Need a man? Look in mommy’s bed.

by mssinglemama on March 30, 2008

benoutsidehat.jpgUntil recently, I enjoyed the pleasure of dating without my little mush brain baby having a clue as to what was going on. But now Benjamin is a very keen toddler who is definitely on to me.

If you’ve been reading for a while you know what’s up … but for those who haven’t:

1. Kris and I have been together for about 6 months (my longest relationship post-divorce)

2. He is my best friend. I love him. And he is quite possibly the sweetest, most respectful and adoring man I’ve ever been with.

3. But, there’s a fat chance we’ll end up together (we’re just at different stages in our lives: him- college, me- family and career).

4. We broke up recently but got back together with a few conditions:

a) We would not think about our future together and just have fun

b) He would see Benjamin a lot less

We’ve had no problem sticking to b).

They’ve been seeing each other just once a week ever since. These are usually on Saturday mornings/afternoons. So where does Benjamin find Kris on Saturday mornings? In mommy’s bed of course. It’s actually an adorable scene and one that consistently reminds me that I’ve found a great guy.

Benjamin jumps on the bed and howls, “KRIIIISSSS!” And then starts jumping up and down on Kris’ poor back, stroking his face, kissing his face … anything he can do to get Kris to wake up. And then Kris slowly wakes up … and guess what? He always has a smile on his face. Why? Because he’s excited to see Benjamin. They’re just buds.

So this week Benjamin and I got home from daycare and guess where he ran when I set him down in the kitchen…to my bedroom. He’s so cute when he runs by the way. Damn I love my kid. The covers were over some pillows. “Kris?” Benjamin asks.

“No, honey, Kris is bye bye right now.” He doesn’t listen.

Benjamin jumps on the bed and rips the covers off of the pillows. No Kris. He looks sad for a second and then bounces right off of the bed to hunt down Thomas the Tank instead.

Okay. Funny story. Maybe not to some of you. Perhaps you’re a shocked and concerned parent reading that some woman’s son would be exposed to a man other than his own father in her bed. And if that’s the case – then I’m sorry, but this is my life. Kris is the only man Benjamin has ever seen in mommy’s bed and if Kris and I part ways he will not see another man in mommy’s bed for quite some time. We started dating when Benjamin was still a 1/2 mush brain.

“Mush brain” is a term my father coined for all six of his kids…and we weren’t non-mush brains until around 5 or 6 (depending on the kids). My dad was also a doctor so he knew our brains were technically a bit mushy.

But seriously. The bed this has been just one of several “Kris request” incidents that seem to be cropping up because he’s seeing him less and less.

So, of course, I’m freaking out on Kris again and have thrown condition a. (keeping it light and fun) out the window. I can’t help it. I just can’t help but over-analyze this relationship when my son is involved. I’m worried about the inevitable good-bye. What will I tell Benjamin? Will he be upset?

Kris and I have both been talking and thinking about this a lot lately. For both of us, Benjamin is the #1 priority. And we have skipped seeing each other this weekend so we can both clear our heads.

The single mom dating conundrum is officially rearing it’s ugly head and I’m at a loss.

Related posts:

  1. A bittersweet good-bye.
  2. Date night.
  3. One side effect of being a dating single mama…my baby is trying to make out with me.
  4. The Single Mom Dating Conundrum.
  5. I got dumped!!!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Haggard Mommy Face March 30, 2008 at 4:23 am

