Co-Parenting: Dating with Kids

One of the hardest things to do is date when you’re a parent. Whether the other parent is active or not, I think we can all agree that it is hard dating when you’re a parent. Whether it is coordinating schedules, your child gets sick or you are exhausted, we all have things that get in the way.

When I started dating one of the things that I made a point to say to prospective men was that I was a mom first. That meant that you needed to be flexible with me when it comes to my son. I remember that I had met a guy and we had gone out a couple of times. He knew I was a mom. He was nice enough. Well, one Sunday he wanted to go out and I told him that I didn’t want too.

I explained that my ex-husband had sent me a text that Munch was not himself and not feeling well that day. My ex said that he would monitor Munch. I was asking for more information and he just responded “If he gets worse, I’ll take him to urgent care.” That statement stopped me. It meant that I wasn’t going to go out that night. The possibility that my son could be in urgent care was too much for me. My son had never been to an ER or Urgent Care without me.

This was the new me. A single mom and my son would always come first. Needless to say I sent a text back to the guy to say that my son was sick and I wanted to stick close to home in case he had to go to urgent care. The guy didn’t get it. He was disappointed and I never heard from him again.

Okay. His loss. Munch did end up going to Urgent Care and was later diagnosed as having shigella, but that didn’t matter. That man had broken a cardinal rule…being upset that I told you no over choosing to be a mom. I wasn’t hurt. I stood my ground. I was a mother first.

Dating is hard as hell whether you have a child or not. How are you expected to cater to your man and to your child too when you just meet someone? How are you expected to balance it all? The truth…carefully.

You have to meet someone who understands and values your commitment to your children first. I would never be upset if someone’s child was sick or they needed to be a parent first. Remember that I told you that I wanted someone to love me and my son as though we were flesh of their flesh. That was a requirement.

Mr. C is an incredible father who respects and loves the fact that I’m a mom first. He tells me all the time that I’m a great mother. Even when I feel like I’m doing everything wrong. He’s encouraging. I remember the first time I cried when I told him my fears about parenting. He soothed my spirit and calmed me down. He’s a parent.

We have two different parenting styles. He doesn’t believe in allowance (but secretly spoils his son) and I am going to start giving Munch an allowance. He believes that driving is a right of passage that a boy must undertake by his senior year in high school (I think it depends on their responsibility level). He’s strong and a provider and I’m a tough as nails educator who will dole out kisses and hugs and lots of encouragement and support.

Different. I think that’s why we work. He respects that I’m a mom first, a girlfriend second and knows that I will always trust his judgement. I am blessed to have met someone who gets that parenting is hard and it comes first. Someone that gets that I may have to reschedule plans or include Munch when things get in the way. He is flexible.

Find someone that encourages you to be a better parent. Who supports you in raising wonderful and good human beings. Who believes that there is nothing more valuable than creating and crafting the minds of the future leaders of America. Okay, well maybe that’s too much…but find someone that loves your kids as much as you.

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Divorce and Dating

One of the hardest things to do is dating after divorce when you have kids. I know it’s hard and complicated because I’ve been there. You want to have a social life and date, but sometimes if you’re parenting full-time, your schedule doesn’t allow that. I get it.

My mom was a single parent. She and my dad separated when I was 9 and my siblings were 6 and 9 months respectively. It was hard. I swear, I don’t think she dated for the first 5 years. How could she?

She worked 3 jobs to support us and she didn’t have the time to focus on dating when she was busy paying bills and raising us. She went to school to complete her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate all while raising and putting us through college. She was quite busy.  Between her jobs, working on completing her education and raising us she really didn’t have time to date.

I think part of me wonders had she had the opportunity to really grow in a relationship with a man would she be a different person. I suppose she would, but I know that wasn’t in her cards. She sacrificed. She made us her priority. She never had random men around us. We only met 3 men in our entire lives. They never hung out at our house and they came and picked her up and left.

There was no string of men in and out of our lives. I’d like to believe that was absolutely beneficial for us. We never called her male friends “uncle so and so” or got attached to people who were not relationship possibilities.

Knowing how I grew up it seemed pretty standard for me in terms of dating after divorce.  I wasn’t going to introduce Munch to anyone that I was dating. I didn’t want him to see a string of men who could honestly just be friends hanging out with me. If you were special, he would know it.

