18 October 2008

Date #7: Details and Musings

I got to Mr. Coffee's around 4:30 yesterday afternoon. I love that he wants me to call when I'm turning into his apartment complex so that he can be waiting at the door to his building for me to walk me up the stairs.

I was suffering from a bit of a long-week-at-work induced stress headache. He was quite happy to get me some Advil and some water and some snacks, and we chatted and ate while my headache went away.

Just as we'd done last time I was at his place for a sleepover, we postponed dinner for a while . . . excellent decision.

And an excellent dinner (when we got to it). Delicious grilled fish and asparagus, and some nice wine. Yum.

We sat by the fire after dinner (love the fireplace!) and there was more talking and more wine and well, you all are smart and can figure out the rest.

He lets me have his side of the bed.

Once again: NO SNORING.

In the morning, as I lazed around in bed, I could hear him whistling "Bolero" while he made my cappuccino.

He asked if he could make my cappuccino "fancy." I said sure. It arrived strong, very hot, and with a bit of cinnamon and a drizzle of chocolate.

It was hard to leave.


I have no idea if Mr. Coffee wants a long-term, serious, committed relationship. I have no idea if he'd ever want to get married again. I haven't asked him, and he hasn't told me. He did say something to me last night that gave me some clues, though. He mentioned that, since his divorce (thirteen years ago), he's had two serious, long-term relationships. He didn't specify how long "long-term" was, but I got the impression that we're talking years. Neither of those women ever met his kids (and neither of those women had kids of their own). I found this information so surprising that I didn't ask any follow-up questions about it; all I could think to say was, "That's really weird," and that didn't seem to be the best conversational tack, so I decided to mull it all over a bit for discussion with him later.

So here I am, mulling. I sense that while Mr. Coffee was willing to make a commitment to those women he was dating, he wasn't willing to let them all the way into his life. He's fiercely protective of his relationship with his daughters, and he's made it clear to me that he never wants them to doubt that they come first for him. I have no idea of "girlfriends do not meet the daughters" is a blanket policy, or if it was a decision specific to the two relationships he was in.

Until Mr. Coffee and I have a talk about what the status of our relationship is, I don't feel any need to meet his kids. But if we have The Talk and if we decide that we're going to be exclusive and serious and all that, I don't think it would be OK with me for his girls not to know that I existed. As a parent, I get that Kids Come First. I think many non-custodial divorced parents feel a need to work extra hard for that to be clear to their children. And having heard Mr. Coffee talk on the phone with his girls and talk about them quite a bit, his devotion to his daughters and their love for him is obvious. If what he's doing is working as far as maintaining a strong relationship with the girls, I can see why he wouldn't want to change that.

It's interesting to me, however, that this is not a two-way street; Mr. Coffee has already met Maddie and Riley on two occasions now. He asks about them all the time, and he usually shows up or sends me home with little gifts for them. He seems genuinely interested in knowing them. He's offered to have us all over to his place for dinner. Maddie and Riley are at an age where they are very accepting of new people in their lives, and they are used to friends coming and friends going. Mr. Coffee is just another blip on the friend radar to them for now; they don't know that the relationship I have with him is any different than the relationship I have with any of the other people that come over to visit us. Mr. Coffee and I have never so much as held hands in front of Maddie and Riley.

I am truly a single parent. Maddie and Riley's dad is dead. I do not have the option to lead two lives: one with kids when it's "my weekend" and one without when it's not. If I were to be seriously dating someone, there would be no way for me to keep the kids out of it, and frankly, I wouldn't want to. They are my life right now.

So, how to move forward? The first thing I need to do is figure out what I want from a relationship, because I'm not really sure. There's a part of me—a big part of me—that's OK with what Mr. Coffee and I have never becoming serious. I really enjoy spending time with him, and he really enjoys spending time with me. It's been wonderful to rediscover the non-parental grown-up side of me, and Mr. Coffee has brought that out with aplomb. The relationship we have now is really easy. We see each other when we can, we enjoy the time we get. I don't expect that he'll call me every day or spend every free night he has with me, and vice versa. My life is very hectic and can be very stressful; serious relationships are a lot of work, and maybe that's not what I need right now.

On the other hand, while they can be a lot of work, serious relationships can also be a great source of comfort and joy. What Mr. Coffee and I have right now is a lot of fun, but he's certainly not yet the first person I'd call if I needed help or a favor. Not yet. There is part of me that would like to find a partner in all of this stress and chaos. I'd like to get married again someday. I'd like for Maddie and Riley to have another parent; not a replacement for John, of course, but a partner in parenting with me, another point of view, another source of support and love. Whether or not this person could be Mr. Coffee remains to be seen. Frankly, whether or not I would want this person to be Mr. Coffee remains to be seen.

My sense, and it's just my sense since we have not even scratched the surface of talking about it, is that Mr. Coffee is not looking to get married again. He leads a very compartmentalized life. There are three circles in the Venn Diagram of his life—Work, Kids, Time without the Kids—and they don't overlap at all. As we spend more time together, I feel more and more that he'd like to change the title of that third circle from "Time without the Kids" to "Relationship," but without adding any overlap among the spheres.

The only way for me to know is to ask. And then decide how I feel about the answer. I'm not one to avoid conversations like this, I just haven't felt a need to talk about it yet. Yes, I'm being safe. Yes, I'm having fun. But I'm starting to think that it's time to figure out where things are headed.


