If any woman should make the statement that a good man is hard to find its single mothers. Beside trying to raise a child on her own she has to be extra careful in her choice of men. Many times the last one (baby’s father) may have turned out to be a dud, and although they are no longer together she still has to deal with him because of course, he is the biological father.
Knowing that the biological father will possibly be a permenat fixture is a situation some men are simply unwilling to deal with. They may think that the mother is the best thing since sliced bread and the child is wonderful, but having this guy around that may or may not be doing the right things for his child is at times too much drama.
In my younger days I dealt with this situation from both sides of the coin. I was the boyfriend to a woman with a young son, and of course I was the father of a child out of wedlock. I really think that the first situation prepared me for the latter of the two and for that I am grateful. It also gave me an appreciation of how difficult single moms have in attempting to obtain and maintain normal relationships in these situations.
In my second year of college I met a girl I instantly fell for and we became an item. She quickly told me that she had a young son whom was living with her mother while she attended school. This revelation threw me for a loop, but hey I was smitten with her and since her son was hundreds of miles away I thought, what the hell.
Although I have always loved children the premise of raising a child while attending school and for me playing college basketball would be too difficult a task in the beginning.
However, the next year she and I shared an apartment and after talking it over we decided it would be a great idea if he lived with us as well. We lived together for approximately a year and I have to admit I enjoyed the family atmosphere.
I taught him to read and when I wasn’t on a road trip or at practice I would take him to the park and his favorite place which of course was McDonald’s. Our relationship blossomed and there was a period where we were contemplating marriage. However, as in all relationships there is generally something that simply will not go away, regardless of how hard you wish.
In our relationship it was her sons father. Although they shared the same first name, his father simply wasn’t always the father he should have been, but that’s simply my personal opinion. He lived only two hours or so away but he made very little attempt at spending any real-time with the son.
As for me I assumed the role of being the provider, teacher, disciplinarian and male role model. The one thing I would not do and this is something all men should remember when dating a single mother. We should never try to take the father’s place in the child’s life. We can only fill his space, however never should we attempt to take his place in the mind of the child.
Then although I had promised myself that I would never become too attached to this little boy, I realised I had. I loved his mom and I loved him as well, together we were a family.
During a school break we decided to return to her parents home for a few days before I had to return for a Holiday tournament in another State. That was school for me, studying, practice and intense travel during the season.
While at her parents house the father of the child called and talked to him on the phone. When he got off the phone he was ecstatic, his father was coming to pick him up. I had reservations at first because this wasn’t the first time that he had promised to pick him up and several times he hadn’t shown. However with the close proximity of the father to her parents house I figured he’d show, if not I’d possibly have to pay him a visit.
When the father arrived we were cordial as always, however for the first time I noticed that the child completely forgot about me. I had grown accustomed to being the center of his attention, the person he ran to when he had fallen and hurt himself, the person who tucked him into bed at night, the person who taught him to dribble a basketball, the person who taught him to read.
As he walked out the door and acknowledged everyone in the room with the exception of me, I felt heartbroken somewhat. I felt I had lost something and that I would never get it back, in the position I had coveted in his life or so I thought.
He was only a child and I thought about that fact as I made the long trip back to the school for my basketball trip. I didn’t get to say good-bye because he had spent the night at his fathers and that hurt somewhat. But, I think above everything else, I was simply envious of the bond and relationship he had with his real father.
That’s how children are, they don’t hold grudges if fathers don’t show up on time or fail to show. They could care less about child support payments and such. They only know unconditional love and as parents we are blessed to receive this affection and warmth from them.
By the spring break things began to change in our relationship. Her grades were suffering and she was having difficulty being both a full-time parent and student. I tried to assist her as much as possible but my schedule was even more hectic. To make matters worse she was running back and forth to court because the father refused to make payments as instructed by the court.
Finally one night she informed me that she had decided to drop out of school and was returning home until she could get control of the situation. I understood and with the promise that she would return for the fall semester she and her son packed and returned home.
