This post probably won’t make me very popular. I’m okay with that. This post has brewing in my head for ages now, but I think I finally pulled it together enough to post it.
So, you meet her – Funny, clever, busy, cynical and soft. She’s great. You date. Except there’s one thing about her that makes your ballsack twinge in fright.
It’s the Kid.
Now let’s be upfront, and serious, just for a second. When you’re dating a single mom, you’re really dating two people. Okay, so not exactly the ménage ‘n trois you were hoping for, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers.
Know this one thing – she doesn’t consider it serious until she introduces you to the Kid. Know one other thing – introducing you to the Kid is not a test. You cannot pass or fail it. It just is. Got that? Good.
The stuff you should know:
Knowledge of the Kid:
Any mother, anywhere, is going to talk about her kid. Your mom did, didn’t she? So, if the topic of the Kid only comes up way after you meet, you may find she’s ashamed of the idea of being a single parent.
My answer? Run. Now. Any person not okay with being themselves is not worth your time anyway.
Your date/girlfriend is going to talk about the Kid. Get used to that fact. Just as she’s also going to talk about her job, her friends, her life and her family. Just like you are about your job, your friends, your family, your car. Except her Kid isn’t an accessory and doesn’t come with fuel injection. No, wait, the Kid does have fuel injection capabilities, spawned from a myriad of bribery sweets and birthday cake, but does not require weekly buffing and an immobilizer. On that note, if anyone knows how to install an immobilizer on a Kid, let me know.
You see, dude, you’re going to have to accept that you score at a number two on the priority list in Single Mom’s life. Once it’s serious, you’ll reach that point. You don’t comprehend? Look, I’ll show you:
Single Mom’s priorities before she dates you:
- Everything and everyone else
Single Mom’s priorities once you two reach serious stage:
- Everything and everyone else.
Notice that subtle change? Thought you might.
So, in the grander scheme of things, scoring number two ain’t so freaking bad, after all, is it? What are your priorities, then, mmm?
We were giving birth long before you cared. So, if you do care, show it. Immediately, but without being a suffocating psycho.
If you’re really lucky, the Ex will be a nice enough guy, with whom your girlfriend has an amicable relationship. Do NOT mess with it.
If you’re not lucky, the Ex will be a vilified arsehole, with whom your girlfriend has a relationship of vague tolerance and vitriolic sucking up of his BS. Once again, do NOT mess with it. Unless you are asked to.
If you’re middle of the road lucky, the Ex will just be around for parties, family events, the every-other-weekend-pick-up-and-drop-off, and be generally unobtrusive, and is someone with whom your girlfriend has a mild, sometimes tenuous, generally okay relationship. Seriously, do NOT mess with it.
Be nice, be polite, exchange idle banter about cars and leave it at that. Remember something rather important, dude. He was in there long before you were, and made a Kid. The very Kid who is now a part of your life and who undoubtedly hero worships their father. So, like, accept that and be polite.
Kid and tantrums:
The golden rule is to walk away, go into the kitchen, make tea and let mama sort this one out. Grit your teeth and do it. But, be helpful in an indirect fashion. Trust me, mama doesn’t need your help sorting this one out, and your “advice” is invalid unless you have a kid yourself.
The Kid is going to be shy at first. The Kid is going to fall in love with you too. You may find you do the same in return. Try not to be a complete wuss about it. Don’t be afraid to dig out your old Lego and channel your light-sabre years. You have full rights to watch Gummi Bears now and you absolutely can eat ice cream with your fingers, and all the cake you like. Don’t all therapists tell you to channel your inner child? There it is, right there, and you didn’t even have to pay someone five hundred bucks an hour to remind you.
At some point, the Kid is going to love you. Just because you are. Just because you exist in their world. Isn’t that a good thought?
So the Kid gets sick on Date night and your girlfriend has to cancel so that she can sit up all night being puked on and doing 42 cycles of laundry, whilst still trying to get some sleep and soothe a crying child. Your job? Quit whining about it. Move on. So the vomit-game got in the way of your away-game? Sorry, mate, but tomorrow is another day, and another date night will roll around and the Kid won’t get sick and all will be well. Offer empathy. And don’t think your girlfriend is not feeling like a piece of total turd for having to cancel. She already is. Don’t make it any worse.
Your Single Mom Girlfriend will come with a set of hideously close, fantastic friends. They have been there from the beginning and probably before, and, should you ever make a grand exit, will be around to pick up the pieces afterwards. Alternatively, should you stick around long enough, you’ll become part of that regular tableau around the dinner table. They can tell you everything you ever want to know about your girlfriend. Well, at least everything she will let them. They are her support structure and are family to her and the Kid. They’d also be the ones singing your praises and making speeches at your wedding one day, should that happen. Don’t ever ask her to choose between you or them. It won’t end well and you will lose.
Are probably a close-knit bunch, a little crazy, and completely supportive. Or, they’ve distanced themselves from the ‘weird one who went astray and got herself up the duff or divorced or whatever’. Either way, respect that. One day, they might be your family too.
Is just as important as yours. If not more. If that stings, deal with it. You see, you get up every morning, get yourself ready and dressed and go to work. On the other side of the spectrum, she gets up every morning at sparrows fart, gets herself ready and dressed for work, gets the Kid ready and dressed for school/daycare, feeds them breakfast, cleans the house, makes sure whatever’s needed for dinner is defrosting, throws coffee down her throat and hopes like hell noone got yoghurt anywhere. At lunchtime, you’re at a lunch meeting, or you’re having a sandwich at your desk or you’re getting a bit of fresh air. She is making sure the pharmacy bill is paid, running to the shops to get diapers or the latest most essential MOM-I-MUST-HAVE-IT toy, or a pencil sharpener from the stationers because the dog ate the last one and she is most definitely chugging back another coffee and hoping that muffin she ate on the way doesn’t show up too badly in her hips. You see, if she loses her job, everyone suffers. If you lose your job, um, you suffer. And let me tell you, potential employers generally frown upon baby spew on suits in interviews.
What you will get in return:
An abundance of love. Like I said, it’s not the ménage ‘n trois you were looking for, but it still is one. Sure, it has some limitations, boundaries and getting-used-tos, but what relationship doesn’t at first seem to have them?
A space at the dinner table any time you like. Seriously. If the Kid’s gotta be fed, then mama’s cooking. Which means, she’s happily cooking for you too anytime you like. I’m willing to bet what she’s making beats last night’s pizza leftovers.
An experience to relive your very own childhood. Enough said.
The privilege of being a fundamental part of someone’s developing life. Think about that. Seriously. Who wouldn’t want that honour? To know they truly made a mark in someone’s life. Do you have that feeling now?
Absolute support. It’s true. Single moms thrive on the support they receive from the people who love them, and will give it back times infinity when needed. It’s always there.
A challenge. A challenge to yourself, for yourself. You’re going to learn so much more about yourself, more than you ever, ever knew. Ask your girlfriend, she knows, because she’s learning about herself too.
Heart-winning. You will win the heart of someone so hurt once, so probably jaded by life and other people. You will be believed in, above all people. And you will be a prince among plonkers.
A sense of belonging. Once you’ve become part of the family others may deem strange, but is actually becoming the norm nowadays, you’ll always know where you can come home to. Bad mood, good mood, bad day, good day, it doesn’t matter. You’re just there. That’s what makes the difference to them.
Laughter. So much laughter you cannot contain yourself.
You don’t believe me?
Try farting in front of the Kid.