C. said...

Perhaps this can give you some insight, then again perhaps not. I am product of a parent who was divorced and dated several women seriously. In 20 years I met ONE, and she was the one he was going to marry. My father didn't want to have a train of women coming in and out of my life, particularly because my relationship with my mother was an issue.

Also, he had his own issues and never wanted anything to ever happen to me (of course all parents want that), but sometimes men are different. I highly respect my father for not only putting me first, but making it clear still to this day that I was always #1. There are a number of dynamic that come into play; if he had a messy divorce, his relationship with his kids, how he was brought up. However one thing is for sure, it has nothing to do with you. Your kids are small and if it didn't work out they wont remember long term, but if you develop a relationship with his kids, they will remember.

Also, I have dated many men who have kids and I am not comfortable meeting them unless it is going to be a permanent situation. I have met ONE set of kids because that is the course we were on (it was over a year into the relationship). When it didn't work out I was devastated not only because we broke up but because I also lost the relationship with his kids. His kids were also deeply hurt and still to this day (it has been 5 years since the break up) ask about me (he and I speak occasionally), so there are lasting effects.

There are so many variables and many of them you just dont know about so it isnt you, just they way he is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Snick,
I lost my husband to pancreatic cancer nine years ago. So I have been single, and dating, for a while. I loved being married, I think marriage is a wonderful thing, and I would love to get married again to the right person. One mistake I have made is not to find out in the early stages of a relationship what the other person is looking for. It seemed too "forward" to me, I thought that early talk of relationship expectations would send a man running. But I have changed my tune. Now I am clear up front that I would like to get married. I'm not in any hurry, I don't want to push a relationship any faster than is wise, and I want to take the sometimes long period of time it takes to really know someone's character. I think I've come to this conclusion by being hurt quite a few times. I am past 40, so I am finding a lot of men in my dating age group are post-divorce traumatized and just looking for some companionship and fun, but my goals are long term.
Of course, you are at a very different stage in your journey, and you have different feelings. But, if I were your close friend, I would encourage you to explore what you think you're really looking for and when, and don't spend too much time pursuing anything that is really different from that. Because after a time, it hurts a lot more to let go.
But you are a wise woman and thoughtfully living your life, so I am certain you will find out what feels right for you, and when.
Please forgive the unasked for advice, I just wanted to share some of my experiences in case it was of any help. (and if not, as the Dalai Lama says, just "forget it"!)

Little Read Hen said...

For what its worth. I think you have to take things really, really slowly with teenagers and grown kids. Its just easier with toddlers. When my boyfriend and I decided that we were going to seriously be committed to one another, we intigrated him into my daughter's life (she was about 1/2 then, 2 1/2 now), but we were together a year and a half before I met his son who is 15. His son didn't even KNOW about me until about two months before we met. It was understandable, but annoying to be compartmentalized for so long, but man, teenagers are tough. Espicially when they have limited time with a parent. Also, "me weekends" leave much to be desired. Fun times! Good Luck!

Lisa said...

I am in the very new (for me) position of dating someone with and ex-wife and kids. His kids are long distance and they are older, 12 and 7. I have not met them. But that is more to do with logistics. I suspect that if they were local, I would have met them by now.

They do know about me. I think it is different with teenagers than with toddlers. My kids have met and spent time with him. But I think for his 12 year old daughter, things need to go very, very slow. I'm fine with that. However, since we have this whole geographical issue, I would not think it would be okay for him NOT to tell his kids where he is. He calls them from my house in PDX, and then they need to know why he is here of all places. He tells them. If he didn't, it would start to feel very deceitful to them. I don't think that is fair. I suspect I won't meet them til we are married or close to it. But it is more for the idea of them getting time to get used to the idea of me.

I am an extremely direct person. I like total disclosure and communication. I have always asked straight out, like on the first date, what a guy wants. (With the disclaimer that I'm just curious where he is in life, I'm not saying I want to hurry up and marry him or anything.) I could never have a long term relationship with a guy who couldn't communicate easily about everything.

So, I guess it more depends on what you want. But I agree with the above commenter who said, lay it out where you are and where he is early and often. Why waste your time and emotional energy on guessing and possibly getting it wrong. Communication, communication, communication.

You know, and I mean this in no judgmental way at all, if you feel comfortable enough being intimate with him, it seems like asking some of these questions is not out of the realm of reason for you and him to talk about some of these things.

ms. striking said...

OK, so I'm an old fashioned stick in the mud kinda gal. Please don't take this the wrong way because I totally do NOT know the whole story. But something about the overnight dates, the calling when we can but not calling for a favor kind of attitude...lacks depth. It's a casual friend with benefits. And yes, we are all adults (I'm 34) and if it's ok with you then that is great. But where does it lead? What is the long term? What if you are the 2% that gets pregnant? You are having sex. And this man has told you by his actions AND WORDS that his priority is his children and his "serious relationships" are weekend hookups (because he's not doing family reunions with these women).

Again...I KNOW this is a "Pollyanna" kind of comment.

I know that it feels so good to have someone do romantic dinners, emails with sweet words, and thoughtful gestures toward your children. But this man says he is putting his daughters first - what about YOUR children? What is it that you really feel they need? Do they need little gifts, or do they need their mother to have a real partner - someone that will care about and honor her in all things.

