In my humble opinion, being a single parent sucks. You don’t have anyone to help you pick up the kids from school, make their lunches, or tuck them into bed at night. If you need a little break, there isn’t another adult in the home to help you out. Every little detail in regard to your children’s care and well-being rests squarely on your shoulders. I’ve personally never met anyone who’s been able to successfully co-parent with their ex without some trauma, so I’m going to assume my experience was not unusual. Nine years ago I unexpectedly found myself with a new label: Single Parent. You married-and-never-been-divorced folks are probably thinking, so what? Listen up! You need to be very kind to your single parent friends. When I got divorced my world was seriously rocked upside down and back again. It was really difficult. Emphasis on REALLY.
I’d poured most of my spare time into running our business, so I hadn’t really developed my working skills to their full capacity yet. I’d previously started a small home-based cellular business catering to government entities, but I let it fizzle in lieu of helping my ex-husband grow our lawn and landscape business. Fortunately, I’d just gotten my real estate license, so there was potential for future income. Commissioned income. As in, hand-to-mouth. You have no idea how scary it is to go from making a nice income to having nothing. Character building to say the least. I briefly mourned the loss of my marriage (it was easy to bury it and not mourn for too long because his actions to cause the dissolution were…ahem…naughty). Then I made a decision. I would be the best single parent on the planet. And I made it my mission to figure out who I was and what I wanted so I could attract amazing things into my life. (I was reading The Secret at the time-did you guess that?).
I set the bar high. Well, much higher than before anyway. A few friends tried to set me up on dates with people they knew were single too. I had coffee with a few guys here and there. I’d pull out my list of questions and usually get my answer as to whether or not we were compatible in a few minutes. The list went something like this:
1. Are you a low-down scumbag who cheats on his girlfriend/wife/significant other?
2. How do you feel about the English language? Do you like big words or do you abhor them? (I asked this because the ex would constantly say I thought I was better than he was because I used “big words.” If my coffee companions didn’t know what abhor meant I’d have my answer).
3. What is your stance on the Say No To Drugs campaign? Will you interrupt me when I’m trying to teach my six-year-old why she should say no to drugs and interject your personal beliefs as to why marijuana should be legalized? (Yes, that really happened. Red flag, people!).
4. Do you have a fifties-style belief system that women are only good at staying home and raising children and could not possibly be better at something than a man, or…gasp…make more money than you?
If I saw any hesitation after asking these simple but straightforward questions I would simply finish my coffee and avoid any further requests for future communication. Unless they happened to stalk me at church and walk up to the front row where I was sitting and ask me if we could go out again-while the Pastor was in the middle of his sermon.
Then I got a call. From the super-cute Air Force guy who was the only single guy in my weekly bible study filled with married couples and one divorcée (me). He took me out and we danced in a parking lot after dinner on our first date. We got married at sunrise on a Honolulu beach and we have two kids together, four total. And he’s still super-cute and a great husband. But, there was an incident when we were dating that made we worry whether or not he’d come back.
We were having dinner together at my house with my girls. I have a strict no-shoes policy in the house rule and when he went to put his shoes back on he quickly pulled one back off. From the shoe he retrieved a thumbtack. “Hmm, I wonder how that got there?” he looked at me quizzically. I certainly was able to guess how the tack got there, but smiled sweetly at him instead. “See you tomorrow?” I responded. We parted with a kiss, and when the door shut behind him I went to find my lovely children.
“Who put the tack in Rob’s shoe?” They both looked at me innocently. I gave them the death-stare. After a very long silence my oldest daughter volunteered, “Well, I was playing with a tack, and I may or may not have dropped it close to the front door.”
“I know you ‘dropped’ it by the front door because it landed with amazing accuracy right into Rob’s shoe. You know those mommies who go crazy and stay in their bedrooms all day and take their children to school in their pajamas? If you don’t want that to happen to me then you’d better stop dropping tacks in my boyfriend’s shoes!” The next morning I pointed out a few scary mommies just to drive my point home.
My girls have definitely pulled a few shenanagans over the years, but they’ve never again tried to cause bodily harm to my husband. I eventually told my husband about the tack confession (after we were married). He still laughs about it to this day and told me he knew my kids had put the tack there on purpose.
I’d like to think my kids were testing him that night, to see if he spooked easily. But what it really boils down to is if someone REALLY cares about you, they’ll suffer through naughty children and bodily harm just to be with you. That’s my husband-and I knew he was a keeper after he confirmed he wasn’t a cheater/loved big words/believed in the say-no-to-drugs-campaign/forgave the tack in his shoe incident/and told me I could be anything I wanted to be. And he’d be behind me cheering me on to the moon and back. Now that’s true love.