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No one warns you that the rules of dating will change as you get older.


With divorces come ex-wives.

Sometimes with divorces and ex-wives, there are children.

Jason had all three.

When Jason asked me out the first time, I felt like I had to make a choice before I said yes. Was I prepared to enter into a relationship with someone who was also a parent, accepting all that would mean?

I decided yes, I felt like I was. Kids like me. I like kids. I get that when there is a child involved, their needs come first and always.  I have enough friends who are parents to know that conversations, plans and lives get interrupted by potty trips, bedtimes, bath times, accidents and meltdowns. Rolling with the unexpected is the expected. The responsibility that accompanies raising a tiny human leaves no room for selfishness. My friends love and respect me for my compassion in this area, but to me it’s simply common sense! So I jumped in with Jason, knowing full well what weight this decision carried. I accepted Jason and that meant accepting his son, too.

I wasn’t prepared to fall for them both.

LittleJ was a quarter-sized replica of his gorgeous father. He heart-melted me with his blue eyes, smattering of nose freckles, astoundingly brilliant mind and goofy grin. On our designated days together, we went fishing, swam, ate ice cream, and cuddled up to watch superhero movies. We sang “Call Me, Maybe” loudly and off-pitch in the car.  LittleJ would hug me without warning and give me slobber kisses and tell me that he missed me during the days he was with his mom. I learned late one night just how heavy the dead weight of carrying a sleeping child can be. Our affection was such that in public, strangers made assumptions that I was LittleJ’s birth mom and that Jason and I were already married. The conclusions caught me off guard, but didn’t bother me.

But then I began to feel as if the petal-fragile days of dating someone new had already passed me by before I’d really had the chance to enjoy them.  It was too soon to be expected to pick LittleJ up from school if Jason was held up at work.  It was too soon to have a small body crawl into bed with us if he had a nightmare. It was too soon to be expected to step into a role for which I was completely unprepared. It’s not that I didn’t want these realities eventually.  It’s that Jason had five years to adjust to them, where I’d only had two months. And then Jason and I began to have problems of our own, too. Big problems that landed us in a gut-wrenching stalemate.

Ending it with Jason was difficult enough without thinking about the impact on LittleJ. The added concern of what this sweet boy thought about what happened between his dad and I… whether he believed I was mad at him, or if I left his dad because of him? All this, very soon after a nasty divorce? It felt horrible. It still does.

Children aren’t graced with our familiarity of love’s harsh truths and I hated that LittleJ’s heart was bruised by my hand, even indirectly. It’s my one regret.

If each relationship is meant to teach us a lesson, then my knowledge bomb this time was that kids change the rules. I learned that what I believed to be “taking it slow enough” was “nowhere close to”. I learned that if I am the party more concerned with the feelings/reactions of the child than the birth father, then something is seriously amiss. I learned that I do look forward to being a mom someday, should that be in my cards.

But most importantly, I learned that if I’m dating a divorcee and/or parent in the future, to make wiser choices where children are concerned. I may not be able to control the unknown elements of an adult relationship, but the least I can do is help shield the innocent from the shrapnel of the dating world.  Lesson learned and duly noted.

This piece is being submitted to this week’s Yeah Write Challenge.  What is Yeah Write?  Pshhh.  Only the best writing/blogging community on teh internets. Git you some.

31 responses »

  1. Oh how hard Peach! I can tell you really care about LittleJ. I’m sorry about all of this, but your post is so touching. Beautifully written!

  2. This is really admirable. I know parents who don’t even bother to protect their kids, so to see someone who isn’t even the parent care so much is really refreshing. Good for you! I hope good things are in the cards for you and for LittleJ.

    • Ashley, this comment surprised me, because the word “admirable” seems so contradictory to the situation. But you’re right. I do feel that I truly cared for LittleJ and looked out for him where/when I could. Thank you.