You seem like an amazing woman, You have gone through the loss of a husband, singlemotherhood, and finally reentering the frightful world of dating. I hope that before you get in too deep with this man that you establish what his desires are and that you are willing to accept them or walk away. But "undetermined" isn't good enough. You are too special, too wonderful to be some guy's booty call...

Watercolor said...

Yep. I don't think I've ever dated a guy with kids and haven't met them. If it has happened, then he had kids I didn't know existed...

Anonymous said...

For fear of being called old fashioned or judgemental, I'd have to say that I agree with Ms. Striking's post. When sex, which is a huge thing, enters the picture all dynamics change. I don't understand how someone can give the biggest part of themself while mr. coffee gives a protected part of himself. You deserve the whole picture, not just what he is willing to give. It'd be interesting to see how mr. coffeee would view the situation that you are in with him if it were his daughters as adults. Would he be disappointed in them for their lack of morals or judgement and possibly in himself for the same? He sounds, from his past, that he is unwilling to change and I'd run the other way. Sure, the dinners are fun and possibly the sex is great. As Ms. Striking mentioned, what if pregnancy entered the picture? Also, as an RN I have to wonder if safe sex is being practiced. Each sexual encounter you have with a new parter is said to represent 10 statistically and it sounds as both of you have had multiple partners in your lifetime. Maddie and Riley certainly don't need a Mom with HIV. Sound like an old fart? I speak the truth. You don't really know this man yet you have given the biggest and most intimate gift of yourself to him. Why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free? You are a remarkable woman and a great Mom and you deserve the best. Don't let romantic dinners and sleep overs as well as loneliness keep you from making accurate, long-term decisions. Keep looking!

Sylvie said...

Well, Snick, for what it's worth, I reckon you've got it well under control. I truly can't imagine what it would be like to have to reopen the idea of getting to know someone new once you've already committed to another person, especially one who you never wanted to be without. It's like, that door was closed and you have to go back and open... I also think that it's normal to wonder what will happen in the future, who wouldn't wonder? And given all that, it all sounds really good, normal, healthy, etc to me. You'll know when something doesn't feel comfortable, and I'm sure then, you'll address it. Until then, enjoy!

Anonymous said...

I think you are a very wise and aware person.

... leslie

El said...

My kids are 9 and 6. Their father and I ended our relationship six years ago. If he had ever introduced any of his passing girlfriends to the kids I would.have.been.livid. It would have been completely against our rules.

The only one they met was the one with whom matters progressed to the point of living together. They are very fond of her.

So, based on my own needs as the mother of children whose father has dated multiple women over the course of their young lives, I can understand. It may well be that the ex-Mrs. Coffee has rules similar to mine. Or, not at all! *smile*

I agree with C.: it has nothing to do with you.

Go ahead and talk about what you want, ask what he's looking for in his life. Better to know now, better to establish clear communication now.

My bias tends to be that there ought not be any subject that's taboo, between an intimate couple.

Rachel said...

Wow, some of these comments are pretty harsh and judgmental. :P

I think c.'s insight was sound. With older kids, it might be really painful for them if they became attached to you, then you broke up, esp. since they have already been through the divorce.

I think if you do want more with Mr. Coffee, then it's probably a good idea to ask where the relationship is going.

C. said...

El, makes a good point that I missed. He and his ex could possibly have a clause in their divorce decree that prohibits the introduction of an SO unless under specific circumstances like only a fiance. However, I repeat, it has absolutely nothing to do with you.

I also have to disagree with whom ever said he considers your relationship casual. Granted he may, it is early, however as a female who thinks much more like a male; I work A LOT, and attend law school. I rarely see my bf and this is not for lack of wanting, caring, or anything else. I am very fond of him and him me, but in the short term I am building a business and going to law school. He is also in the throws of his career. I would like nothing more than to spend more time with him, but I know I have to do these things for myself as does he. We speak when we can and rely heavily on Blackberries. As some I know have pointed out that it is "very romantic" being sarcastic, it isnt it is practical. It is also for the best in the long term as my business will be a sustaining factor to my livelihood when I go to practice law and he has ambitions of his own. My bf works like he does because he has a family to support (ex) and wants to ensure he has enough later in life and in my experience many men feel this way. He has responsibilities, and personally I dont think you are a second thought. Men that have you on the back burner dont behave the way he does (calls and emails while on b-trips, making dinner, etc). In this day, relationships are not forever and we all have to be able to take care of ourselves.

Little Read Hen said...

I feel (obnoxiously) compelled to post a follow up comment. First, MAN! why don't people feel like if they can't say something nice (or at least CONSTRCUCTIVE) then they should keep their damn mouths shut and secondly, in my case I chose not to introduce anyone (as a 'relationship' person)to my kid until I was in a serious relationship. Even then, it was some time before we were affectionate in front of her and a MUCH longer time before my partner had any parental authority. Secondly, in terms of being introduced to his teenage son, who does not live in the same town as we do, it did feel somewhat decietful from my end for him not to know about me for so long (over a year), but there was a lot of parental politics going on there and it was really not my place to jump in. I was the first person that the boy was informed of (in 13 years since his parents separated) and it was shortly before we moved in together.

I think the point I am trying to make is that every relationship is different and as parents who are, for whatever reason, dating we have to know what is best for our individual families and follow our instincts.

One boundry that I have made for myself is not to post about my partner's kids or his ex even though they play a big role in our relationship. I think it is too dangerous and there are too many ways that things could be misconstrued or taken out of context. The last thing anyone wants is to compromise someone's relationship with their kids.

