I find myself tackling a situation I never thought I'd have to tackle in my life. Introducing my kids to my boyfriend. Oy. I didn't think my kids would ever have to see me "with" a man other than their father. I didn't even HOPE for that. I just assumed it. It wasn't a fully formed thought because it was unnecessary. It just was. We were a family (albeit an unhappy one). We chose each other (the parents, not the kids). We were a unit. Well...that's not where I find myself these days.
It has caused me no small degree of disquiet, butterflies, angst, hesitation... the thought of introducing first the idea of mom having a boyfriend to my boys, and then the actual boyfriend himself. But it was important to me to be straightforward and honest with them in as much as is reasonable with children. To not bring some dude around - unexplained. That would be more confusing for them, was my line of thinking. Who's this dude looking at my mom with googly eyes? Who's this guy holding mom's hand? Nah. Not for me.
The "experts" say: introduce the concept of a man before the reality of one. I screwed that up. They met him once or twice as my friend. It had seemed to go well. But now I had to come clean.
Since I screwed the pooch on the expert recommendation and I haven't followed a lot of the rules so far, I found a slightly different way that worked for me. With a hefty dose of jitters and an even heftier dose of gumption, and just a moderate dose of composure, I raised the subject with them over the holidays. After an afternoon at the Contemporary Jewish Museum learning about Harry Houdini's inconceivable, utterly magical capers, we sat down for a mid-afternoon snack of cream puffs and hot chocolate. I worked up my nerve. I almost didn't do it. But then, as I approach all things, I forged ahead, the decision having been made.
"So...I have to talk to you guys about something."
"Ok mom, what's up," asks Virgil.
"Well...mom got asked on a date!" Big forced smile, too much teeth. Transition to nose scrunched, eyebrows raised in the form of a question.
Their eyes go wide. "Yeah. Who is he? When is it? Where are you going?" Alternating questions. Practical to the end.
"Well we already went. His name is Steven. Remember him? You met him. Not the gay one. The other one. We've gone on a few dates already and I like him."
Silence. But no crying.
"He has three kids," I offer. Something in their wheelhouse. Dating, especially mid-life post divorced dating, perhaps a tad beyond their grasp.
"Oh! Can we meet them? How old are they?" asks Wyatt.
Back to the cream puffs. I need to push ahead. I'm not quite done my pronouncement. I'm trying to open the door to an introduction. To the fact that he's probably going to be around quite a bit.
"How would you feel if he became my boyfriend, maybe one day?"
"That's cool." Punctuated with his pleaser smile, says Virgil.
"You too, Wyatt? Cool?"
"Sure. What should we do now? Can we watch a movie tonight?"
Ok so that went fine. Are they processing? Do they just not want to talk about it? Is it truly no big deal because nearly half their friends have step parents? The concept of reconfigured families is not foreign to them. Just leave it alone, Jen. You raised it, introduced the idea. We can talk more later. Bits and pieces, bits and pieces. The story will add up with time.
So that was that. Easy peasy. Since then, they've seen him several times. They met his kids yesterday for an afternoon at Malibu Grand Prix racetrack (video games, go carts, miniature golf). Surely the fun of the day made it all that much easier. While the kids were shy at first, checking each other out, they were poking at each other by the end of the afternoon.
Is it possible this could go smoothly? My therapist tells me that it is not at all uncommon for a boyfriend to be graciously and enthusiastically accepted by the kids. He says generally the issues arise when mom picks a douche bag (my word, not his). Which makes sense. If you pick a nice guy, why wouldn't the kids be like: ok. He's nice. What do you want to do now?
And here we are. Boyfriend idea introduced. Boyfriend himself introduced. Kids not losing their minds, in fact quite the opposite. And so, the situation I never thought I'd find myself in, I am in.
And all is fine.