Cabin Fever, Part 3

by mssinglemama on September 22, 2008

I followed my gut.

And my gut was right. It was marvelous.

Cabin Man (who deserves another name all together and will now be called Kennedy) knocked the wind out of me.

On my long drive through the gorgeous, albeit slightly frightening bible beating countryside, I let my mind wander and threw all of my expectations out of the window.

We met a few miles down the road from his house. As soon as he jumped in my car he couldn’t stop looking at me and then he said,¬†”You are stunning. Look at you! Now, what in the world is a girl like you visiting a guy like me for?”

“I like you,” I say, “And don’t be so modest, you’re not so bad yourself.”

Suddenly I wonder just what I am doing there. He lives two and a half hours away. We come from different worlds. Me a doctor’s daughter, him the son of a steel worker. But there’s something about him. Something I felt when we met last weekend. There’s a serious spark and it’s not just physical.

We grab some pizza and then head into the woods, to his cabin – soon to be a house, the camp fire is raging and the house behind it is nothing like I’d envisioned. It’s nice, very nice. Trees he dug up by hand, now naked of their bark, line the stairs up to a loft. This one room cabin is eventually going to be the living room of his house.

The project started after he’d found out his wife had cheated on him with his best friend. “Every nail,” he explains, “Every piece of this place was built in a blurry haze of anger. I felt like I’d been shafted.”

Who wouldn’t? And now he’s here, back in his home town, living on his parent’s plot of land and re-building his life.

“But, I’m finally getting it,” he says, “I’m finally understanding what life is all about and it’s fantastic.” His bright blue eyes are squinted from his huge grin and he’s shaking his head. “I just can’t get over it.”¬†There’s nothing I enjoy more than meeting a single parent who has crossed that line into freedom from the past. And he’s there.

After my tour we sit down by the fire. Instead of going out to a local dive bar, as we’d originally planned, we

just sat and talked for hours and hours. He stays in his chair, four feet from the blanket I’m curled up on. Finally, after he’s passed all of my little tests, namely the gentleman test, I invited him to sit down with me.

The next morning we made eggs and bacon over the fire.

“I don’t want to leave,” I said sipping on my coffee. And I really didn’t. There’s something about the woods. I can’t get enough. Disappearing from the city and being there, with him… the sparks were now raging fiercely just like the fire. “I could kidnap you.” He laughs and tells me I should.

“So when am I going to see you again?” he asked. I didn’t have an answer. Logistically we are screwed. He’s a single dad, with a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old, both of whom he has every single weekend (this weekend was the one exception all year) and I have a 2-year-old.

I explained this all to him after we started plotting a camping trip with all of the kids.

“Benjamin may not really get it, but your kids definitely will. They’ll see us together and sense that something’s up. That could mess with their little heads,” I said.

“But,” he said, “what’s wrong with kids seeing something so good? I totally understand though. You’re doing the right thing, you’re an amazing mom and I’m not going to intrude. You just let me know what you want.”

And here is when this blog, everything I’ve been writing, comes full circle and my mind wanders to all of the conversations we’ve had about this in the past. But when it’s staring you in the face – this desire to see someone again fighting against the desire to protect your children – it isn’t so easy.

I think a joint camping trip in neutral territory might be okay. I enjoy this man. I want to see him again, but how can I without hurting Benjamin in some way? And what about Kennedy’s kids? How do you really date another single parent?

I call it the single mom dating conundrum. I should call it the single parent dating conundrum. And now, I’m right in the thick of it. Wish I could write advice for myself. Until then, I’m tossing it to all you. Be honest, be brutal. I don’t care. Put me out of my misery.

If you missed the beginning of this story…

Cabin Fever, Part 1

Cabin Fever, Part 2

Read the END: Cabin Fever, Part 4

Related posts:

  1. Cabin Fever, Part 2
  2. Cabin Fever…
  3. A fairy tale ending?
  4. How to date the childless.
  5. The long weekend, firefighters and iMacs – a video story.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Dating Single Parents: Can it Work?
September 27, 2008 at 11:45 am
Cabin Fever, Part 4
October 6, 2008 at 4:54 pm

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonathan September 22, 2008 at 11:29 pm

Wowzer. What a conundrum. But it only reminds me of the U2 lyric, “Always pain before a child is born.” You’ve got to fight for the good stuff, right? And in this case it won’t be easy if you are trying to be sensitive to the kids (as you obviously want to be).