Good for you Snick, for getting out into the big scary world again. Good for you for knowing what is best for your kids and accepting what is deemed best for someone else's and, as always, thanks for being brave enough to share.

Rev Dr Mom said...

If Mr. Coffee has been divorced 13 years, his daughters are teenagers. I certainly understand being protective and not having a stream of women in and out of their lives, but surely they must know he has a life, that he dates or something. I just don't know how a parent, custodial or not, keeps that part of their life totally private.

I applaud you for thinking this through and trying to figure out what YOU want. I don't think I'd personally be comfortable in a relationship where none of the spheres overlap, but I can see that it might work for some people.

In the meantime, it's good to see you enjoying what you have with Mr. Coffee now.

KES said...

I don't think the earlier comments were harsh or judgmental. Notice that anon 16:42 said that Snick is a remarkable woman and a great mom.. doesn't sound "not nice" to me. They just have the perspective that relationships plus sex require more care and "protection" (not THAT kind) than one without, because sex does create a very intimate bond.
Snick, I second your opinion that you should figure out what you want, and I would second ms. striking in saying that once you know what you want, don't settle for less -- because you do deserve it.

Anonymous said...

I think you should figure out what you want from your commenters, too. I would honor whatever requests you made, 'cause it's your life. You've had a lot of pain and deserve happiness, and I don't care how you get it.

But, the question I start worrying about when you discuss Mr. Coffee is whether he's still married.

django's mommy said...

So, as a young widow who has just gotten into the dating world, how the heck am I supposed to know what I want from a relationship and a man until we spend some time together? The comments about just being upfront about what you want are all well and good-- unless you happen to be a 30-something mom who was widowed and is trying to figure out what the fuck she wants. Perhaps it is okay to just date for a while. Perhaps it is even okay to have sex, and have sleepovers, and drink fancy cappuchinos during this process of figuring out what one wants. Lordy.

I appreciate all your insight, Snick. Always helpful to me.

Anonymous said...

Know you will figure out and do what is best for you Snick, and what you want.

I for one am happy you are out there meeting people. And trust you are wise enough to know what you want.

Rooting for you and whatever you decide from my end. Have a lovely Sunday.

C. said...

Anon 21:41:

Because he doesn't want to introduce his dates to his children does not make for him being married. She is staying at his house for crap sake. Is his wife hiding under the bed? He is being protective of his children, give a guy a break.

Anonymous said...

Snick, I think you really hit the nail on the head with the observation that you are a truly single parent and he is a non-custodial parent. The circumstances of your lives are simply very different.

I think it's also wise to decide what you are comfortable with before having "the talk." You know yourself best. Trust that.

Best of luck in whatever happens.

Anonymous said...

Little red hen...you need to re-read the blogs. Thus far there has been no harsh words. Just because people may not share the same opinion doesn't make them harsh. Geez...that is part of blogging. If Snick doesn't want to hear this, she wouldn't blog it. I think there has been a lot of good said thus far....some stuff I wouldn't have thought of myself. Snick...you are thinking this through carefully and that is important. Wish you the best. You are a wonderful mommy to those sweet children.

Mama Nabi said...

Oh, Snick. Oh... How do we do this? Way bizarro.

You're right - no matter where I go with whomever, LN will end up being part of it all because of logistics.

I know that it's unfair but I also want to ask the same questions of N. Where does he want to take this? And we haven't even met yet. He wants to know why I can't just leave it at "Let's see where this takes us"... and you know, I think my answer is that I don't want to spend too much time, no matter how much fun it might be (and how much fun is it, really, 2000 miles apart?) being invested in something that the other person already knows won't go anywhere too far. Y'know what I mean... right. Because the last time we invested, we ended up in our bizarro sorrow mixed with anger. We're bound to want to know right away if the rug will be pulled from under us...

So yeah... long rambling comment and yet nothing to really add. Just that, yeah... we meet again in our bizarro intersection. Love ya, sis.

mlg said...

here is the thing. We are grown ups. We pay our bills, we raise our children we manage our lives. clearly we are able to make the choices for ourselves that we need to to keep ourselves and our kids healthy and happy and safe.

We are not living 50 years ago. We are living now. We are single mothers who deserve to make choices that make us happy. No one has to agree, no one has to approve. Do whatever you want to do and do it for yourself and your kids. It is actually okay for us to want to have fun. To want to have sex. You are not giving yourself away to someone. You are taking what you want for you.

Follow your heart and your instincts. Take care of yourself. Ask the important questions and then relax and let the rest just happen.

Anonymous said...

C. Anon 21:41 made a very good point. If you read everything that Snick has said about him from the beginning.
A house with not much more than a bed and a cappuccino maker. No books. Very minimal.

I know people with homes and families that travel for work and keep apartments in other towns with just that much.

Betty M said...

My first reaction was that you are only on Date no 7 and there is plenty of time for that talk yet. I don't find it that odd that he is protective of his presumably teenage kids - perhaps also the fact that the other relationships were with women without children was a big factor. I can see my teenage self immediately jumping to the "new woman wants a baby with my dad my life will be ruined" conclusion. Mr C sounds just fine as he is for now to me. I wish you the very best.

Melissa in TN said...

In response to Ms. Striking, maybe Mr. Coffee is Snick's booty call. Maybe that's all she wants (this is not meant to be mean or hateful, just a different opinion, I promise).

