You Can Just Call Me Badass

Life has been busy lately between work, kids and home life, and freelance writing. It’s been so busy, in fact, that I haven’t sat down to write out of pleasure in a while. I’ve had some things on my mind lately, and I figured it was time to sit down and bang this post out.

Most people know how difficult it is dating as a single parent. In fact, if you don’t know this, I’m going to assume you live under a rock—a very large, dense rock at that. It’s HARD. To find someone, fall in love, blend families, and then live life in blissful peace is the equivalent of our modern-day fairytale because it’s pretty rare that that’s how it works out.

One reason dating is so difficult is because we live in a society that encourages fast paced living, self-indulgence, and frequent changes. You don’t like your car? Trade it in and get a new one! Tired of your job? Quit and find a different one! Aren’t happy in your relationship/marriage? Leave and find a new one! It’s no wonder that there are so many single parents and broken families out there. Dating is hard enough without adding in children’s laundry, daily football practice, piano lessons, dirty faces, and whines of “Moooommmmyy” or “Daaaaddddyy” in the middle of first and second dates and those first few sweet and yet awkward phone calls.

I personally have had a couple serious relationships after my marriage with my children’s father ended, and I’ve also had some time casually dating. Let me tell you what, that shit sucks! In fact, I was seeing someone last year and we were a few dates in. . .and then he witnessed my son have a rather large meltdown. Apparently that was enough for him because the next day, he texted me and said he needed to “take a step back.” So, back into the dating pool I went.

At this point, I was just over the whole thing. I wasn’t looking for casual sex, but that seemed to be all that was desired on all of the popular dating apps. I was a single mom of 3 teenagers, working 2 jobs to make ends meet, and was tired in every way possible. I wanted to find a partner, but it was not going to be through a dating website, and I’d lost pretty much all faith that it would happen at all. Then, a miracle happened. I met B.

We had a lot in common and much that was different too. While I had been in the dating game for a while (around 7 years since I had split with my ex-husband), he was brand new to dating. There were speed bumps and signs that pointed to maybe we shouldn’t get involved, but we were both enamored from the beginning, and so we pushed forward anyway and decided to become an official couple. In that decision, we have obviously become involved with each other’s children. Have I mentioned yet that dating as a single parent is hard…?

When you are in a brand new relationship, it’s easy to get lost in the stars in your eyes and the mush in your heart, but let’s face it, real life doesn’t stop just because you’re falling in love, and one giant reality is children.

When B and I met, my children were 15, 14, and almost 13. Teenagers are hard enough, but as I mentioned before, I have one kiddo that tends to make men turn tail and run. My son is an amazing person and full of charm and charisma normally, but in his hard moments, he is a handful to say the least. I love him and all of my children with all that I am, but I’m more than a mom. I am a woman and I have needs that go beyond my children. I need to be loved, to be desired, to be held, to be listened to, to be emotionally supported, and to be paid attention to from another adult. I never would want to put my children on the back burner, but I wanted a partner in my life too. But if I said that I wasn’t scared as hell about finding someone who fit everything I needed AND was able to handle my son (and children in general), I’d be lying my cute little skirt off. To make it even harder, I was downright terrified that I would fall in love, become vulnerable, let my children fall in love and become vulnerable, and then go through yet another heartache together again.

For B, he was pretty much brand new out of his failed marriage. He was still understandably hurting, tender, and guarded. His 2 children are much younger than mine and he feared not only being hurt in the same ways his ex had hurt him, but he naturally feared his children would get hurt too. They are so young that dating and then enduring another breakup would be so difficult for them to understand. He didn’t want to go through pain again, and he didn’t want his children to experience anymore pain. All of this is totally normal.

So there we were, 2 messes, 2 families, 2 grown up hearts, and 5 young hearts being meshed together. We were scared and yet we moved fairly fast in many ways because…well, LOVE! Before we knew it, we were neck-deep in this appointment, that school event, diapers and potty training, sibling rivalry, dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping together.

B has handled my son’s meltdowns with amazing patience. I have changed his son’s diapers and helped potty train. He has regularly picked up my children from their bus stop and listened with love and support to me complain about my children’s father not paying child support. I have cleaned up his children’s vomit from the stomach flu and listened to him with love and support complain everything unfair at his job. He relates to my children in a way no one ever has and provides support to them. We plan birthdays and holidays together, we discuss parenting, discipline, and consequences together, and we work out our finances to maintain our home and provide for our children—all together. He lifts me up with his silliness and humor, and I keep him grounded with my seriousness, and we navigate life this way TOGETHER.

