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A lesson learned as single parent
I was asked to share my experience among other single moms like myself that still believe in romance and love. Before I start this story, I ask for readers to keep an open mind and to use judgment after you put yourself in my shoes. I have a philosophy about MY life and that is: I regret nothing that I do, but I always try to take away from each experience something that will make me a better mother, daughter, sister and friend. I am a 34-year-old single mom with two kids; a set of beautiful twins. I am a surgical assistant for a prominent surgical dermatologist in the Atlanta area. I consider myself to be an educated woman with good strong moral values and beliefs.
Shortly after my 8 year relationship ended with the father of my children, I became involved with a young man who I knew from my childhood. In fact, as a child I’d had a crush on him. We talked on the phone all night and would text all day. We had the best dates I’d ever had in my life! Because I was fresh out of a relationship, he was very understanding of that and never rushed me to become intimate or to do anything that I was not emotionally ready for. I just thought that was so amazing of him. I told him all about my kids and my need to keep them first in my life. I explained to him that I was not looking for a father for my kids. I never pressured him to meet my kids at all, greatly in part because I was not yet comfortable with the idea of them all meeting. You see, my kids as most kids do at their age thought of their dad as a superhero, the idea of me dating someone else…I was not ready to explain.
Being so new to dating again as a single mom, I wasn’t sure when the time was right. I’d asked other single girlfriends how they handled it and I’d read books about the subject (in particular Steve Harvey’s, Think Like a Man…) but all the advice was mixed. I had all kinds of answers everything from, let them meet him immediately to wait until you become serious and then there was my favorite…let my ex meet him first and then the kids. LOL! I decided to wait and see how things developed between the two of us first and then introduce him.
Around the 6 month mark I began to test the waters with my kids and hint around at the idea that mommy may have a new friend and they seemed okay with the idea when talking about it. After about 8 months of dating we both began to really express how we felt towards one another and my kids began to ask more and more about my whereabouts, when they were away with their dad so I felt that it was time for the meeting. I’d asked my man over to the house for a visit and I told the kids that we were having company and I explained that he was a friend and someone who I cared about a lot. I also explained that I wanted them to be respectful and nice to him. He came over on his motorcycle and my son was blown away with that move. He allowed my son to get on the motorcycle and he took pictures of him sitting on the motorcycle, at that moment he’d won over my son; he was officially okay with mommy dealing with him. However, my daughter was not so easy. She was never rude or disrespectful but she never warmed up to him at the first meeting. I didn’t push her to like him at all. I wanted it to be natural. About 2 months after everyone meeting, he began coming around more and more and it was always just for visits that lasted 30 minutes to an hour at a time. I would invite him over for dinner but he would always decline. My children are very outgoing and at times they can be little hams so they would want to put on a performance for him when he came around and at the moment I was thinking things were progressing just as it should and that we were doing fine but looking back (hindsight being 20/20) they were not.
Whenever he came by to visit, he would always be very withdrawn from us. I remember a few times he had come by and I had out the camcorder and I was recording the kids being silly and I would pan the camera over to catch his reaction and it was always a look of disinterest. When I would ask what was up with his disposition, he would always say that everything was fine… that he was just tired. Now I have to say that during all of these visits my son had warmed up to him very quickly and thought he was pretty cool, but my baby girl, now that was another story. Whenever he would come by she was always respectful but she just stayed in her lane. She would speak and then go to her room or come and sit by me. She would never interact with him; at first I thought she was just not pleased with the situation because it wasn’t her dad. I thought eventually she would get used to the idea and to him, but she didn’t.
Time continued to pass by and holidays, birthdays came and went and we soon were coming up on being together for almost 18 months and this is where things started to change. Throughout the relationship he had always been very romantic and thoughtful and such the gentlemen. He always respected the fact that I was a mother first and never expected me to put him before my kids. I remember like it was yesterday when things changed. It was Memorial Day weekend and I chose to work to earn some overtime. I only worked a few hours and then I was going to go home and pick up the kids and we were going to the park and have a small barbecue just the three of us and I decided to invite him. I called him to see if he was interested in coming and at first he said yes but then I mentioned that I had to go pick up the kids and he said and I’ll never forget “Oh –uh I wasn’t trying to be around them today I just want to see you” after explaining that I didn’t have a sitter and that it was a holiday and I had told the kids I would be with them he simply said, “Well call me later on. I don’t feel like dealing with all that today.” I had told the kids I would be with them he simply said, “Well call me later on. I don’t feel like dealing with all that today.” I was hurt and shocked. Later I became angry because until that point I had never asked him to any family outings or any other social setting other than dinner every now and then that he never accepted my invitation to . I was so angry that I decided I needed to end the conversation to prevent me from saying something that later I may regret. I waited a day or so before I called him back and when I got him on the phone, I let him know how I felt and how hurt I was. I was hurt because I felt that if he wasn’t ready after a year to deal with having to spend time with my children that this was never going to work. He tried to explain himself but it only made things worse. In his defense he said that he didn’t mind me having kids but he just didn’t want to see them and be around them. He said that he would prefer them to be at a baby sitter and not around us. I was furious not because of his what he said but in all honesty because I felt that a year of my life had gone to waste with someone who was pretending. Needless to say we didn’t stay together and my daughter was elated.
The idea of being with someone who long and having them pretend for that long infuriated me to know end; the hurt of the relationship not working out took some time to heal from but I did and writing this is therapeutic as well. My lesson learned the hard way is this: to all single moms trying to date, interview your potential mate the minute you realize the relationship is becoming more than just a fling. Began to see where his head is really at with kids and the idea of interacting with your kids. By that I mean, of course, he will say in the beginning he likes kids and he wants to meet your kids but when your ready, really began to grill him about it. I never thought of it that way before my situation happened. I thought he said he likes kids and eventually he wanted to be around them. I thought that was good enough but it makes so much sense now…I mean think about it, you interview your nannies, baby sitters, daycare providers and we have conferences and open houses with our child’s teacher to find out more about them; why not our potential mates? As I said in the beginning this is My story and a lot of you ladies may have already known to do that but when you are newly single from a long-term relationship you are “green” to the rules and what are the best ways to handle relationships.
Have you had anything similar happen to you?
What advice would you give a single mom who is new to dating?
Do you think that women should continue to date a man who does not their children or vice versa?
Photo Credits: madamenoire.com, theheartdiary.com, thegrio.com, bvblackspin.com, newsone.com, bgvillage.org, madamenoire.com