I’m a teacher, and sometimes I do or say things that I wish I would have worded differently, or that could be taken the wrong way. I FREAK OUT about it after I say it….(I’m human, so unfortunately I can’t say/do “the perfect thing” every moment of my life.) For example, when a little girl scratches herself and comes to me crying I usually say, “Suck it up! Tough it out! Only the cool girls get bumps and bruises! It’s just a little scratch, you’ll be fine.” What I mean is that cool girls are active, and get rough, and tumble around playing various sports, and with all sports come injuries. However, could this be taken by some previously abused mom as some way of condoning physical abuse with a spouse! “Only the cool girls get bumps and bruises.” Or what if the girl is very cool, but doesn’t have any sense of athletic ability whatsoever? Does that mean I’ve just said she’s “not cool?” Having had THAT thought run through my brain for an entire evening, causing me to not sleep, I now say, “It’s so great that you’ve been really active outside and play sports and try to stay fit and healthy! Sometimes we get scratches when we do that. It comes with the awesome territory! Keep it up! Take a breather and get back out there!” I never heard from the mother of the little girl I’m speaking about, and the little girl seems very happy and healthy, and seemed fine 5 minutes later while I tossed and turned all night worrying about what I’d said.

Recently I had a student completely belittle my authority by not zipping up his coat in freezing weather after asking him to 3 times. He finally did. The next day he kept opening the door to go out to recess before he was supposed to. When I asked him to stop, he did it again. I told him to get in the back of the line, and when he gave me a HUGE attitude, I said, “After the coat thing yesterday, I’ve had it with your attitude.” That comment was deserving, but did it teach anything? No. If I were his mother, what would I think about a teacher who had said that? I probably would think it was rude and undeserving, because that little boy is PRECIOUS. Were there other ways I could have talked to him? Absolutely. Would something like, “I really need to talk to you,”, and then taken him aside and said, “I’m so worried about you. Your behavior has seemed really strange the past couple of days. Is anything wrong?”, have been more effective? Definetly. Guess what? I never heard from the little boy’s mother, and the boy and I are fine. Nothing ever came out of it. But I tossed and turned all night worrying about the effect of what I said.

The point is, we can second guess everything we do in life…such is the joy of being human. There is always a more brilliant way to handle something, or a more brilliant way to respond to someone, even if it is a child, than we probably responded. My son has taken to hitting himself when he is angry. What is this? Is he sick? Is this because I’ve somehow made him hold in his emotions, and he’s letting them out this way? The other morning he woke up with a stuffy nose. He was having trouble breathing through his nose, so he hit his nose several times. I feel like I let him cry things out, I try to talk to him on his level and listen without judging his feelings. I don’t know why he’s doing this. So I have to make a split second decision on how to respond.

First I grabbed his arm and held him down to stop him. Then I said, “Why are you doing that? Is it making you feel better?” The only thing that has worked is whenever he is naughty, or when he hits himself, I have to end up saying, “I love you even when you’re naughty, and even when you hit yourself.” Is this the right thing to say? It seems a helluvalot better than, “What is WRONG with you!? Don’t DO THAT!” It keeps me calm, and tends to calm him down and end with him snuggling me in my lap. Every other response has him fighting me, or me freaking out, and a general sense of chaos comes over both of us. I don’t know what the right thing to do is, but I know that my child feels best when he knows he’s loved…to me that is the most important thing to teach him. In every case when I can’t figure out what to do, I just stop and tell him I love him so much, and that I want to hold him and hug him as soon as possible. Usually he can’t resist, and gives up an argument or temper tantrum for a good big mommy hug.

Is it better to keep a cold bed, and for your child to never see his mother interact with a man in a loving way than to continue your possibly temporary relationship? The truth is, at such a young age, if he knows he is loved, then it seems like that is all that matters. He knows Kris loves him. He knows you love him. That is never a question, so how can it be wrong? Obviously man after man after man of this would be unhealthy, but it seems like you and Kris both have the love for your child that he deserves. As long as that is clear, you can’t screw up anything. All of the thought and concern you’re putting into it makes it abundantly clear of how much you love him, and how much Kris loves him. Even if it is a painful break-up, you will make it right for your son. Is there a “right way” to do anything? Um….nope!

No matter what billiant way you handle it, there will be a better way to have handled it. And when perspective comes to you 10 years from now, and you can look at it from the outside, rather than from the inside where you are now, you’ll figure out what the best way to handle it WOULD have been…that is why old people are so wise. They can look back and say, “The smart thing would have been to do THIS!” So in the mean time, while we continoulsy screw up, is it not most important that we teach our children how much we love them? And how we’ll meet their every need and help the grow no matter what?

