Long ago, as a newly divorced single mom, the thought of hitting the dating scene made my skin crawl. I was concerned how I would even fit a date into my insane schedule let along meet an acceptable guy. I knew my wardrobe wasn't up to snuff and had no idea how all the newfangled technology of texting and facebook figured into a relationship. But really, at the heart of my concern was my children...do I tell them I am dating, when is it appropriate to introduce them to a boyfriend (oh my gosh I am going to have a boyfriend?). How would this boyfriend react to my kids?
I was out on a date with my first victim who told me that I talked about my kids...a lot. He continued by saying that "most single guys consider a woman's children baggage" and he continued with "not that I do." Ok there buddy, thanks for clearing that up. A bit stunned I retorted with "well, I wouldn't date a man who considered my kids as baggage....any guy who is in my life better realize that it is a privilege to be let into the lives of my children." He was floored. I knocked him speechless. Score one for the single mom - no, sorry, I am not so pathetic that I would date a guy simply to have some arm candy...my guy has got to be in it not only for hanging out with me, but also for the privilege of being allowed in the presence of my children. And yes, he best consider himself lucky.
As a single mom, my children are not baggage, they are part of a package you get when you date me. And if I deem you as worthy of meeting them it is just as big of a honor as being Knighted by the Queen of England. As I assured my boyfriend, I would help him ease into the lives of my children. Now he is off and running striking that appropriate balance of spoiler and parent. He isn't their dad or an uncle - but somewhere in between those roles.
When I have my parenting time, he spends time with us. He is well aware of and embraces "the package deal." He has attended school plays, award ceremonies and sporting events. He's watched chick shows, 6 hours of the Olympic opening ceremonies and has downloaded a Glee trivia app on his iPhone to play with my kids. He spoils them by giving them too much arcade money and keeps birthday gifts appropriate. When we go to his house we play monopoly, poker, and he has taken them fishing. He stepped in and renegotiated their back to school shopping budget in their favor...there he might have gone too far, but I let him have his fun.
Now, every couple needs alone time. And I am lucky that my kids' dad is in the picture for long and short spurts of time so we can get away to escape life together. But at the heart of my life are my three amazing daughters, and my guy is all in... to help me and give them all that they need.
So ladies, please make sure to make it very clear that your children are not accessories. Your kids are literally part of the fabric that makes you fabulous. Before you even agree to officially "date" make your priorities and expectations clear. And if a guy rolls his eyes, complains about spending time with your children, or makes himself scarce when they are around...it's time to kick him to the curb and go find yourself someone worthy of spending time with you and your kids...just like I did.