A few years ago at a 4th of July party when I was still single, I met a guy who looked relatively cute and who was the only guy there without a wedding ring. After being single for more than 40 years (this includes my childhood) I could scope out guys like a ninja. We stood next to each other admiring Independence Day chalk art and struck up a conversation. He asked if I had any kids and I told him yes and she with with her dad for the weekend (including the weekend part so he understood it was a parenting time arrangement). He told me his three kids, ages 2, 4 and 6 were with their mom. I said how nice and politely excused myself to use the bathroom. And to never talk to him again.
I’ve heard of single moms who only want to date single dads. I am not part of that crowd. It may seem like a double standard, but I was never a big fan of dating guys with kids. Both before having my child and especially after. I guess I was willing to date a guy with kids if they were older, like over the age of 10 but really I preferred men sans the baggage. Of course I never thought of my child as baggage, but other people’s kids are.
Before moving to Colorado and having a kid, I was engaged to a man with two girls, ages 5 and 9. Great, loving kids no doubt but I couldn’t get used to scheduling my life around someone else’s children AND their mother. This was B.C. (before child) and so I thought if I had a child of my own, I wouldn’t mind someone else’s kid if I liked the guy enough.
I wouldn’t mind someone else’s kid – probably not the best way to look at diving into a relationship with a father. I suppose as a mom I should have been more open to being with another parent but as a mom I know too much about it. There are times when my daughter’s bratty attitude makes me want to drop her off at a street corner and leave her there. There are times when she willfully ignores me until I’m screaming for her to do something like brush her teeth (as if at 9 years old it’s like the first time I’m asking her to brush her teeth). There are times when I think if I didn’t have to get her from school I could meet my girlfriend (whose daughter is in college) at a yoga class or happy hour. Then there’s the scheduling labyrinth with her dad – holidays, vacations, unforeseen circumstances… And just dealing with her dad when he’s being a boob and I can’t wait till she’s 18 and I never have to deal with him again (this is what I tell myself).
No way. I’m an insider and know I couldn’t deal with all the above times two. I probably don’t have enough love in my heart to love someone else’s kids. There I said it. Sometimes, I barely love my own kid. But even when she’s being the biggest shit in the whole world, I still love her. There are times she’s crying – like the time she spilled green vegetable smoothie all over my suede jacket and I viciously yelled at her and made her wipe off the goo – and it pains me to see her bawling. If were a cartoon character steam would be coming out of my ears but I still feel an ache to see her so upset.
I don’t know if I would feel that ache for someone else’s child. I think if you step into the role of step-parent you should have that ability. It’s not fair to your partner and especially not fair to his child if you can’t. If you look at your boyfriend’s child as he’s having a temper tantrum and only feel annoyed, it’s time to rethink the relationship.
Hence, I married a child-free man. No finagling two ex’s schedules. No dealing with the drama of a baby mama. No struggling another set of math homework. You get the picture.
My daughter’s temper tantrums are fewer and farther between as she gets older which I am sure my husband appreciates. My husband’s temper tantrums on the other hand…well, I can say in good conscience I don’t feel guilty for just being annoyed by them.
My daughter’s angelic face is very deceiving