If things don’t work out with you and Kris, perhaps another man shouldn’t be in your bed that way for quite a while…but for now, your son knows that the guy under the covers is his buddy…not “mommy’s boyfriend.” If the guy under the covers ends up being the guy that comes to visit every now and then, do you think that is going to make a difference to your little one? Your child doesn’t understand the difference between romantic love, and friendship love. He just knows that some people take really good care of him and make him happy. Kris is one of them. He sees him a lot in the bed. He doesn’t know what “the bed” means. He would care just as much to see him on “the couch” or “the porch”.

If you don’t end up marrying Kris, your son probably won’t know what that means until he’s well into grade school. You and Kris have many years left to just “have fun”. And if you’re not interested in “having fun” any more, your son will just remember there was a guy he liked that used to come into mommy’s bed. Now where is my Thomas Train? We adults create all of the worry our decisions will have on our children.

The children worry about the fact that they’re hungry, and there is no macaroni and cheese in front of them instantly. They worry why the toy they want at the store isn’t magically ripped open and being played with while still in the cart. They worry about why they’re so damn grouchy, but don’t want to go to sleep. They worry why mommy yelled at them for jumping off of monkey bars that are 7 feet off the ground. As long as they’re loved, they shouldn’t have any other worries besides these. The love need is met by mommy. So are all of the other basic needs. Maybe your son likes Kris, but six days out of seven Kris is not in the bed. As sweet and wonderful as Kris is, your son does just fine without him, does he not? Like you said, after thinking maybe he was under the covers, discovering he was wrong, his sad look could have been “sad that what he expected wasn’t the case,” and at that instant he went to find his Thomas train. Obviously he has other priorities.

You still have some good years left to make your personal decisions without really effecting him! So rejoice! And move on! Or keep it going! Or do whatever you want! And keep getting your son Thomas trains and making him mac n’ cheese! He’ll be just fine. I’ll bet. Unless he starts hitting himself. HA!

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SingleMomSeeking March 30, 2008 at 5:01 am

I simply want to applaud both you and Kris for being open to talking about this… it takes a very mature man and woman to sit down and try to figure this out. Bravo to both of you.

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Cara March 31, 2008 at 12:52 am

I almost cried when I read about Benjamin running into your room to look for Kris.

As for his mushy brain, all I can say is that I have met several people and known of several, who clearly remember seeing a string of men in mummy’s bed right up into their teens and they never sounded happy about the attachment and eventual loss. And the ‘string of men’ could be anything from a handful of men (say one different man every three years) to lots of men.

Children remember these things, albeit on a subconscious level. It can affect them later on with future attachments leading to either clinginess or commitment phobia. And sometimes they internalise their pain at the loss of the mother’s boyfriend and secretly blame themselves. Wondering what THEY did to make the man leave, and feeling guilty about it because they saw the pain their mother tried to hide (no matter how much a mother tries to hide the pain of a broken heart, her children can sense it. It can even show in her eyes when she smiles).

Anyway, I am not saying you are doing anything I would not do if I was in your shoes ;-) It’s easy to talk, but difficult to actually be the one in the middle of a tornado. All I am saying is IF….IF….you are going to consider your childs recollection on what he sees at around this age, please do not dismiss it.

I can remember so many things that happened in my childhood, even when I was less than a year old. I wrote some of it here:

http://carahurley.blogspot.com/2008/03/my-childhood-part-i.html

I hope things work out for you and Kris, and Benjamin.

x

Cara

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mssinglemama March 31, 2008 at 12:57 am

Cara – tks for your honest comment.

This is exactly why part of me just thinks Kris and I should call it quits. So what are single mothers supposed to do? Never be with anyone? Until it’s the man we’re going to marry? This is what I call the single mom dating conundrum.

