Kids & Dating & Mom?

“Mom, you know how Jonathan asked me out?  And you know how you said I was too young to date & stuff?  Could we talk about dating?” 

“Sure, but I still am holding to 12 is too young to date.”

“No, not about me & dating…you.”

SCREECH.  Now, that I didn’t see coming.

“Okaaaay…what’s on your mind?”

“Well, for a long time I thought if you were ever going to date anyone, that it’d be okay like, say, when I’m all grown & stuff.  Cuz probably by then I’d be like 37, married & have kids.  I thought by then I’d be okay with the whole idea.”

“So, you want me to wait on dating until you’re 37?  Uh huh…I see. Honey, just so you know, if I wait ‘til then all the men will be dead.  There won’t be anybody to date.”

Pause for a moment. I’ve been very protective of my kids on this whole subject.  The only time we’ve ever discussed it was when they expressed that please, mom, whatever you do, don’t be one of those single parents that hurriedly gets remarried or dates so heavily that her kids’ happiness becomes secondary or dates a creepy guy or worse - remarries multiple times.  I realized all of that came from what they saw happening with their peers.  I gave them my reassurances that NONE of that would happen.  I’m not wired that way.  Knowing how vulnerable they felt, when I went out with anyone, I simply didn’t tell them.  Instead, I would say I was meeting some girlfriends.  Never went beyond a first date anyway. No big deal.

“Well, mom, I’ve been thinking.  And I thought you should know that I’m not there yet, but, I’m coming around to the whole idea.”

Well, there’s a jaw dropper.

“Because, let’s be honest.  Can I be totally honest?”

“Go for it, babe.”

“There’s times I think you look really pretty and I know I’ll tell you that, and I know you like hearing it & all, but it can’t feel the same coming from me as if it was from, you know, ‘someone.’ It’s just the whole idea of your mom being with someone, it’s just, well, weird.”

“Yeah, I bet it is.  I don’t know, because my parents were married for over 50 years.”

“It’s just that it’s really hard.  Because who wants their parents to be with other people whether they’re divorced or widowed?  They made you & they’re supposed to be together, y’know? It seems like that’s the way it’s supposed to go, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.  We’ve been talking about it.”

“WE?! You & your sister have had conversations about this?”

Her eyes begin to well up.  I can see this whole subject is still a sore point for her.  Which is why dating has been on the back burner for me.  I think what I’m about to say will be the words she needs to hear:

“Listen, you don’t have anything to worry about.  It’s okay not to be okay about the whole idea.”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying, mom.  I don’t want you to compromise your happiness because I find it hard to accept that you might see someone someday.  I’m just saying I’m trying to work this through so that if you do find somebody, I won’t be surprised by it like I’ve seen with some of my friends.  I want to be prepared.  I’m just not there yet, but I will be.  Because, the thing is…I want you to now.  I think you should.”

I’m having this conversation with my 12 year old?  Am I sure she’s just 12?

3 weeks later…

My daughter has enjoyed teasing me every opportunity she gets. 


“Okay, okay, knock it off,” I’ll say.

It was late at night.  I was stealing a couple of extra hours to work after the girls went to bed.  She startled me with her sudden presence at my side. 

“What’s up, babe?  Can’t sleep?”

“I just wanted to say I’m okay with it now.  In fact, I think it might be kind of nice.”

I smile at her.  “Well, we’ll see, I guess.”

“Remember, mom, you taught us to be ‘open to whatever comes your way’”

“Yes, thank you, O Wise One.”

She gives me a sly smile. “So, I made a list of the Top Ten Qualities I think he should have:
1.)  Absolutely NO facial hair
2.)  Must have a good sense of humor
3.)  …well, here, let’s just post this on your bulletin board.”

To which my younger kid shouts from her bedroom upstairs “…and he has to like dogs, too!”


Wise guys.

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