It’s been four weeks now.
My new relationship status is beginning to sink in.
I have a boyfriend, and I’m actually enjoying it immensely. Usually at this point fear takes over and I start pushing them away. I slowly eject them from my life, or cut it clean depending on my mood. But this time, I’m not feeling that way. I’m not stressed at all. I’m completely comfortable with him and totally into him. So far, the feeling is mutual.
I had him over for dinner on Thursday night. Benjamin was still awake. Kris has seen Benjamin in the mornings briefly but this would be his first evening with us, usually the highlight of my day because Benjamin is chipper, happy and ready to play.
Kris walks in, gives me a hug and then crouches down on his knees, “And, how are you?” He looks at Benjamin and Benjmain stares back. This is odd, usually he flashes a smile and runs away but he can’t take his eyes off of Kris.
Kris leads him into the living room and opens his toy chest. This is a first. Of all of the men I’ve dated since the divorce not one has genuinely just sat down and played with my kid. This used to surprise me because I thought – “If they’re trying to win me over wouldn’t they want to at least try to play with him?” To their credit, some would try, but it was awkward and forced. “I’ve never been around kids,” they would say. “I don’t know what to do.” Kris has never been around kids either, he’s actually only 23. Five years younger than me.
While I’m in the kitchen cooking dinner, I hear Kris talking to Benjamin, he’s calm, assuring and playful. A few hours later I take Benjamin up for bedtime. I come downstairs and all of his toys are cleaned up. Kris had tidied up my living room. I’m now pinching myself.
Kris is still there in the morning. We all eat pancakes together. There’s lots of laughter, more playing and the entire time Benjamin is following Kris around like a little puppy. I put Benjamin down for his nap and say good bye to Kris, we both have to work.
When Benjamin wakes up four hours later (he has a nasty cold which is why I’m home on a Friday) he searches the house for Kris. He’s going from room to room. As soon as he realizes Kris is gone – he starts crying…hard. My heart breaks. What am I doing? What if this doesn’t work out? Where will we be then? Benjamin is clearly well into toddlerhood (20 months) and now he is very well aware of what’s up.
The single mom dating conundrum:
When a man enters our life we want to see how they would fit into our family, or if they can even handle it. But we can’t do it without introducing them to the kids.
When Benjamin was a teeny tiny baby, this wasn’t an issue. So everything I’m about to say clearly depends on the age of the children.
I’m not big on the idea of waiting six months to bring a man into my daily routine. I guess it’s because I’m afraid he would be shocked at the reality of how hard it is to raise a toddler and then split. Then I would have invested six months of my time in a guy who wasn’t really there for the right reasons.
The other problem. I am a working single mother. Not bringing him around Benjamin leaves me only a few hours in the late evening. Period. This can get old and can also hurt a budding relationship.
I have learned from my past mishaps not to raise this issue too early. Why? Because there is no way he or you actually know how long this will last yet, and you shouldn’t presume to know that. Once I actually told a guy I was dating, “the only way I can date you is if there’s potential – potential that one day we might get married.” We had only been dating for a few months. I didn’t even want to marry him. Isn’t that crazy? I just had to rationalize why I was spending time away from my son – to myself. In the end that one just fizzled out but the moral of the story is – it could have been more fun if I would have left my drama in my head. I’m thinking this is probably a good conversation to have 6-8 months in to a relationship. Just a hunch, but to each his own.
My solution: I am going to keep Kris’ encounters with Benjamin to a minimum for the next few months, but he will have a few. Because I also want someone to fall in love with my son, not just me…we are a package deal.