Tuesday, June 2, 2015

SWF seeks SWM, Must Like Goats

My relationship with Bubba took a long, slow decline into oblivion.  Not even tortured really.  More like a car running out of gas and drifting to a stop on the side of the road.  The goats and children kept us together the last 6 months, until I finally pitched the ultimatum: “I need to be at least as important to you as the goats.”  He moved out the next day.  Hooray for honesty, I guess?
In the process of running out of gas, I had soulfully contemplated what I needed and wanted in a relationship (a process I highly recommend, by the way).  I had done all my crying on my pillow before Bubba left, so by the time it was officially “over” I was primed to move on – immediately.  eHarmony here I come.
I know, I know.  Online dating is scary and seedy and desperate.  But, really, where are you supposed to meet men when you are driving carpool, doing laundry and herding goats?  I was game.  I answered every last stinkin’ question on the lengthy questionnaire and dug up some photos of myself that did not include children, goats, or ex-es.  I launched my profile page with an earnest prayer to the universe: “Please, don’t let the creepers find me.”  That was on a Sunday.
I confess that online dating is a real hoot.  Katherine (age 15) and I would look at the “matches” and howl with laughter.  Men standing next to motorcycles/boats/cars.  No way.  Men on bicycles/skis/camels.  Next. 
[As an aside, my self-proclaimed parenting style is “transparent.”  I advise my children that if you feel too embarrassed to tell your mom/kids/friends what you are doing then you definitely shouldn’t be doing it.  Hence, Katherine looked over my should at the eHarmony site.]
On Monday, one day later, an interesting match popped up.  For this blog, I will christen him “David.” Ten years older than me - ok; one (older) child - good; dog included in a photo – nice; employed – check; handsome – sold.  I sent him a “smile.”  To my utter amazement, he responded.  In case you aren’t familiar with the online dating process, the next step is to send essay questions back and forth to see if the person is worth your time.  He sent me this question: “what is in your refrigerator?”
Hmm.  My profile page said I have children, but not 7.  It said I “like” animals, but didn’t say I live on a goat farm with a petting zoo.  This question was going to make or break the deal.  “Transparency” is the best policy, and besides, he would learn the truth eventually.  Might as well get it over with quickly.  So I typed back: “Leftover pot roast from the crock pot, 3 kinds of milk (whole, 2% and skim), two bottles of wine (champagne and sauvignon blanc), and a box of goat medicine (penicillin, Bo-Se, Nuflor, tetanus antitoxin, etc).”  Send.
David took a few hours to respond, during which time I thought I had surely scared him off.  Turns out he was working!  Novel concept.  He wrote, “Can I call you tonight?”  Well, sure!  
I found a quiet spot (outside) and we talked for over an hour.  I told David about the 7 kids, which took him by surprise.  Who wouldn’t be? I told him about the goat farm, which baffled him.  He had never seen one before – but who has?  He had divorced twice and had a son in college.  At the end of the call we set a date for two nights later.  Why waste more time with the weird questions?  Bubba had been gone….a week.  I was still busy packing his stuff, but I made time to get a hair appointment and manicure.
Long story short, eHarmony has a bang-up set of algorithms.  David and I hit it off immediately and haven’t looked back.  Within a month David had met (most) of my children and visited my farm, and we had de-activated our eHarmony accounts.
In the ensuing months, David has camped in the barn with Katherine and me while Katherine helped a goat give birth to triplets.  All by the light of a lantern!  He has stood in the goat pen at dusk, taking calls for work, with the livestock dog by his side, watching Katherine and me herding goats into a catch pen.  “Can you repeat that?  There’s a lot of noise over here…” I heard him say into the cell phone.  He has attended several goat shows, where he has been put to work handing out ribbons. He has regaled his co-workers with pictures of baby goats, videos of goat births, and stories of mountain lions.  As a physician, David has discussed the pros and cons of various medications with Katherine, who thinks that a little dose of dexamethasone will cure whatever ails ‘ya; he once talked her out of taking it herself (thank you, honey).
We laugh at how different our lives are and how much we each bring to the conversation.  I can honestly say that our paths never would have crossed without an online intervention, for which I am eternally grateful. 

The single most important thing I can do as a parent is to model a happy adult existence for my children.  They look to me for little glimpses of what their own futures will hold.  Do I want to show them a bitter, monotonous, lonely life devoted exclusively to working, driving carpool, cooking dinner and doing laundry?  Or do I want to show them, firsthand, that it is possible to survive breakups, have loving relationships, and lead a fulfilling (whacky) adult life?  All of that, in addition to raising children and working?  I think you know the answer, and it is my deepest hope that the children do, too.  

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