I know that there's a big difference between toddlers and teenagers, but I don't like it that he has met M & R and you haven't met his kids. However, you may not be ready for that or even want that.

I don't want you to be hurt or sad (you've had far too much of that) but I guess if you open yourself up to dating and the possibility of a relationship, you take that chance.

Thinking of you and hoping you get what you want and need out of the relationship.

Snickollet said...

Anon @ 1:53:

There is WAY more in his house than a bed and a cappuccino maker! No, not many books, but the kitchen is filled with food and the equipment to make elaborate dinners and the dishes to serve them on, a there is art on the walls, plenty of furniture, a fully decorated bedroom/bathroom suite for his daughters, closets full of clothes, a stereo/tv/entertainment system, magazines--he clearly lives there.


Kerrie said...

It sounds to me like you have things well in hand. I admire your ability to be able to include Mr. Coffee in your life but still maintain Maddie & Riley's routine for them, so important. You seem so much happier and this can only be good for them...happy & content Mama = happy & content children.

I was a sole parent for 10 years before jumping back in the dating pool, cautiously to begin with but as my confidence grew I splashed around a lot more.

I met a number of men, mostly delightful men, one or two exceptions, had a few shorter term liaisons, one that lasted about a year and the relationship I am in now (three years, we live together and love the new family we have created).

When I began dating again, I set myself some very strict guidelines about who met my daughter, she was 10 at the time. I did not want her getting attached to someone who may not be around for very long time. To have them up and leave would be way too difficult for her to understand. I also didn't want her to see me with a series of men in my bed...I am a role model for her and for me to behave in that manner would be condoning it for her in her teenage years.

She did however, know that I dated some men and was quite okay with that. Out of the 10 or so men I dated over an eighteen month period she met two. One I had an 11 month relationship with and who really pushed the issue with me, it ended badly. The other is the man she loves dearly and calls Dad, with our blessing.

I also stipulated that the man I meet have children himself. I needed him to be able to understand how vital it was that my daughter's needs were taken care of first...the man I saw for 11 months did not have any and he became very envious and possessive of me and resented the time I needed to spend with her...it was the cause of the demise of the relationship, he was quite childlike in the way he dealt with the situation too. After that, it was men who were parents only.

I love that Mr. Coffee has met Maddie & Riley and is caring and kind towards them. As you have introduced him to them as no more than a friend who comes to dinner sometimes, of which you mention you have a number of. They are too young to understand that any more than that level of friendship can exist and I'm sure you take all precautions to ensure that they don't catch you "in flagrante delicto"

I understand his reluctance in introducing his daughters, for now anyway, for all the reasons I held back with my daughter. You are both intelligent, caring, compassionate people...when the time is right you will have "the talk", your cards can be laid on the table and together you can decided the future of your relationship.

Just because the previous women in his life haven't met his daughters before doesn't mean that you won't. It sounds to me like it's a matter of the right person.

I'm hoping the "right" person is you.

Kim said...

Perhaps you could - without having a "where is our relationship going" talk, just say that you thought about your last meeting and just wondered why he never introduced his serious partners to the children. Also, ask him what exactly he is looking for in a relationship? What does he want from a partner. Therefore, you may get some information without having to have a serious talk about 'us' and then you can decide if he is what you want as you piece the picture together which will take time.

Crash Course Widow said...

From what I've seen, heard, and read from many, many young widows (either those I know in real life or those on the online bulletin board, YWBB, that I belonged to earlier on), realistically the chances of the first post-widowed relationship working out are pretty slim. Which isn't to say that it couldn't happen, but we're all trying to figure out what blend of old and new and which areas are critical and which are unimportant in our "new" lives, that (IMHO) it's going to take some trial-and-error to find out which person is the right one for us in our "new normal." I doubt it's much different from dating and finding the right potential spouse BEFORE we got married and widowed.

It's interesting the way different people (I wonder if it's somewhat men vs. women, although I don't think it's that clear cut) approach dating, the kids, etc. I'm more like you--but I wonder sometimes if it's because we liked being married and having a partner, whereas those who are divorced and/or who didn't have a good relationship in their marriage don't have a good "feeling" in their past to want to find again. But again, I doubt it's that simple....

Best of luck to you!

Crash Course Widow said...

And o.mi.gosh--the comments you get. ::blink:blink::

I hope you don't let them influence you *too* much emotionally. As intellectual advice or opinions, sure, they're useful to add to your arsenal of how-do-I-figure-out-dating-in-widowhood tools. But do try not to let others' opinions make you feel badly.

You're a big girl, and from what you write and show us, you have a smart, careful head on your shoulders. There aren't any Right Rules for how to reinvest yourself in life after being widowed at 36; everyone's different.

As a widow who did the casual/slight booty call/friends-with-benefits relationship at ~18 months into widowhood, with a the 2-year-old daughter in the mix, I've been there. And feeling like a "normal" adult, one who isn't just a tired, single mommy, or just a widow--feeling sexy and attractive and interesting, funny, special...NORMAL--is a wonderful thing in widowhood. And in my case, it lasted for as long as it lasted. And once the casual relationship/sleepover aspect wasn't enough for me (which took about 2-3 months), we had The Talk, and while I basked in the happy glow for 2-3 weeks post-Talk that it could, in theory, become a marriage someday, Real Life caught back up to me. And once I examined whether or not there was enough substance there to commit to a serious relationship, I realized there just wasn't enough for me. He was a wonderful guy and a great friend, but it just didn't fulfill me in all the same places as my marriage did. And eventually we parted ways, but it took about 2 more months until I finally broke it off.

