I had times as a single woman and mom when I was fine not juggling a relationship on top of all the other obligations on my plate. I was ready to be content with being single or married even though I knew God knew my desire to marry.
Some time ago I woke up and thought (insert thought bubble), wow I am actually married! That really humbled me because I remember so many moments when I thought this may or may not happen.
Now is the time to share my story and hopefully encourage others.
A Shy Late Bloomer
I was born and raised in Toronto Canada and I am the oldest; my sister is 3 years younger than me. Canada is awesome and we had a great childhood because of our loving, wise and committed parents. Our family moved to Central Florida in 1990 and I completed my senior year at Lake Gibson Senior High School.
Growing up I was pretty shy and never dated in high school, but had a lot of crushes who never knew I was all googly eyed about them! I honestly partly wanted to have a boyfriend and was partly terrified about the process of talking to a boy, going out on a date, and him meeting my parents!!!! ***beads of sweat and hyperventilating in 3,2,1*** So I like to think that my introduction into the world of dating and boys was late …. I was a late bloomer.
My parents founded and pastored a church in Toronto and had an awesome connection to the young people in our church. So, even though my parents told us everything pertaining to the “birds and the bees”, dating/courting, marriage, etc. I didn’t take advantage of their knowledge and life experiences.
Senior year was interesting because I remember finding it fascinating and funny that everyone was excited about having a date for prom, homecoming or going to football games. For me I was all “Yawn” what’s the big deal about prom and what is a homecoming? Yup, oblivious, clueless and ready to get outta dodge and explore the world. After high school, I joined the USAF, United States Air Force, and after basic training in Texas I was assigned to Lowery AFB in Denver, Colorado.
Fun and Single Military Life
My time in Colorado was where I started to date and discover the many crossroads that a young, single woman can encounter. While in the USAF I partied a lot, went to church, and enjoyed hanging with my girls and guy friends. I also enjoyed shopping and exploring the world of trying to make decisions as a single woman. I was in my twenties and thought I definitely was sure I knew what I wanted to do…. really? But even though my parents and Gods word were my foundation I did make decisions that tested my faith – in good and challenging ways.
It was during this time that I bounced between the influence of the friends around me and wanting to fit in and staying the course of obedience. I didn’t date often because I was also very career focused and desired to go to the officer academy in Colorado Springs. I went on what I call “one-date-wonder-dates”, one date and no follow up. It was probably for the best in some respects and I believe Gods protection.
While in the USAF I met who became my daughters’ father. Our first date had a follow-up date and a series of many moments spending time together. It was in this relationship that my world changed drastically when I found out that I was pregnant. Let’s says the fog, and high of doing what I wanted to do cleared and reality of my new life was very real.
I’m Pregnant! Now What?
Disbelief was my first emotion when the doctor told me that I was pregnant. The second emotion was utter disappointment in myself and third I was afraid of what my family and friends would think. I was raised with a foundation and education of marriage, family, and children that was based on the bible. Mingled in that foundation I also had (and have) my freewill to make choices.
My life choices humbled me and brought me to my knees in front of God and I prayed to make better choices moving forward. I was experiencing a roller coaster of emotions and so was the father to be along with my parents and sister.
It was tough for me in the beginning, but I am very grateful for the village of support that surrounded me while I carried my daughter and also served in the USAF. My daughter’s father and I never married because I did not believe in marrying because of a pregnancy. I told him that I just wanted him to be there for Jazmin and me. Over the next few years I left the USAF honorably and moved back to Lakeland, Florida to move in with my parents.
Returning Home with New Priorities
Returning to Lakeland with my baby under my parent’s roof gave me support plus another chance to pursue new goals as a young mother and single woman. My parents are amazing, and they provided Jazmin and myself a great environment. I can’t put into words how much they contributed to helping me raise Jazmin.
They also helped me remember that being single and dating changed because my priorities now included my daughter. Yes, I had liberty to have solo time with friends and go out, but it definitely changed who I would date and more importantly who I would feel comfortable bringing home to introduce to my family and Jazmin.
My priorities shifted for the better and it was what kept me focused. Of course, I had my moments when I wanted to meet the man of my dreams. Keeping busy working, being a mom, being a daughter, full-time student and many other obligations really pushed that dream away. Dating was infrequent and when I did date someone it really didn’t hit any place of depth partly because I trusted my gut, or I just couldn’t juggle giving more time for a relationship.
“Being a single mom taught me so much about communication”
Being the mother Jazmin needed was priority from before she was born. Her dad and I agreed to do our best and co-parent. Of course, that is easier said than done but being a single mom taught me so much about communication, life priorities and relationships.
I always wanted to be sure that she did not have any confusion of who her dad was. As she grew older, I helped her understand the dynamics of my relationship with her dad. In fact, to this day her dad and I (and his wife) are great friends. So, when I did date, I had no urgency to introduce my daughter to the (few) men that I dated because I really believed that it was important to keep that priority in order.
Single Mom Love
I loved being a single mom even though there were times that I wish there was a man in our life that loved me completely along with Jazmin. But God provided my village for myself and Jazmin in other ways through my parents, and longtime friends who we called family.
As a single mother I learned to keep a routine for myself and for Jazmin which morphed as she grew up. Spending quality time was so important, taking time to read to her, play, take her out to the park, surround ourselves with family and friend she could play with that I approved of. I also found that I needed resources that I could refer to so I could be as prepared as I grew as a mom and Jazmin grew up.
I found Focus on the Family a great resource especially for the teenage years and for me to learn how to handle motherhood in the good, bad and ugly times. Mistakes were sometimes unavoidable because I would hit my limit from juggling of obligations. As a single parent learning curves can come at you sideways, I sometimes felt like I was drowning and overwhelmed. Then there were those great moments when things were easy.
Dating as a Single Mom
Dating was mostly on the back burner and as my daughter was getting older, I thought when she is out of high school and in college then I will focus on me. I was never the single mom who could manage being in a committed relationship, well I didn’t think I could. I only dated two men and the longest one was a year. The other guy was in the category that I call “I should’ve never bothered” because that relationship didn’t have anything concrete and I couldn’t deal with his inconsistencies.
I never considered myself to have any success with long term relationships, but I believed that my time would come when it was supposed to. Now I am not trying to sound like that was easy especially when I had so many close friends who were with their loves or getting engaged or married. I did feel left out of the “I do” club. Fortunately, I clung to my relationship with God even when it was tough, and I was frustrated with my status.
A Turning Point
Along the way to this point I did have amazing people, family and friends, who were also praying and encouraging me. I also took time for some counseling from one of my Pastor’s – Pastor Joyce Thomas (Grandma Knows Best: Wisdom for Life by Joyce Thomas). In one conversation about being a parent and my challenge at the time, she also asked me about my dating life. Her discernment is no joke! She recommended that I try online dating and gave me a few to look into.
So, I did!To be continued…
How did online dating turn out for Tamay? Stay tuned and subscribe here so you don’t miss out on part 2!