Golly gosh and bugger me backwards. I've only gone a bagged myself a man. He's got all his own teeth, a full head of hair, takes his shoes off upon entering and brings flowers. Ye....es, he is still married (separated though) and no....o he doesn't have his own place and ye....es he probably is on the rebound from a horrendous split but NONETHELESS - he's mine.
I met him off the internetascope. First meeting: crowded bar, my town. Second meeting, crowded pub, my town. Third date: gig, his town.
Fourth: my house.
Fifth: my house.
You'll have noticed that he comes to me a lot. And that's because going to his town, an hour away, is almost impossible. In fact, when you've got children, dating is almost impossible full stop.
My kids, teen and tween, are on the cusp of being ok to be left for a couple of hours. Which I did for the first and second date. But the dates were on school nights, and so on both occasions, I pulled my Cinderella act at 9pm and skiddadled back to my offspring, making sure that they hadn't pulled each others' arms off or set the house on fire. I couldn't really relax on the date and what's worse - I couldn't drink.
You might ask why I didn't get a babysitter. Well, I did for date 3, which turned out to be a mammoth ask, as I was away from 7 til 12 (on a school night). I was so grateful to my friend that I practically offered to give her my soul in recompense for my dirty-stoppoutedness.
So here's the problem. I can't sensibly leave my children on their own. And yet I can't afford to pay for babysitters, and I don't have the ability to repay friends who babysit for me.
So how on earth are you supposed to date a man?
The practical answer is: bring him to your home. Which brings me to the extremely long-winded point of this post.
When should you introduce your boyfriend to your children?
I've done my research, and it backs up what my own common sense is saying: don't introduce him until you're sure. You're potentially setting a bomb off in your children's' lives; be sure first. Be sure.
And yet. How the eff are you supposed to keep leaving your children to go on dates in the first place? Unless, of course, you have extremely understanding parents living nearby, OR have a limitless wallet, AND are ok with leaving your children in the evenings on a fairly regular basis. (I, I've discovered, am not.)
The only solution is, once you've vetted him for possible axe-murderer tendencies, to bring him back home. Children and all.
Now. I know that red flashing lights have been set off. All the advice is to take months to decide that this is THE ONE - and then do the introductions. And I know that I may well be wrong, and this may come and bite me in the arse in ten years. I know all this. But my logic is thus:
1. My kids know I am dating. They are old enough to understand what this means - ie, that I am meeting men in order to 'try them out'. To see if he and I hit it off.
2. However, they are FULLY ASSURED that I love them first, they come first, I think of them first, that basically THEY WIN when it comes to my life.
3. My date doesn't sleep over when they're in the house.
4. Also, until the kids are in bed, the door where I am (with the date) and them (the kids) is always open. I want them to know that we are just talking.
5. I don't want them to feel uncomfortable in their own home, and am positioning this man as a 'friend' - at least for now.
And having said all of that, I have so far brought home only two men in two years. It is hard to find a man that seems to suit; it is hard to arrange to go out on a date. By the time these mountains have been climbed, you realise that the fact you've managed to meet anybody at all that you vaguely like is a bleedin miracle.
But as I'm writing this, I'm wondering if I'm just being selfish and actually, what I'm doing is putting my own needs above the needs of my children. Thing is, I know that I need to be careful. And I strongly feel that my personal life shouldn't be put on hold until my children have flown the nest. That a strategy of honesty, reassurance and love is actually ok.
Perhaps. Perhaps. Perhaps.