Dating as a single parent is very different compared to dating before I was married. The people I meet are not just dating me; they are dating the three of us. I look at finding love in less of a romantic idea or emotional rush but more of a working relationship: will “he” work for all of us? My kids only get to meet the most serious of candidates. Everyone I have let into our lives has left an imprint on their hearts as well as mine. They don’t all ride off into the sunset with the three of us, but I have no regrets.
I am constantly discussing with my kids who they could see me with in a relationship. I get great wisdom and insight into how they see me and what they think is needed for a relationship. Carson’s response at 7 was beautiful, “well he has to be funny, he has to like dancing in the kitchen, he buys you flowers, he has to be kind, like vegetables and of course willing to die for you!” Wow! Really? Die? That’s a lot to ask of a person!” I responded. Carson replied very seriously “why would you waste your time with someone who could live without you?” That was a gem; I’m still sitting with the power of that idea.
Celia is almost a teen and is beginning to look at relationships from a very different place. I am aware she is always listening and watching. She offers nuggets like, “Mom, maybe you should not date till you’re past the age that men want you to have their children for them!” That was after I said I often get asked on first dates, “Do you want more kids?” She sees the world through opportunities to be pre-emptive. She loves to hear my thought process about why I go out with someone again and why I stop at the first date with others. I know she picks up on very subtle messages and although sarcastic she is wise beyond her years.
I don’t want to teach my children to be afraid to love but rather the value of their own love. To keep their hearts open but… it’s the “buts” that I pay attention to; for myself and to have conversations with them about. Hearing my “buts” is my place to stay humble, and to learn more about myself. It shows me where I have learned to set healthy boundaries and where I am in fear. I want to allow love to show up in unconventional ways, to do this the wisdom for me has been found in the “buts”.
What I have discovered (so far) that I want my children to learn from me is:
- Love is full of surprises and an adventure, but only if you buy a ticket.
- Love never breaks you; it only rearranges you. Love never ends it’s only transformed. That when a relationship ends it is not about making someone wrong it is about loving so much you want the best for each other. Difficult endings sometimes take a little longer to see the love in its new form. Be kind and patient with each other until you see it.
- Love is always worth the risk.
- Love doesn’t come in neat packages and you often have to get messy to be in its presence.
- Love doesn’t ask for sacrifices. It only asks that you know yourself and your worth.
- Love requires trust and vulnerability. Love is absent of fear and conditions.
- Being alone is not lonely. Time spent not coupled with someone is a gift. I am my own best friend.
- Love has many labels (friend, enemy etc.) but it doesn’t change the truth that it’s always love showing up. Sometimes people love you a lot and are still learning how to show it in ways you recognize.
- Love is a powerful energy and it ripples out from you beyond what you can see. When you love small, that is the ripple you send out to those around you.
I love my children so much I want to be a love bomb rippling out to them and through them to the world. I want to model that you can love without conditions and never have to settle for less than happy. That learning to love others is just another way to learn to love myself on this journey and celebrate all that I discover.
The man I eventually give my heart to will see me as a gift because I see myself as a gift. I know that my children will love themselves and others with courage on their journey because we looked at the “buts” together.
Christina Faye aka Tina by her friends lives in Las Vegas, NV, and is a mother of two awesome kids, a middle school teacher, a youth group advisor, a CSL trained practitioner and a certified Innerlight Energy Therapist. She is passionate about educating the whole child and loves to watch them blossom. She started a business with her friend Annabeth called L0ve Squared, and together they are opening a teen camp summer of 2015 in between LA and LV. Her intentions are to encourage peace within to experience peace in the world.