By Amy R.
Being alone has never been easy for me. I've always had some sort of relationship, whether it was a boyfriend or a husband, and now boyfriends again. I guess I always thought I needed someone to define me, someone who would complete the parts of me I felt were missing.
I recently went through a break-up with a man I truly loved. Well, when I say that, I mean I truly THINK I loved him. He was kind to me. He was fun to be with. He loved baseball as much as I did. And when I was with him, I wasn't alone.
Then comes the break-up. It isn't like I have never been broken up with. It isn't like I haven't ever suffered heartbreak or sobbing fits. But this time, the breakup is affecting me differently. I'm realizing why my relationships don't work, and why I shouldn't be ashamed of that.
So what does this have to do with being a mom? Here comes the kicker: Since my divorce I've been in TWO serious relationships. Out of those two, NEITHER of the men involved wanted to be involved with my child.
I have a firm rule that I established when I decided to start dating again. I was not going to introduce Isabelle to any man I dated until I was positive that he would be around for a while. She has not spent a large amount of time with either of my relationships since I made that promise to myself. Why? Well, the first one hated kids; he didn't want any of his own and he SURE didn't want to raise anyone else's. He felt they were money-sucking creatures who cried too much and demanded way more. He wanted me to pack my bags, move across the country, and live a pretty secure life with him, on one condition: I leave my daughter behind. I dumped him.
Now, this yearlong relationship I've been in is coming to a close. This man has spent maybe five hours with Isabelle (not including two car rides of an hour each) in that year. Why? Well, he was very gruff. He was one of those "made for TV stepfathers" whose irritation or strictness would cause the mother in the movies to say, "Honey, you know how angry that makes *enter name here* when you do that. Please stop." I didn't want Isabelle subjected to that. I wanted her to be a child.
My newest ex-boyfriend had two children of his own, but they were older and they were both boys. He couldn't relate to a girl, never mind one who was 3 and had divorced parents. So I kept the two separate.
My custody arrangement is one week on, one week off and we trade on Sundays. So when I had Isabelle, I did not see my boyfriend. He had his kids those same weekends, and it worked out well. I didn't have to worry about them getting along, and I could spend real quality time with my child.
Now that I rationally look back, though, my relationship was doomed from the beginning. Isabelle will always be the most important part of my life and any other part that tries to take me away from that should be eliminated.
But I hated being alone. I hated not having that romantic connection in my life. What I've realized is that I can't settle for a romantic connection that jeopardizes my relationship with my daughter.
So I may have to eat alone this weekend and watch tear-jerker movies by myself, but when my daughter grows up, she'll realize her mother was a strong woman who made decisions based on the love of the person that counted most: her.
Amy R. is the 30-year-old mother of Isabelle. She is a high school teacher who lives in Livermore Falls, Maine, and is trying to find the funny side of life as a newly divorced mom.