I am a very firm believer in keeping my dating life out of my kids’ view. Some day when I am serious with someone, they will meet that person. I read a book early on after my divorce called “Helping Children Cope with Divorce” by Edward Teyber. Based on study upon study upon study he advises against the rotating door of love interests in a single parent’s life being introduced to the kids.

The obvious reason is the harm to the kids: attachment/break apart, trust issues, etc. But the second reason (which I now agree with) is that single parents have one major disadvantage over singles without children: it is hard for us to develop a relationship with someone organically and at normal pace. We have so many other pressures and things going on. If you are really interested in someone, Teyber advises, wait a good while on the kid intro’s and give yourselves a chance to enjoy each other without the pressure and complications that come from the kids (i.e. worrying about what they are thinking, do they feel safe, do they like him, etc.) This has been an inconvenient policy at times to keep, but my kids have been spared a lot of ups and downs, and have healthy functionality in this department to show for it.

Having said all that, I am completely taken by your story and think you need to give your guy the green light to pursue you. Let him chase you and get creative together on how you will get to know each other without the kids getting involved. Give yourselves room to breathe in that. And when I say let him chase you, I mean, really, let him chase you. If he has really clued in on what a catch you are, believe me, he will figure out ways to make it work.

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SingleParentDad September 23, 2008 at 4:39 am

While it is vital to protect your children, and you can’t , or shouldn’t, introduce people willy-nilly into their lives. You can’t stop living yours, and surely you can find a way to take this further.

Obviously the long-term prospects have got to survive the two and a half hour journey or ultimately mean a move for someone or bodies, weird to think about that from the off though isn’t it?

You could gloss the camping trip with others. What I mean is, the camping trip doesn’t have to be you and him and your add-ons, you could invite others to throw the children from the scent of your planned extended date. It could be a parents and kids camping trip, rather than a you and him only experience. It may also perversely give you more time together, if some of your kids other favourites are there to occupy them.

Good luck.

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Amy Nathan September 23, 2008 at 4:42 am

Please keep your two year old out of it. And his kids. You’ve met him twice. A camping trip is not neutral territory when you’re stealing glances and sweeping by eachother to steal a touch. It’s using the kids as an excuse to get together. Your son may very well very easily attach, not to him, but to his children. And that’s not fair to the little guy. I’m not sure what the answer is, except to date him without children involved. Get a sitter and drive half-way to meet him for a day every-other weekend. Maybe his parents can watch his kids. See if the struggle is worth it when you can’t be hold-up in a romantic cabin and don’t have to go right back to real life.

I don’t believe in playing games with a man, but if this were to continue it would not be easy, so it shouldn’t be easy from the start.

I know it’s amazing to meet someone with whom you have chemistry. It makes everything cloudy. It makes the irrational seem rational. (like a dual-family camping trip) It’s a shame you aren’t closer geographically — but you’re not. If it is going to work it has to work amidst all the complications and it has to overcome the hurdles. It has to grow organically. If he is “the one” are you moving to the cabin with your son? Is he moving to you? Is it even realistic to think it could work?

Many people have long-distance relationships on one-weekend per month.

Leave all the kids out of it, please. Bringing them into it under the pretense of “it’s neutral” or “they will have fun” is bull, in my opinion. For the two of you, you deserve it to be all about you if this is something good.

And if you can’t find a way to do that, it’s not meant to be.

