Tag Archives: love

perspectives on step parenting

A week ago, I had an intoxicated exchange at a bar that struck me:  I ran into a colleague and we ended up talking about the fun, dysfunction, bliss and mess of broken and blended families. She’s newly a step parent to one child, and is enjoying out-dressing the soccer moms at weekend tournaments and packing lunches each morning. And she freely admits to being too selfish to want more children than her lone stepson.

When I revealed that I had a crush on a divorced man with full custody of his two daughters, she brought up the obvious fact that –were something like that ever to blossom into a genuine relationship — I’d have myself a whole mess of a family. As in four children. As in doubling my brood. And that’s admittedly a lot. It’s something psychologists might refer to as “blowing up the box” — it seems like it would be manageable when you really want to make it work, but you can’t really ever be fully prepared for that sort of change. You just have to grow and ride it, keeping it on the rails as much as you can.

As far as I’m concerned, it would be an absolute honor and joy to take on the additional responsibility and give the love it takes to step into that role.

I didn’t grow up in the sort of home that was the social center for the neighborhood or my group of friends, but I’ve spent time in those homes and always wanted to create that space for my own children — you know, the one where the children are always coming and going and everyone feels comfortable and safe. The home that always seems full of life and chaos. I’m proud of having established some degree of that comfort and safety for my children and their friends (although it’s difficult to compete with the swimming pool down the street for “social center of the block” status).

Further, even though my ex’s children were older (the youngest of four was nearly an adult when we got together), I relished having the extended family, the relationships, the conversations and offering guidance. It’s a role in which I thrived, and I still value my ex-step-children and their relationships with the half-siblings borne of my womb. I was willing to invest in their futures and was — and still am — always available to them. That sense of responsibility comes very naturally to me, and I felt great clarity in navigating the boundaries and communicating the expectations that came with it all. Which is not to suggest that everything went perfectly, of course…

All of this willingness or eagerness to be in a relationship again, to one day form a larger family, isn’t entirely without parameters… I mean, we’ve all got to be able to fit in some sort of reasonable vehicle and have the incomes to support said family and such. I don’t have a great deal of interest in going back to diaper changing or toddlerhood, either. Still, I think it’s easier for me to imagine being in a relationship with someone who has children than with someone who doesn’t.

In the end, it was interesting to find myself in conversation that heightened my consciousness of my own perspectives and where I’m at now in life. I am generally more happy and content, more open and more ready for that next big love — including more children (though not through birth) — than ever. Bring it!


love triangle

I have a thing for a man at the office. It’s odd, really:  He’s not the tallest nor darkest nor handsomest man around, yet my insides turn to mush when I run into him in an elevator or hallway; I blush and prattle on nervously when he chats me up; I thrill at the sound of his voice…

And I’ve no indication he feels anything for me.

Another guy at the office does have a thing for me. His feelings are, perhaps, every bit as strong and real and enduring as mine for the other. And I don’t feel the same way.

Isn’t that just the way of things? We don’t want what is offered to us but, rather, what is unattainable or impossible. (Note to self:  stop believing this nonsense and perhaps it will go away!)

Far too many daisies have been plucked apart, petal by petal, in my imagination; far too much mental energy consumed with musings and fantasies. This confounding desire has driven me to distraction. It must come to a stop.

Were it only so easily done as said! If only all the mental math and magic I’ve invested had a payout at the end! Yet things are always sweeter and better when they come as a surprise, so I shall let go, step back and trust that higher powers have my best interests at heart.

You have my oath:

I shall stop trying to influence the outcome. I shall be a vessel of feminine energy. I shall stop envisioning him lustfully impaling me atop a credenza…

On second thought, that is a rather racy and enticing vision; it would be masochistic not to allow myself that much.


defenseless

Finding love at my age is a completely different endeavor than I ever might have imagined. I find myself surrounded by swarms of attractive and successful men — and they all seem to be married. Or gay. I guess, in a way, it’s like it seemed in my twenties…times ten. So, naturally, I’ve ventured online.

And the online game is largely one of filtering. Filtering out the jerks and misogynists for sure, but probably adding in a few too many random and irrelevant criteria, as well. Take, for instance, one of the fellows pursuing me now:  I literally have to force myself to keep an open mind because I don’t like the suburb he lives in, the car he drives, his education or his career. Yet if I met a guy who was as nice and good-looking and seemingly emotionally mature in real life, I wouldn’t place quite as much importance on those things.