Munch approached me about meeting Mr. C. His response was pretty cool for an 8 year old…“Mommy, why haven’t I met him? I know all your friends.” He was right. He did know them all, but part of me wanted to keep my relationship with Mr. C and my relationship with my son separate. I wasn’t ready.

I reflected on my childhood and the relationship that I had with Munch and then made the decision that they could meet each other. It was 9 months after dating him that there was an initial introduction and a year later before he was seeing us hanging out. I am careful to craft the boundaries of the relationship with the man that will most likely be helping me raise my son.

Last October when Munch and I were travelling to a wedding in Virginia. He asked me where Mr. C was. Mr. C had come over to spend some time with us prior to us heading out of town. I told him that he was at home. Munch asked “Did you take him home this morning?” “No, he went home last night” I said. I reminded him how I tucked him into bed and then went to sleep in my room.

He said “Oh”.

I’m careful of the narrative I craft for the young man that I love and adore. I never thought I would have to answer these questions, but I understand and respect his curiosity. So I explained that I love Mr. C and he loves me too. I told him that we have agreed that our love is amazingly special and we will not disrespect our children by playing house and not being married. I told him that he will never live in a home with a man that is not my husband.

I asked him “Do you understand?” He responded “Yes”. The funny part is that I don’t know if he understands. However, I know that dating with children is hard and it is a balancing act. Although I would never judge anyone’s choices I choose to make sure that Mr. C is going to lead my son like the man I know he is.

The thing is this…I was never good with setting or keeping boundaries. I am now. I have no choice. It’s not about me anymore. It’s also about Munch.  My boundaries require Mr. C and I to be married before living together. Why? Because I don’t want my son to see me playing house with a man that is not my husband. I want a man to know that if he loves me like he says then he’ll put a ring on it and a roof over our heads and we’ll be a legal family. I’m not rushing a marriage, but I’m not breaking my boundaries either.

Do you believe that you should live together prior to marriage if you have children? Have you ever lived with someone and either of you had children prior to marriage? Did you get married? How long after living together did you get married?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

Dating Requirements: At A Minimum

I told you yesterday how I believe that women shouldn’t have to audition for the wife role while in relationships with men and the reasons why. But, let’s go further. Let’s dig into what we women should expect when dating a man.

There are four main things that I would say that you should expect from a man at a minimum. These are non-negotiable items. You can’t short change yourself and not have one because trust me you will end up in hell. The four main things that are a minimum in dating are:  respect, honesty, transparency and stability.

  1. Respect – That’s a given. If he doesn’t respect you then you should kick him to the curb. Stop wasting your time on a man that can’t respect you. Whether it is him doing what he says he’s going to do or not chasing after other women when you’re in a committed relationship, respect is a minimum.
  2. Honesty – This is also a given, but you would be surprised the number of women who will accept a man’s lies and try to repackage it and sell it is alternative facts. We have to stop doing this. I don’t deal in lies. My momma used to say that my daddy “Would lie between two rain drops” and that always made me laugh. But, as a woman there are men out there that lie all the time and for no dang reason or for the reason of trying to spare your feelings. A man that is not honest is not the man for you sis.
  3. Transparency – His life and all the many facets of it should be transparent to you. You shouldn’t have to guess who is family and friends are, where he works, what his kids look like, etc. He should be open to presenting you to his family and friends and trying to make his life an open book to you. I’m not saying that he has to do this on day one, but when you’ve both decided to get serious then he should have no problems being transparent with you.
  4. Stability – He should be able to support himself without you. The end. You are not his financier. Heck, you’re not even his fiance. A man has to be able to support himself without you. It’s interesting, when I was young and single and dating, men just paid for things. Took me out to expensive restaurants and we shared our life’s ups and downs together. They celebrated me. They knew how to date me. I never expected a man to take me out to dinner and he couldn’t pay his rent. A man has his priorities in order. That wouldn’t happen. A lot of men that I encountered while dating wanted to pay on the first date and then have me pay thereafter. Umm, why? Are you not financially able to date me? Then be honest. We can be friends and I can choose to pay for my own meal if we go out. I had a friend once tell me that a real man will figure it out. He knows his bills and responsibilities and he will not be expecting you to finance the relationship.

At a minimum, every man you date should have the above qualities.  If not, you will fall into some serious dating traps. What traps? We’ll discuss those in tomorrow’s post.