So, while I’ve rambled a long time about my own personal experience at dating as a single parent, I’m now getting to my real point. To my children, B is just B. He is Mama’s boyfriend. To B’s children, I am just Niki. I am Daddy’s girlfriend. Language evolves over time, and it wasn’t that long ago that people didn’t raise families and cohabit in one household without being married. Because of this, there is no in between word for what B and I are to each other’s children. We are not step parents; we haven’t quite earned that title yet, but we are so much more than just our children’s parent’s significant other. I know there are so many people all over that also fall into this category. So I think there needs to be a word invented that covers those of us in the middle area. When you wipe butts, drive to appointments, cook, get in the middle of kids fighting, deal with bed wetting, buy clothing, and handle pretty much every aspect of parenting for your partner’s children, you are more than just a girl/boyfriend.

We were recently at B’s child’s birthday party and as I was telling people about all of the last minute errand running, putting together presents, and all of the other chaos that happens to all parents right before big events like this, I mentioned my desire for that word and to write this blog post about it.

B suddenly looked over and said, “There is a word already.” I was shocked and thought he knew something I didn’t.

“What is it then?” I questioned.

He then looked me in the eye and said, “Badass. You’re a badass, and so am I.”

And you know what? He’s totally right. It’s not quite the word I was looking for, but it couldn’t be more accurate. We. Are. Badasses.

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Thrivin’ Survivor, That Is Me

*Repost from old blog site*

You’d think that knowing that I am strong, plus surviving some of the hardest things one could experience in life would automatically make me fearless, right? Wrong.

I’m facing a breakup. Lord knows that isn’t easy. After almost 3 years of dedication, 2 sets of children, and 1 combined household, I’m pretty much dreading “the talk” happening. How is that though? How is that so scary when I have been through so much—and survived?!

I’ve been sexually abused multiple times since I was a kid. I have had children as a teenager, gotten married a week after I turned 17 to a man that turned into a raging, abusive drug addict, and endured several years of mental, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse during that marriage. I have watched my then husband overdose, almost die, and recuperate—only to watch it happen all over again. I have battled chronic pain more than half my life that is at times crippling. I have held my infant daughter as her life support was turned off and she took her last breath, battled CPS, and pieced my life back together after meth. I have gotten through being homeless, jobless, and broke. I have battled court systems. I have battled people that wish me harm. And I have battled my own inner demons.

Nothing quite feels as terrifying as one’s husband hitting her in a rage, making her fear and know her life is in danger. Nothing feels as heartbreaking as laying one’s child on a hospital bed and turning away knowing one will never get to pick her baby up again and smell her scent, feel her warmth, nurture her at her breast, or hear her sweet cry again. Nothing is as hard as having to fight for one’s children against a government agency with a vendetta. And yet, I’ve been through all of that and survived and come out on top. I’ve not just survived, but I have thrived!

Even with that being the short list, I’m reading back over it and now sitting here wondering, how the hell am I afraid of a little breakup??? I need to just face it head on. Ready, set, go. 3, 2, 1, takeoff. Get it done, woman. There’s no way in hell that this is what suddenly breaks me! I am STRONG! I am powerful! I am woman—HEAR ME ROAR!!

“Man, I just love…”

I laid in bed at 11 o’clock last Saturday night and listened to the wind howl outside. I’ve always been soothed by storms and listening to it that night reminded me of an early memory from my childhood.

 

I must have been about 3 years old and I was awake in the early morning before my mom was. It was windy outside and as I sat on the couch with my face in the window, I was trying to figure out how it was that I could hear that wind howling through the house. I remember feeling a twinge of fear at how big the weather was and how small it made me seem. More than fear though, I felt comfort deep in my soul. That feeling has stayed with me even now in my 30’s. There’s something about the chaos of storms that soothes whatever chaos I have going on inside me. To me, storms are a reminder that I’m in control of so little in this world, I’m like a speck of sand in the desert, and that reminder calms me.

 

Lying in bed that night, with the wind in one ear and the soft snoring of my love in the other, I felt total peace in my heart. I felt an overwhelming calm, happiness, and contentedness. So much in my life right now is falling into place. Knowing all the children were cozy, sleeping in their beds, knowing I had no stress to worry about in that moment, being soothed by the wind storm outside, and enjoying that delicious feeling of comfort at the warmth of my sweetheart next to me, I knew I would later sit down to write a blog post about all the happy things going on right now.

 

*****

 

He finally said it. He said those 3 magic words I’ve been waiting almost 5 months to hear from him. As the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, I’ve yearned for him to acknowledge love in his heart for me. I was totally head over heels, crazy in love by the time we were a few weeks in, but he was not. His pain was still fresh and his guard was high. This was something I totally understood, but it didn’t make me feel any less anxious for it. As time went on, I would have moments that would stop me in my tracks and I would be so filled with love and think to myself, “Man, I just love him so much.” This made me a little fearful that I was so completely in and yet I was unsure of what was going on in his head. I became fearful that I was going to get my heart broken.

