No Kids? No Sir: I’m Dating Men With Children, Only
by Nadine Graham
When you get married and have children — or depending on your situation, the kids may come first — you and your partner have agreed to stay together for the long haul…until y’all break up. Things happen and people may grow apart, fall out of love and now instead of simply hearing the horror tales from your girls on the front lines, you find yourself right alongside them, albeit reluctantly at first.
There’s something to be said about that first month apart. If you’re fairly intuitive, the thought of being out in the dating game has crossed your mind even before the separation even took hold. Your single friends have prepped you for this very moment. You shook your head when they shared their stories and thanked the heavens that you weren’t single. And now, here you are.
Everyone has their list of preferences — some more superficial than others. My thing has never been based on height, weight or complexion — though I do love a tall, dark-skinned man. But I knew, even in my relationship, that two children would be my absolute limit. When the second kid came along, my obstetrician asked if I’d reconsidered wanting my tubes tied at 27-years-old. He looked at me with pleading eyes. My husband sat close by with the same expression. I stared back in disbelief that a man who barely knew me and another that knew me all too well, would appear so incredulous at the idea that I would be done having kids.
My family thought the same:
“What if you break up?,” they’d lament. “What if the next man you’re with doesn’t have any children? You’d have to give him one, otherwise, that’d just be selfish. Life is long, you never know what can happen.”
My response? “Whoever I end up with, he’d better have his own damn kids. The shop is closed.” Then I’d chuckle. “What was he doing while the rest of us were out having babies?”
Understand, I’m no fool. I know all about the beefing baby mothers and the nonsensical back-and-forthing some guys tend to engage in with them. I totally get that some men simply can’t let go of their children’s mother — even, and sometimes especially, after the dissolution of their relationship. As it is with a lot of brothers, there’s a double-standard there: he’s allowed to move on, she isn’t though. So as soon as you two start to build and he hears that she’s taking her own steps in moving on, he’s preoccupied with what ‘baby moms’ is up to and why in the hell is she out on dates.
Or even adversely, he’s gotten her out of his system, you two are getting serious and she’s at the movie theater behind y’all one Saturday evening, ready to scrap in the parking lot with the babies in tow.
Neither of these are great situations but here’s the thing:
Besides hitting my cap with kids, I simply want to be with someone who can understand what it is to be a parent. The moment — and I swear by this — the moment you see your child’s face in the hospital, all bunched up from the swaddling, the entire game as you know it, changes. You’d die for this little person you just met with the antibiotic ointment on their eyelids. So there’s a connection within that feeling.
Some guy without kids just wouldn’t get it. He’s going to call in the middle of the night and ask that you run across town for a quickie. He’s going to be irritated at the constant interruptions in conversation by shrill screams for ice cream. Maybe he’ll be well-off and well-intentioned and grow tired of dealing with the fact that he can’t vacation with you in the middle of the week while school is in. That last one is a doozie.
These guys are in a different space. One that I haven’t seen in more than a decade. So yes, I’m highly reluctant to seriously date a guy without kids. I’ll take the potential baby mama drama over having to explain the value of my children to a man that has no idea what I’m even talking about.
How do you feel about dating men with children?