Regardless of what happens with Mr. C (or any other guys you end up dating, especially ones in serious relationships), one other thing I've learned in dating as widow--aside from Fact #1 that dating is damned stressful and intense for a widow--is that it's really hard, and seems to take longer, to get out of a relationship than it did before being widowed. We'd like to think we've learned and can be more direct and stronger once we know a relationship is no longer right for us, but it doesn't seem to work out that simply.

Okay, second long comment endeth. ;o) Good luck to you!

Alison S said...

My older daughter is 14. I have to say that if I were divorced or widowed and dating, I would be doing my utmost to keep my activities separate from her unless I found a permanent partner, because our relationship is already so emotional and complex that any further complications would just be even more baggage. I am sure that if she didn't live with me that would be even more the case, because I would also be dealing with guilt etc because of that. Parenting any teenager is hard, hard work, be it full or part time, even if the teenager/s concerned are reasonably "easy". If I were Mr Coffee I'd be compartmentalising my life too, until I absolutely had to overlap the Venn circles. I don't read anything sinister into it, myself. Maddie and Riley won't even remember him if he's not long term. The two situations just aren't mirror images of each other, and I think both of you are behaving entirely appropriately with respect to your children. Good luck!

Katherine said...

I so agree with Crash Course widow about relationships after widowhood. I've been widowed 2 1/2 years, have a 10 yr old daughter and a 14 yr old son, and have had one dating relationship that lasted several months. My kids were OK with my dating--a happy mom leads to a happy home--but they never met the man I was dating. He was good for me, but I don't think ultimately was the kind of "family man" I need . . . so slowly I have moved on. I do think part of the problem was that I had a GREAT marriage and know what a good relationship is. . . and ours lacked some vital components for me. He was divorced and sadly our relationship was the best one he'd had.

He & I both had teenagers; I didn't meet his and he didn't meet mine. Teenagers are difficult; teenagers who have lost a parent are more difficult; teenagers know about sex, have lots of questions that parents may not want to answer about their dating relationships. I think it's very understandable that he shelters his kids from his relationships, and also think that, because yours are so young, it's fine that he's met yours.

I would ask him what he's looking for in a relationship, why he hasn't introduced others to his children. Only you know when it's time to discuss the status of the two of you. You're a smart woman who is doing a great job of raising kids and finding balance. As long as this relationship is making you feel happier, not more stressed, than it will be worth it for you. When/if the balance shifts, you'll know what to do.

Ali said...

I just wanted to say that I love that you share all your thoughts about this with us. You do know that you are going to get different opinions which I am sure is why you do it. You are a smart woman.

If you really need to know where this is going then ask him. But there is nothing wrong with what you are doing. This is your first time back in the saddle. Just sit back and enjoy the fun you are having. I don't see anything wrong with ANY of it.

beyond said...

(i didn't have time to read all your comments, so this may be a repeat.)
most importantly: from what you have been writing, mr c seems like he really cares for you.
maybe his kids not meeting any of his girlfriends is a deal his ex and he have.
maybe his two long term relationships never met his kids because he knew deep inside that they would not last forever.
talk to him about it. and continue to have a bit of fun once in a while, you deserve it.

ms. striking said...

Melissa - I totally love your response! That's great! :)

CCW and others: I so totally applaud your honesty and candor.

Snick - so many people read your blog and care, women are sooo wired to talk, analyze, consult, wish, wonder, and look out for eachother. It's what makes us women! God bless you honey! Wishing you the best - Ms. S

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm generally a lurker, but I feel compelled to leave a response.

My mother passed away when I was 11 years old. I am now 32. My father never remarried. Until recently, any dates/girlfriends he had were kept secret from me. I understand that my father wanted to protect me; however: no matter what, my mother is never coming back, at least not in this lifetime. Even if my mother was the love of his life, she's gone. I want him to be happy. I don't want to worry about him being alone. And I don't want that life to be secret from me. I miss my mom terribly, and I would kill to have her alive. I'd give up almost anything. However, the logician in me knows nothing can bring her back, and I love my father enough to want him to have someone LIVING who loves him as well. I guess I'm saying this because Snick, as a mother, you seem very concerned about your kids, and rightly so. Who knows what they'll think as grown-ups. I can only offer you MY humble perspective. As a teenager, I probably would have resented any of my father's girlfriends. But as an adult and parent myself, I feel differently. I guess this is my way of saying: I predict that an adult Maddie & Riley will want you to have a love life, will want you to be happy romantically. You are not to blame for their father's passing. :-)

I have no assvice regarding Mr. Coffee because I don't know him, his kids, his situation, or you. But you're a smart woman. You'll do what you need to. Your readers should be careful in passing judgment, because blogs only reveal part of the truth. Moreover, you don't need your readers' approval. Do what you need to do. And know that as the grown child of someone who has lost one of her parents, I fully support you. Life is too short to be without love. The only question is: is Mr. Coffee good enough for our beloved Snickollet? ...Only YOU can answer.

Anonymous said...

I am divorced with kids and remarried, so I sort of know where you are coming from.

