Today is the end of April is Autism Awareness Month. So I thought I would go out with a bang and talk about the impact that autism has on being a single parent…and dating.
When I first became single I did not know about PanKwake’s autism. Well, more accurately I did not have a label for it. I knew something was different about my child. I might have even suspected that difference was the Big A, but I could not just tell people that. But I am not sure that it even made such a big difference back then anyway. Being a newly single parent of a five year old was impediment enough. I went eighteen months celibate. Just me and PanKwake.
Then in the summer of 2012, I had an Olympic size summer romance. With an American Marine no less. Retired actually, but he was head of the security team in charge of guarding Team USA. It all began when I decided that celibacy was NOT working for me. Shhh…don’t tell anyone but I placed a Craigslist ad for a F-buddy. Marine Marco replied.
One of my son’s was living with us then and watched his baby sister so I could go on a first date with the man at the bar around the corner. The chemistry was explosive. To the point that we were examining tonsils in the booth and had all the Brits rolling their eyes at us. He was certainly a wonderful way to get my mojo back.
Until the night that I got too bold. My son was going out with friends so his room was available. I did the insanely stupid thing of inviting Marine Marco to mine…after I got PanKwake to sleep. Now, at this point she and I still slept in the same bed. What I had not counted on was, without me there next to her, well, I spent more time going to quiet her than I did with him. I ended up in tears apologizing.
It changed things between us too. We went from him talking about moving us back home to a whole week without a single message. I honestly thought I would never hear from him again. I did, but it was NOT the same after that night. And when the Olympics ended so too did my summer lovin’.
But the damage was done. Now mind you, I know that dating as a single mother is never easy. Been there, done that, own the t-shirt. But this was a whole new level. That experience changed how I looked at dating, relationships…and even myself as a woman.
Now I am not a big one for regrets. We are who we are because of the choices we made. But if I get one…It is Sven/Mikael, the man who inspired my Ægir’s series. He was the next man in my life…and I was still stinging from that one. So when he said, “I don’t mind if you have kid, but I can’t play daddy to anyone.” I said dealbreaker.
That sent me off on a wild goose chase…looking for my Brady Bunch. I got this crazy idea in my head that the only man, who could ever love and accept me was another single parent of an autistic kid. Guess what? I managed to find that in Captain America. Guess what else? We did not see eye-to-eye on how to raise them.
All those years searching for a purple unicorn only to discover that it was not really what you needed?!? So ironically, I know that Fate and the goddess are having a hell of a laugh at my expense, I am back to square one. But much wiser this time. I have learned that what you want and what you need are two very different things. And I am a better person for that.
Yes, dating is hard…for anyone. I see that with my beloved older daughter. It is harder still when you are a single parent. And when you are the single parent of an autistic child…you have hit the trifecta.
Want to hear comedy noir? I have a coffee date tomorrow. The guy even came from out of town for it. And as I am writing this blog…I get a message from PanKwake’s carer that she is ill and cannot make it tomorrow. Thankfully, my older daughter can. But still I know that I will deal with a very disappointed PanKwake…and possibly a meltdown over missing her Regina time.But that will be today…so wish me luck.
To end on a high note, things are changing though. Every day PanKwake is maturing. Doing things, tackling situations that even a year ago I would not have thought possible. It gives me hope…on so many different levels, not just love and relationships.
But the biggest change is in me. I no longer see myself as damaged goods, unlovable or having ‘too much baggage.’ I have come to realize something. Even being number two with me, I have more to offer a man than most women’s number one. The RIGHT man will see that. And if he ain’t the right man, well we don’t need him in our lives. PanKwake and autism just helps me to separate the wheat from the chaff quicker and easier.
Maybe our life on the spectrum is not for everyone, but my one will see it as the challenge, adventure and yes, fun that I do. Because the truth is that life with high-functioning autism is not that bad…just DIFFERENT.
And that, folks, is the ultimate in #AutismAcceptance!