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Single Mama 2 February 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm

I recently stumble upon your blog only recently thus I’m not sure if you would marry the John Bear for good. It’s your life I know but it’s somehow unpleasant to see your dating involve the little one. As you already aware by now, kids get involve emotionally with the men you’re involving. Be it starting from resisting, getting close to attaching, it’s pain for them to see someone they attached to are leaving. So imagine, how many time of their little heart get broken in each of your breaking up. I could barely see this.

Then again, your dilemma is real and pain as well. Are we confine to only the married one before showing him to the child? Not really. Following tips might be useful for single mama dating:

1) He must be deem a nice guy who adore you for you, which you did well by identifying it.
2) Someone who are serious about you and has the husband potential
3) Introduce the man officially to your child only when both you’re ready to expose/to the child.
4) Be sure the child could click, which you has a successful one with Kris:).
5) Get feedback from the child if you should be seeing the man more often. but get them to prepare chances of losing him (get ready for the worst)
6) Be honest in the even if it’s really broken up, the child must be well informed, which other mama had advise earlier. Bravo for this idea
7) Remember, they deserve to know the truth and make them involve in bit decision making so to induce responsibility and prepare for the consequence
8) Most of all, gather feedback from them from time to time if they are comfortable in relationship like this.

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Cara March 31, 2008 at 1:38 am

Hun, please don’t quit. It sounds like a lovely relationship on all counts. As you have asked, I will be explicitly honest with you. I hope I do not offend you or any of your single mom friends/readers.

I think that unless the relationship has reached a stage where you have both decided that you want to commit to each other, spend the rest of your time together (married or not: please read the ‘family’ section of this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanessa_Paradis ) then ideally you should not expose the child to Kris as ‘your boyfriend’ but as ‘your friend’.

This means a shift in how you conduct the relationship in front of handsome Benjamin.

Basically, ask yourself this question: “Does Benjamin see my platonic male friends in my bed?”

If the answer is no, then Benjamin should not be seeing Kris in your bed. Practically, due to your situation, that seems impossible, but I believe that when there is a will, there is a way and you and Kris can works something out.

Nothing is set in stone, not even marriage vows, so it would be completely foolish and naive of me to expect that the next serious relationship you enter into would last forever. However, we sometimes know ‘deep down’ (maybe due to a hunch, maybe due to many red flags we initially ignore) whether a relationship has longterm potential or not. It is those potential longterm relationships you should be aiming for if you plan to introduce the men to Benjamin as your boyfriend/partner. Certainly not the kind of casual relationship you and Kris are currently striving for (with great difficulty it seems, bless you).

Secondly, no excessive kissy-kissy in front of Benjamin, unless you do that with your platonic male and female friends.

It is fun to get into a relationship and see how it pans out, but until such time that you AND Kris verbally commit to being together for the forseeable future, I just don’t think Kris should be aware of the nature of your relationship. Otherwise one day he might turn around and ask Kris “are you my second daddy?” and Kris would go bright red.

It is not fair on Benjamin to get close to Kris if he is not going to stick around, or at least FIGHT to stick around as your partner in life. If the relationship comes to an end a few years later, at least it was not a ‘fleeting’ attachment for Benjamin, because those are the most damaging ones. The more ‘loss’ Benjamin is exposed in terms of the men you let into your bed in front of Benjamin, who he gets to play with etc, the more likely that he his heart would harden, in order to protect himself from getting hurt again. Until one day he finds that he is now unable to let people in, no matter how hard he tries, there is just a part of his heart that is in ‘self protection’ mode.

It sounds as though you really love Kris and deep down you want him to commit to a serious, LONG TERM relationship with you. There is no need to feel ashamed to admit this, just because that is not CURRENTLY what he wants or SEEMS able to give you. Let him grow with you and the future might be just what you are secretly hoping for with Kris.