My Uncle has been divoreced for many, many years. Since my cousin was about 5. He hasn't had many relationships, but she only met one. The main reason is she was an incorigable BRAT. She would have made him feel as miserable and guilty as anyone on the planet could - and did, so he avoided the whole thing all together. Tears, carrying on, you name it. Something to think about, it's one thing to be into your kids, but to let them rule your life like that is a touch out of line. I love my kids to death, but I find the more fulfilled I am, the better I am to them and have more to offer to them. My cousin hasn't had a stable normal relationship to date and she is in her mid 20's. This is because she was never shown one or how they work, in the end, he really did her a diservice in the end to himself and her.

He was forced to live two seperate lives, which made it hard to give himself completely to any relationship. Being a parent shaped who he was as an adult, male human and to not be able to openly share that with his partner (when appropriate) left a giant hole in his relationships. Someone without children may not understand this completely.

There is no reason to rush things, but can you, as parent, imagine having to do that? To never let your two worlds intersect?

The "what do he has to hide" angle that others have mentioned have also crossed my mind. Does you state publish circuit court records on line, have you checked him out that way?

Sounds live you are having fun though! Makes me long for the beginnings of a relationship!

I am even more jealous of the no snoring!! I sleep next to a foghorn! I was too exhausted ;P in the beginning of our relationship to realize how bad it is!


Nina said...

Just wanted to say that regardless of how things turn out with Mr. Coffee, you sound so bright and forward-looking. Don't know how else to put it.

I'm happy for you.

Maggie said...

If I were in your place, I'd want to know what Mr. Coffee's long-term intentions are and why his daughters never met the women in his other LTRs.Someone mentioned that it's "only" date #7. However, since you are having sex with him,and since it's been thirteen years (a long time!) since his marriage ended, I think it's not too soon at all to ask him whether he's interested in more than sleepovers. Also, if I were in your place, I would not allow my children contact with him until you know that this relationship is going somewhere committed and very long term. Yes, they're very little, but no one's too little to get attached and get hurt. Your little ones have already experience one very big loss. Be careful, please.

Lyndsay said...

Ah, you know what you're doing Snick.
While it's odd that the other "long term" girlfriends didn't meet his kids, I think it's a significant difference that they did not have children of their own. A non-mother girlfriend might be happy having a relationship in that "non-children sphere", while a girlfriend with children that might be brought into the mix (i.e. you) approaches the situation differently.
And I agree that with older kids or teens, the meet-and-greet timetable will be much different compared to preschoolers. When I met my husband, his son was 12. I started as "that lady dad works with" and progressed to "that lady dad carpools with", and "that lady who sticks around for a couple hours after work on Friday", and "that lady who now stays for dinner on Friday"... etc etc....
Good luck with all of it!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to give a shout out for sexy, "having fun" relationships! Before I was married, I was engaged to someone else, and it broke up very harshly and suddenly. During my grieving period I had a (small) number of those kinds of flings, while simultaneously I was figuring out what my new life was going to be, w/o the man I loved, w/o the dreams we'd built together. The sex and fun, though, really lowered my stress level, and was a perfect counterbalance to all the serious thinking I was doing in the other half of my brain. It reminded me how to be happy. I count that year as the one of the best of my life - seeing men, but not pining for them. Not expecting much out of them, and not allowing them to expect much out of me.

It's a different story, and the stakes weren't nearly as high as yours are. I also didn't yet have kids (I do now.) But this aspect of your current journey really resonates with me, reminds me of that time in my life. It was a good time, and led to me being a better, healthier person.

You'll make the right decision. Your kids are also young enough right now that they remain largely clueless. So I like to see that you are enjoying yourself! I love to know there are people out there, like you, living the examined life. You are a thoughtful, wise woman, if your posts are any indication. Be well!


Elise said...

One of my friends divorced from her husband when their daughter was 2. Since then they have each had 2-3 serious relationships (daughter is now 7). My friend has been uber-protective of her daughter and has a rule that she will only introduce her daughter to someone she is dating once a committment has been established. Part of her reason for doing so is based on advice she got from a child psychologist she consulted when they were working through the divorce who emphasized the need for modeling consistency in relationships.

Her ex, on the otherhand, has introuduced their daughter to two of the woman he has dated seriously. His current relationship is with a woman who has two kids the same age as his daughter, they all spend time together, go on vacation and have sleepovers at each other's homes. The daughter has had a hard time figuring out who this woman is. She knows she is her dad's girlfriend, that he is in love with her, but she really doesn't see her as someone permanent and has a lot of anxiety lately about whether or not she would have to live with the girlfriend if her parents died. She recently asked my friend if she had a boyfriend, and my friend said yes but that it wasn't something the daughter needed to worry about.

Personally, I think its crucial to do the right thing for the kids, you for yours and his for his. Your kids are really young and it probably isn't as important since they aren't making those kinds of relationship connections, but it might be a good time to work out what strategy to take as you go forward.

It's an exciting time, I'm so happy for you.

PS I have absolutely no opinion about when you should sleep with someone (my husband and I did on our first date) but keep in mind that in the internet dating world the third date is when it is "expected", or so I've been told.

Becky said...

I agree with the first commenter that Mr. Coffee probably doesn't want his daughters to meet women who will just be passing in and out of his life. But then again, he claims that he's had "serious" LTRs. I don't know how serious the relationships could have been if they weren't allowed to meet his kids and be completely in his life, as you said. I dated a guy with kids last year, and at first he was cautious about me meeting them, but I did after about a month or so.

