Dating Tips for Single Moms (and other singles)

When I first started dating after my divorce, I realized dating was not as fun as I had imagined. I met my ex-husband Troy in college at 17, was engaged at 19 and married at 20. Teenagers don’t really date, they hang out. So I had never really experienced dating. Shoot, I didn’t know anyone who didn’t live in Northern Kentucky and Troy was the first person I had ever met who wasn’t raised Catholic. Yes, I was sheltered.

So here I am, 27-years-old with two kids (1 and 3) and I really had no idea what to expect when I started dating but thought it would be fun. I went out with a guy who worked at a store nearby my house, a few friends of friends and family, guys I had met while out at bars and even tried Internet dating. I quickly learned that it’s not that fun and you have to have rules… lots of rules. I would have never thought to ask guys certain questions before the initial date until these things started coming up. So in no particular order, here are some of the questions that must be asked.

  1. Do you have a valid driver’s license? I actually went out on three dates with a guy before realizing he did not have a license. We met initially through mutual friends at a bar so I left with my friend at the end of the night. As far as the dates, we had met out each time. It wasn’t until the third date that he told me he had a DUI and couldn’t drive.
  2. That brings me to number two. How many DUIs have you received? If they tell you they have a DUI, you might want to look it up. I discovered that guy actually had four DUIs.
  3. And that brings me to number 3. Are you facing criminal charges of any kind? While researching his DUIs, I found that he had criminal charges against him for assault. No, he had not told me this. Yeah, this guy was a winner!
  4. Do you do drugs? He might actually be honest.
  5. Are you an alcoholic? If they are going out drinking every night, they might not be the best or most loyal guy for you.
  6. Have you ever served jail time? Oh you would be amazed…
  7. If they have children: Do you pay your child support and see your kids? You probably don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t care about his own children.
  8. Are you racist? A friend of mine went on a blind date and the girl actually used the word “colored” to refer to an African-American like it was normal. That wasn’t the worst word she said.
  9. Are you actually divorced? Seems obvious, right? NO! You won’t believe how many men just got separated or PLAN on getting separated.
  10. Do you have a job and what is it? Court-ordered community service does not count!
  11. Do you live with your parents? There is nothing worse than a 40-year-old man who lives with mommy. Remember Failure to Launch? It doesn’t always end up with the happy couple duck taped to chairs.
  12. Do you own a car? I don’t care what kind of car it is but I hate to drive and I’m not letting their mommy drop us off at the movies.
  13. Are you okay with the fact that I have kids? Amazing how many guys will start a relationship and then decide they can’t handle that.

Once you have prescreened your date, you have to watch out for some other things. I had a guy ask me to lunch on a weekday for our first date. I met him at a nice local restaurant. He was a pilot, had two kids and seemed to have life in order. At lunch, he told me that he thought it was important to have sex on the first or second date to make sure the compatibility was there. I couldn’t believe he was so blunt.

 I had another guy ask me to meet him for the first time at the mall indoor play area with his kids. He said I could bring mine. I passed.

I was on my cell phone with one man who I had been on one date with. I mentioned I was in Meijer. He showed up there not even 10 minutes later just to say hi in person. CREEPY!

One guy told me after the third date that he wanted a serious commitment and saw us getting married in the near future. Actually, I have probably had something similar to that happen at least a half dozen times.

I work for a library and am pretty liberal. I met a guy on eHarmony and was very clear about both of these things. We had a very nice dinner and then walked over to the local bookstore. We passed a book about the Tea Party and I mentioned my frustration with this group (yes, I’m blunt). He immediately started telling me how he didn’t believe in the public school system (even though his children attended one), libraries or any other tax supported institution or program. Hey buddy, I work at a library!!! In fact, I am the public relations person for the library and am very passionate about my job. You knew this before you asked me out. Really, why waste my time? LOL

 I had been on about six dates with a guy who I really kind of liked. He called me from work one day and asked if I could check his private email for him because he was expecting something important and couldn’t check from work. I was hesitant but he insisted. He gave me his password. I couldn’t help but look at the email with the subject line “Hot Asian Women.” I thought for sure it was spam but discovered he belonged to several sites like this and um, they were pretty graphic.

