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…0