Online dating simply serves to exacerbate the filtering, the judgments and the show-me-what-you-got attitude. If I wasn’t conscious of approaching dating that way before (because, frankly, I don’t believe that I did), I sure as heck see an unlikeable dimension of myself emerging the more I meet people online. I haven’t made it easy on most of my dates!

But what I’m really getting at is that I can continually add criteria and easily dismiss dozens of men over the course of a year and then, BAM! the guy who’s short, not particularly handsome, doesn’t live in the city and is not even particularly available (given his custody situation) can simply circumvent all of my defenses — all the criteria and filtering and requirements — and get straight to my heart without even trying. Against my better judgment, I’ve developed feelings — for only the second time in a year (and the first was a miserably failed experiment, I can tell you!) — that cause me to open myself to possibility, to hope, to taking risks, to the willingness and, yea, likelihood of making a complete ass of myself.

Instead of that show-me-what-you-got attitude I find myself copping when I meet a man online, I’m evaluating what I have to offer this fellow, wanting to meet half way, seeing him as he is and caring for him anyway — regardless of where he lives or what he drives or what he looks like — and wondering if any of my gifts might appeal to him in the way that he appeals to me. I’ve been described as a strong woman, and I know I can be a hard woman, as well. But I melt in this man’s presence. And that’s a rare enough feeling for me to take notice.

The problem:  despite his having kissed me recently, I have no idea how he feels toward me. Clearly attracted…

I’ve spent entire days agonizing about it — and, by that, I mean the glorious agony of desire or unrequited love — and I’ve come to a decision:  if the opportunity arises, I will tell him how I feel. I’m not going to stress about it; I’m going to keep on being me. I’ll flirt and be fun and kind, but I’m not going to lower my standards or become some sort of contortionist in an effort to reel him in. Perhaps he has feelings for me and perhaps he doesn’t…no matter; there’ s nothing for me to do about it. Regardless, hearing his voice and being playful with him is the best part of my day.

So I will go on feeling completely, utterly defenseless. Honestly, I suspect practicing this genuine, open vulnerability will be good for me.


a declaration to the universe

Sometimes I need to remind myself why I’m putting it all out there — and this is one of those times:

I believe that truly loving and truly being loved is the greatest freedom we humans can achieve. (Contrast this with the attitudes portrayed by singles in the media, that marriage “ties us down” or we “give up our freedom..”) To come home to a place where someone is committed to loving, committed to partnership and where one is emotionally safe to express oneself fully seems healthier and even more natural to me than living singly, even if it is a lot of work. (Dr. Phil calls this “a soft place to land.”) The specific challenge is finding someone matched both in compatibility and desire to create that sort of relationship. “Met and matched,” as a relationship counselor might say.

Further, I believe that creating this safe, supporting home environment is what’s best for our children. So, even as I am trying to be the best parent I can be, it strikes me that the greatest single positive change I could make in parenting my children is to remarry a loving man, create a family and demonstrate an emotionally healthy, committed relationship.

I continue to work toward readiness for that kind of love and partnership — not because I believe I need to be perfect to find it — or even better than I am now, for that matter, but because I think trying to be our best, most loving, most devoted selves is what separates us from the beasts. Without this sort of seeking, what is the point or purpose of our lives?

So, even as I confess to being completely smitten with a fellow who planted his lips on mine a week hence, I continue to keep my focus on what’s important:  finding the man who demonstrates that I am, and a relationship with me is, a priority. To be honest, I don’t automatically suspect this fellow will do that, but I remain hopeful and open to the possibility.


not on my knees

Not long ago, I told one of the guys who’s meandered in and out of my life for the past many months that we needed to have a “come to Jesus.”

He asked hopefully — and via text, I might add, as so many of our important conversations take place these days — if that meant I’d be on my knees.

And that’s exactly the issue with this fellow; he cannot be taken seriously. He claims to have serious interest in me and then, when we eventually start putting together some plans, he texts me that he’ll be over around 11:30pm. That’s booty-call-thirty to most of us.

Men and women can have a few different types of relationships:  they can be siblings, friends, co-workers / colleagues, casual lovers or two people with mutual love and respect who want to grow old together. I realize that some of these types of relationships — and by no means is this list comprehensive — can take place on a sort of continuum. Yet I suspect the type of relationship I’m looking for — long-term, committed and rewarding — is unlikely to begin with an 11:30pm visit to my place.

