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May 29, 2012

Dating with Kids – Mine, His & Theirs

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/dating_with_kids_mine_his_theirs_20120529/

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This weekend was the first time I travelled with the Englishman.  As if that was not stressful enough, it was with our children.  He has two daughters. One lives here and one is away at college in San Francisco.  Since it was a holiday weekend we decided we would go up to visit his older daughter.  I went into the weekend feeling happy, excited, nervous, and hopeful.

I have spent time with his girls and he with my son, but it’s been dinner, or a movie, or an evening at home.  It has not been for longer than a day and nothing intense.  We have spent lots of time with the kids, but the kids have not spent a lot of time with each other.  It was going to be a big test because the kids have all the power in both our relationships.

If I was dating someone and my son did not like him, he would be gone.  No questions asked.  The Englishman is the same way.  He values his relationship with his kids and they come first.  I knew he and I would travel well together, but I was worried about the kids.  Not because I thought they would not get along, but because I really wanted it to go well.

As we left to start our weekend I found myself thinking about the Englishman’s ex-wife.  I have not met her and am not sure I really need to, or would, but this weekend made me think about her.  I don’t know anything about her, but I do know she is a mother that loves her kids, her kids are spending time with another woman, and that is hard.

When my ex-husband started to date his now wife, it was horrible for me. Granted my son was much younger than the Englishman’s kids, but the emotions were the same.  I was a mother who had to watch my son leave with another woman and it broke my heart.  I don’t need to know this woman to know her heart and have compassion for her feelings.

They have been divorced for many years, but that does not make it any easier.  I went on a family vacation with her kids which is odd.  I have been divorced for almost 16 years and when my son takes a vacation with his dad and step-mom it still hurts.  It is crushing for him to have a family that does not include me and that will simply never get easier.

I don’t want to over think the situation, and this is more about me than her.  I just want to say that as a mother whose son spends time with another woman in a parenting role, I am aware.  I want to freely love these children and whether it is accepted or not does not matter because I love them.  Being kind may not matter either, even though I hope it does.

I love how the Englishman is with my son.  He walks the tightrope between friend and father brilliantly.  He does not try to be his dad, but rather provides my boy with a male figure he can admire, rely on, and respect. I hope that is what his children get from me.  In a relationship where kids are old enough to have opinions, it can be intimidating.

I write about my life and my life now includes a man with children.  I want to continue to share with you while being respectful of the Englishman, his kids, and their mother.  I won’t stop telling my stories and I won’t apologize for being happy.  I will respect the process, the feelings of everyone, and allow myself to love the children.  Mine, his, and theirs.

We had a great weekend.  I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much and as often.  We have really funny kids and they certainly entertained us.  The weather was perfect, the hotel was fabulous, the food was never ending, and the love was palpable.  We spent all our time together as a group and it felt natural and comfortable.

My son and I have been a pair for 16 years and this was the first time we took on another team, not just another person, and it felt like we were a family.  For people used to it being just us, my son and I sucked it up like sponges.  There was laughter, lessons, growth, intimacy, compassion, and relief.  The Englishman and I went to another level together.

We are friends with tremendous respect and admiration for each other, but you can love someone and not include them fully into your life.  This weekend all walls were knocked down and there was nothing but trust.  To entrust your children to another human being is a leap of faith and we have taken the leap together.  My son and I went from a pair to a bunch.

There are no guarantees in life or in love.  I could grow old with the Englishman, I could end up having my heart broken, or perhaps breaking his. I don’t know what this will be or how the story will end, but I do know that right now it is glorious and I am blessed to have them all in my life.  I deserve this love and will embrace it for as long as I am meant to.

It was a big weekend in San Francisco.  I observed Memorial Day with a prayer for the men and women who died so that I could live this life.  I celebrated the 75th anniversary of the remarkable Golden Gate Bridge. I fell in love with an Englishman and his kids, and I held my son as we got a glimpse of a family.  Anything is possible when I am keeping the faith.

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