Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Single Mom Seeking Revenge

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I celebrated my 35th birthday on July 20th.

For as long as I can remember, my mom friends have always referred to me as "the baby." After all, I had Mae when I was 28. When I joined a new mom's group in NYC, I was a decade younger than everyone else, and they teased me: "You're so young!"

But it is time to leave babyhood behind. Thirty five. You can't help but see the number as a rite of passage. It's the cusp of middle age. It's often the cut-off point for men who are seeking baby-making women (oh, yeah, I did that already).

Don't get me wrong. I love my life. I'm writing a 5th grade teacher's guide this summer for Pearson Scott Foresman. I'm doing yoga again. I'm picking up a super-happy camper (Mae) every evening, and we chat the whole way home.

But, but, but... Something still pokes at me. It usually hits after Mae is asleep. And usually I'm premenstrual. My kid is sleeping with me again. Our girl-kitten is sleeping with me. There is no man in sight. I start talking to myself:

You're turning 35, and you're still single. How the hell did THAT happen? You were supposed to be married by now. You were supposed to be celebrating your anniversary with a hunk of a loving man.

Believe me, I'm not hopeless. Really I'm not.

Not.

(Okay, maybe I am a little, for like five minutes every day.) It's just that some nights I'd love to feel a man squeeze up behind me as I wash the dishes-- or maybe even help me? -- or stay up late watching a movie together, or beam proudly with me as we watch Mae's hip hop dance on stage. This feels like a grown-up longing, not like when I was 30 and I just wanted flesh-on-my-flesh.

So, the other night, I got up and buzzed around the apartment. I washed the dishes. I looked at the moon. I checked my email. And that's when I got this crazy idea that maybe I'd go online and browse. Yes, as in, browse men.

Why not? I'm single again. Although I'm recently out of a relationship, I know who I am. I know what I need and want. The last time I looked online was in 2005. Ironically, both Yossi and I were on JDate, the premiere Jewish dating service, although our paths never crossed because he was above my preferred age range.

Even before I logged on, I had this foreboding that I'd see Him. Him as in Yossi.

And sure enough, there he was. Right there in my home. Right there on my desk. I should have turned computer off then and there.

He'd posted the exact same profile he'd used for five years running, the one that his woman-friend wrote for him (the same friend who had set us up). I was shaking as I scrolled down and read the familiar description -- well, except for one additional line, re: his "adorable" dog. He posted the same old photo, probably a decade old, before his black hair went gray. Oh man, women are in for a surprise.

He said that he owned "a succesful [sic] construction company." Maybe his next girlfriend will teach him how to spell successful.

He said that he was a "non-smoker." (Women, just don't breathe when you're around him, okay?) His said that his body type was "Firm and Toned." (Women, just don't lift his shirt and peek at his belly hanging over his jeans, okay?)

But this is what really got me. In response to what his "ideal relationship" would be, he said: "We support each other though thick and thin, with lots of romance and laughs along the way."

Clearly, I got the thick, but not the thin.

But this is what really made me stop breathing: Yossi re-posted his profile just one week after we'd moved out. One week! Ouch.

I'd been crying every single damn night for the past month, and here he was, back out there.

It was at this moment, in the midst of my angst, that I came up with this brilliant idea: somehow, someway, I would hack into Yossi's online dating profile and clear things up.

If I were Yossi, what would my password be? I shut my eyes. I guessed. I typed it in. On my very first try, I was in. My fingers were shaking. I felt bad, very bad. I wanted to laugh. I wanted to cry.

I was so tempted to make some major changes, like for his ideal relationship, I'd write: I dream of being with a woman whom I can impregnate, after which she'll cook me three meals a day and wash my underwear...

But no. He'd notice that. So, I went in and made some itsy, bitsy changes. I changed "non-smoker" to "smoker." And I changed his body type to "average" (although I really wanted to click on "a few extra pounds.") That's it.

I was so pumped that I couldn't sleep. To say that I felt triumphant, however, would be false. I'm not really a hacker. This was wrong. I'd never let my kid get away with something like this.

