I have no problem embarrassing myself. I am actually pretty good at it. But I have learned if you ever need to really be embarrassed… your kids will step up. No prodding needed. And most of the time they don’t even realize they are embarrassing you… I think that is the best part.
Many many years ago, when I was a single Mom with my oldest, she showed me just how sweet and innocent she could be. I had met the man that would become my husband. We had only been dating for a couple of months. We were at his house having lunch (yes, I can remember this very VERY vividly). It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining in the windows. His Mom and stepdad were in for a visit. It was the first time I was meeting them. The VERY first time I was meeting them. My oldest daughter had just turned 2. There was a nook area separated from the kitchen by a cupboard. I was on one side and the others were sitting at the table. The ex had already introduced us and small talk was underway. Keep in mind, we had only been dating for about 4 months at this point and I had NEVER met his parents. My sweet little angel is sitting there eating her lunch and out of her mouth comes this…
“So you’re (ex’s name) Mom. That makes you a Gramma to me.”
I thought I might die on the spot. I wished with all my might that the floor would please please PLEASE open up and swallow me. I was so red and embarrassed that this was a topic of conversation. The Ex and I had not discussed a future at this point. We were just happy dating! As I began to stammer my explanation that she was only the ex’s mom and that didn’t make her a Gramma like my mom was to her, the ex’s Mom piped up and asked her about her lunch. That distracted her enough to drop the topic. Whew. That was awkward at its finest. Some time after that, we were driving in the truck somewhere when she nonchalantly referred to the ex as Dad. I think he almost choked. He Looked over at me and was like WTF but not in a way that suggested he didn’t want that but more a ‘wow are we really ready for this’ way. Needless to say, he’s been Dad to her ever since. That was not nearly as difficult as the whole Gramma conversation because at this point it was pretty obvious that we were going to make a go of the relationship.
Now fast forward about 20 years and here I am with 4 kids, dating again. I’ve met a wonderful man and he has been spending quite a bit of time with my 2 younger kids and I. The kids have accepted him. He says he enjoys spending time with us. BUT it is still very new.
Last night we were all sitting in the living room enjoying dinner and conversation. My 16 year old, out of the blue, looks at “A” and says
“So “A”, when are you moving in with us?”
If I could have crawled into the couch, I would have. At that moment I am sure even my hair flushed with embarrassment. We are talking MORTIFIED here folks! As I tried to stammer an explanation, “A” just laughed a little and said no worries. A little later, “A” asked me how that came up. I said it was all Mason. It sparked a conversation about it but that big move will be somewhere down the road. Then this morning this wonderful man sends me a message saying he was flattered that my kids accept him. I personally think they are all ganging up on me, but so be it.
I had to relate this story to my oldest, because she was the first to embarrass me like this. Her response actually made sense to me. She said that was actually pretty awesome that Mason would even be able to do something like this, as he is the one usually fighting change like a seasoned warrior. He does not do well with change. So for him to actually ASK for change… well that is something.
I had to have a discussion about this with the kids on the way to school this morning. I know that both their Dad and I are role modeling what healthy relationships should look like. The fact that we are no longer married and moving forward with our lives weighs heavy on my mind. I want my kids to be able to be in a healthy relationship when they are ready. Going through a divorce, is probably not the easiest or best way to show them. But both their Dad and I have worked very hard to maintain a good parenting relationship. We make it all about the kids.
I have had a previous long term relationship, shortly after the divorce but it ended. It was difficult for the kids but we managed. Their Dad is remarried. So it’s not like either of us hide our desire for a commitment to a special someone. I don’t hide the fact I am dating from my kids. I think it is important that they know Mom is more than just a Mom. So I have kept them informed of the dates along the way. As I am building a relationship with a man, I don’t want to have him come into our lives and it be like “SURPRISE kids! I have someone special”. So just as its important for the man I am dating to know I have kids, it’s important my kids know I am dating. I think it is just as important for them to know that there is a “getting to know each other” phase, then a “WOW, I really like this guy” time, then whatever comes after that. My point is, it would be far more traumatic to my kids, if all of a sudden, there was this important person in my life. They have not met EVERYONE I have dated. Some men were not worthy of meeting my kids. Others that had met my kids, then didn’t last very long after that, have been explained as not all relationships last. So I try to maintain a healthy balance on it all.
When I googled the topic of when to introduce the kids, a whole ton of websites popped up. Ranging from keep a potential SO hidden for as long as you can to let them know right away. It is mind boggling. Now I would think that it would depend on the age of the kids, how long you’ve been divorced or separated, and so on. And while there was some really good information in there, I think I will trust my instincts on this one.
I know my kids.
I know myself.
And as I get to know “A”, I see that he is a positive role model for my kids.
So while we are not moving him in this weekend, we will continue to model a healthy relationship for my kids. I have no doubt he has my kids best interest at heart. Not to the extent that I do because I am MOM, but I trust him.
Now maybe I need to have a conversation on whether or not they are planning on announcing a wedding that “A” and I know nothing about!