Saturday, 20 August 2011

Opening Hearts- #Reverb11

 @LetsReverb August Prompt:

Describe an unexpected moment, activity, sighting or conversation that touched you during July.

Before we landed in America in July I made a decision.  I wanted to be open to possibilities, to love, to life.

I’ve been a single parent for two years and have stuck with my resolution to keep (what exists of) my romantic life separate from family life.  I don’t want my children confused by adult relationships which may not work out.   

Friends share my viewpoint.  One single mom recently remarked, “I feel like I live a double life.  There’s life with my daughters most of the time.  Then there’s life with my boyfriend when the kids aren’t with me.” 

It’s not unusual for single parents to compartmentalize, and I accepted that it’s probably for the best.  However, someone I value a lot challenged this position last spring.  He’s a retired psychotherapist, trained with a Jungian orientation.  Sometimes he helps me understand my dreams. 

“Have you met someone?” he asked after I’d told him of my latest night wanderings (about a wooden wardrobe, clothes, and a mirror of all things!).
He raised his brows, a twinkle in his eyes, and said, “This dream is a good omen.  Someone’s coming, just wait.”  

We went on to have a conversation about my resistance to fully welcoming a new man into my life.  I explained that the only way I’d allow a man to meet my children was if I was 100% sure about our relationship.  

“That’s a cop out.” 

His comment surprised me, and I’ve been chewing on it ever since.  It seems I’ve been holding out for certainty, which is of course unrealistic.  I can’t predict how I’ll be in 5 years, let alone someone else.  All relationships change with time and there’s no way of sure proofing that any will last.  As much as I’d like to protect myself and my children from loss and pain, it would be a disservice to everyone to be closed off from life.

It turns out my friend was right.  Someone amazing has unexpectedly arrived in my life, despite an ocean between us.  We’ve known each other since we were teenagers and now find ourselves in similar situations.  He’s a strong, capable man, with good values and a generous heart.  I don’t know how any woman could resist him! 

Though I enjoyed corresponding with him from a distance, I had no idea what it would be like hanging out with our children in tow.  Would our kids even get along? 

On our first day together we went to the zoo.  It was hot and tiring.  By the end of the afternoon, my daughter started complaining.  I carried her uphill for a while but quickly reached my limit.  Her whining resumed when I put her back down.  

“Do you want me to give you a lift?”  DJ asked. 

I was sure my daughter would say no since she’s slow to warm to most people.  When she nodded, I had to keep my jaw from dropping.  The moment he lifted her onto his broad shoulders, while she smiled shyly from above, my resistance dissolved. It was surprising how deeply touched I felt seeing a man behaving kindly towards my children, even though he’s not their dad.

We had a wonderful summer taking trips together, and our children bonded as much as we did.  I expected the kids to be jealous of our budding romance, but mostly I think they enjoyed seeing their parents so happy.  My fears seem silly now.  What was I so afraid of? The kids want to be pen pals and can’t wait to mail their first care package.

Our vacation scrapbook is filled with images of roller skating, canoeing, swimming, camping, and hiking together.  We’ve returned to Ireland, and I don’t know when we’ll all meet again; for now our memories are contained within pages, our hopes within our hearts.  

The future is unknown, but it’s possible we’ll somehow be able to make things work out.  In this moment, I’m simply filled with gratitude for unexpected gifts.

Big hugs,


  1. I think knowing how someone would behave around your children is great. I'm not in your shoes, but I was raised by a single mother for most of my childhood. There were men who weren't keepers because they weren't exactly kid-friendly, but the ones who involved my sister and me made a good impression on the three of us. I agree that there's no need to live two separate lives.

    Long distance can be a pain, but it can work. Brian and I spent the first year of our relationship long distance. It makes you appreciate email and instant messaging that much more.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Meredith. I was raised by a single mom too. However, she didn't date anyone. That decision can create other issues for children of single parents. I didn't have role models to learn from or a clear picture of what a healthy relationship could be like between a man and woman.

    You made a great point. It's important to know how someone will influence the kids. Why emotionally invest in someone unwilling to embrace the whole family? If a man can't relate well to my children, there's really no way of building a future together.

    Long distance is definitely hard! If a connection is strong, I think it's still worth pursuing a relationship. It's great to hear you and your husband made it work! And you're right regarding email, IM, skype, etc... These days we have so many ways of keeping in touch. Suddenly I'm checking my inbox with zest! ;)

  3. Wow, found this on reverb just now...utterly beautiful and so open and vulnerable. Thank you x Selina

  4. Thanks for your comment, Selina. It means a lot to me. Sometimes I question my openness; it's helpful to know you found beauty in it. xo Robin


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