And as fate would have it, the next day, as I picked Mae up at camp, Yossi happened to drive past us. Berkeley is a small town and we were bound to run into each other. He was holding a cigarette out the car window, and when he saw Mae he dropped it onto the street.

That's when I outed myself, sarcastically, as I'm known to do when I'm hurt. I said from the sidewalk: "It's a good thing that you were honest about being a smoker on your profile."

He squinted his eyes at me. He didn't say anything. I didn't have it in me to keep this up. He jumped out of the car and gave Mae a hug. She kissed his dog. He said, "Hey, Rach." I said, "Hey, Yossi." I wasn't breathing.

That night, when I logged onto J-Date, he was a "non-smoker" again with a "firm and toned" body. His password had been changed. And so had I.

I'm a 35-year-old single mom now, and, yes, it gets lonely sometimes. Especially after Mae goes to sleep and I turn to a book in bed, when I what I'd really love to do is turn to a man. That grown-up longing isn't going away, but fortunately, there's a grown-up around here (yours truly) to keep me sane.

And to be sure, I'm not the only one going through rites of passages. Mae has been asking for months to get her ears pierced and a few days after my birthday, she said, "I'm ready, Mommy. Really." She wanted our former neighbor -- a freshman in high school whom Mae adores -- to come and hold her hand.

When it was time for the piercing, Mae sat up straight and stoic. As "the guns" went off, she didn't make a sound. Back at home, beaming in the mirror, Mae turned her head to admire the shiny gold posts. "Mommy, I was scared," she said. "But look, I'm a big girl now."

Here's to big girls all around.


Rachel Sarah lives and writes in the Bay Area. Her first book, Single Mom Seeking: Play Dates, Blind Dates, and Other Dispatches from the Dating World (Avalon/Seal Press) was published in 2007. She is also the author of the Literary Mama column, Single Mom Seeking. Rachel has written for Family Circle, Parenting, Tango, Bay Area Parent, Ms., Hip Mama, and American Baby. A journalist for the past decade, Rachel is also the single mom columnist for LifetimeTV.com. For more information, please contact Rachel through her website.


