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by Brendah Nyakudya,  a single mum to a 4yr old girl. Admittedly not the best cook, but loves exploring the outdoors with her little one. A political and social commentator she has just started a blog As I see it. During the day she works for management consultants in Johannesburg.

Every so often my daughter says “Mommy I am going to marry Ben tomorrow, because he is my boyfriend and he said so”.   Its sweet and I earnestly pray that for her love is indeed that simple.

As a single parent, love and dating are such complicated issues.  On the  one hand I am an easy date because of my hassled lifestyle.  Anything that doesn’t include me cooking and begging someone to eat, far away from the constant cries of “mommy, mommy” would be my idea of a romantic date. So on a bad day, a drive to McDonalds with an adult man, just the two of us would be romantic.

But on the other hand, because I am a single parent, I am the toughest client to please.  People always assume that when someone has a child its harder to get back into the dating game. It’s a correct assumption.  But the mistake they make is thinking the child is the hindrance to them having a social or a love life – the opposite is true, it’s us, the paromancerents, who get in the way.

As a single mom I have become even more cautious and critical when approaching the dating game, because I now have a little life and heart I am responsible for.  I no longer have the luxury to just “kick it” and see how it goes. People say I am too picky but I have to be!  The minute someone shows interest it would be remiss for me as a mother to not gauge how they would be as a parent.  It’s too risky getting attached to someone who cannot connect with your child.

Trust is another big issue because unfortunately the world we live in is cruel and dark. Everyone has read those devastating stories of sexual and physical child abuse at the hands of those we loved, trusted and let into our lives.  How do you protect your child from that?

And that’s not all! Logistical factors also come into play. When do you introduce your child to a “suitor?”  Do you do it early in the game, before you get attached, so you can test it out but risk your child being introduced to lots of different men should it not work out or do you wait until you are sure, which has its own disadvantages should they not get along and you have already fallen in love.

All these things rush through my head the minute someone asks for my number and it may seem psychotic, but it’s my reality and these fears and issues are real and sometimes too daunting to even face for “dinner and a maybe”.

Which would probably explain why this Valentines I will be having dinner and dancing with the love of my life (read: forcing a 4year old to eat and then jumping around to Boogie Beebies).

But I will sleep happy, content and in love.

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