So our “come to Jesus” conversation was a series of texts over which I basically told him that, if he wants to be taken seriously, he’ll need to change his strategy. Ultimately, I’m no soothsayer; I can’t predict the future, so I might be open to a booty call…one just couldn’t possibly expect it would turn into anything deeper.

This fellow knows me well enough and for long enough so that, if he’d been taking notes, he’d have an entire list of possible restaurants to which to invite me on dates, activities I enjoy, music I’d like to see in concert, etc. to show me that he values me as a human being (and not just a piece of ass). He’s likely to know that I think the best relationships begin as friendship. Hell, he’d probably have the first five years’ worth of birthday and Christmas gifts covered if he’d been listening.

I mean to say I’ve made this easy. I’ve practically handed out written instructions for how to win my heart, in the event he was interested. That’s why it floors me that he wants to come over and “give me a back rub” late at night while proclaiming he views me as the “total package” — brains, beauty, breasts. The most important of those is wasted entirely at that time of day.

At any rate, this last go-round, he ultimately declined to come over after this “discussion,” so no booty call for me. Now he claims he’s going to come over and help me do yard work one day, which is much more likely to win me over…

I may have my fingers crossed this fellow can manage some follow-through, but I won’t be on my knees.


an endless stream of “real winners”

I was reminded again this evening of the fact that I’ve only ever loved one truly decent man…but that’s a story for another day. Before that was an endless stream of what my father would have ironically called “real winners.” I mean, I suppose it’s possible that one of my high school or college boyfriends might have amounted to something. It was too early to tell back then, when I was in a relationship with any of them. Given my track record, I doubt it.

Case in point, my father called earlier, giddy with news. I tried to explain to him that I’d just gotten home from work, was trying to get dinner and had to race off to a sporting event. He was insistent:  I had to Google an ex boyfriend.

With phone to my ear, spatula in hand, jacket half on and half off, I learned that a man I dated more than two decades ago had been arrested for watching porn on his mobile phone while sitting in his car in a parking lot. Apparently, a nearby couple could see what he was watching, so he turned the phone their direction to show them. They promptly called the police, who charged him with lewd behavior, among other things.

Doubled in age, experience and wisdom since the days of spending time in his company, I’m still able to envision him doing exactly as charged:  noticing others noticing him, assuming they were titillated or interested, thinking he was being cute by sharing his guilty pleasure with them. (Why do you think I dumped the guy?!) Ugh…ick. And think of his humiliated wife and children at home!

(Then again, what kind of police state is this where we can’t enjoy porn in the privacy of our own vehicles?! Cue laugh track.)

The thing is, I’m nearly as disgusted with my father, who was so certain I needed to be aware of this pathetic fact about a long-ago boyfriend. My father, it can be said (endearingly, of course) is, himself, a pig. In his defense, he’s been a loving, caring father and a wonderful grandfather. Also in his defense, he doesn’t know any better — he, too, thinks he’s being cute when he flirts and makes suggestive remarks to the young women where he works. What he doesn’t get is that these young women probably go hide in the restroom after he says something like, “that’s okay, if he doesn’t treat you right, I’ll take care of you,” — or maybe they go home and shower. He doesn’t understand that, if they smile and play along, they’re just trying to survive in a hostile environment. He doesn’t understand that his behavior, no matter how innocuous it seems, is harmful. In his defense, he got better briefly, when I first entered the working world and shared with him some of my own workplace challenges.

Still, once sentenced to live out his final earthly chapter in a nursing home, my father could easily become the dirty old man known for patting the asses of the female staff. My maternal grandparents probably once described him as a “real winner,” bless his heart.

It’s no wonder I’ve struggled with my choices in men over the years. But things may be looking up — the latest guy just asked me to accompany him to the opera. I know it’s no testament to character, but I’m going to take it as — at least — a sign of good taste. And by good, I mean better-than-porn-in-a-parked-car good.


are you available? or attached?

Long ago, I wrote a post entitled “are you available?” Back then, I was musing about whether or not the people I was meeting and encountering were truly available to be in a relationship with me.

