Real life: dating like a single mom

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Ellen is 30years old when her partner comes home and he tells her he wants a divorce. From one day to the next, she doesn’t only say goodbye to her long-standing partner, but also to her children through co-parenting. After the acceptance process Ellen falls in love. How self-evident is it to date as a single mom? And how do you integrate a new man into your family life? Ellen’s doing her story today.

Here at home there are two children I love very much. My daughter’s six, my son’s four. After the divorce with my partner at the time, I had a break with men. Not that I wrote them off, but after a relationship of twelve years I wanted to focus on myself and the kids.

In the beginning I found it very difficult to miss them for a week. In general I cried a lot. I missed my two children and I missed my husband, or at least the man he once was. It was a normal working day when he came home and told me he was leaving home. At first I thought he was joking, but his face remained very serious. I didn’t understand a thing. We had a good marriage and, like most of us, we had been through some things. Sometimes there was an argument, but it never lasted longer than a few hours. There he was, unexpectedly announcing that he was leaving any moment. Away from our family, away from me.

My life as a single mom

In the beginning he had sworn that there was no other woman in the game. But less than four days later, his Facebook showed something else. The unknown blonde held her arms firmly around his neck and he kissed her with his eyes closed. A kiss I couldn’t remember between us for a long time.

A few months later the grief gave way to understanding. In the end, his departure had been the right decision. Because the way he loved someone now, I deserved that too, once.

I’ve had to accept the situation

First I focused on myself. When the kids were with me for a week, I felt great. For a whole week, I made sure they had the time of their lives. But from Sunday night, six o’clock, they left and it felt like my heart was with them. The first five days of the week I cried. And then I counted down until it was my turn again.

Although I missed my children every week, the sadness diminished. As if I accepted the situation. And then I especially felt loneliness. But even there I climbed out. I found myself a hobby and started doing yoga. I bought myself a membership for the fitness and worked on myself, literally and figuratively.

And that’s where I met Jasper. Our first conversation was a nice cliché on the treadmill. It was a light-hearted conversation but it immediately gave me the creeps. At first I thought this was due to the fact that it had been more than ten years since I spoke to someone of the opposite sex, in a flirtatious way. There was that click right away, but I tried to ignore it for a long time.

Every week the kids were there, I didn’t go to the gym. When I came back, he was always genuinely happy to see me. Not much later he asked me if I wanted to have something to eat. And so my life started as a single dating mother.

The first dates

I carefully planned our first dates in the weeks the kids weren’t with me. Still, I was honest right away during our first dinner. I was the mother of two fantastic children in co-parenting. Jasper had no admirable problem with this.

In my mind that night had turned out completely different. After I told him about my double life, he would disappear with some excuse, but he did not. He asked sincere questions about the children and wanted to get to know them.

But I wanted to wait a little longer. The first times he slept with me, the children were never at home either. Until the moment I almost had my birthday and Jasper wanted to celebrate this with the children. So I had to tell them about his existence. That was pretty hard for me.

Meeting the kids

I waited until they were with me and we sat at the table. When I told them, they thought it was funny. Perhaps the most logical reaction of that age. My daughter asked if I was in love and when I confirmed that question, it was all right for her.

A few days later I introduced them to Jasper. I thought that was better than waiting until my birthday, so they could get used to each other. My son was crazy about him right away. Especially the fact that Jasper turned out to be a talent in building with Duplo turned out to be an advantage. My daughter was friendly and polite during the first meeting. When she was with me two weeks later that attitude changed.

My sweet, polite but shy daughter was rebellious. She didn’t even want to join me for dinner if Jasper stayed. I felt I had failed, what had gone wrong? When I asked her about it, she kept her angry attitude. At one point it went from bad to worse. When I asked her if she wanted to do her homework she fell out at me and even called me a bitch. Hearing this from a six-year-old was a bit of a swallow. Jasper asked her to apologize, which only made her angrier. “You’re not my daddy.”  Although I understood Jasper’s reaction, I asked him to leave. I had a hard time with the fact that he spoke to my daughter about this. When he was gone I went to my daughter.

Taking over the father role

It turned out that her daddy had been stoking her. When she went there to tell her that mommy had a new boyfriend, he had told her that the man probably wanted to take over daddy’s role. So I could understand my daughter’s behavior. After a long talk with her, I assured her that this was not the case. Her daddy stayed her daddy and Jasper would never want to change that. My birthday party fell into the water. I just enjoyed myself and my kids that day and from Jasper I got a text message.

I’d had it around that time. I felt in a duel between my children and Jasper. I really loved him, but I loved my children more. So a relationship wasn’t an option. Until my sister told me what she thought. She didn’t think I could handle it that way. Jasper was a good man and I couldn’t put my life on hold because my ex-husband had chosen a new life. That same night I invited Jasper to my house while the kids were in bed. We had an hour-long conversation. After this he wanted to go home but I stopped him. I asked him to stay and the next morning at the breakfast table my children looked up surprised at first, but the rest of the day went surprisingly well.

It’s not as easy as it sounds

We’ve been almost a year now. My children still come to me week after week and Jasper lives with me.

To this day I still find it very difficult, dating as a single mom or having a relationship with someone who is not my children’s daddy. More and more I try to integrate him into our family which is not always easy.

Especially when I am angry with the children and he minimizes it, I would like to say that he shouldn’t interfere. But that wouldn’t be fair. It remains a constant internal struggle: to what extent do I allow him into this family, while I also have to consider my own happiness. But in the end this is all worth it, because in my case, a happy mummy is happy children.

This article has been written by Stephanie De Vroe from @SMOTHERHOODS

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