My Dear Boys,
It wasn’t my plan to fall in love. In fact, my plan was more like “stay in love with your father, whom I married, raise you up in the intact family you were born into, and be the happily ever after I so deeply feel you deserve.” But unfortunately, the plans changed. Adults made choices that cannot be taken back, and I can feel my heart breaking while I write this, but you bear the fallout. You chose none of this. I know that, but our family is changing and while you cannot yet be in the driver’s seat, you CAN help steer us. Which is why I brought him in when I did – sooner than conventional wisdom says might be appropriate, but when my heart knew it was right.
It was supposed to be one beer.
I (bravely) made an online dating account after your father moved out because, well, I am a person who loves to do life in relationship. I do better when I have a partner in crime and this single parenting gig, let alone single woman gig, is hard. I decided to dip my toe into the icy waters of dating in my mid-30s. With kids. Just to see. I needed to know, did I still have it? Would anyone even click on my profile? Was I still a catch? Too damaged? Too old? I asked a younger colleague at work what sites the kids were using these days and got down to business. Within the first few hours of creating that profile several people messaged me, so I had my answer to the “still got it” part, but then the whole thing got a bit ick for me and I started thinking maybe I wasn't ready. But. There was one person who genuinely seemed to fit the bill. A teacher/musician. Funny. Sweet. Okay, I thought. We chatted a bit. Maybe.
We made one date. I cancelled it. He texted me a few weeks later and I said yes and kept the next date. Here’s the thing: my intention was to go on one date to say I had done it. That was the plan. But as we sat there laughing, talking, and feeling the hours slip away while one beer turned into a couple, which turned into dinner, I realized how very wonderful it was to have an adult conversation with a genuine, caring, honest, smart man who looked at me like he really saw me. And the whole time I sat there, I was also auditioning him, mostly subconsciously, for a meeting with you.
What would the boys think?
Believe me when I say I read all the articles available on when to introduce a new boyfriend to your children. And there were many prescribed timelines, scenarios, and step-by-step guides. They were fine, but they didn’t feel like me. I go with my gut when it comes to you and my gut said I couldn’t wait too long. I finally found one essay by an author with a point that stopped me in my tracks. She talked about kids being the best “sniffer test” of a dud. Kids and dogs, man, they know when a human being sucks. And I’d like to know that now, rather than later, I thought. I didn’t do the most awesome job the first time around – though we DID make the most amazing human beings I’ve ever known – so maybe I could use a little filter-free sniffing out. Kids do say the darndest things and, well, I wanted to know what you’d say. I also didn’t want to totally fall head over heels for someone who just didn’t fit in with us. If he couldn’t hang, better to know now.
I deserve to be in a loving relationship, but more to the point, you deserve to see your mama being loved so well. We are embarking on a new phase, not one we chose, but one we get to make the very best of. We get to write this ending, my sweet ones, and I could not think of better co-authors than you.
Kate Buckholz Berrio is a single mom to two boys, and a truth teller at all costs. She works full time; speaks, writes, and performs in local theater; and generally lives a life of carefully managed chaos. She is a contributor on DivorcedMoms.com and she and her boys live in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. Follow along on her adventures at www.iholdyourheart.com and @berrioka.