One guy went back and forth from wanting to date to just wanting to be friends. Once I finally said I couldn’t be part of that, he confessed his love for me and told me what a “B” I was all in the same sentence.

I had a guy tell me on a first date that he wanted to find a woman to take care of his kids and didn’t care about anything else.

I had been dating this guy for a while when he took me to the Olive Garden. We had been waiting for a table for quite some time when they finally called for us. They were getting ready to seat us when he yells “no” and runs out of the restaurant. I noticed a girl nearby was laughing. I was so embarrassed. I walked out and asked him what was wrong. He said he dated that girl before and things didn’t end well. We went to another restaurant but it was just weird.

We all love a good laugh so what is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on a date? What tips do you have for single women and men out there looking? I think I am ready to start dating again (not that guys are banging my door down or anything) but I need your tips and stories to make sure I avoid the crazies!

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It could only happen to my kid…

Remember how I told you when I first started writing this blog that if it can happen… it will happen to my kids?

As you know, we have a puppy. She has become a very important part of our family. We actually have become one of those crazy families who talks to their pet all the time, cuddles with her and talks about her to their friends and co-workers. We have become the family I used to laugh at and not understand at all.

Scout has a nipping problem though. Usually it’s just puppy bites but sometimes she breaks the skin and causes blood. NEVER wear fluffy slippers or it is guaranteed that she will attack your feet and not let go. She has gotten too excited a few times and gone for the face. In fact, she has bitten me in the chin twice and made me bleed. My son hasn’t been able to enjoy her as much as he had hope because she really likes to nip at him. I honestly think this is because he is so timid with her. It takes him every bit of 5 minutes to get her leash on her. Anyway, I knew this was an issue so I had signed up us for “Puppy Kindergarten.” Every time she nipped at one of the kids I would remind that we were going to learn to train her. Classes started this past Saturday and I’m hopeful.

However, before we could get to training, the craziest thing happened. I’m driving home from work on Thursday – I have a few stops to make so I’m running late – when the kids call me for probably the fifth time in 40 minutes. I’m irritated at this point so I answer the phone “what?” I hear J’s panicked voice. “The dog jumped up and pulled A’s braces off.” I respond with “WHAT?” He says it again but I’m thinking there is no way I understand him correctly. I repeat what he said and he confirms. My response “Did she put her head in Scout’s mouth?” He screams no.  A gets on the phone crying and tells me the same thing. I ask her if she put her head in the dog’s mouth and she responds with “NO!”

I can’t even imagine how this could possibly happen and I’m so frustrated at this point by the amount of whiny and ridiculous phone calls that I have received in this short period of time that I can’t say I was the best mom I could be at this point but I think it turned out well in the end. I insisted that she call the orthodontist herself since I was driving and couldn’t look up the number. My incredibly shy 12-1/2-year-old called the orthodontist, which was closed. She then called the emergency line and explained what happened. They told her how to clip the bar with nail clippers so that it was no longer cutting her. She did this herself before I even got home. I called the next day and made her an appointment to get it fixed. The braces had only been on three days when this happened!

Once I was home I investigated the situation. The kids said A was playing on the couch with Scout who got a little too excited, and got her tiny point teeth caught on the bar at just the right time. It still sounds crazy to me. And I know it sounded crazy to all of the techs at the orthodontist office today when she got it fixed.

You might also remember me telling you when I started this blog…. That wine is my friend. Tonight, after a brisk walk with a neighbor, I will enjoy a glass of wine. If it can happen… it will. What is the craziest thing your kids have done or that has happened to your kids?

