It’s so easy to talk about my kids and the silly things they do. It’s easy to write about crazy things other parents do or the stuff my ex-husband does without asking me. It’s not nearly as easy to write about myself or what is going on in my personal life as a single mom. So I’m going to take a stab at it….
I was engaged last year to a guy with kids and was scheduled to get married in July. I met B by chance while out with mutual friends. In fact, earlier that night, I had been on a disappointing blind date. B was pretty over the top romantic from the beginning. He would feed me mushy lines, want to talk on the phone for hours, and after only two weeks told me that he knew we were going to fall in love and get married. He managed to drop the L word after only six weeks and honestly it scared me a little. He would tell me how I was his perfect girl and that he knew we were meant to be together all the time. In fact, being so open with his feelings pushed me away some in the beginning. My best friends will tell you they didn’t think the relationship would make it three months because I was the girl who typically ran. I thought either fairytales really do happen, or he’s a stalker and they are going to find me in a basement someday. Haha.
I was extremely careful when it came to my kids. They originally met him as my friend. We took all the kids out as a chance for them to meet and get to know each other. I didn’t allow B to stay the night while my kids were home until probably 8 months into the relationship. I didn’t want to send them the wrong message or allow them to get too attached.
After about a year, we started discussing merging our families, living together and getting married. All of the kids had mixed feelings about this but we both said we would make it work. Although B constantly ensured me he couldn’t wait to merge our homes, he was a little sad about selling the house he worked so hard for. We worked diligently on the house for months preparing it for sale. Once listed, no one was interested. B paid way too much for the house with 40 steps to the front and severely slanted floors. This caused so much stress in our relationship. Our wedding date was quickly approaching and we hadn’t sold the house. To top it off, B was working ALL the time and I constantly had the kids by myself. B’s oldest was becoming very resentful. He wanted his time with his dad and wasn’t too crazy about me in the first place. When I didn’t have the kids, I was attending events with B for his job. I also had a busy life between my work, soccer with A and my son’s activities.
In addition to stress caused by four kids who weren’t siblings, B never seemed satisfied with the amount of time I was able to give him. There were times when I felt it probably wasn’t going to work but then he would do something over the top romantic like write me a song or give me a love note and I’d be sucked back in.
B had borrowed money from me often (I KNOW – big red flag) but I had no idea how bad things really were. A few weeks before breaking up, I found a notice from the Sherriff’s office. Although B wasn’t ready to be honest, within a few days I discovered his house was about to be foreclosed on. I knew that I was the only one who could qualify for the loan (other red flag) but I was okay with that because he was supposed to provide the down payment. (Note: he did save the house, which I’m glad he was able to do for the sake of his kids.)
Communicating became very difficult. I knew that it was time to end things but all I could think about is how not having him as a part of my life would impact my children and how much I would miss his children. I also kept holding on to the person he was in the beginning. After a few weeks of arguments, avoiding each other, etc… we finally broke up. It was extremely difficult. I was a mess for a while. Although I knew that he was not a good man to have in my life (I do realize I was not perfect), my life was changing. Some for the good; No more work events on evenings and weekends, no more loaning out money, no more stressing over how the kids will get along… No more dealing with someone who is so unorganized that they can barely make it to work on time or take care of simple household necessities. My kids were devastated. I felt like a horrible mother.
Two months later my kids were finally starting to feel normal again. We went to a huge festival that my family organizes. My entire family attends every year and we are treated as VIPs. Not being considerate of mine or my kids’ feelings, B, who has no association with the festival, showed up with a date. My children were angry and I was shocked since he knew we would be there.
Because we live in such a small town, we hear everything. He and the girl from the festival moved in together only a few months later and got engaged over Christmas. As one of my closest friends said: “Some people like to come home and drink a six pack each night, some like to tailgate in the fast lane and others like to get engaged a couple times a year.” You have to love friends!
I told my kids about the engagement so they wouldn’t hear from someone else. You could tell they were surprised but they both asked if I was okay (I was) and made a few jokes about him being engaged again so soon and dropped it.
The hardest part of all of this was being there for my crushed kids, while I was also hurting. I will always bounce back but seeing my kids hurt was crushing. I haven’t dated much since the breakup. Not because I’m not over it – I am – but because I can’t imagine putting my kids through something like this again. A friend recently told me that dating with kids isn’t hard if it’s the right person but you know, it takes a while to figure out if they are or not. This friend also has two children and remarried. However, she married someone without kids. I think that makes a difference.
I know it has taken me a lot of words to get to the point here but hey all you single parents: how do you date and protect your kids? Do you bother dating? Do you think it’s easier for those with kids to date someone without kids? I’m sure married people have some great advice too. Give it to me!
P.S. Please do not say “it sounds like you are better off” or “you dodged a bullet” or anything else like that. I am aware of that! J This is not to focus on him but more to tell my experience with relationships. I want to talk about how to have a successful dating life with kids. 🙂
P.S.S. This is really hard for me to actually post. I’m putting a lot of my inner thoughts and emotions on the table. However, I am always open to feedback and look forward to receiving constructive input.