There are big challenges to dating as a single mother. The assumptions by men are often these:
- You are looking for a baby-daddy;
- You will have dates at Chuck-E-Cheese;
- You are tied down to one place for the rest of your foreseeable life and have already resigned yourself to a life of sitting on the couch and watching cartoons, little-league, a mini-van and PTA meetings. Adventure is not a word in your vocabulary;
- There will be conflict;
- Children are a huge financial burden that will rob you (and him) of opportunity for fun.
For the record – my son has a father; I want to give my son the gift of experiencing the world; he can play baseball with his dad in the summertime; there is conflict in every relationship; I was smart enough to just have one and I fucking hate Chuck-E-Cheese. There are always these questions for guys like “what if I don’t like your kid?” To be honest, even as a parent sometimes we don’t like our kids. I think that the minimum requirement for not liking your kids is at least one year, usually between the ages of 13-18. It’s expected that children will not like their parents at some point in their lives, but I don’t think any one really asks themselves “what if I don’t like my kid?” before they have one. What if they have a disability? What if you were hoping for a girl or a boy and got the opposite? What if your kid is gay? What if they want to be a waiter instead of a doctor? These all seem like “Duh” questions to me.
Parents need to get over wanting their children to love them. We do not own them. We are their caretakers, hopefully (one day) their friends, their mentors and their guardians. Parents who see their children only as students are doing everyone an injustice. We have a lot to learn from little people too. Some people advise you to not “push your children in the direction that you want”. Ironically, they are often the same people who do not realize that being a parent is just as much of an education as being a child and often don’t have one of their own. Sometimes I want to say to them, “Listen, I’m in the high school of parenthood, you haven’t even started pre-school yet. I’ve learn a bit about balancing that in the last 7 or 8 years.”
Men who assume that someone else’s child will be nothing but a challenge with no reward are naive. Men who think that a biological child will somehow be more lovable, give them more happiness and will be the only true kind of family are delusional. I think that if you asked someone with real experience, a person who chose to have a child and adopt a child, the majority would tell you that there is no difference at all.
I have a few fine examples of that in my life. One of them is my stepfather. We did not like each other in my childhood and we are still very different people. But he, above almost anyone else, has taught me what it means to learn love and to act from a loving nature. You cannot anticipate what joys and sorrows any child or parent or friend will bring to you.
I flap my fingers here a lot about how you should throw out your expectations, push aside your fears and dive in to something even when it scares the shit out of you. I give little lectures on the things you never knew you wanted or needed. In a few years, my son will be able to choose more things for himself. In some ways it will be a relief because I won’t have to listen to his dad complaining about what he thinks I want. Kai can speak for himself. In other ways it will be a challenge, because I will have to let him make those choices too. And I will have to allow myself to be open to the knowledge that his decisions will take me places in life that I never dreamed of the first time I felt his little feet kicking at my tummy.
My son made me a cook book at school with his class. This recipe was his contribution:
- 2 onion, sliced into thin rings
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium eggplant, cubed
- 2 zucchini, cubed
- 2 medium yellow squash, cubed
- 2 green bell peppers, seeded and cubed
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 chopped red bell pepper
- 4 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
- In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the zucchini in batches until slightly browned on all sides. Remove the zucchini and place in the pot with the onions and garlic.
- Saute all the remaining vegetables one batch at a time, adding 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet each time you add a new set of vegetables. Once each batch has been sauteed add them to the large pot as was done in step 2.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme and cover the pot. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley to the large pot, cook another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning.
(I”m not really a fan of Celine Dion, but I think this speaks a lot about the relationships between children and parents)
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn’t speak
You were my eyes when I couldn’t see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach
You gave me faith ‘coz you believed
I’m everything I am
Because you loved me – Celine Dion