Mommy, will you marry me?
My son, Parker, was so in love with his mommy that he regularly made little engagement rings out of whatever he could find (usually the twisty ties in the produce section of the grocery store) and asked me to marry him. Because he was but five or six years old I always accepted without question, despite his sister’s shrieks of “Ewww! You can’t marry your mother!”
I’d like to think he proposed because I’d always be the perfect woman in his eyes. Truth be told, it was more like he already recognized himself as the man of the house. People have always commented on what an old soul he is, and I had always thought of him as my little old man. I’d been a single mom since he was three years old. And while I did date after my divorce, he knew pretty firmly his place in the household.
He’d put himself in this place, mind you. I never set the four-year-old to work and demanded he help me figure out the bills and household needs. But it seemed that in his eyes no man was going to be good enough to take care of and love his mama as much as his big, little heart would. So he might as well step up and give me all the snuggles he could.
To Date or Not to Date?
I’ve heard all of the arguments against dating with kids after a divorce. And I took heed of tons of advice. But ultimately, I decided I’d rather have my kids see me make attempts at finding a fulfilling and loving relationship than always beating back my doldrums of loneliness. I’d like to believe they will learn from my failures just as much as my successes and grow to be resilient people themselves. This doesn’t mean I paraded a string of suitors through our doors. I was very calculated about when and how the kids were introduced to anyone I took seriously enough to do so.
And then my now fiancé came along quite unexpectedly and quite seriously very quickly. My kids, who are extremely loving, friendly, and open human beings, were apprehensive at first. Who could blame them? They’d been through a divorce and a post-marriage boyfriend to whom they’d gotten fairly close.
Not Feelin’ the New Guy
My son in particular, though, was not having it. Every time this new guy tried to get to know my boy, the kid found something insulting or embarrassing to say. These were some seriously cringe-worthy moments for me and the new guy as well. My son made constant comparisons to the previous boyfriend about where they’d gone and what he’d bought. It didn’t stop there. My fiancé now laughingly recalls the time Parker told him flat out while he was grilling on the patio, “Oh yeah, we haven’t talked about this yet. But, I don’t want you dating my mom.” When met with the request to talk about it further, Parker shot back, “There’s nothing to talk about, I’ve said it already.”
Eventually, with a kind and patient heart, this new love in my life grew on the little old man in my life. My fiancé hadn’t yet had a son. And Parker, basking in the attention and support of another parent figure, quickly became his shadow. He’s left my side and now runs to be with his new buddy the moment he steps in the door. I have to check my own jealousy that my son at times now actually prefers to hang out with the new guy!
A Different Kind of Proposal
We merged households eight months after we began dating. Two months later my fiancé proposed, twice. First, in our own very special place, then with the kids present at a family dinner. I have to say the second time was no less special to me than the first. After the second proposal, I asked my kids if they knew about the surprise proposal all along. My little old man, who has long stopped asking me to marry him with twisty tie rings, didn’t miss a beat: “Mom, I’m the one that told him he needed to marry you!”
Despite the crazy balancing act, the rewards of blending the family and bringing together the two men in my life are more than worth it.