Not all men are afraid of the challenge of dating a single mother. The good ones are often all in!
This is in response to Sarah Fader’s essay “Do A Single Mother’s Children Make Her Less Attractive?”
This past week was my one-year anniversary at my current place of employment. Where I work, it’s common for those from different departments to collaborate, and that’s how I met this girl we’ll call Angel.
What started with professional emails, then a phone call about work turned into things becoming more personal with emails and instant messages has taken me on a journey that I had never anticipated. A journey that unfortunately hasn’t approached an ending.
As we instantly clicked I looked her up on Facebook. I saw recent pictures of her with a little girl, but not many pictures with a man. I honestly thought to myself, “If she’s married, that guy is insanely lucky to have her as a wife.” It had been a while since a woman presented herself to me with an amazing sense of humor.
We decided we had to meet face to face and get coffee. Our buildings were across the street from each other. We met for nearly 45 minutes, and I have to tell you by the end I was hooked. I liked her, and I think she liked me as well.
As we were approaching our separate ways, she said, “I have to tell you something.” With that comment I was already connecting her Facebook images with what she was going to say next. She goes, “I have a daughter.” And all I responded with was, “Ok.”
The fact that she mentioned having a child didn’t faze me at all. In a recent article, I read how men were afraid to date a woman who has a child or children. “Children are scary” is the quote I vividly remember. I’m not scared. I’m far from being scared. Maybe life prepared me to not be scared. Maybe it’s being a child of a single mother. Maybe it’s being around my nieces and nephews as often as I can be. Maybe it’s seeing my own sister go through a divorce, and is now the single mother with three kids.
Then, Angel dropped something else on me. She continued, “I’m also married.” And that’s when I pushed on the brakes, but the car didn’t come to a screeching halt.
I’m sure I know what you’re thinking: “Run!” But that’s hard to do when your mother was a nurse for 40 years and your father was a police officer for nearly 15. Running from trouble isn’t an option. It’s not in my genetic code. I said to her, “I don’t want to get involved in anything.” She replied, “You’re not involved.” I continued, “If you need help I’ll help you, but I’m not getting involved. If you’re in trouble I’ll help you.” She goes, “Well, he hasn’t hit me yet.” Ugh!
We were in touch with each other nearly every day from April to July. Then she pulled the plug. She could feel herself moving toward committing infidelity. At this point, she started going to counseling and he did as well. But this was it for her. She couldn’t keep trying to save her marriage no matter how much he said he would change.
Well, that plug was put back in a little over a week later. We started talking again. This time from July to November. Every. Single. Day.
I can’t help but think about the future. Psychologists talk about techniques to help you get through stressful situations, and I mainly use visualization. In fact, I probably use it too much. I played things out in my mind with her and her daughter. I’m going to be the best father figure I can be to her daughter. I’m going to do my best to support Angel through this new and scary chapter in her life. I’m going to do my best to foster a relationship with her soon-to-be ex-husband. I’m going to do my best to be the voice of reason when things become too intense between them. I’m going to try.
I never expressed all of these thoughts to Angel. They ended up separating at the beginning of September, and she filed for divorce in the middle of October.
After we reconnected in July, I told Angel I was all in. I pushed my emotional chips toward the middle of the table, and was ready to roll the dice and see where things were going to go between us. The Arien in me had picked up my shield and spear, and I was going to battle. I was either going to win or lose, but at least I would try to make any potential future relationship between us work, and if I went down in flames then so be it.
As Walter Payton said, “Never die easy.”
This past October she told me, “I don’t expect you to wait for me.” But you know what? I would wait if she asked because I’m all in. Because I think she’s worth it, and her daughter is too.
Because I think she’s worth it, and her daughter is too.
I don’t know what our future holds, but a woman out there is going to get an amazing man. One who sees the big picture in life. One who doesn’t care if you have kids. If a woman files for divorce due to the actions/inactions of her husband, then that tells me she’s a courageous woman.
She wasn’t going to accept her current relationship for the rest of her life, and nor was she going to accept how that relationship would affect her children. She made a brave choice, and that tells me she’s strong and she’s unafraid to shake things up when they aren’t going the way they’re supposed to go. In fact, my mom did that with three kids. And my mom’s pretty awesome, and that tells me a woman who took matters into her own hands is awesome too.
I’m willing to step in that fire of raising a child as my own as well as dealing with an ex-husband and take the chance of getting burned.
To paraphrase Frost, I’m willing to take the road less traveled by, because I’m sure it could potentially make all the difference.
-Photo: Patty Lagera/Flickr