So, you keep sneaking in dates on the days when the kids are with your ex or putting yourself on the edge of bankruptcy while your babysitter rakes in the money. You're getting tired and wish there was more fluidity in your life. When do the walls come down and these segmented compartments of life start to flow into each other?
The answer is right about now.
When my boyfriend and I were getting to this place, he told me that his daughter's therapist and his divorce mediator both told him not to introduce his kids to someone new until he was engaged. I looked him dead in the eye and said, "Would you ever propose to someone you'd never seen interact with your children? Would you ever propose to someone you'd never known as a mother, whose children you hadn't met?"
His answer was a clear and resounding, "No."
Before I'd met my boyfriend's children, I didn't fully know him. We'd been together, intimately, for seven months, but I didn't know what kind of a dad he was, how he parented or if I even liked his children. While he had met my son, it had been in a distanced and somewhat cursory way. I had no idea how he'd step-parent my child, nor how I'd step-parent his. How could we choose to spend a life together without these edges rounded out, those blanks filled in?
Our relationship had gone about as far as it was going to go without this next, crucial step. We were in love, and the relationship itself was great, but the compartmentalization was starting to weigh heavily.The relationship itself was calling out for more. It was time to up-level it.
My boyfriend said to me, with fear in his eyes, “I have no idea how to do this.”
Frankly, neither did I. Having been divorced for over six years, I have introduced my son to two other boyfriends — only one of whom I was dating seriously — and neither of them had school-aged children. Though I have written extensively on this topic, am widely considered the go-to expert coach on all things single mom and dating and was even named one of the Top 10 Dating Coaches in LA, when it was my turn to do this, I was totally clueless.
And so, with some “Yikes, are we really doing this?” and a lot of “Here’s hoping!,” we took the plunge.
This is just the beginning of what just might be a lifelong journey. It’s far harder than either of us ever thought, but my ex-husband, who’s already walked this path, says it’s definitely well worth it. I know my boyfriend is worth it, as are all of our children.
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