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11:30 a.m. - 2012-08-13
logistics and logic of dating with kids
I think I'm in love.

Oh fuck it. I'm in love.

And this raises a lot of problems, because I have kids.

Life used to be so simple. I am a "leap before you look" kind of person. I applied to, got a full scholarship to, and attended a boarding school 1,000 miles from home that I had never seen before the day I arrived for the beginning of the school year. I moved to France with $1,000 and a backpack. I moved in with Matt after a few months of secret dating -- he was still my boss -- and moved to the first of several new states with him after a few months of dating.

I have never regretted my "look before you leap" decisions. I believe that I make the best decisions when I decide with my heart (or gut) and only minor input from my head. I suppose this is because I am happy to live with the consequences; I think life is an adventure and prefer that it be unpredictable rather than rational and planned. I like not knowing where I am going much better than stability. I prefer random driving to having a destination.

With kids, however, unpredictability is not a good thing. I can't expose them to her too much unless I am committed (that much I have figured out from the dating-with-kids articles), but how do I know for sure she's the one unless I know she is a plus to my kids' lives and vice versa?

A lot of these dating-with-kids articles talk about the moral example you may be setting if you're sleeping with someone you're not married to (or worse yet, not planning to marry) and your kids know it. I think it's ridiculous that they harp on this yet think it's fine if a parent is dating someone who makes THEM happy, when the person may not have a genuine desire to be a stepparent and the kids may not like the person or want him/her in their lives. Maybe the latter is something a parent can't control -- the kids will hate anybody regardless -- but I think the worst moral example of all is when a parent is dating someone who doesn't really want to add someone else's children to his/her life.

I am sure it is hard to find a person who does want to care about/enrich the lives of "someone else's children," but it is not fucking impossible. I would. And since my kids and I are a package deal, anyone who genuinely wants me will have to genuinely want my children.

I'm not talking adoption here, because my kids' father is present and very involved in their lives. But they live with me. And anyone else who ever lives with me will be joining OUR family, not joining me in a house my kids also live in.

I get the whole "you don't want your kids to become attached and then experience another loss if the relationship ends" thing. TOTALLY. But how do you find out whether a relationship should become permanent without exposing the person and your kids to the possibility of becoming attached to each other?

Yes, I know it is way too early for me to need to answer that question; this whole rant comes from me trying to figure out the answer to some much more preliminary questions like how much time they should spend with her.

I am glad I read those blogs because I admit my concepts of exposure have been completely skewed by Matt's behavior over the past three years -- ie almost immediately introducing my kids to/having them befriend the woman he was having an affair with (before he moved out), having her sleep over at his house with the kids there enough that Marley uses the term "sleepover" to describe that activity (after he moved out, though still married), and recently taking both kids and her and her kid out of state, overnight, to spend the night at a third party's house without my knowledge or permission.

Obviously he doesn't have a leg to stand on to complain about anything I do, but that's irrelevant; what it's really about is me doing what's best for my kids to the best of my knowledge.

I don't really worry about Cashy, because he's two, and I don't have the challenges some parents of older kids face with Marley, because she is five and barely remembers me and her father living together. Both of them really like A and are happy that she is my "girlfriend." (Unfortunately they already have a frame of reference for what that means, courtesy of their dad and J.) I am much happier because of having A in my life, and I think that is making me a better parent and they notice and appreciate it.

I'll write more later. Maybe about how I know she's "the one." I know this may sound crazy, but I've only had three "the ones" in my life -- my best friend, who I met when I was 12 (she drifted away when we were in our 20s), Matt (I was 23; I would still love him now if he hadn't cheated on me repeatedly, lied to me, moved out, and made clear to me that our relationship is over) and now, maybe, her. My point is that I do get dumped but I don't change my mind, or if I do I make every effort to change it back and succeed.

The only niggling doubt that I have right now is Peter. I told him I was in love and the bastard e-mails me back that he loves me.

There is a part of me that is intrinsically drawn to and connected to Peter and has been for 13 or 14 years, but the bastard is unavailable in a number of ways (was separated but not divorced, now involved with/living with someone, not to mention I don't think he'll ever be happy and I don't want to be in a relationship with Unhappiness). Not to mention that I am not, untimately, really truly attracted to men -- sometimes I am in spite of the fact that they are men, but I am always conflicted and mildly upset by maleness.

Any relationship with him has about a 5 percent chance of being happy, max. And A? I think the odds are much better.

This is my head contributing its two cents' to my otherwise gut instinct decision-making -- I do use logic and common sense when I think logic and common sense have something to contribute, as I've said.

Don't tell me about all the people I haven't met who could be the one. I don't believe that crap; you can spend your life trying to spend the best car deal and chances are, if you ever give up and "settle" for the best car you can find, you'll hate it. I prefer looking till I find something I love for no tangible reason and know is right, and going with it without second-guessing and comparing after-the-fact. In addition to the fact that I feel incredibly connected to her, close in a way I thought I'd never feel to anyone again (and hadn't the entire time I was with Matt and years before), we are also both committed to having happy, fulfilling lives and happy, fulfilling, mutually-worked on relationships. Theoretically, shouldn't that and intangible connection make us a pretty good match?



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