my mother’s major preoccupations in life is marrying me off, I finally realized that we might as well make online dating a joint endeavor. We scroll through profiles together almost every day. Usually, we begin with a discussion of why the people I look at list “straight,” on their profile which entertains me every time she asks. But, Mom is quite adept at quickly assessing their photos. Today, she rejects one man for his eyes closing too much when he smiles while a man holding a cat in his picture gets high marks. She tells me the guy with the cat might be the guy for me. I ask, “based on his face?” And she says, “No, for his deep emotions.” And cracks up.
I message the guy with the cat. She is right; he does look like a nice guy.