 

You see, I’ve never in my entire life been in a relationship where it just felt so right. He made it so damn easy to fall for him and when I got scared, I started wondering if I was going to have to prepare for the heartache of a lifetime. I was so confused. He wasn’t telling me he loves me, but his actions definitely were. B is more sweet and tender with me than I’ve ever experienced in a romantic relationship in my entire life. The moments he would look lovingly tuck my hair behind my ear, or the way he would caress my skin without thinking while we were watching a movie, or even just the way I would look up and catch him looking at me–all of it screamed love. The only thing that didn’t was his own mouth. I allowed myself to become fearful despite that whole “actions speak louder than words” thing that should have given me reassurance. But let’s face it, anyone who knows me personally and anyone who reads these blogs knows that I am an animal driven by emotion and words. I can’t just feel things, I have to tell people what I feel. Constantly.

 

A couple weeks ago, B and I had a misunderstanding that hurt my feelings. Not because he was mean or intentionally hurtful, but once again, because of my own emotional intensity. I panicked and suddenly was thinking of all the worst case scenarios. I sat at work and wrote out an email to him that explained that I know I’m intense and I know that he cares and I will work on trying to relax a little. Instead of being annoyed with my sensitivity, he reminded me that he’s not going anywhere, that he likes me being me and doesn’t want me to try to change my need to talk about my feelings, and he gave me reassurance in general. He was kind and sweet and once again, made me sit back and think, “Man, I just love him so much.”

 

That conversation helped me to greatly relax. It was the reassurance that I needed to know he may not be proclaiming love to me, but he’s not going anywhere. We’ve had several tender moments since then, a fabulous date day, and two weekends in a row of amazing-ness. The most amazing part though, was waking up early on a Friday morning to get ready for work just like any other normal weekday. There was nothing special about this day, or at least there wasn’t until I got a text from him…

 

“Moonshine Niki…”

 

“Yes?” I asked, and then pretty much held my breath somehow knowing what was coming next.

 

“I love you, I really do.”

 

I sat there staring at my phone dumbfounded at the random revelation. I didn’t know what to say. We’ve had moments in the past where I’ve told him I don’t want him to feel pressured, but I can’t always hold it inside, and I confess my love for him. He always would smile sweetly and wrap me tightly in his arms and kiss me. But suddenly in that moment, I just couldn’t say I love you too. I was at a loss for words (something that is ~extremely~ rare for me) and I just smiled at my phone with what I’m sure was a ridiculous grin. I was filled with joy and happiness. We fell back into our regular texting after that, but I was on an intense high the entire day from it. I told him I’m anxious to be wrapped in his arms and have him look me in the eye and tell me in person. He promised it would happen soon.

 

*****

 

This last weekend was a “Littles Weekend” meaning that B had his children for the weekend. I call them the Littles because my children are teenagers and his are small. It’s a cute, affectionate name for them that distinguishes which kids I’m referring to without claiming “mine” or “yours”.

 

Anyone that has ever had (or even been around) a blended family knows that dating as single parents is not easy. There have been tough moments as far as all of the children go and we never really know what we’re going to get. But every Littles Weekend that happens, we bond more and more and we have fun. This last weekend was no different.

 

On Saturday morning, we did projects and then went to the grocery store to pick up some stuff for lunch. After loading the children and the groceries up to leave, it was in that parking lot as we were getting ready to leave that B randomly leaned in, hugged me, and said “I love you” out of the blue. Nothing else about that moment was romantic. It was just normal, everyday life stuff, and he suddenly made it magical. My heart soared.

 

I spent the weekend on Cloud 9 and was truly happy. There was lots of fun had and I enjoyed the little moments of silliness and laughter. Everything from painting projects, to snuggling a sleepy little one as he wakes up from nap, to just watching the Littles play, I felt full of bliss. I wanted the weekend to continue forever.

 

As we drove home from the kid swap on Sunday, I already was thinking of what we could do on the next Littles Weekend. I now find my heart missing them when they are with their mom. For the first time since B and I started dating, the Littles are on my mind all the time, every day.

 

I sat in my car on my lunch break yesterday and suddenly realized how much I have feelings growing in my heart for those babies. I’ve been guarded with my feelings for them because of the previous uncertainty with B. We’ve always had fun and done projects, they’ve always had stability and consistency with me, and I’ve always been interactive with them, but I’ve worked hard to keep my emotions in check with them. Watching the clouds cross the sky yesterday as I pondered all of the recent changes, I realized that B finally professing love for me subconsciously gave me permission to love his children.

 

In that moment, I thought to myself, “Man, I just love them so much…”