What are some of the things that you expect of a man that you’re dating? What are your deal breakers?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

Auditioning for the Wife

On Saturday, I had a great service project with members of my sorority and other Greek fraternities and sororities. It was a joint effort where we went and cleaned up the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in D.C.. It was a beautiful day and over 70 people showed up.

Afterwards, a few of my sorority sisters and I went to lunch. We were talking about men and women relationships when one of my sisters said something so profound and true. She said “Sometimes, women are so desperate to marry or prove that they are marriage material that they audition for the wife role in relationships.” Boom.

There it is. That was truth and knowledge about what I’m seeing now in relationships. I’m sure it’s always been there, but now more than ever I see women doing that. Why? Why do you feel the need to audition for a role you may not even want from the man that you’re with?

I know that dating has changed over the years. Black women are now earning more than ever and find it hard navigating the dating world. We are told that we have to sacrifice or lower our standards in order to find a suitable partner. Both of which I will say “Not true.” In many instances, we find ourselves fighting over the eligible pool of available men. So, we get creative in trying to woo the one that we want. How can we let him know that he should choose me? How can I prove to him that I’m wifey material? 

I know. I’ve seen many women do it. We have to stop trying to audition for the wife role ladies. Look, there’s nothing wrong with finding a man and falling in love and wanting to show him that you’re about substance. You want him to imagine a future with you. A future full of possibilities. You want him to imagine home cooked meals, clean clothes and a clean house. You want him to see you as your partner. An equal that has his back.

I get that. But, sis you have to trust that if you are the one for him none of that matters. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can be selfish. No, on the contrary you should show him the part of you that makes him imagine a future with you because of who you are not of what you’re doing for him. You don’t have to cook and clean his house, watch his kids, or take care of him financially. How is he showing you that he’s a man?

As a woman who has been married and divorced, I will tell you that I didn’t audition for the wife role with my ex. I didn’t know how to be a wife any more than he knew how to be a husband. Did I do things for him? Yes. But, when you do too much for a man it takes away from him being allowed to be the man he’s supposed to be. A man figures out how to manage his life without you.

Can you make it better? Absolutely. But, should you do that in the dating phase? No. You haven’t even gotten a ring yet. No amount of auditioning will make him choose you. He may even choose the woman after you.

My perspective is of course different because I am in no way rushing down the altar again. Been there done that. I have a wonderful man that will wait on me and for that I am glad. But, I don’t have to audition for the wife role for him. Mr. C sees me as the woman he wants to be with and spend his life with and you know what? I didn’t do anything special.

I just got to know him and love him in the space that we created. That’s it that’s all. I didn’t have to drop it like it’s hot or cook lavish home cooked meals for him. In fact in the almost two years we’ve been dating, I’ve never cooked a meal for him.  I actually told him that I probably won’t cook a lot, but would be willing to take turns cooking. He accepts that. He knows that I encourage his spirit, pray for him, love him and just allow him to lead us. That guiding principle has allowed us to create boundaries and respect the space we’re creating.

I don’t need to audition. The role is mine. I’m just not ready to get married again. But, the thing is this…he knows what he’s getting and I know the same.

 

Do you believe that women audition to be the wife in a man’s life? Have you ever done it? What did you do to break the cycle of auditioning?

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

 

Reblog: Visualize Love

This is a reblog of a prior post and I wanted to share it with you. What’s interesting is that Mr. C and I met at the end of 2015 and I have the kind of love that I visualized. You can too. Just believe…

You know what? I want to love and be in love. That was my birthday wish for 2015. It’s only two months into the new year, but it’s February and this month is about love (at least until the 14th, LOL) and I wanted to make sure that I verbalized and visualized my wish. Yep, visualized. Love hasn’t happened so I started thinking about creating a vision board for love. But, before that I needed to be specific about the kind of love I wanted. So, here goes…

I want the kind of love that leaves no doubt. You know that kind of love where he walks in the door and sees me and his face lights up because being home with me is better than being out in the world. Why? Because I provide refuge from his journey fighting all the evil forces outside of our home. The kind of good loving where we calm each other’s weary spirit just by being in the same vicinity. Where we accept that we are not perfect, but we vow that we will never demean or belittle each other. Where we won’t call each other out our names in anger and where we will always make up before we go to bed because we know that by staying angry and sleeping with it we are inviting trouble into our home and we are not having that.