Dating With Tweens Can Be Rough

It’s so easy to talk about my kids and the silly things they do. It’s easy to write about crazy things other parents do or the stuff my ex-husband does without asking me. It’s not nearly as easy to write about myself or what is going on in my personal life as a single mom. So I’m going to take a stab at it….

I was engaged last year to a guy with kids and was scheduled to get married in July. I met B by chance while out with mutual friends. In fact, earlier that night, I had been on a disappointing blind date. B was pretty over the top romantic from the beginning. He would feed me mushy lines, want to talk on the phone for hours, and after only two weeks told me that he knew we were going to fall in love and get married. He managed to drop the L word after only six weeks and honestly it scared me a little. He would tell me how I was his perfect girl and that he knew we were meant to be together all the time. In fact, being so open with his feelings pushed me away some in the beginning. My best friends will tell you they didn’t think the relationship would make it three months because I was the girl who typically ran. I thought either fairytales really do happen, or he’s a stalker and they are going to find me in a basement someday. Haha.

I was extremely careful when it came to my kids. They originally met him as my friend. We took all the kids out as a chance for them to meet and get to know each other. I didn’t allow B to stay the night while my kids were home until probably 8 months into the relationship. I didn’t want to send them the wrong message or allow them to get too attached.

After about a year, we started discussing merging our families, living together and getting married. All of the kids had mixed feelings about this but we both said we would make it work. Although B constantly ensured me he couldn’t wait to merge our homes, he was a little sad about selling the house he worked so hard for. We worked diligently on the house for months preparing it for sale. Once listed, no one was interested. B paid way too much for the house with 40 steps to the front and severely slanted floors. This caused so much stress in our relationship. Our wedding date was quickly approaching and we hadn’t sold the house. To top it off, B was working ALL the time and I constantly had the kids by myself. B’s oldest was becoming very resentful. He wanted his time with his dad and wasn’t too crazy about me in the first place. When I didn’t have the kids, I was attending events with B for his job. I also had a busy life between my work, soccer with A and my son’s activities.

In addition to stress caused by four kids who weren’t siblings, B never seemed satisfied with the amount of time I was able to give him. There were times when I felt it probably wasn’t going to work but then he would do something over the top romantic like write me a song or give me a love note and I’d be sucked back in.

B had borrowed money from me often (I KNOW – big red flag) but I had no idea how bad things really were. A few weeks before breaking up, I found a notice from the Sherriff’s office. Although B wasn’t ready to be honest, within a few days I discovered his house was about to be foreclosed on. I knew that I was the only one who could qualify for the loan (other red flag) but I was okay with that because he was supposed to provide the down payment.  (Note: he did save the house, which I’m glad he was able to do for the sake of his kids.)

Communicating became very difficult. I knew that it was time to end things but all I could think about is how not having him as a part of my life would impact my children and how much I would miss his children. I also kept holding on to the person he was in the beginning. After a few weeks of arguments, avoiding each other, etc… we finally broke up. It was extremely difficult. I was a mess for a while. Although I knew that he was not a good man to have in my life (I do realize I was not perfect), my life was changing. Some for the good; No more work events on evenings and weekends, no more loaning out money, no more stressing over how the kids will get along… No more dealing with someone who is so unorganized that they can barely make it to work on time or take care of simple household necessities. My kids were devastated. I felt like a horrible mother.

Two months later my kids were finally starting to feel normal again. We went to a huge festival that my family organizes. My entire family attends every year and we are treated as VIPs. Not being considerate of mine or my kids’ feelings, B, who has no association with the festival, showed up with a date. My children were angry and I was shocked since he knew we would be there.

Because we live in such a small town, we hear everything. He and the girl from the festival moved in together only a few months later and got engaged over Christmas. As one of my closest friends said: “Some people like to come home and drink a six pack each night, some like to tailgate in the fast lane and others like to get engaged a couple times a year.”  You have to love friends!

I told my kids about the engagement so they wouldn’t hear from someone else. You could tell they were surprised but they both asked if I was okay (I was) and made a few jokes about him being engaged again so soon and dropped it.