What I have written here is based on the knowledge and experiences of several of my friends who grew up with single parents and were well adjusted vs those who were not well adjusted (some of them were ex boyfriends actually, hence the detailed inside knowledge).

x

Cara

PS: MSM, have you read that blog entry of mine? If you can, when you have time, also read this one:

http://carahurley.blogspot.com/2008/03/blog-changes.html

It’s something to bear in mind about how children look back at the events that occurred during their childhood and how it shaped them into who they are.

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Cara March 31, 2008 at 1:47 am

Blast! I just realised I gave you the wrong link above (last link given). It should be this one instead:

http://carahurley.blogspot.com/2008/03/my-mother_13.html

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mommypie March 31, 2008 at 6:58 am

Well, I’m probably not the best to give advice on this, but the conundrum you find yourself in is exactly why I’ve taken myself out of the dating pool for the time being.

I’ve only dated one guy seriously since splitting with my daughter’s father. She was two at the time. He spent time at the house – she never did see him in my bed, and had no idea there were ever sleepovers, but she did grow very attached.

When we decided to call it quits, she would ask where he was. I’d just say he was at home, and that would be that. Not a big deal, really. But I was amazed that even a YEAR later, she would still occasionally ask. I thought for sure she’d forget. Having him around definitely made an impression.

It’s a complicated thing, to say the least, and unfortunately, there are no clear cut, black and white, absolutely right answers. Like Single Mom Seeking, I also applaud the two of you for your honest conversations. One way or the other, you’ll work it out.

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QTMama March 31, 2008 at 3:28 pm

You know, I’m going through this same thing right now. We had talked of marriage, he did spend the night and she did see him in the mornings. She asked him if he was going to marry mommy, he said yes. And then he left. Now it’s me explaining to her that he for some reason that even I am not sure of, changed her mind. It was MY intention to marry him, I thought it was his intention as well. Things change, and now I’m left wondering the same thing – how long do I date someone before she is to meet him? When we talk of marriage? Cuz that didn’t work out so well for me last time. And what happens in the next relationship? I just don’t know. But I can say that for right now, she isn’t seeing another man other than her daddy around here for one helluva long time. We both need some time to heal.

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QTMama March 31, 2008 at 3:29 pm

woops, typo. Changed HIS mind.

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mssinglemama March 31, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Mommy Pie – how old was MP when she last saw him? How long were you together? She’s 4 now, right?

QT Mama – I know! This is my worst fear…same question to you – how old is your daughter? How long were you with the guy, etc.

Well…one good thing is that Kris is a good one … not the type to hurt us in anyway and there are no intentions of marriage.

And to Cara .. . Kris and I never, ever kiss in front of Benjamin. We learned this the hard way when Benjamin actually started trying to make out with us. (here’s the entry on it:

http://mssinglemama.wordpress.com/2007/11/27/one-side-effect-of-being-a-dating-single-mamamy-baby-is-trying-to-make-out-with-me/

Anyway – the only thing Benjamin sees are standing hugs.

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QTMama March 31, 2008 at 4:13 pm

All the answers are in my blog. :) My girl is five.

I postjacked, and I’m sorry. I’m tired and totally have PMS!

I don’t think that you should call it quits. It is entirely possible that things will not end badly. All we can do, right now, it take one day at a time. Sometimes I wish I had an instruction manual tho. I guess that is what we are writing by way of these blogs. :)

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mediakemi March 31, 2008 at 4:24 pm

http://celebritysinglemoms.blogspot.com/2008/03/once-again-congrats-to-ms-single-mama.html

Your reign ends today and I thank you for being our dynamic Single Mom of the Month!!!

Kemi at CELEBRITY SINGLE MOMS
http://celebritysinglemoms.blogspot.com

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mommypie April 1, 2008 at 4:51 am

MSM – to answer your question – we dated for about a year, beginning when she was about 20 months … so that makes it 20 months old to 32 months old, which is … roughly two and a half? Sorry, it’s late and my math skills … uh, never existed. And yep, she just turned four, but still remembers … *sigh*

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delex February 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm

i need serious mature single mother for long term relationship…email me any time.

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