(Sorry, I have incredibly strong feelings about involving kids in relationships)

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jonb September 23, 2008 at 5:29 am

A,
First I am thoroughly excited that you enjoyed your get away. Courtney went ot her grandparents’s home in the mountains, and it was lfie changing for me. Every single piece of stone and wood came from the property it was built on. I will email you pics. Just amazing.
Like any single parent you find yourself in the ultimate catch 22. You have met a man who you adore, yet the reality of life with children stands firmly in the way. I don’t think it would be kosher to do a joint camping trip or somehting like that because his kids are old enough to understand what is going on, and at the same time he is very much rebounding emotionally still. Just because he beat every nail into the house doesn;t mean he has recovered emotionally from his divorce. It took me years to get over a girl I dated in college after she cheated on me, and there were no kids involved.
I would ask, is the attraction based on his implicit understanding of your and being a parent? I dated a woman who was mixed like me and part of our attraction is that we simply did not have to explain everything to eachother. We knew. She knew what it was like to have people try to make you choose sides, or to here one race talking baout the other and wondering how you fit in. I am sure he understands everyting you go through and what it is like to be woken at 2am by cries, find overturned milk that has soured under the table, or pacifier’s being flushed. It is refreshing to meet someone who gets it.
But what is most important is that you get to know this man outside of the kids, outside of talking abotu the kids, and for who he is, how you interact together. It is all to easy to fall for the idea, comfort, or fit of the situation. I think this, more than naything, was the mistake I made with Courtney, in moving too fast, in making ourselves a pseudo family, we bypassed the traditional dating process and learning of each other. When I saw her most times Noah was included, almost one hundred percent once the genetic contributor moved away. Her and I never solidified our connection as two people sharing their lives together, and suddenly down the line htings started popping up left and right that eroded the ground out from under us.
Take it easy, if there are real sparks, then you have all the time in the world to gather tender, stoke the fire, and supply the wood to keep it burning. A fire lit without the proper care will simply burn too hot and too fast and simply run out of wood. One built with patience and care can burn a lifetime. It is the delaying of gratification that makes all things worth having.

Jonb’s next date advice: Meet half way in a weekend or two and do somehting you would have done when you were kids. Don’t be an adult. Test him, see if he can laugh, if he can enjoy nothing and everything all at once. I recomend bowling. They normally serve food and beer, plus they play 80′s music. If someone doesn;t enjoy a greasy burger, fries, a pitcher of beer, and bowling in funky shoes to “Brickhouse” then run in the other direction. :) Afterwards go to an ice cream parlor or somehting like that and laugh at yourselves. A date like this is oerfect to me because it is not traditional, so if you two have real attraction then you will turn the mundane into Casablance. If there are sparks, then you will laugh into the night, lighting your way.

And if you are ready for the lightning round, you call him and ask him out, take him out for the night. I know single mom’s have to watch their money, but a good man will appreciate your boldness and ability to handle yoruself. Don;t tell him anything about your evening. Then, once you’re done bowling, he’ll ask what’s next. Give him the cute look only a strong women has, and inform him he is taking you for ice cream, smile, and walk away. he”l be stunned, then turned on even more by you. Plus, he’s now chasing you. :)

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jonb September 23, 2008 at 5:33 am

i really should start spell/grammar checking my posts. you have to be a cryptologist to decipher some of what i write, lol. sorry.

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debra September 23, 2008 at 6:28 am

Amazing comments from the single Dad contingency here….WOW!

I have a 3 month rule before I’ll introduce my son to anyone I’m dating. Even then, I’ve gotten to the 3 months, and was still unsure, and didn’t introduce him, and ended up being glad I hadn’t. My son is older than Benjamin, 7, and that is my biggest fear, that he will get attached to someone I introduce him to, and to that someone’s children, and then have to deal with loss when that person goes away.

I made the mistake of thinking it was a good idea to ‘bump into’ a guy I was dating at the park for the day. I had been seeing him only a few weeks, and we had similar issues, nearly incompatible schedules…it seemed the only way to get together. We spent the day hiking, picnicing, playing with him and his daughter. On the drive home, my son said “I wish Olivia could be my sister”! 4 hours, and this is what he was wishing for! He asked about her several times, but that was when I came up with the 3 month rule. It’s more about my son than it is about when I make most decisions now, unfortunately, this includes dating.