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Sweet story! Thanks for sharing! I just wish that you would have never outed yourself to your ex AND made additional subtle changes to his profile. Life blesses us in all sorts of different ways. While I have been blessed with a wonderful man for years and while I do have that special someone who snuggles up behind me as I do the dishes, I have not been blessed with the sweet kisses of a beautiful baby. I think your life is wonderful even without a man. You just have been given other gifts than some of us. :-)
Wow, I really identified with this. I'm turning 40 this year and wow, sometimes being a grown-up sucks.
Cheers! There's always more growing up to do. Usually the morning after.
You call that revenge? Rachel, you're too kind. (And he's lucky you're not like a lot of other women!) Sure it was "wrong" to hack into his profile and take the liberty of changing any of his information, but it was also "wrong" for him to ask you to give up your life as you knew it and move yourself and your child into his place, only for him to give up on the relationship a few months later. He had a very casual, cavalier attitude towards your relationship and not only was he not there for you in the ways that he should have been, but he deceived you, let both you and Mae down, and of course he HURT you. So I don't consider your changing his embellishments to truths a crime. You could have done a lot worse! And you are far from hopeless. It's natural to be disappointed that you aren't in the type of relationship you want at this stage in your life. But you know what? Life is what you make it. You made a mistake. So what. Pick yourself up and move on. REALLY move on. So he didn't waste any time getting back out there. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, feel sorry for the next woman that he misleads! Realizing what a schmuck he is should make it easier to get over him. And as the old saying goes, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." Be thankful for what you do have. And from getting to know you through your words, you have a lot.(A beautiful child, good friends, a lucrative career with steady income, and your gift for writing, to name a few!) I've kicked myself and felt sorry for myself many a day when I've thought about my failed marriage to my husband who was my high school sweetheart, best friend, and overall love of my life. But when I think about all of the hurt, pain, and disappointment he's caused to both me and our little girl, I realize that it's HIS loss. He's the one who's missing out on all that I have to offer a mate, the future we could have had as a family, and most of all, the joy of watching our daughter grow up. So Rachel, believe me, it's Yanay's loss, not yours. Amen to big girls!
Hey Rachel, I appreciate the advice you gave me about how to deal with my ex; my son should be here in a couple of weeks, if not sooner (I finally drove it home to the ex that I wanted to be there when she goes into labor. She still fears me because she constantly compares me to her ex-husband that forced her to get an abortion two years ago, slept with other women while they were together, and never paid the rent... well, I was and still am, the opposite of that piece of crap). Some of you may wonder why I am putting my two cents on this one... Well, I've seen the damage some people can do to each other; while experiencing firsthand the pain that follows. I am only twenty one and currently serving in the military. Soon to be a father who is struggling financially. My basis for fatherhood is how I was raised. My father raised a family of four kids (two girls and two boys; me being the third child and oldest son). My younger brother and I shared a room together growing up, and could hear all of the shouting matches our parents had late at night for years. My brother once told me, "Make them stop, Scott. I can't take it anymore." So, I would play some music loudly, and sing every word to cheer him up. It would soon become a team karaoke event and worked. As time passed, my parents worked out their problems and are celebrating their 27th wedding anniversary soon. On the contrary, my cousin grew up without a father for more than half of his life; not because his father was a piece of shit, but because his father had MS and was placed in a nursing home. His father's memory is gone and to this day doesn't recognize the fact that he has a son; my cousin. Then, there's the other influence; My uncle Tom. He's a dirtbag if I've ever seen one. He cheated on my aunt, got a divorce because he knocked up the neighbor and abandoned his 'real' family (wife and four children) to raise a new family with his personal hooker. My aunt felt the shock, cared for her children and began dating. She's close to fifty and still living like she was when she was in college. Even though the game is different, she still knows how to have fun with it. I know this is damn near my life story, but my point is - If my aunt can still have fun and date while being 47, then Rachel, you are no means past your prime. Good men still exist (I'm not talking about the "nice guys" but the ones who understand the big picture and learn how to balance being an asshole and a nice guy; and have also been around the block with the whores). I wish you the best of luck. Oh, by the way; If people send you hate-mail accusing you of being a stalker by hacking that account... tell them to screw-off because he's committing false advertising. If you're fat, don't be afraid to admit it. Be prepared to fix it. Smoking can be hard to give up, I still chain smoke on the regular. He just needs to hike up his skirt and be a man. No excuses... Just right.
Struggle is what makes us strong, pressure is what makes us diamonds...you will be fine, you were more committed so you are feeling it more than he is. To be involved with someone as a single mom really puts us out there, so the break up is that much worst. I'm going through a transtition right now also. Me and my two children were about to move to California with my mate, at the last minute (an opportunity came up for me in NY) it's not happening. I seemed more devastated than him, because he was focused on the financial pressures. We are still together (this is 1 week recent) but I'm not sure what will happen, I feel like devoting all my energy just to my children and patients and hold out until I get what is really meant for me. So go out and do something for yourself, the happier you are the happier the children are.
Great story, Rachel! You're so sassy! I told this tale to a girlfriend of mine who's going through the post break-up blues and it totally lifted her spirits. Here's to truth in advertising, eh?
Rachel, how do I hot link to this? DaYUM!
So the interesting thing about these dating websites is you actually get a look into what a person wants to be, what s/he is thinking, and in Rachel's case - an opportunity to take that fictional self-perception and switch it back to reality. I'm sure Rachel was spending nights post break-up wondering 'what is he thinking and doing?' and now she has a clue. Knowing that Yanay was out and dating and living in a fictionalized world hopefully gave her the kick to stop lamenting a guy who can't even own up to his real self.
Rachel, brava to you for naming that grown-up longing, accepting it, and still moving forward. xoxoxoxo, ~Deesha
Wow, I'm floored by all of you... Thanks for being there. When I'm not so worn-out at 10:06 p.m., I'll be back with more coherent thoughts. Hugs, Rachel
35 is not old. I remember lusting after a 40 year old woman when I was 5 years younger. Now she's 50 and she's still got that something. Oh sorry, for us guys, it usually starts with lust. Washing dishes comes later.
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