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Single +1

Sarah Fowler

My name is Sarah Fowler and I’m a hypocrite. The line on my computer has been blinking at me for the past hour as I struggled to figure out a nice way to call myself a hypocrite. Turns out, there isn’t a nice way to say that. (Google suggested charlatan and fraud. Those didn’t sound pleasant either.) As it happens, I am a single mother who isn’t quite sure if I’m willing to date a single father. Not only does that make me a hypocrite, but I’m pretty sure it makes me a b*tch too. As a single mom, I fully expect any man that is going to be a permanent fixture in our lives to love Prinny as his own. I would hope that he would care for her, cherish her and treat her as he would his own child. And if I got involved with a man who had children, I would hope he would expect the same of me. That’s the “easy” part. For me, it’s not a question of being able to love someone else’s children as my own. It’s being able to love their mother as well. In a perfect world, a blended family looks like the Brady Bunch; happy smiling children and two parents who love everyone the same. Sure, there are the occasional “Marsha Marsha Marsha” moments, but minus the paisley and bad 70’s hair, it looks pretty dang near perfect. But in reality…I’m not sure it works like that. You meet someone, fall in love, get married and have children. But wait. They’ve already been married, already have children and suddenly your idea of “Happily Ever After” involves an ex-husband or ex-wife. When it comes to blended families, what happens after the “Happily Ever After”?

By nature, women are incredibly territorial and that instinct only intensifies when we have children. As mothers, we protect our children like a lioness, ready to pounce in an instant on anyone who threatens our child. So how in the world are we supposed to react when another woman comes along and tries to be a mother figure to our children? It’s a catch-22 because of course you want this woman to love your children as her own but then that instinct kicks in and how dare this woman treat your children as if she is their mother? It’s maddening. It’s as if you want her to love them just enough but not too much. Maybe writing these words on paper solidifies the fact that I’ve dang near lost my mind or maybe, just maybe, it’s what other women are feeling as well.

In a divorce you spilt everything; the house, the money, the cars. And then you split the most important thing. You have to split your children as well. I can cope with divorce and “losing” my husband. I can cope with another woman living in my house, sleeping in my bed. You can have everything from the man to the kitchen sink he pees in but so help me, I can not cope with the idea of another woman being “Mommy” to my child. There are feelings of jealousy and insecurity; both on the part of the ex-wife and the new wife. As the ex-wife, I wonder if Prinny will see this new woman as a fun version of Mommy. As the new wife, I can only imagine that she may be feeling that Prinny sees her as a woman who could never be Mommy. Logically I know that no one could ever replace me. But lately logic hasn’t been my strong suit and I can only wonder that if I’m feeling this way, how is another woman going to feel while I am dating her ex-husband and becoming a continued presence around her children? When it comes to dating a man with children, I never want to be that new wife who is the source of insecurity and pain to the ex-wife. I know that feeling and it’s one that I don’t wish upon anyone.

When it comes to relationships, I often look to my girlfriends for advice. One my best friends is divorced and the mother to one of the most precious little girls on this planet. Recently my girlfriend got remarried to a man that was also divorced and became the step-mother to his three daughters. My friend’s ex-husband is also remarried and her new husband’s ex-wife is remarried as well. So let’s get this straight: In a relationship that started out with just two adults, there are now a grand total of six adults involved. That seems like a bad Lifetime movie just waiting to happen but when I asked my girlfriend about it, she simply stated that “That means there are just more people around to love the kids.” And she’s right. But I can’t help but wonder if my friend is the exception to the rule. I would love to think that a divorced couple and their new partners could all get along, if not for their own emotional sakes, but for the children. But it’s been my experience that more often than not, adults are more inclined to act like children than the actual children do. And right now, at this stage in my life, I don’t know if I’m willing to involve someone in that much drama. Or if I want to be involved in theirs.

Growing up, I knew very little about divorce. All of my friends’ parents were married and the only thing I knew about a blended family was from an old Lucille Ball movie titled “Yours, Mine and Ours”. The movie was hilarious to the eight year old version of me and after watching the antics between the newly formed brothers and sisters, the idea of divorce and a blended family didn’t seem to be anything like the walking nightmare people made it out to be. Then I grew up, had a baby, got married, promptly got divorced, thought about dating for half a second and said the heck with it. And then I met a man who was also divorced with children. Prinny had never met a man that I dated before but for the first time I felt like it was OK to blend my Mommy world and my dating world because, another first, they seemed to go hand in hand. This man knew exactly what I was going through, not just as a parent but as a divorced parent. It was a refreshing change to say the least. Now I’m seeing someone new, someone who is also a single father. To be honest, I’m scared to death but if I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned that in a divorce, there is going to be a fair share of drama regardless of whether there are two people involved or four or six. At the end of the day it’s nice to have someone there who knows what you’re going through. And even though I’m still admitting to being a scared little hypocrite, I’m also admitting to wanting my own version of the Brady Bunch and my own version of Happily Ever After. We’ll just have to wait and see…

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8 comments

  1. Monica

    I grew up in a blended family, and my mom never kept her dating like sepreate from her home life so I commend you for that. Sometimes, paernts have to put aside whats good for them to have a good life for theur children. If dating this man makes you and your Daughter happy i say go for it. The ex will eventually get over it. Good luck.

