When Your Kids Question Who You Date

Posted by Swati on Dec 2, 2009 in Dating as a Single Mom, Divorce |

I’m staring off at the pine needles from our newly purchased Christmas tree, and the moon sand from our old-ly purchased sand collection…both are all over the rug due to a crazy, crazy afternoon with my daughter…the vacuum is too tired to work today, but we had a lot of fun.

My daughter is asking me why I am no longer dating Greg (who I once dated) instead of J., who I am now dating. It seems J. has made her grumpy. Why? Because he told her to stop doing something, she didn’t listen, and, as luck would have it, she got hurt. And she really wants me to focus on *something else*.

She is sitting with me on her bed, with a bag of frozen spinach on top of the very, very large bump on her head. Rewinding about twenty minutes, here’s what happened…J. told her to stop wiggling around in front of the TV (she was bumping into it with her crazy dance, shaking the entertainment center)…and low and behold, the one-of-a-kind, hand crafted decorative bowl that was at the top of my entertainment center (the one I got in Bologna…yes, the Bologna that’s in Italy)…fell down and walloped her head just before it shattered into a gazillion pieces. My daughter’s head is still in one piece, thank goodness. But she has the equivalent of a small plum popping out of the top now; it’s one heck of a giant lump, decorated with a blood stained cut right at the top. This could have been much worse; we were lucky.

One bag of frozen spinach on her head later, I am being quizzed about my dating choices by my eight-year-old. She doesn’t understand why I like him so much; and why Big Naana and Naani (my parents) like him so much; and why everybody likes him so much. What we are not talking about is the fact that she should have listened to what he said and neither her head nor my bowl would be injured.

As she sees it, Greg (my ex-boyfriend) always let her do what she wanted. He never told her no, never teased her. So why, she implores, would I have switched who I dated? Hmmm. Her deflection tactic is working because I can feel my focus shifting. Damn.

The truth is, Greg was very sweet, but he also never had any opinions to share about anything – and basically went along with everything I said. I felt suffocated, like I had a shadow waiting for me to make a decision about everything, from buttered vs. jellied toast to where to go for our vacations. The first three months of dating him were fun (i.e. “Oh how sweet, he really cares about what I want to do!”); the second three months were torture (i.e. “Have I acquired a second child? Grrr…!”).  He was so syrupy nice, it took me that last three months to break up with him. But my problem at hand was how to answer my little stinker.

Dating as a single mom hasn’t exactly been easy for me. It’s been six years since my divorce. I have never let anyone come fully into my life, into my heart, they way J. is. He and I are perfect complements to each other. It feels so easy, so right to be together; and something is missing when we aren’t together. My daughter has noticed this shift. She wants to know how she fits in.

“Well, Honey. See, I love J. He’s nice and a lot of fun. And he plans a lot of fun stuff for us all to do together. Remember when I was dating Greg, I had to make all of the decisions and it was no fun for me? Remember how I said I felt like I just had more work to do?” She nodded in agreement.

“But he was nice to me. And J. is sometimes nice but sometimes he teases me. He doesn’t tease you. And if he did, you’d be telling Naani about it,” she adds, emphatically (I pause in amusement at her assumption that I would complain to my mother about my boyfriend teasing me). The little devil is so cute sometimes.

So, I go on to explain that J. teases her in a good-natured way, but it’s important that she listens when he tells her to stop doing something (i.e. case in point with the crazy-dancing-TV-bowl-incident). And I tell her to just speak up and tell J. when she feels she is getting too much teasing, because he will listen. Then I remind her how much he cares about her. We stare at each other, tired. It’s now an hour past bedtime.

I sigh and get up to tuck her in and kiss her. Then a little voice says, “Mommy, I’m really sorry I broke your bowl. And I do really like J.” I smile and say, “It’s ok Honey, I know you like him; want to go to Italy with me and get another bowl?” She smiles, nods and her lovely eyes close. Sometimes, it’s good to back off on the discipline and just listen.

Whew. I made it through another day in the life of an eight-year-old without being excused from my post as her mother.

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18 Comments

  • ashausvohra@yahoo.com says:

    You are a gifted writer, Swati.

    Rohit V.

  • Swati says:

    Thanks Rohit; I really do appreciate your visit and your compliment :-) !

