I get the “How hard was it to date as a single mom?How did you handle it? Do you have tips on single mom dating?” question a lot. I rarely answered it seriously since I was right smack in the middle of it and it’s not as easy as it looks. Now that I’m married, it’s about time I answer it.
Relationships can often be like the circus. There are juggling acts, lion tamers, tightrope walkers, or all of the above, depending on where you are in the relationship.
A single mom in a relationship involves all of the above, almost all the time. It isn’t easy at all. After coming from a bad relationship, you really don’t want your child seeing you go through another one. There really is no need to introduce every frog you date to your child but if you do find a special person, like I did with MDJ, they deserve to meet your child. This is when the circus begins.
A budding relationship with a single mom is always full of uncertainty. The common dilemma is whether she should be in a relationship to begin with, or just stick to happily being an independent, single individual with a funny little child in tow. You have your little household and your life working like an efficient little clock and when you meet someone special, the first thing that crosses your head would be “Oh God, my life is complicated enough”.
When I met Mark, it was difficult and a bit scary and I had heard so many judgmental statements about single moms, it deserves a separate entry. Yet for him, it seemed like loving someone with a munchkin tagging along seemed the most normal thing in the world. I actually found that odd but it was his nonchalant treatment to the entire situation that made me feel like everything may work out.
TAMING THE LION
Introducing your child to your future partner and the adjustment that follows can sometimes feel like one is being fed to a lion. Who the fresh meat is exactly,I don’t know. It could be your partner-to be who tries to make a good impression, it could be the child who is facing so much change and generally would have normal reluctance to accept someone new in your life or, it could be you who is right smack in the middle of a volatile sea of emotions. Either way, the words attack and swallowed up whole cross your mind. Bringing in someone new in your life can be threatening to everyone unless you can tame that big ferocious lion.
I asked Mark to meet my little girl before I would even think of committing to the relationship and he did. It went like this:
Zee: Is it okay if Tito Mark will be my boyfriend? He wants to talk to you.
Bea: *has this emotional, shocked, panicked look on her face* (whispers) What if he wants to get married?
Zee: *has this emotional, shocked, panicked look on her face* Err..not too fast. I said boyfriend. He just want to get to know us more and he says he loves mom. Will you talk to him?
*Mark comes in*
Mark: Bea, is it okay if I’ll be your mom’s boyfriend?
Bea: Okay but are you going to want to marry my mom? What if you go down on your knees and propose? I don’t think I can handle that yet.
See? That’s a lion, right there. I can’t continue the conversation because everything turned into an embarrassing, scary blur after that sentence.
But, here are some tips to taming lions:
1) Set ground rules: Being a responsible mom is the top priority. Dates have to be set when all obligations such as homework, study time, prayer time and play time are done and over with. This doesn’t leave much time,huh? It doesn’t, but that’s something you and your partner have to accept early on. Draft a schedule if you have to, in order to manage the expectations of both parties. What you don’t want to happen would be, to have a child feel like she has been replaced or a partner feel like you really don’t have time for him. In our case, we make sure I’m home on weekdays or if Mark wants to spend time, he goes to my place and we all spend time together.
2) Involve and gain trust: Be open and honest to both parties about the situation. You would be surprised how children can understand and appreciate honesty. Involve your partner in your activities. It will make him know you more. Being a mother is part and parcel of who you are and you really can’t hide and pretend you’re single and carefree. It will also allow your partner to know your child.
At first it was awkward to involve Mark knowing that her hasn’t been exposed to a lot of children. It was awkward to bring him in during prayer time and letting him have his say his part of the prayer of the day. It was awkward to ask him for help for Math homework but heck, God knows needed help there. I got over the pride of being independent and running the household on my own, the awkwardness and just gambled. If he was happy with it, then he’s a keeper and he passed with flying colors. He became part of the family and my two fluffies get along tremendously. It helps that he has the humor of an 8 year old and Bea thinks like an adult. In fact, they gang up on mom who they feel can be such a kill joy. Well, that’s what moms are sometimes.
3) Maturity is key: Your child is the child in this whole scenario. Not you, nor your partner. Any act of immaturity like tantrums should be limited to children. It can be hard to expect too much from each other.
In parenting for example, I had the privilege to get used to have a child around, Mark had to face all of this with zero experience. I did not expect him to be a parenting expert. Heck, there is no such thing as a parenting expert. Please be sensitive and don’t leave your partner with a baby that just pooped and expect him to know how to change a diaper. I left Mark and Bea alone with eggs to crack open and I come back to two people with eggs all over their face and hair. I can’t be all anal about that, it was kind of funny. Mark could have just walked away and say that he had no idea how to do it but he tried.
Bea was sick a few weeks ago and started puking. I run and calmly clean up the vomit all over the floor and tell her it’s okay while Mark peeks in, sees the vomit, has a shocked look on his face and runs back in the room and shouts
“Babe, if you need anything, I’m just here okay?”
That could have been annoying but I didn’t mind. Projectile vomiting children takes a lot of getting used to. Bea said the next day
“Did you see the look on Tito Mark’s face when he saw the vomit? It was priceless!” Yes,it was.
To be honest, it takes a real man to love a single mom. Boys cannot handle the lion.
A JUGGLING ACT
Once in a while, something pops up to just throw things off and everything goes haywire. A juggle could be conflicting schedules of equal importance like a school program and a scheduled travel or something as simple as watching the latest Bond movie or watching Madagascar 3. It can be a juggle to just simply want to rest but your child wants to play and your guy wants to talk. Maybe it can even be a juggle when one wants chicken nuggets and the other one wants adobo for dinner and you can only have time to prepare one. It can be anything, sometimes the juggle can even be imaginary. You just stress because you want to give the people you love,the best of you. It can feel like you’re being pulled in all directions and everything will just drop and break. This is when your luck in selecting the best partner comes in. The right partner will never be a burden and will always be an extra hand. There are times when Mark has to put up with hours of talk about My Little Pony and Bea eventually learned to appreciate James Bond. The only way to juggle many balls was to act like a team.
Team. That’s it. It takes teamwork to be a single mom in a relationship. Forget the single in
singlemom. You don’t have to be alone anymore.