  2. Deanna

    I am a mother of 4 children that are my entire world,(From Previous marriages) And i am married to a father of 3 that do not belong to me!! It works great for us, the kids all have a blast with each other and they sure do keep us on our toes… We do Holidays, Birthday’s and everything else you could think of a mom and dad doing with their children, And we do it together, my husband and my kids, my ex husband, My husbands kids and his ex wife, we all get along great and i believe the kids are healthier for it!! My children never have to want nor wish their daddy was there, B/c all it takes is a Phone call and he is here faster than i can speak the words…..It is awesome, and if everyone would just put their selfish ways to the side, all families could be this happy!!! Even through and after divorce :)

  3. Ashley

    You came very close this week to showing your readers your real self and all your insecurities and I must say I am very proud of you. If you delete the first and last paragraphs about your fictional new man, we see the crux of your fear. This article combined with the last one says it all. We readers will find that, if we strip the articles down and get rid of the dating, we have a mom who is very wrapped up in her daughter with a remarried exhusband who wants to “time-share.” It is ok to be scared of sharing your daughter with your ex-husband and his new wife. But always know that you won’t be forgotten or replaced and at the end of the weekend, or week, or month, you are still Mommy. “I can not cope with the idea of another woman being “Mommy” to my child.”
    This is a very rational though. But I hope that you aren’t letting this stop you from letting the new wife love your daughter, as any man you may date hopefully would love her and let you love his children, if they existed. My 13 year old daughter calls her Step-mom by her first name and me Mom (she has known her step mom 12 years.) I have a neighbor who’s 7 year old son calls his step mom Mom 2 and his biological mom Mom 1. The situation is different for everyone. and never easy. In the words of Meridith Grey “Just Breathe.”

  4. Single -3.

    And all that said, I believe Prinny needs a “father-figure” in her life to finish “rounding her out”. And, I don’t pretend to speak for all men, but the younger the child, the easier it is sometimes for a man to love them “as his own”. When the child gets old enough to say, “I don’t have to do what you say because you aren’t my daddy!!” then it becomes more difficult for a man to love this child like he would if they had his blood. But, when the child is young, they grow up getting to know this man, and they might even call him “Daddy” instead of “Bill” or “Frank”. Then, the child becomes more adjusted and so does the man… Sometimes the man would like nothing more than to love your child as his own, but if the child refuses, for whatever reason, it ain’t gonna happen. But, there is still a lot to know before I can offer more opinion. For example, which of you wanted your divorce? and why? and where is the ex husband? Close by? Or far away? Believe it or not, these things will all make a difference sometimes. Good luck in you quest for the perfect man. It might not be easy…

    • Harmony Elliot

      I cant speak for sarah but the facts as columbus knows them (yeah yeah, spreading rumors again, i know), sarah got mad and left, husband filed for divorce. so i guess it was mutual. he is military and lives out of state. the military thing i got mostly because of her article about pilots and prinnys dad being a pilot. and everyone knows he lives out of state. it will definitely be good for prinny to meet and get to know the men that sarah choses to spend alot of time with. this is a much more interesting and open article than most of her other ones. yippie! hopefully step dad, step mom, sarah, and the ex can all get along and provide a stable environment for prinny

      • Single -3.

        @Harmony,,, that’s interesting about the pilot. I guess he could be a commercial pilot, but in any event, he might be able to travel long distances in short time periods. So, it doesn’t fully explain the visitation thing. But, the very first sentence in this week’s piece made me wonder if she or the ex husband had ever attended a support group of some sort…since that’s the type introduction given at Al-anon and similar 12-step meetings. Except she stated in the introduction her full name and not just her first name… Some men are so horrible to women, that the women are never trusting of men again. I hope this is not the case for Prinny’s sake. She’s opening up some. Everyone deserves to be happy….

        • Harmony Elliot

          “I know that there are plenty of incredibly good men and women stationed at CAFB. I also know there are plenty of women out there known as “Pilot Chasers.” And for a time I could have been classified as one of them. We women see what basically amounts to feety pajamas for big boys and begin to conjure up images of An Officer and a Gentleman. But what Hollywood doesn’t tell us is that while we’ve spent our entire lives longing for the love story, these men have spent their entire lives longing for a career in a jet.”

          From the Jan 13 column. Air Force Pilot. Military moves these guys around alot and Columbus is a training base, so its no wonder he has moved. probably a bunch. maybe even deployed over seas. its what they do. every time he would travel and miss work he would have to submit a leave request. depending where he is and what he is doing, this may or may not be granted.

  5. Single -3.

    When a couple with a child or children, gets divorced, there’s some things I don’t think the woman thinks all the way through, these days… First, chances are the ex-husband will re-marry before the ex-wife. So, chances are the man will get re-hitched before the woman gets re-hitched and yes it still hurts. Second, it might not occur to the women that you can get along with one man about as easy as you can get along with the next man, so fix the one you got or ignore it and deal with it. I’m not saying stay in an abusive or an adulterous marriage, but sometimes we give up with the “grass is greener syndrome” and I can only hope you are one of the ones for which it really is “greener”, Because it can turn brown on the other side too if you don’t water it, except now you have to be sure a child is being watered too, at least. It sounds like Single +1 might be experiencing one of these things. I look forward to your disagreements.

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