Baggage Claim – Child on Aisle 6

As a single mother for a good portion of my adult life, I absolutely abhorred the word “Baggage” when it came to the explanation of my children. I know there are many forms of the derogatory term baggage, but no one influenced the missives of male listeners like those shock-jocks Howard Stern and Tom Leykis. They were constantly warning men over the loose morals of women with children, and how they would do anything short of hitting you over the head with a rock and dragging you back to their cave, claiming you as their new “Baby Daddy”.

My protests were met with silent ears when I argued these two above mentioned men’s point of views. I would remind them, not all women were this way. In fact, not only was I a capable single parent, I was by choice — a single parent. To make me, or others like me, out to be a fucked up mess, whose sole intent was to lay the perfect trap of either impregnating myself yet again (because we have no morals, or sense of birth control) or roping a man, any man – into the daddy role was insulting to me as a parent and a woman. This of course feeds into the very misogynist theory that birth control and pregnancies are very much a one way street. But this isn’t a feminist rant.

I was very selective with any man my children were to become involved with, having been raised nearly the opposite by a divorced mother myself. While my radar on partners for myself was definitely askew and needed some major tweaking, I surprisingly was spot on with the few my children interacted with. I didn’t bring home new men every few months with any indication for the children to meet their new daddy/uncle. In fact I did the opposite, and very few had the opportunity to make an impact on my children.

Fortunately something in me worked and the few who made it in, and made impression did so in wonderful ways that I will never regret. In fact it would be safe to say that in one relationship we stayed together for the sake of the kid. He eventually enjoyed his time with her honestly more than with me, and I enjoyed the positive male role model he brought into her life, more than the time I had with him.

I knew that in meeting men the old fashioned way – waaaay back before the internet or online dating, confessing I was a mother was usual a ticket to the back of the bus. Very few men, understandably, wanted to take on that sort of “Baggage”. The term shamed me, and made me at times defensive or insecure. I still dated between serial relationships. Meeting the men somewhere, or sheltering the kids at the babysitters.

As the girls got older and understood that Mom dated here and there, the men were permitted more immediate access to picking me up, thus having the children meet them. But then they would blow it by doing something stupid, like challenging math skills, with my very math-challenged child.

The truth is, when you involve yourself in more than a date here or there with a single parent, your whole view of dating changes. I knew dating me meant time limits because of baby sitters. Lack of impromptu weekends where you grab a bag and head for Vegas or San Francisco. Everything is planned around, and soon it seems controlled by, the need of the kids. Instead of that funky Thai restaurant, you end up at a Bob’s Big Boy, because Junior will only eat grilled cheese on white bread. Late nights are now limited, because of early soccer or cheer practice.

I was a strange sort – a hypocrite if you must clearly define, because although I came with my own mis-matched set, I would not, could not – date a man with his own children. I had tried that once and it was a massive failure with the child resenting me, creating problems, and me watching his spine turn to jelly when it came to his ex-wife’s demands or worse yet the guilt the very small daughter learned to wield as a weapon on her daddy. After about a year of this, I called it quits and placed it very high on my DO NOT list.

Of course, in drawing that line in the sand, my dating pool became very limited. So be it.

Then came The One, who had children himself. This was a quandary, because as our friendship blossomed I realized I had growing feelings for him. But he is breaking rule number one! My inner voice called out to me. Like me, one of his children was already grown and moved out. That only left the youngest, who was surprisingly the exact same age as mine. I learned about her from him, as he learned about mine. We took our time and were cautious initially about allowing the kids to even know about us outside of the obvious time we spent every evening online. Eventually we all met, blended families, and outside a few bumps in the road during the teen years, grew to love one another like real family. By now, our children are grown, out of the house and some even with children of their own.

Let’s fast forward a few years from there, place me back on the market and looking at On-Line Dating. I am in my late 40’s, my kids are grown, I’m well established in my job, I have a current passport and overall, things are good for me. I would assume the same about most of the men in my age bracket.

Instead I find that 90% of the men on-line have school aged children, either living with them full-time or very close to it. By school aged, I don’t mean high-school senior’s about to graduate. I mean 10 year olds with soccer practice, and 14 year olds with football games. I mean full-time, full-life parenting.

And suddenly the ironic THUD of the word “Baggage” hits me. With the exception of the misogynistic approach of the shock-jocks, I see what the Howard’s and Tom’s were warning about. The almost desperate plea you read in a man’s eyes. Help me, they seem to scream as they talk about how the kids are the number one priority. In an astonishing turn, I am the one doing the backwards scramble, with the frozen smile on my face, trying to assure them this is fine, while the eyes in the back of my head quickly scan for the nearest exit sign.

Because it boils down to this.