  • Andrea says:

    What a sweet post! J sounds great! Any throwbacks you want to send my way would be great! Or brothers or friends of the great ones! Seems like whenever I have a minute, I want to spend it with my boys and do not get out. It is a little guilt, but mostly I just want to be with them as much as I can because they grow so fast! I know it isn’ best for me, but I can’t help myself!

  • Swati says:

    Hi Andrea:
    LOL!

    And I totally hear you – I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve ever had a sitter on a Saturday night (our schedule is a little screwy so I always have my daughter on Saturday nights). It’s better to do what makes you most happy!

    Swati

  • Great post!

    My son will never like anyone I date. At 17, I think he’s still secretly hoping his dad and I get back together–which will never happen:-)

    I think most kids want their parents together. I’m taking a break from dating–until my son goes off to college next year. Then, I’ll get to have a life:-)

  • Well done, Swati. And well written. I think you handled that situation quite expertly. I’ll have to bookmark for when I actually date! LOL!

  • Wow, Swati, this is incredible because you’ve basically described a conversation I recently had with my own daughter, word for word, about my boyfriend. Wow.

    I’m realizing that my own daughter (yours, too?) also wants to feel like the boyfriend cares about her — not just about Mommy. She’s very sensitive (your girl clearly is, too), and I’ve tried to let her have her feelings about this new triangle of love… I’ve tried to show her that love does grow. The boyfriend has made a good effort to show how much he cares about her — through words and actions — and this has helped.

    GREAT post.

  • Swati says:

    Single Mom Seeking:
    It’s so good to know someone else’s daughter asks those pointedly personal questions! It surprises me how aware they are in terms of relationships and what isn’t said.
    Swati
    ps Very sweet that your boyfriend is trying to show her he cares about her too.

  • Swati says:

    Ms. No Single Mama Drama – just LOL! Loved your comment – Swati

  • Mary says:

    Swati…you have such a beautiful way with words…no wonder you want to be a writer!!!!

  • AmyMusings says:

    You’re a good model for her. Can I go on that trip to Italy, too? Your daughter has an advantage that girls whose parents are married do not have. She gets to learn about the selection process. This one was more work. This one contributes with ideas and activities and he cares about you. I had no idea about the process of selection. I went strictly on smell. HA!

  • Robin Arthur says:

    Your posts always take me down memory lane. Great stuff!

  • Blia says:

    I am so glad that I don’t have to go through that again. I don’t know what I would do with 5 kids. You seem to have handled it quite well with your daughter though. Am following you from MBC. Visit me at http://superheroesmom.com if you get a chance.

  • Holly Bowne says:

    Great job, mom! That is a tough situation, but you handled it beautifully. The time you took to make sure your daughter was all right emotionally–to listen and talk with her (for an hour!) past her usual bedtime–I’m sure spoke volumes to her. Thanks for sharing such a sweet post.

  • Jillian says:

    Hello Swati,

    Your post reflected well upon how difficult it must be to introduce a new person into the equation as you raise your eight year old daughter who no doubt wants you all to herself.

    Your descriptive conversation in your daughter’s bedroom made me feel as though I was there with you both.

    J. sounds like a good, solid guy. I think it is good that you recognized that you needed more than just a yes man in your previous relationship.

    So glad that you joined The Aspiring Writers Group at MBC!

  • Theody says:

    You are a great model for your little girl.

    You also write very beautifully. I enjoyed reading your post. May your ink not run dry

  • Vivianne says:

    Wow! I’m going through the same situation with my two young ones. It’s great that your daughter verbalized her feelings to you. Mine are a little more reserved because their father bad mouthed my boyfriend, who is soon to be my fiance. Makes things a little difficult eventhough I know they really like him. Also there seems to be a little resistance to change on their part. I think they like it sometimes when it is just the three of us.

    Both you and your daughter handled it very well together. That’s a testament to the strength of your relationship!

  • Swati, what a beautiful post. So well-written, I felt like I could have been there. Your daughter sounds like a sweetie. I always imagined myself having a daughter so we could have talks like that, even about challenging topics. But I ended up with two boys! Now I just have to worry about dodging flying transformers and how to get out of a potentially polygamous marriage with 3 husbands (my two sons and my current husband). I’m so happy to hear that she decided she liked J in the end. It sounds like you have a wonderful balanced relationship.

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