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LJ September 23, 2008 at 7:32 am

Follow your heart. I understand rules/shoulds/etc. but ultimately, this is your life, you are the best, and only parent to your child, and you will do what is right for your little family. And if you make a mistake, well that’s life. Best of luck :)

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PT-LawMom September 23, 2008 at 7:34 am

Ugh, this all is so hard to read. Finding time to date as a single parent – especially dating other single parents – is sooooo challenging. I’m dating a single dad right now and he introduced his daughter almost right off, which surprised me. I wasn’t going to introduce my son for a while but things just happened. I hope that I won’t regret that decision if things go south. The last thing my son needs is to lose yet another guy from his life. :( Good luck. Sounds like this guy is great. Hopefully you all can find a way to make it work. One thing I’ve done is put Pumpkinhead in a local hourly care facility for a Saturday late afternoon/evening and planned several hours away. He loves the place and begs to go there, so that helps. I tell him he is having his play time and I’m having mine. ;)

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Jessica Ashley (Sassafrass) September 23, 2008 at 7:34 am

First, you felt your flame flicker, and that is an amazing and much-deserved and fabulous thing. I am so happy for you for that.

And maybe now that you’ve seen him (and I am sure it is so hard to not know when that will happen again), this is the time to keep the momentum going in emails and text messages and phone calls and IMs.

This is tricky, yes. But the right man will wait. And it will be worth it.

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Kitkat4real (SOLO dot MOM) September 23, 2008 at 7:37 am

I know my personal rule of waiting for my kids to meet someone I am dating. It has to be serious and I have to feel there has been enough time to see this person as a potential to be in their lives… With one outing… do you think you are there?

I would do the same as these other commenters suggest and try to plan something to get together without the kids a few more times and continue to pursue (or be pursued) for a while first…
Again that’s just me and MHO. :)

I am very happy for you… since you have about as much luck as I do trying to meet a great guy… I am ecstatic and don’t want you to put on the brakes – even with this current dilemma. Good luck – and can’t wait to hear more.

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Single Mom in New England September 23, 2008 at 8:33 am

You are so in the glow of passion right now, that it’s hard to think straight! I know, I’ve been there. Please, keep your son separate from your love interest until you’ve seen him alone a few more times. Reality is obstructed by raging hormones right now – don’t throw caution (and Ben) to the wind! Be smart – you have to – for your son, and out of respect for his children. Surely there is a night during the week when he can come visit you, and you can send Ben to Grandma’s house. Or send Ben to grandma’s and meet at a nice hotel/resort in the middle. Love always finds a way – just don’t involve your little one YET!!

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Laura September 23, 2008 at 9:21 am

I would do it! Really I would go on the camping trip!

You would have seperate tents etc – so really WHAT is the harm?

I dont see it as being different to meeting a single mom introducing your kids and then the friendship fizzles out?

So unless you planning to grope each other in plain site of the kids – I would do it!

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April September 23, 2008 at 9:30 am

Just keep following your marvelous gut!

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Carrie September 23, 2008 at 10:15 am

Oh my gosh, this is so exciting for you. For you. And the man. But not for your kids. I agree with the majority here that say keep the kids out of it. For as long as possible.

Figure out what is going on with you and this man — it sounds like something potentially wonderful — but don’t even think of joint camping trips or “innocent” meetings with the kids until AT LEAST six months from now. If it’s still going well with the adults at that time, then you two can begin the discussion of how and when the kids fit in.

Adults only for now. That’s my opinion.

Have fun getting to know this guy. He sounds dreamy!

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pisceshanna September 23, 2008 at 11:46 am

Awww I’m so happy for you. You deserve it!

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Ms. Single Mama September 23, 2008 at 12:32 pm

UPDATE:

I’m taking all of your comments to heart because I realize I’m not thinking with a clear head. And – I agree with Amy Nathan and most of you – I’m not going to introduce them. What really hit me was this from Amy:

“For the two of you, you deserve it to be all about you if this is something good ”

Can you imagine how stressed out I’d be if I introduced him to Benjamin – and the guilt! Because it may not affect him or have any long-term affects but it could mess up our week or our weekend. Damn. And it should be about us right now.