We kept the relationship together for as long as we could, however with my schedule for school and traveling it was soon apparent that we were growing apart. Late one night on a road trip I called and was informed that she wasn’t home. When I finally talked to her she informed me that she had went out with friends. One thing led to another and we both knew it was over. We wished one another well and went on with our lives.
Years later when I was in the USAF, I called her parents home on a holiday to say hello and discovered that she had joined the U.S. Army and was stationed in the D.C. area. After getting the number from her mom and telling her son how much I missed him I called her.
It was awkward at first but I then realised that her mom had already contacted her to alert her I would be calling. We talked for a short while and caught up on the changes to our lives and promised to stay in touch, however it never happened. Too much time had elapsed and we had become different people.
Later that year I became a father for the first time myself. Only this time I was the absentee father. When my son was born I was in the middle of a basketball game in Tokyo Japan. As a member of the Pacific Air Forces basketball team, it was life as usual for me. Travel, travel and more travel to shoot basketball and a little work in between.
My sons mom and I tried to keep our relationship together as best we could but as she once told me, there are too many people, places and faces between us. I wanted her and my son to live with me in Hawaii, and she wanted to stay close to family and friends as well as finish school in West Virginia. We couldn’t find common ground, I had a contract with the Air Force that I couldn’t break even if I wanted.
So I did the best I could as an absentee father. However, after seeing what it was like from the other side of the fence I promised to do the very best I could. The only real problem I had was that I was half way around the world.
On my returns home it would always be difficult. I had no problem with my ex having a man in her life, however I did have a problem with him if he had character flaws. Drinking, getting high around my son was a definite no, no.
If they had an argument, I expected him as a man to shield it away from my son and for his own safety I expected him to never lay his hands on her or my son. Arguments occur to everyone, however for my son to witness domestic violence was something I simply would not tolerate.
So one night I arrived home and my cousin picked me up from the airport. I had informed my ex that I would be arriving, however as she stated, “she had heard it before.”
So I arrive and go straight to her house. When I knock on the door she answered it and was very surprised. She invited me in and I walked into the living room where I was met by four basketball players from the local University, sitting around getting high.
One of the players remembered me from the days that I had taught basketball camps. The others had no idea who I was which was fine by me, but I intended to get their attention very quickly.
I asked my sons mom where he was and she informed me that he was in his room playing. I requested that she go and pack him some clothing items because I wanted to take him to my home for the next week. Knowing that I was pissed she quickly disappeared into his bedroom to alert him that I was there.
As soon as she closed the door, I looked at each of the guys playing there and I asked if they knew who I was? The kid who knew me, stood up and grabbed his jacket. I explained to the other three that the little boy who was in the back room was my son and that I found it very disrespectful for them to be smoking weed in the home while he was in the vicinity. I then informed them that I was going to check on my son and upon my return from his room it would be in their best interest for them to be gone.
When my son and his mom walked out into the living room it was empty with the exception of my cousin who was playing a video game. My ex looked at me with that look that only she could give and said, “What did you do?”
Privately, I explained to her that this type of behavior was unacceptable to me. So we went through that, well you live in Hawaii and this is my house scenario. I politely explained that I understood this as well, however as long as my son resided there I expected her boyfriend to get high elsewhere.
After a week, my son and I returned to her mother’s house so that I could see her family as well. While there I explained to her mother as well my concern, and I explained to them both that I didn’t have a problem with her having a boyfriend. However, I expected him to respect the fact that my son belongs to me as well and there are things that I would not tolerate. Unknown to me, either by choice (more than likely), her boyfriend was in the room sitting in a chair quietly. I never acknowledged him and a few weeks later she called me pissed because he had broken up with her. Now how this was my fault I still haven’t figured out to this day. I asked her again to get on the plane with our son and live with me in Hawaii. She refused, ok, I asked anyway.
