Dating as an adult is complicated, point-blank. When you’re young, you date around. You meet people through mutual friends, you meet people at bars, you even go back to rekindling things with people you kissed at a party in high school.
But, when you’re single in your later years, there’s so much more at stake. You want to find someone to settle down with, to build a family with, and grow alongside. It’s much more pressure and definitely something that you meticulously think about. Most people set rules for themselves; guidelines they want to abide by. Some people want to date someone who practices the same religion, so if they have kids they can be raised a certain way. Others want to date someone with specific goals and careers.
And then there are the rules of whom you will NOT date. Not wanting to date a smoker. Not wanting to date someone who has a roommate (especially if that roommate is their mother). Not wanting to date someone with kids.
The latter was my rule. When I re-entered the dating world in my late 20s, ready to find someone to settle down with and build a life with, I said “no kids.”
It’s not that I don’t love kids, because I do. I love them. I’ve raised my niece and nephew alongside my sister. I’m a teacher full time. Kids are my life.
I just never wanted to be the person who had to fit into a narrative of being a step mother. Kids grow up with so many storylines where the stepmother is evil, cruel, angry, and gold diggers. They’re only with their dad for money or fame. And, they never care or love the kids.
So, I said to myself: no kids.
And, then I met someone who I had the most undeniable chemistry with. Like fireworks; lightning. We just complemented each other so well, and that was all over the phone before we even met.
Our first date was electric. The kind of love you read about in novels. I melted into him, a puzzle piece that was made alongside his, lost in the abyss of the universe struggling to find our way back. I still say to this day, we were lovers in a past life.
But, on our first date, he told me the one thing I didn’t expect: he has a daughter.
The questions and doubts came pouring out of me like an eruption of lava in a volcano. Being with someone who has a child is an entirely different journey within itself. One I had never traveled and didn’t have a map for. I was apprehensive and nervous.
I had to ask myself: do I walk away from this spark? Or, do I give up on my rule and go for it?
I can’t lie, the beginning was hard. I was a new person, a new stranger in this life of theirs that wasn’t her mother. But as all situations are different, I would later learn that our relationship, hers and mine, was going to be imperative to her. Because I would become her mom down the road.
In the beginning, that’s not something I had known or anticipated. But saying yes and taking the plunge is the greatest decision I have ever made.
Who knew that a child, who is not my own, would make such a life-changing and drastic impact on my life? I have changed over the last two years in ways I can’t explain in words. But in ways I am so profoundly proud of. Because I am stepping up to raise someone else’s child, and know that every day, she will rely on me and look to me.
And I love her, just as much as I love her dad, if not in equal parts. It’s a journey I was so unprepared for, but one I cannot wait to keep traveling.
Lex Gabrielle is a lifestyle writer who believes in messy buns and 3+ cups of coffee a day. When she’s not writing, she teaches high school English, journalism, and creative writing. You can see more of her work at www.lexgabrielle.com.