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on mommyhood + dating

For the past two years plus I’ve been a single mommy (again). It’s a long and complicated story, but in short I’ve had two unsuccessful relationships since the birth of my daughter. They were actually marriages, which definitely added weight to the already heavy burden of relationship ‘failure’.

It was probably the most my heart has ever hurt holding my then four year old daughter in my arms as she wept (not cried); wept, because our family wasn’t gonna be a family anymore. Do you understand how that feels? It felt like endangering my own child. Like I had set her up for this heartbreak. Like I should’ve known better. It was hard, and I was so sorry for the decisions I’d made that were affecting my baby in this way.

In all honesty, I’d introduced her to my ex far too soon. It was an accident, actually. She’d woken up one night while he was visiting early on (a few weeks into the relationship). When she walked into the living room where we were, the two of them took well to one another; it was pretty automatic. He was one of those people who’re just naturals with kids, but unfortunately didn’t have any of his own. He had plenty of room in his heart for her. I remember sitting back on the couch that night observing their chemistry and falling in love with the idea of what our lives could be like together. I got stuck there, in that fantasy. A happy family. Whole. Complete. Mommy, Daddy, and baby. The way it’s “supposed to be”.

In retrospect, that was a huge mistake. I should’ve gotten to know him better for myself. I should not have brought him into mine and especially my child’s life based on ideas as opposed to truth. I wanted this idea of a family, but the truth is: my daughter and I are already family, just us two. We didn’t need anyone else. Maybe we wanted someone, but we certainly didn’t need anyone but each other.

I wish I hadn’t been so concerned with the big picture that I ignored the more important details all together. That’s like being aware of, but choosing not to read the small print, and just hoping the side effects won’t be a factor for you.

Fast forward:

We became a family of two. A complete and whole family of two. My daughter and I.

After that experience, and getting through the heartbreak together I realized I was enough. If this was going to be our life (just the two of us) I knew we would be okay.

Even if it meant never introducing her to another man as my significant other, I vowed to never bring another man into her life that wasn’t going to stay forever. And that would require me to make more sound decisions, take my time, and be sure about any and every move I made going forward.

Once I got back out on the dating scene (or “in these streets” as I like to call it) I made it a rule that dating was for me. My daughter had nothing to do with it. She was not even made aware that mommy had a life outside of her. There was no, “Can I take you and your daughter out for ice cream?” And there were no home visits while she was there. Period. No, “Is your daughter asleep?” texts. Even after some time had passed and maybe he’d wanna stop by during the day maybe to drop some dinner for us (a kind gesture). He was an uber eats driver if my daughter cared to know. Lol. There would be no hugs, or looks, or touching, or coming up to use the restroom. I was not having it. I didn’t want her hopes up OR mine just in case their chemistry was wonderful. You know? Because it’s easy to get caught up in that. Of course we want our kids to love who we choose to be with, but what’s more important (even for our kids in the long run) is that WE love who we choose to be with, because we’re the only ones with the power to keep the family together. I don’t believe children should ever be the reason two adults are together, and I believe eventually they understand the truth. And then they have to figure out what to do with that truth on their own later in their lives as they maneuver through the different stages of their own love lives.

It’s been two and a half years since I’ve been a single mommy, and about two years since I started dating causally. My daughter was just introduced to mommy’s ‘boyfriend’ this past weekend. She’s met him before, but not as my boyfriend. I think it’s important to know the chemistry between your child and the person you’re dating, but only AFTER the intentions of the relationship have been discussed. And then, even after that, it doesn’t mean the child has to know those intentions right away. When she met my guy before, my daughter never saw us interact in a way that suggested we were more than friends. I think what’s important to remember when dating with kids is to go slowly. My guy and I are coming up on a year of dating exclusively, and finally after taking my time and much prayer and consideration, I am ready to begin exploring the idea of being a family again. That’s a far cry from fantasizing about it upon the first meeting between a man and my child. You know what I’m saying? A far cry.

And no, I can’t tell the future, BUT I can set mine and my daughter’s future up by making better decisions, and not attempting to fix or make everything perfect, and instead just letting things happen organically and naturally. And I can be a better mom to her by being just that, and nothing else. And relinquishing control of the things I’m not meant to be in charge of. You know? And I can pray and ask God for signs and vow to pay attention any red flags He may provide, and I can be willing to take an L if it means my child won’t have to. Simply, I can be a smarter parent. I can be a mom, I can date and even find love without involving my daughter in the ins and outs of that. Because let’s be real. Dating can be a rollercoaster for anyone; kids or none. And it’s a rollercoaster a child shouldn’t meet the requirements to ride.

Dating is for you, Mommy; not your babies. And you should enjoy it as such, really. It’s adult time. A time for you to take off your mommy cape for a minute and trade it out for your favorite sexy suit. You know? Let your hair down and meet someone who is good enough for you, so you know he’s good enough for your children. Take your time to know that for sure. Xx -b

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