Finally a few years later she found a boyfriend that was perfect by everyone’s standards. He spent time with her and my son, held down a full college work load as well as a full-time job. Not only did she love him but my son thought he was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
So I get off the plane again and directly after hugging me my cousin says, “Hey, you’ll like her boyfriend he’s cool.” “He takes your son to football and basketball games, walks him to school and his practices.” This was only the beginning.
When I arrive at my grandmother’s house, she states basically the same thing. Then she went up a notch and stated that when I sent packages home to my son the boyfriend would tell him how much he meant to me and how much I loved him.
My first meeting with the new boyfriend was awkward to say the least. However, after a few days of running into my old friends whom all seemed to be fans of his, I realised he was pretty cool and we became acquaintances. One night my friends and I went out to have a few beers and he was invited. We talked and you know what, he was really a good guy.
You know what happened next? She dumped him a few weeks after I left to go overseas. She packed up my son and everything she owned and accepted a job in another State. The next time I ran into him was when I went home for my Grandmothers funeral. He was a shell of himself. We drank a few beers and he poured his heart out to me about how much he loved her and wanted to marry her. I felt sorry for him to be honest, so I consoled him as best men can and wished him the best. I really hope my liking him had nothing to do with her leaving him.
Anyway, as I wrote in a previous post, before my son was born we had an agreement. The agreement was that whenever he was old enough to determine who he would like to live with that was where he would reside. In the mean time though, she and I had many conversations and I explained to her that many men would really only want her. Some men simply would not want to do the whole family thing with a child that did not belong to them. I told her that I understood how difficult it was to sustain a serious relationship as a single mother. I also explained to her that in the event that she met a guy who was worthy of her, but he wasn’t ready for the role of dealing with a child that all she had to do was pick up the phone and I would be more than happy to have my son with me. I told her that she would still be his mother and no one could change that fact, nor would I want to. She declined as all good mothers would, but she appreciated the thought.
A few years later she contacted me and informed me that she was getting married to a man I had yet to meet. She went on and on about him and then she got to the punch line. He wanted to adopt my son. Yep, that’s what I said too, “What!”
By now I was a whole lot more mature that I had been when I first became a father and this maturity served me well. With tact and diplomacy, I informed her that although I could appreciate the offer, this was something that I would not and could not allow.
Then I jumped on the first plane from the Middle East so that I could meet this man in person. He was nice enough, and he explained that he simply wanted my son to know that he wasn’t simply marrying his mom. He wanted him to know that he intended to make them an intact family, my son included. I shared my thoughts on this and in the end we sat down with my son and explained the whole situation. I like the guy in a weird kind of way, but giving up my son was not something I would ever entertain for anything.
By the way, they didn’t get married either. However, I promise I had nothing to do with their break-up. By this time I was already married and unknown to me, that within a year and a half I would be getting my wildest dream come true. My son woke up one morning and asked if he could come and live with me!
My ex held up to the agreement that we had made before he was born and through tears she put him on the plane to me where he has remained. Hopefully now, since she has long since finished her degree she will be able to meet a man who is worthy of her. Now although she is still a single mother, she is truly single and available.
In that one selfless act she opened up her options in the area of dating to include all men, not simply men that would date a woman with a child, but all men. She is still young, beautiful and has a lot to offer any man who is lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet her. She’s also a great mother and my son is a living testiment to that.
A few weeks ago she called and I was on my way to work. We chatted about things old and new and then she asked me a question as a way of feeling me out. The question was, ” What would you think if I dated a guy outside our race?”
I laughed because she knew as well as I did that color of a person’s skin has never been an issue for me. Then I explained to her that regardless of who she chose to date we would accept him as long as she was happy. I think she appreciated the honesty and I appreciated the fact that we have come so far as the unmarried parents of a son we both truly love.
Being a single mother isn’t easy, but if you have patience and faith the right man can and will come along. He’ll love you and your children as well and assist you with creating the complete family you so rightly deserve.