I called him this morning to tell him my decision. He COMPLETELY understood. And agrees that it should be about us – and admitted he doesn’t really know what he’s doing when it comes to introducing kids to a date b/c this would be a first for him.

So it’s all good.

Like Jonathan suggested – I’m going to let him “chase me” and I think a secret night visit during Benjamin’s bed time may be in my near future.

We shall see… and yes, this is very exciting. I’m not head over heels in love, but am definitely feeling a bit swept away. It really was just what I needed.

It had been SO long since I’d felt a spark with someone like this.

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jonb September 23, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I think I heard a “Tee-Hee” after mssinglemama’s last post :)

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T September 23, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Yay girl!!! I’m excited to hear about the sparks and the camp fire!!

Yeah, spend some time with the guy and get to know him better. The kids can wait. I can’t add anymore than what others have said here.

I’m just happy for you to have found someone who brings back some flutterbies!!! :)

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Lauren September 23, 2008 at 4:48 pm

I can’t offer any advice, but… I’m so freakin’ excited for you!!!

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Heather September 23, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Sounds like you’ve come to a marvelous decision.
I’m thrilled that you’ve started this discussion today, as I am about to take the leap into the single mom dating world. :)

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Amy In Sedona September 23, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Ive been reading your posts since the end of June when I became a single mama and all I can tell you is go out there and have fun! Dont worry about the rules, you need to take control of your life and do it for yourself! Im sure Benjamin will have a blast too!

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Leslie September 24, 2008 at 7:59 am

I’d say definitely find a way to sneak in a little more alone time. But I don’t see the harm in doing a group camp out. Then you get the added benefit of seeing him interact with others and other people’s thoughts on him!

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littlemansmom September 24, 2008 at 8:15 am

Baby steps sweets…there’s no hurry. A few more stolen evenings/days/whatever are in order before introductions…I believe when the time is right, you won’t have to think about it too hard.

I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited for your new adventure…..and sooooooooooooooooooo looking forward to hearing new stories! :)

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KT September 24, 2008 at 9:15 am

Well, you need to see the guy. You do not find that kind of connection often. Logistics be damned. You must find a way.

How? I do not know. I am currently separated from my husband. Not sure if we’ll reconcile or divorce. Hard to say at this point. So I have no advice but I am curious about the answer in case I am ever in your situation.

I can say I am a child of divorce. I was 10 when my parents split. They were good enough about only introducing us to people they were serious about. But my dad did not marry the first girlfriend I met and I got over it just fine. My mom married each of her boyfriends (she was a mess) and divorced each of them, and I survived. I attribute that to a strong father. My mom was a mess. My dad was stable and strong and the woman who is now my stepmom and has been for 20 years is strong and stable.

So, if you aren’t acting inappropriately. I don’t see why you can’t find a way to see each other with the kids around. Don’t sleep in his bed while they are in the house. No PDA. I’m sure there are other rules that you will need to follow……..but seriously…..you need to see him again, so figure it out!!

And good luck!!!!

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LTP September 24, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Well most people have said what I was going to the other night when my laptop was acting possessed and prevented me from posting. At any rate, I would wait on the kids–for so many reasons but I know you see that already. And you are right –as Amy suggested–that this time should be about you two getting to know one another. Why add more pressure to that situation when you are worrying if you are impacting your kids? As for the distance, I am just out of a 2-year long distance relationship (that you read all about earlier today, LOL) and it worked for us–mostly. At times I would feel like his part-time girlfriend….and didn’t like that feeling so much. But b/c he is high-strung and a workaholic, it often worked for the best. He does know my children–but thankfully they are not heart-broken by his absence as we tried to keep our time separate from kid-time. They actually bring up his dogs more than him!! Kids are resiliant but you can never tell how they will react–so I would just hold off on that.

I’m happy for you though….it sounds exciting. Does he have a single brother? That lives in Georgia? That likes cute, blonde, freckled women? Just kidding. : )

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