The hardest part of all of this was being there for my crushed kids, while I was also hurting. I will always bounce back but seeing my kids hurt was crushing. I haven’t dated much since the breakup. Not because I’m not over it – I am – but because I can’t imagine putting my kids through something like this again. A friend recently told me that dating with kids isn’t hard if it’s the right person but you know, it takes a while to figure out if they are or not. This friend also has two children and remarried. However, she married someone without kids. I think that makes a difference.

I know it has taken me a lot of words to get to the point here but hey all you single parents: how do you date and protect your kids? Do you bother dating? Do you think it’s easier for those with kids to date someone without kids?  I’m sure married people have some great advice too. Give it to me!

P.S. Please do not say “it sounds like you are better off” or “you dodged a bullet” or anything else like that. I am aware of that! J This is not to focus on him but more to tell my experience with relationships. I want to talk about how to have a successful dating life with kids. 🙂

P.S.S. This is really hard for me to actually post. I’m putting a lot of my inner thoughts and emotions on the table. However, I am always open to feedback and look forward to receiving constructive input.

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Tweens on the Bus Go Yap, Yap, Yap

I volunteered to go to A’s Speech and Drama competition on Saturday. Twelve sixth, seventh and eighth graders – 10 girls, 2 boys. Oh the drama! We loaded the bus at 6 a.m. I thought they would be exhausted or nervous so they would be quiet and calm. NO! That was not the case. They were loud, excited and goofy as can be. The assistant coach and I were the only adults on the bus.  I just closed my eyes and stayed awake enough to ensure no nonsense was going on. The 1-1/2 hour ride there honestly wasn’t that bad.

Speech and Drama is a girl heavy activity so although there were hundreds of kids, there were only about 20 boys. Those boys managed to make their way around to all the girls. One boy, who was maybe 13, was seen early in the day walking down the hall holding a girl’s hand. By lunch, this boy with his flat billed ball cap on sideways and his pants hanging way too low, was hitting on two of my daughter’s teammates. And of course…. The girls were flattered. I was constantly reminding them we weren’t there to meet boys from other schools but rather to compete. I was constantly calling for the girls to come with our team and leave the boy behind.

The boys weren’t the only ones being a little forward. A girl from another school made a point to give her number to one of our two male competitors – N. This made the bus ride home more drama than I could handle.

We loaded the bus around 6 p.m. to head home. “Where is S?,” which seemed to be the question of the day. The sixth grader was mingling with the “gangster” boy again!

The girl from the competition immediately starting texting N. She even asked him out. He told her he had a girlfriend and she asked to see a picture. He was going to take a picture of one of the girls on our team and text it to her. I quickly yelled “You cannot email, text or do anything to send a picture of one of our girls to a stranger!” All of the girls were helping him come up with what to say to her. The messages got ugly quick and I had to remind them that they would see this girl and all of her teammates again at the next competition. They then apologized to her for previous messages.

The boy with the ball cap was texting one of our girls. She seemed very irritated and wasn’t as vocal about the messages. I encouraged everyone to stop texting people they don’t really know.

In the meantime, the other male on the team was discussing his life-long plans, including his business plan, with me. I was in shock. This seventh grader was talking about things I didn’t even understand and was giving me advice on my own career. This extremely intelligent kid has already scored a 22 on the ACT. I am sure he will be a future Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

Unfortunately, our conversation kept getting interrupted as I told the other kids their conversations were inappropriate, that they couldn’t send pictures to random strangers or make up rumors about teachers dating. Honestly, these kids were just having fun and completely joking but it’s amazing the things they do without thinking. Once I pointed out why it wasn’t appropriate they seemed to understand and respect that.

I will say this…. You will never catch me on the bus to a tournament again! I’ll drive separate next time and leave the monitoring to the coaches. J

How do you think your kids behave when adult supervision is limited? Do you worry about what they might do with their cell phones or as a group?