When I was raising Damien, I wasn’t always single, but I was always a single parent.
I had a few boyfriends, but most of my attempts at a relationship were short-lived and ended after a few short weeks. Both my relationships that lasted longer than a few weeks, ended very badly. Yes both- as in two relationships. And I SO do not believe in being friends with ex-boyfriends. When it ends, it ends. There’s no contact afterwards. There’s no being friends. There’s too much history.
This was just one of the reasons I stayed single.
Everyone knows that when you start dating someone as a single mom, it means you allow a man into your home and you allow him to get to know your child. You allow him to get to know you with your child. You allow him to see a side of you that is not just a woman, but a mom. And a mom, well, a mom is an incredible being single or not. You don’t want to cross her, and you don’t want to interfere with how she parents her children.
There have been many fabulous articles written about dating a single mom and the complications and wonderment that go with it, check out Cath Jenkin, Beyond Your Nose, Female2Female, The Jackson Files and Harassed Mom for just a little of what I’m talking about… and that’s not what I’m writing about today.
Today, I am addressing another side of dating a single mother.
The extended family.
When you start dating someone as a single mom, you eventually have to meet your beau’s parents and family.
I’ve seen this particular scenario now from several angles. Me being a single mom and allowing a boyfriend’s parents to meet and befriend my son. Meeting my sibling’s partners and getting to know their children. Seeing my extended family and grandparents deal with their children and grandchildren meeting people with children from previous relationships and how they react to them. I was always afraid of Damien being a “not ours” because I’d seen it happen time and time again. My own granny darling- as much as I love her- only had pictures of her biological grandchildren in her house because the other children are “not really hers”. It broke my heart time and time again because I could see that in Damien’s future.
I avoided relationships to protect myself and my son from heartache.
But the single moms and their children are not the only ones who can get hurt.
I know the boyfriend or girlfriend who gets broken up with also hurts, but the extended family feels it too. I have seen my mommy and daddy darling get to know and get to love my siblings’ partners’ children. And then the relationships end and the child (or children) are gone. My parents hurt. And it makes them leery to love again. Its not only the single mom who gets burned when a relationship ends. It has made my parents afraid to help out or babysit or even try to get to know the new partner’s child or children because it hurts like hell when they are gone.
The single mom hurts because a relationship has ended. Her child hurts because he has gotten to know and love the mom’s- now ex- partner. The ex’s family hurts- if it has gone that far- because they have gotten to know and love a child that is no longer a part of their life.
And people wonder why I opted to stay single.