Our Story Begins:
Dad’s Dating AND Raising Kids?
Yep.. And Here’s Why.
The question of dating, relationships and romance has come up since the month my wife, Andrea, passed away in 2011. I got myriad proclamations: “you’ll find love again” and “those who have lost a loved one are twice as likely to find love again.” That one was always my favorite.
Recently, though, a spate of comments about Katie Couric’s getting married again (told by head GEM Rene Syler) brought those thoughts to the fore. Many of those comments on the article said, basically, the best thing is to wait to date/marry until after your kids are grown and out of the house.
What the hell?! To tell anyone they have to wait until their kids are grown and gone is just plain ridiculous. I’m not defined by my children, not totally. Nothing drives me crazier than when I hear someone’s first description of themselves as, “I am my kids’ mom “ (or dad). I am a great dad, if I say so myself. But I’m not just a dad. I’m a journalist, a writer, a musician (that’s a big one), a cook, a documentarian, and, yes, dad. Sometimes it comes top of the list, like when my son missed the bus home from school this week. Sometimes it comes 2nd to a band rehearsal or work. It’s always on the list…but not always the very first thing.
To those naysayers I also have to tell you . . . I have had a few dates here and there in the last year. Only a few, and nothing romantic came of them. I didn’t, “wait until my children were ready” or “do it the right way” or even the “wrong way.” I wouldn’t say I’ve had a lot of them, but a few. A couple were simply because I wanted some companionship, an adult above the age of 18 to have some decent conversation. At the end of the day it’s all about whether I’m ready. If I am, the rest will work itself out.
Dating after your spouse has died is totally unlike any other kind of breakup. We didn’t fall out of love. There was no divorce and I’m never going to see Andrea again. I struggled with whether Andrea was “the one,” that soulmate the fairy tales speak of. If she was, how could I fall in love again? Is there really another person out there? All those questions flood your brain. You have to come to terms with those before you can give yourself to someone again. It’s only fair to yourself…and only fair to your date.
When my daughter freaked out about my having a date for a work event, I didn’t cancel it and say, “I’ll wait until I have grandkids.” I told her, “You’re 18 and you’re about to leave the house for college. Being angry with me over my wanting company for an event isn’t fair.” Sometimes you need a person who’s not a teenager to have decent conversation. Sometimes…you just don’t want to be the one lone guy at the table. My daughter came to the realization that she has no right to dictate if I can have company for the evening. If she’s going on dates and I don’t criticize (much), then what right does she have? The struggles she has I am totally there to work out . . . but we worked them out and I still went on the date.
This doesn’t talk about romance, meeting the kids, sex, none of that. I’ll be honest, I haven’t gotten there yet, either. Let’s face it, the last really romantic date I had was 20 years ago. I don’t know that I’m ready for romance yet. Still, it’s eight years until the house is empty and I don’t know what those years will bring. I’m okay with that…they should be too. After all, I’m more than just their dad.
What do you think? Should you wait to date until the kids are grown? Let’s hear your opinions!