  3. Oh that is so sad. It’s hard enough when you lose the relationship, then maybe the friendships that went along with it. But the child, oh my goodness. How could you have changed those moments with LittleJ? They sounded so wonderful!

  4. What a great post and perspective from the other side. As a single mom of two, I refuse to let any man meet my children until I am absolutely sure that there is staying power. I dated a guy for six months before my kids even knew he existed. So many forms of attachment, confusion, uncertainty. Hard enough for them to deal with their parents splitting let alone having another person come and go.

    I also find it easier to date someone with kids than without, they get it. Sure scheduling really really sucks, but in the end it is easier on me.

    Kudos for you for being someone willing to leap into a premade family. It takes a certain person that is for sure!

    • You’re a smart woman to be so cautious with your children within the flighty world of dating. I can only hope I didn’t hurt LittleJ too badly. His attachment to me came swiftly and deeply. 😦

  5. As if dating weren’t complicated enough…I’m so sorry you had to go through such a tough experience. But I love and admire the message that you share here.

  6. Ugh. How hard for you! So well written. The image of a little boy sliding into bed with you two months in…. Tough. I’m sorry it didn’t work out though I love seeing your heart exposed.

  7. Oh, honey. What a hard thing for all of you…

    I loved this line,”Children aren’t graced with our familiarity of love’s harsh truths.”

    Many, many hugs…

  8. UGH i’m kinda pissed that you were put in that situation, to be honest. i mean, yes, sometimes children are going to be in the picture when dating in our adult days but that child’s parent should know better than to bring someone new in the picture that soon. 😦 but, what you’ve gone thru, what LittleJ has gone thru is nothing new or abnormal today. i’m just sorry you had to learn those lessons.

    • You know what, Christina? Thank you for your honesty. And thank you for being pissed for me. If we were drinking together, I’d cheers you. I appreciate it, truly. xox

  9. Oh Peach, this was a beautiful piece, and my heart breaks for you and LittleJ. And you’re right when you said, ” if I am the party more concerned with the feelings/reactions of the child than the birth father, then something is seriously amiss.” You’re a smart girl who made a wise decision. Hang in there honey.

    • You nailed a key point in that quote, which is essentially the crux of the whole situation. Way more than you can even imagine. Smart cookie, you are. Thanks so much. *hugs*

  10. I could have sworn I left a comment last night, but I must not have!
    I think kids are the most difficult hurdle when dating. When is too soon to meet them, when should you do things with them, etc. I have a friend who lets guys meet her kids right away and thinks nothing of it. I have another friend who dated a guy with kids for almost a year before he let her meet them. It’s not an easy decision at all. But you are right, those little hearts have to be protected. I say kudos to you for even giving it a thought, because it certainly isn’t your responsibility to guard someone else’s child. You are going to make a great mother and/or step-mother someday!

    • Aw, girl… Quit it, you’re gonna make me sniffle. I have a badass reputation to uphold here. 😉

      No really, thanks. That means so much to me. ❤ you.

  11. This sounds heartbreaking. I can’t imagine dating someone with kids or dating someone with a kid of my own. It sounds like your heart was in the right place and from what I know of you I believe that to be true. Hopefully LittleJ knows or his father explained to him that it had nothing to do with him.

  12. Thank you for sharing this. I have a lot of single friends that find themselves in similar situations. This was well-written and showed tremendous vulnerablity and a loving character. I hope all works out well for you … and sweet LittleJ.

  13. I love that “petal-fragile” imagery around early dating. Such a sad post, although what could you have done differently? Hopefully your ex will have learned something from this experience and will hesitate to introduce his future partners to his son until later in the relationship.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Azara. I however, will follow my mama’s advice about, ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say…’ Re: the ex. But I hope so, too.

  14. Oh. I want to cry. I’m so sorry it didn’t work out, and I’m sorry that breaking up with Jason meant inadvertantly breaking up with LittleJ too. Hugs to you, sweet friend.

  15. Ah, so sad. Thanks for the perspective. I hope you find someone who exceeds your dreams.


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