I’ve recently learned of a new way of viewing this idea… You see, I had the opportunity to indulge in a free audiobook called “Attachment:  The New Science of Adult Attachment and How it Can Help You Find — and Keep — Love” by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. While I’m not all the way through yet, I’m already planning to buy the book in print, so that I can take the assessments and use it as a workbook or manual. In addition to quizzes of sorts, I’ve already found a great deal of useful advice, as well as enormously useful insights that would likely have prevented most — if not all — of my worst relationship debacles, including the latest disaster.

(Downton Abbey helps, too, I find…if I’d known how to manage men as Lady Mary does, I’d probably be better situated at present.)

The book focuses on three degrees or styles of attachment:  the secure and two types of insecure, anxious and avoidant. It’s been fun to listen to the audio as I recall past relationships and how my or my partner’s behaviors have fit into these types or dynamics. I already feel infinitely wiser as I embark on my search… in fact, now I know what I’ve typically been drawn to and how to recognize right away those who are clearly avoidant, or unable to meet my emotional needs.

Let me know if you’ve read it and what you learned.


just like that, it happened!

At first I was in denial. I resisted for an awfully long time. And then suddenly, it happened:  I fell hard and fast. That’s right, I’m in love again!

It all started with my friends on Facebook, ooh-ing and aah-ing and cooing. The more I heard, the more I had an inkling that there was a lot to like. And then one night, while curled in bed with my iPad, the recommendation from Netflix pushed me over the edge. Finally, I succumbed to temptation:  I clicked “play”…and I was immediately transfixed by the Grantham family and Downton Abbey.

I mean, I’ve always enjoyed the works of Victorian England writers – the Brontes, Edith Wharton, etc. and I can’t deny a fondness for the Queen’s colorful English…I’ve recently found many occasions to use dramatic words like “deplorable,” “ghastly” and (accompanied, of course, by a raised eyebrow) the phrase, “Some manners would not go amiss.”

I watched the entire first season that night, completely drawn into the scenery, costumes and stories of the Downton aristocrats and servants. I felt as though I’d been admitted to a special club — a group of millions of viewers who are likely equally smitten with Cousin Matthew and envious of Lady Mary’s uncanny knack for always saying exactly the right thing in any given circumstance.

Certainly not all characters are equal, but it is a delight to watch the family weather various challenges, from the Titanic’s sinking (and loss of an heir) to war and death, to new economic realities. We watch as Robert, ahem — Lord Grantham — the family’s patriarch, transforms from a strong leader to a man hopelessly clinging to past glory. (For those of you who follow here, you’ll note that the middle-aged white man, unable to adapt or reinvent himself and grown bitter, is no stranger to the author of this blog.) We watch how Cora manages him masterfully.

And then there are the servants…

So between the mostly excellent writing, acting, scenery, costumes, cinematography and lessons in managing men, I eagerly await tonight’s episode – and the words and phrases whose use it will likely inspire.


love me some v-day

I love me some V-day!

Even though I’m currently single (and refused to give that one guy who’s pursuing me my address so that he could deliver a surprise to my house), I am a romantic at heart and simply love the whole notion of an entire day dedicated to the celebration of love! What could be better?

Some folks skeptically call it a Hallmark holiday — and perhaps that’s true. Still, who cares who made it up or why? I love love, and any opportunity to blather on about it is peachy in my mind.

Another friend calls it “the day before the candy goes on sale.” I love that, too!

In my ideal life, I am celebrating with a lover out at one of the most romantic and cozy spots in the city. Perhaps after we’re close / committed, it’s a romantic night in, at home. Or, when the children are gone, a weekend getaway.

At any rate, I don’t care about those things at this moment. I am simply happy being a solo explorer with much love in my life, grateful children (who were surprised with books and chocolate this morning) and knowing I’m on the right path to find the mate who will honor and cherish me.

So tonight my little family will celebrate by sorting the recycling…and maybe grabbing a bite out. Can’t you just feel the romance?!

p.s. Yes, my ex boyfriend has already sent a loving text my way.


what goes unsaid

As I’ve mentioned, my ex boyfriend and I have been a bit chatty lately, occasionally meeting for coffee and such. It’s certainly pleasant to reconnect, but there’s more:  hearing his voice, spending time with him — it does send my imagination to spinning.

Probably he senses this:  after all, he’s a smart man. And so he goes on, telling me of his happy new relationship — the milestones, the shared experiences, how crazy she is for him…

The one thing he’s failed to express is how crazy he is for her.

Do you reckon that’s to spare my feelings? Or for some other reason…?