I want the kind of love where my son will feel the strength of this man’s spirit and know that his mommy is in good hands because THIS MAN loves his mommy almost as much as he does and that makes him feel safe. I want the kind of love that a strong man won’t ever deny and he would tell a woman in his office or a man on the streets that no one is better for him than me. Why? Because I am the missing puzzle he’s searched his whole life to find and he knows that we just fit.

I want the kind of love where disappointments are just that. They are not preludes to bigger blow-ups or causes for domestic violence. I want a strong and healthy man who can talk and communicate his feelings to me both good and bad and know that I will always listen. Why? Because he talks to me as an equal partner and not as a last resort. I am the first person he finds when his world seems out of balance because like I said before we calm each other’s weary spirit.

I want the kind of love that will leave me breathless when I talk about the man that God has sent my way. The man who makes me smile just because he opened his eyes. The man who knows that I love him more than I could ever say and that each time I cook for him, it is because I want to and not because he expects me too.

I want the kind of love that doesn’t hurt. You know the kind of love that they talk about in the Bible.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I want that old fashioned love that Frankie Beverly and Luther Vandross sang about. I want the kind of love where we know each other’s love language and we make sure that we are listening and embracing the language. I want that good ole love that won’t ever fail. That’s what kind of love I’m visualizing in 2015. But, until it comes, I will continue to love, honor and respect myself. I will strive each day to be the best person I can be until the day that God sends that verbalized and visualized kind of love my way.

LOVE_sculpture_NY

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Dating Diary: Treat Em Right

I am always looking for new ways to work on my relationship with Mr. C and just trying to be a good girlfriend. I’ve never been a girlfriend for long and I wasn’t concerned about my exes feelings and we were young  that it didn’t matter. As, I’m now over 40 and constantly learning myself, I’ve learned to focus on communication with Mr. C as a means to strengthen our relationship.

Why? Because I love him. And? I love him more than being vulnerable. I actually hate being vulnerable. I said it. I feel like it opens me up and you can see what I’m really feeling. I hate showing my feelings. Ugh!

But, I do with Mr. C. Even when I try not to, he knows me well enough to tell when something is wrong. He pays attention to me. Especially to my tone. It’s a good and bad thing at times.

That being said I understand the importance of making sure that I’m meeting his needs. I don’t ask all the time, but I think it’s important to find out if there are things that he desires of me that I’m just not paying attention too. Blame it on my short attention span, but he deserves to know that I’m invested and concerned about him as a man, as a father, as a son and as a human being. I’m paying attention.

So, I asked him three questions to do a relationship check-up and find out how I’m doing and give myself a tune-up if need be so that we can be on one accord. My 3 questions were as follows:

  1. What things could I do to strengthen our communication?
  2. Do you think I’m open to your ideas and/or suggestions?
  3. Do you believe that I value and respect our time together? Do I put you first?

His responses were:

  1. When we make plans/meeting each other lets make sure we communicate that we are on the same pages, from beginning to end.
  2. I believe you are but sometimes my ideas are shot down.  i.e.  meeting for breakfast…its not about us eating just sitting and talking..connecting before you go to work.
  3. You do except for when you get that social media buzz.  but it doesn’t bother me because I get it…I completely understand when there’s a need to check our devices.

Yeah, he responded! However, I’m not surprised. He’s a great guy who is open to me reaching out and soliciting input at any moment. That being said it looks like I have work to do. I agree with #1 and I realized that I do #2 and #3 so I have to check myself and make sure that I’m being present in the moment and not shooting down my man’s ideas. I can be a negative Nancy and I need to work on that. Also, I need to make sure that he has my undivided attention and turn my head away from my phone.

Now, Mr. C wanted me to answer the same questions about him. Here’s how I responded:

  1. You could confirm date/time and locations anytime we are meeting. Make sure that we are on the same page from beginning to end. You could also talk to me more. Let me know more of what you think about things that I say or do.
  2. I don’t understand when I mention something that you don’t really give a yes or no response right at that moment. I feel like I’m being blown off in some ways so then I don’t want to suggest things. I know it’s not true, but I need you to either 1. answer immediately or 2. write it down and follow-up with me timely. By not following up it makes me feel like you don’t care about it.
  3. Yes, I believe that you value our time together and yes I believe that you try to put me first.

Yep, time for us to get to work!

relationships-require-work

 

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links:  Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.