Anonymous said...

Some people compartmentalize. It doesn't make them bad people, or mean that relationships with them cannot be valuable and loving. However, a realtionship in a compartment is of course different than a relationship with someone who will honor all that you are, with all that they have. Snick obviously knows that.

How will a man ever know whether he wants to get to that point, whether he wants to marry a woman and let her into his daughters' lives, without a period of getting to know her in, well, a compartment? He won't, can't know, not without that period of time -- especially when custody and non-toddler, non-adult kids part of the picture -- sorry, ARE the picture? In reality, sometimes we have to get to know one another in a vaccum. In some ways, you'd have to get to know each other again if you were going into the wider range of each others' lives. But you can get to know someone quite well when it is just the two of you for a while. And it can all be quite wonderful.

But yes, if you allow yourself to stay there for to long, then it is true, how strong is the motivation to move you into his life? If he wants to be married, then the motivation could be quite strong. If he'd just as soon not marry again, then there is none. In some ways it has little to do with you -- and in some ways it is personal. Maybe he would have married one of those other two women -- but it wasn't quite right.

And even if you would both like things to move forward, after a certain point, what is the practical possibility of changing the patterns between you? I think you are wise to start thinking about having the conversation. When you are ready to have it, whenever that it, it will hep him get to know you -- that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

I'm the most recent anon. Sorry, last sentence should be, "When you are ready to have it [the conversation], whenever that is, it will help him get to know you --that's for sure."

Anonymous said...

I love that people are standing for Snick to be fully honored in a relationship. I'm sure she will be, when she's ready.

This relationship could become that, or not. Clearly, Mr. Coffee has not given that level of self and honoring to a woman in at least 13 years. OK, we know this. What does it mean? Perhaps he wanted to go there when he was with one of the "LTRs," but knew deep down that she wasn't a woman with whom he wanted to go there and be there for the rest of their lives. If so, then what's his worst crime -- not letting go soon enough?

Or, OK, perhaps he didn't want to have a real, full honoring relationship. And perhaps he won't for some time.

Again, Snick will ask him when she's ready to deal with whatever the response is.

I'd be willing to bet Mr. Coffee is self aware, and respects and trusts Snick, and that he and Snick will have an open, honest conversation about it.

OTRgirl said...

One of the things I enjoy and respect about you is the way that you analyze things. I love that you have a clear picture of the Venn diagram (never knew the label for the circle pictures before...) that he has.

Sounds to me like you're figuring out what will work best and that once you decide, you'll advocate for that.

Lee Thomas said...

Sounds like you are enjoying things the way they are right now. No need to rush things/conversations/decisions, as far as I can see. But of course, the only opinion that matters is yours. I'm just glad to see you enjoying yourself.

ann ominous said...

Isn't it interesting how possessive people get of their "blog friends" somehow it becomes completely okay to tell a total stranger what she should and shouldn't do with her life, her emotions, her bedroom.

I get that putting a blog out there is letting your personal life out there for public opinion. I don't get that people feel like they can tell you that what you're doing is immoral or wrong.

It's a blog you people read, she's not your little sister whose behavior you can influence. She has her own values, her own joys and desires. Snick gives us a gift of a little insight into her life, the beautiful parts and the painful parts. You take away from that when you critique what she does.

It's very Palin-esque to force your 'family values' on someone that you don't know. To tell someone that their choices are wrong, that they are being immoral don't you think? Why force your values on someone else just because you read their blog? If you don't agree with her, that's great...walk away with your mouth (or keyboard) closed and silent.

PK said...

Ms Snick,
I started reading your blog because of your loss due to pancreatic cancer. I have lost my mom to PC. I know how cunning and unfair that loss is. I cannot compare losing a spouse to a parent.

I just started dating (again, we were high school sweethearts) a man who has kids, one is 15, one is 13, and one is 9. We live 2 hours from each other, so often overnights occur. He is a very hands on parent and has the kids ½ time. The ex-wife wigged out when he wouldn’t drop his plans all of a sudden to “take over” on a moment’s notice. We never planned anything when it was “his” nights with the kids. But, like I said, the ex pushed the issue.

While he was trying to keep us on the private side, the excuse “I have company” didn’t fly with her and then the kids started asking questions. He told the ex and the kids about me and that we were in fact dating. I have met them 4-5 times and this has included me staying overnight. I don’t share the same bed, and we don’t go overboard on displays of affection.

This past weekend was his “free” weekend and ALL 3 of the kids came over (their choice) and seems to be very open. As a matter of fact, I was mostly worried about the 15 yr old girl. And she hugged her dad after I left and said “I’m so excited to see you happy, you two look so good together”. So, sometimes it’s us adults who have the “issues” and not the kids.

Roads said...

Well, if life were that easy or straightforward, maybe it wouldn't be interesting.

There are no quick or easy fixes. It's complicated. It takes work.

But, on the flip side, there's a lot that can be achieved with Venn diagrams. You go, girl!

caitstclair said...

That whole "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free thing" always bothered me.

Why on earth would you want marry someone who was only doing it for the "milk"? If the relationship is good enough both partners will want to commit without having to withold the goodies!

Supa said...

Oh ho ho. You are not a single parent -- you are a DOUBLE parent. Don't you let anyone forget it either.

Can't wait to hear what happens next in your dating life! My experience was very very similar.