The choice to involve myself with this person, means dragging around another 60-150 lbs everywhere I go. This is Samsonite filled with rocks before the wheels-on-bags were invented. This is limited travel, and additional costs and quiet sex and no-naked Saturdays. This is dealing with a teenager who might resent you or worse yet find your sex toys in her dad’s drawer, or an 8-year old who might love you too quickly, causing claustrophobic attacks. This is cancelled plans because of chicken pox, and most of all? This is you coming in third (if you’re lucky) on the list of priorities, because let’s face it, the ex’s schedule comes in aboveboard on yours, because it directly affects the shared kids. And not being able to complain about it, because only a Class A Bitch would complain about a father wanting to be there for his kids.

Sounds cold doesn’t it? I know, and that’s why I never word it like this when responding to men with children. I AM upfront (because c’mon, it’s me, and I know no other way) but gentle. I don’t blame these men for the situations they are in. In fact, truth be told, I find single fathers rather admirable. Woman – most — are conditioned instinctively, genetically to want to care for their offspring. Men, as society has shown us for centuries, have it a little easier walking away. These men however are bucking their genetics, and shucking the stereotypes and taking on the responsibilities needed of them, even if it means they get laid a little less often. I have more understanding for what they are going thru, the juggle, the balance.

BUT — I came out of this already. I paid my dues. I served my time. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and every additional cliche you can think of. Like most parents I grieved the initial loss of my offspring (and in my case I greatly grieved it) until I didn’t just taste, but I reveled in my newfound freedom. The fact my needs could for the first time in as long as I could recall, Come First. That’s a heady thing to finally envelope. From something as small as buying crunchy peanut butter because it’s something I prefer, as to as big a deal as walking around the house nude on a Saturday morning.

So to those men who don’t read profiles completely where mine reads that I am looking for the SAME (as in alike. Opposite of different) in the grown child arena, I simply must state; As adorable as your baggage is, I love my naked weekend coffee mornings, more.



8 thoughts on “Baggage Claim – Child on Aisle 6

  1. I sat here for a second not knowing what to post as a comment, but wanting to comment on this just the same. I feel that children shouldn’t be seen as baggage either, but in your case I fully understand. You’ve already raised your kids, as well as myself basically, and now that you are out on your own you don’t want to have such young children around all the time. I don’t know how you made it through my teenage years…since I myself look back shaking my head in shame…but you did. Some of these I know we’re about me and Samela…(ahem) and I was tearing up and laughing as I read this. I hope that someday I can enjoy the benefits of naked coffee because,frankly that sounds amazing hahaha.

    • You were not only the best exception to the rule that I’ve ever made, I know somewhere up there my mother is rolling with laughter that I finally was served up in the way I least expected it. A mini-me. I could so relate to you and sadly, way to much with what you had gone thru. No worries on you ever being anything less than the Louis Vuitton of all baggage, and worth every moment of it.

      I don’t have issues with children around me. I actually like it. I just don’t want to raise them again. And naked coffee is wonderful. Just don’t spill.

      • It was so nice having someone who related to me. I remember that first meeting at that restaurant (olive garden?) I was so skeptical but we ended up hitting it off relatively quickly lol. I always have loved your sarcasm lol. And personally I like to think of myself as the Prada of baggage…it’s a little less flashy than good old Louis 😉
        I’m sure that it’s wonderful. Lately I’m just hoping someday I can have coffee that’s not lukewarm because I’m chasing the kids around lol

      • I totally forgot about the meeting at the restuarant. You’re right. I was thinking it was faire for some reason. One of my favorites was dinner at the Pomona condo when we discovered we were both Type A’s and they were both Type B’s.
        Okay, you can be Prada — and you’ll get hot coffee as soon as they hit the school ages, which as you know happens sooner than you think. 🙂

      • Yeah we met and ate lunch. It was a little awkward at first lol. Mark says I’m not a type anymore…maybe I’m just not a type a towards him…although I tend to be pretty blunt with him.

  2. I really loved this for so many reasons. I am a mom dating in my mid thirties, not entirely divorced yet, though we should have many years ago. And I, too, have it as a rule to not date a man with children. Of course, it is for a different reason. I fell in love with a man with kids four years ago and his ex made things so unbearable (texting him 500 times in one weekend, at minimum while we were vacationing with our kids) that he eventually ended it. He said he didn’t think he could ever date anyone until she remarried because of her jealousy. I won’t put myself through that again, though I do want more children myself (which is a main reason I am divorcing).
    Anyway, CHEERS! I hope you find someone who is amazing who can devote all his time to you. 🙂

    • Thank you! Exes can affect relationships even when kids are not a factor sadly. I’ve learned that the hard way as well.

      Good luck on the dating, and I hope Prince Charming who wants more kids comes your way soon! 🙂

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