At almost 35, people are often surprised at the fact that I don’t have children. If my grandmother could do anything about it, I swear she would. Last year she said to me, ‘Vero, when I was your age, I had more than 5 children already. What are you waiting for? Jy is groot genoeg!’ Oh well, that’s my grandmother and I love her to bits. To me, it’s just another day at the office. I don’t feel like there’s a missing piece to the puzzle of my life so I am not perturbed by people’s constant questioning of my biological clock.
I recently stumbled upon a Television series titled ‘Single dad seeking,’ which is pretty much a form of dating show where single dads are looking for love. The dads go online to find love and then choose a partner based on video interactions online. The women then move in with the dad and his child(ren) to try out the whole dating scene and see if they would be compatible with each other. I could have told them this was a bad idea, but that would drain the sap out of reality Television now wouldn’t it? I was intrigued by what the men would look for in choosing the women. Things like, she’s a teacher so she must love children, she’s very hot, she smiles a lot, she’s so attractive, she says my son is cute and seems interested in my children and so it goes… I chuckled. Needless to say, as they started their lives, thing s were not so rosy and I couldn’t help but relate with some of how the women felt.
A disclaimer before I continue. I am no expert in relationships or parenting – quite the contrary actually. So I speak from my own experiences and observations which may vary with yours. This blog will be geared more towards dating a guy with children as that’s what the TV series is about and that’s what I’m familiar with.
One of the most difficult things for me to adjust to when I got married was what felt like an invasion of my space. Not only did I have to share a house with a new husband after I had lived alone for a while, but there was also another little presence to live with. I suppose I always wished or dreamt that when I got married it would just be my husband and I for at least two years before children came, but that was not always possible. So in a way, having to share my husband was something I had to get used to. Over time it got better and the house had so much life with the little guy around, but it was certainly not as easy to adjust to as I had thought.
Being an overnight parent was overwhelming. I woke up one day and I was a parent! No preparation, no pregnancy, no 9 months bonding, nothing. I didn’t know it would be so difficult. I must say that it took me a minute to process. Here was a man whom I loved and by extension it meant I also loved his son or at least was expected to. Often we don’t link this equation. I know some ladies think ‘I don’t have to love his child, I love him.’ Oh you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s a package sweetheart, take it or leave it.
When a couple is in love and they plan their future, they each have their own dreams and expectations of the relationship and of each other. Another great disappointment for me was the fact that if we had our own children, nothing would be new to him. He knew what each cry meant, what stages the child would go through, discipline methods, different types of formula and diapers etc… He had been down the road before, and although he assured me he would be just as excited, the thrill of having a baby together as first time parents would not be there and that was a dream I knew I had to surrender. It may seem insignificant, but it may be something to consider if you’re a sentimental person. Perhaps this could also be looked at in a positive light because as least one of the pair does know something about children. Besides, my mom tells me that no two children are the same and that my siblings and I were all different and thus required different raising strategies. Oh well… worth a thought.
Single parents I have spoken to and in my experience place their children as number one and I completely get why. When a parent considers bringing someone else into their childrens’ lives, they have to keep the children’s interests at heart, it only makes sense. It is just something the other party needs to consider because often it may feel like one fights for attention. As someone who doesn’t have children, some of your decisions / suggestions as a non-parent about the child may come under some serious scrutiny. It may not be easy to overlook that, but just be aware if it does happen. It’s true that I wouldn’t know how a parent would respond in every single situation, but at times it may feel as though being child-less also rendered one brain-less. What this can potentially do in the long run is make one feel despondent and as though you can never measure up in your daunting attempt to mother.
The baby mama is going to be a part of your lives and it is not all of them who will be open to a relationship with you depending on the circumstances of the breakup. In the same breath, there are women out there who are not interested in the drama but more in the best interests of their babies so not all of them have dramas. I certainly didn’t have major baby mama dramas other than our differing opinions in how she should be included in our lives. I didn’t always agree with how he dealt with her, but for my peace of mind, I knew that I could never wish her away and that now and then, her name would come up and I would have to be a big girl and address the matter at hand without being personal. The baby’s mom and I developed a good relationship in the process which is an ideal situation for the sake of all involved.
It was told to me that the child would at times act out and hate on me and although I was prepared for it, it sometimes still took the life out of me. When he would say things like, ‘I want my mommy,’ ‘My mommy doesn’t do it this way,’ ‘You’re not my mommy and I hate you,’ these can be quite hurtful. I think children naturally wish for their parents to be together and you may look like the stumbling block to that dream hence the outbursts. Also, not all couples really talk to their children about the effects of a break up and these can have lasting consequences on children. Just remind yourself that it’s not in all cases that the children really hate you in the true meaning of the word, but more what you represent; a stumbling block. You represent a hindrance to the child’s family being complete so perhaps for a child, it’s probably one and the same thing. Learn how not to let that get under your skin, otherwise, you can easily slope into an evil step mother. It probably is a confusing time for the child so you will have to adult and empathize.
It is not easy to love someone else’s child as your own especially if you have no idea how it feels like to love your own, or if you don’t have a great desire to have them. Lately, I have an inch of an idea since my nephew was born and I love him to heaven and back but I’m told it’s not the same. I have friends who have adopted children and would kill for them and also friends who were raised by step fathers with amazing relationships. Perhaps in the beginning you will use a little bit of heart and a little bit of head as you get used to the idea and hopefully, you move to using a lot more of the heart as you learn how to be an instant parent. When dating a person with children, you are going to have to understand that they are a package, and if you cannot accept their children, I would caution against pursuing the relationship. If you are not honest about how dating this person really makes you feel, you are only extending life problems and could take it out on an innocent child.
So take a minute to think through your decision before pursuing the relationship. Blended families are all around us. Some are flourishing with great compromise, love and communication, while others are experiencing great difficulty. Go in with a lot of love to give and be honest with yourself. Love that man and his child if you choose to proceed because you can’t successfully have one without the other.
Having said all the above, I would love to hear from single parents how they deal with dating. I can’t imagine its easy trying to find love as a single parent or is it??