My good friend Tiffany recently faced a devastating divorce. A few months later, she decided to test out what it’s like dating with kids. Tiffany from Wholeheartedly.mom is the author of this post! She’s a single momtrepreneur with a dream. She just launched her new jewelry line with the help of her daughter Gabby (Gabs). Every piece of her jewelry tells an incredible inspiring story. Please be sure to give her a visit!
What would you say could be more nerve wrecking than entering the dating world after being with someone for 15 years? Pretty scary — especially considering I was with someone for basically my entire adult life. Wow, times have changed and I’m only 35 now but when I started dating last year things were pretty different.
I was having fun swiping on Tinder and to so many people’s surprise, I managed to meet my boyfriend there.
It’s funny because when we told people we met there, they’d always give me this dirty eye – I know, it has its bad wraps and how most people define it as a “hook up” app, it isn’t true for everyone, definitely not for us. However, I didn’t take it too seriously and I really just wanted to get out there and meet people and this was the quickest way without filling out a long bio on Match or other sites or having people get upset with me because I just got out of a LONG relationship and I was honestly unsure of what I wanted. I did know that I just wanted to meet new people and learn as much about me as I could since I really was feeling a bit lost. I looked at every date as a lesson. I feel like each person is put into our lives for a reason and as they say –
“Some people come into your life for a reason, some a season, and some a lifetime. However long it was, be thankful for the gifts you received from them.”
So I used this state of mind for my dates.
I weeded through the swipe lefts and rights until I found my current boyfriend, Chris. Before we met, we literally texted for hours (and I’m a self-admitted text-bomber so poor guy had a lot to keep up with but he played right along). We didn’t talk on the phone at all but this was also something I learned in this new era of dating that I had entered in. Why can’t we just pick up the phone and talk for a bit?
In the beginning, I really didn’t think we’d end up in a relationship – especially not that soon after getting divorced. And because of that, I didn’t put all too much thought into thinking about when my daughter Gabby would meet him. We started seeing each other more frequently and early on I recall he asked if Gab knew about him. I thought, huh? What do you mean, of course not. He said it was cool, no problem. But then he asked some more and he had taken more interest. I’ll preface this with he doesn’t have kids himself so it made things a little easier.
Hmm… what do I do here? This was an ENTIRELY new idea to even grasp. How would I explain this to my daughter, I don’t even think I fully explained why her dad and I got divorced…or even what that meant! At the time she was just a few months short of turning 5 and I figured her mind was too young to get it. So, I started asking people what to do. There was the batch of people who would say, “Oh you only have your child meet your boyfriend when you’re ready to move to the next step.” Ok, what step would that be? Moving in? Marriage? Ok – I’m tracking, but let’s say that this guy tells me things like, “Oh, I’m soooo good with kids, they all love me. My nieces, nephews, etc.” Ok, do you take their word for it? NO. Do you invest months of a relationship to then introduce the kids to him and find out he’s not all that he said he was? Or maybe they just don’t mesh well, the possibilities for poor turnout were plentiful. Ahhh, life is way too short my dear, and nobody has time for all of that emotional investment and heartache for both parties involved.
I went with my gut
I think I waited 1.5 months? Here’s why. It’s simple, I didn’t want to let my heart get any further invested before I could see what their interactions were like. If things worked out, great, that first little test is over and I can continue to build on my relationship to see if things were progressing along and then we needed to make a plan to start spending time together – the 3 of us.
So this is what I did. I showed a few pics of Chris to Gabby. I said, Gab, check out my friend – what do you think if we hung out together, maybe went to the park? She said, “Ohhh Mama, he’s cute” haha. I asked her what she would like to do, I made sure she was every bit a part of this as much as we were. She said, “Mama, I want to go to the park, play catch and then get some ice cream then I want him to come to our house and play some games.” Wow, that’s super specific, ok. And honestly, that’s exactly how it happened. It was pretty perfect really.
From then on he would come and spend a little time at our place during the times I had Gab. He did thoughtful things for her, like secretly arranged her stuffed animals in her doll house so she would wonder who was there. He knew her taste in toys was more into sports and electronics versus dolls and such so he picked up a little toy for her here and there. And I let them build a relationship on their own. I realized that each one of them needed their own time and I couldn’t push it (no matter how much I like to control things).
A little over a year now and things are progressing really well still. During this time I realized something else contrary to when I said earlier that “things were easier since Chris didn’t have kids of his own” meant that things were not THAT easy. It meant that things were different. It meant that he had no idea how to address a child in the middle of the night who flung out of bed and cried of tummy pains. Or how to give me a little slack because I tend to spoil her a little since she’s my only one. And he had to quickly learn how “mama bird” swoops in with no fair warning to protect and defend her little one when anyone says anything that could even in the slightest way offend me. We went through many of these “learning” situations but I have to say it’s helped me learn quite a bit. I also learned that he doesn’t have to be a “parent” to teach me things. I explained that I’m learning alongside him and I’m certainly no expert here.
I wasn’t the only one “interviewing” parenting styles or interactions with my child
His eagerness in meeting her early on was to also assess me as a mom. Interesting I thought, and at the same time some of the best compliments he EVER gave me was not on how pretty I looked, or how beautiful my green eyes were, however it was on how great of a mom he said I was. He never fails to bring that to my attention and I really value it. I work so hard everyday on how to be “present” in Gab’s life and I’m always trying to think two steps ahead and try to be that super momma and oh boy even writing this now has tears streaming down my face. It doesn’t get any more real than this. So the fact that people recognize and cheer me on for that is pretty great.
In the end, we want the best for our kids. We want to make sure they know that divorce doesn’t mean that they are losing any love, nor is it divided. Their parents still love them all the same but it sometimes means that they gain some extra love and that’s what I wanted to make sure she was receiving and she is. And the last bit I learned was that this boyfriend of mine is also receiving a lot of extra love that he probably never realized he needed — but its apparent.