As a Christian Single, I #DateDifferently

 

Two conversations with two different friends – one a man, the other a woman – held at two different times but were about the same topic. They both wanted to talk to me (of all people) about dating and the future and singlehood and the one and “How will we know?”

My answer was the same to all of the questions. “I have no clue.” In one case, I may have gotten even a little nervous and jumpy and asked, “Wait…what? You want to ask me my thoughts on dating? Really? Are you sure?”

Part of the reason I become uncomfortable talking about dating is I look at it completely differently than I did in the past. In total transparency, I look at it completely differently than a lot of my friends. My Christian friends.

It’s hard to navigate the world of dating in our over-sexualized, want-it-now, digital society.

When I become transparent about my thoughts on dating and think about the mistakes I’ve made in the past when it comes to dating, I realize that many of the single people I know are approaching dating through the societal lenses colored by movies and fairy tales.

In order for us to get different results, we have to have a different approach. Different actions require different thoughts.

Even when it feels like everyone we know is sleeping together, doing everything but sleeping together, living together, Netflix and chilling, and hooking up because it’s cuffing season. Continue reading

Single Mom it is!

single mom embraces her title

I’ve been divorced since 2007. For most of those years, I rejected the term single mom, instead opting to be labeled a divorced mom. In the past, the term single mom has held such negative connotations to me that I couldn’t stand it. Matter of fact, I wrote about it two years ago and I believe my exact words were, “If there is one term I despise, it is the term “single mom.”

My previous writings went on to say “my life is difficult to manage with three kids…but whose isn’t? There is an African Proverb that says, It takes a village to raise a child. That statement is for everyone. Married, single, gay, straight…everyone who has children needs to understand that.” But the fact still remains that my marital status is single and I am a mom — thus the fitting term being, I am a single mom. Even if it sometimes makes my skin crawl.

Years ago I thought that single parenting suggested my kids don’t have a father, don’t know their father, never see their father. While I would like the visits to be a bit more frequent, my kids do know their father, they talk to their father, and they love their father greatly.

But you know what? The simple fact remains that he is not around enough for me to be able to honestly say that we co-parent. Because we don’t. We talk here and there, and when we do I often find myself racking my brain to remember everything I need to tell him because I’m not sure when I’ll have the opportunity to talk again.

I also used to think that single parenting suggested my kids have less financial resources than others. The truth was that I was worried that others would judge our family’s financial situation based on my marital status. I have had my share of instances where some people have that thought If we don’t have something, it’s because  we are the poor little family without a man in the house. But for the most part, those who are in my circle and close to me know and understand the truth that we are not struggling — but we are sustained by my income and mine alone. Single income from a single mom.

I thought that if I referred to myself as a single mom that I was slighting those close to us who have helped and poured so much in to the livelihood of our family. I’ve now realized that using a title does not negate the love and support we’ve been given by those in our village. I’ve also realized that not using the term single mom can slight those sisters whose children have absolutely no contact with their father. Instead of saying we are all in this together, I was choosing to lessen their reality and distance myself from it.

I am a firm believer that having three kids and experiencing a divorce was not a coincidence. I think this is part of my calling. However it’s time to move past the divorce and focus on the calling of motherhood, as a single woman. And while that calling can still be difficult and sometimes frustrating, I’m able to seek guidance from God, live it, and embrace it — single mom title and all.

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What These Three Have in Common

Oprah, Iyanla, and Bishop T.D. Jakes changed my parenting. Over the course of a summer — this summer to be exact.

Sigh.

You know where this is going. It’s going to be a life lessons, in-depth, cathartic kind of thing. And it was. When Oprah and Iyanla featured a special on “Fatherless Sons,” and another on “Daddyless Daughters” earlier this summer, I wept. The ugly cry.

Not for me. But for my kids.

Him and them. The trifecta. The Three Amigos. My Littles.

You see, if there is anything…anything I could take back from the divorce it’s the absence of their father. And those two shows taught me this summer that no matter how available I am making the kids — if the perception is that I’m the enemy, then well, I’m the enemy.

And it’s not fair. I am not the enemy. He knows he can call them anytime. They can call him anytime.

But he doesn’t. And I don’t encourage them to call him because he doesn’t answer, nor does he always return calls. And that whole scenario hurts their feelings. So I want to protect them. And when they ask to use my phone to call him, I cringe on the inside because I still have unresolved issues. But I still let them call, when they ask. But sometimes, calling is not the only thing I can help them do.

I didn’t think I needed to do anything more to support their relationship with him. The quarterly visits and monthly calls were the best I thought I could do.

Until I realized I was in the way.

The children need to have access to their father without going through me. He needs to have access to them without going through me. They are older now, and free access is okay. It should be what’s happening.

So I was good this summer after watching the first two shows. But I never acted on what I was seeing on the screen. Then the theme seemed to continue to present itself to me. But I didn’t budge on the access thing. In theory I was supportive, but in action I wasn’t.

Then Oprah came to Dallas as part of T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest. And she talked about this very issue. And I wept again. Because the hints were loud and clear. My parenting had to change, there needed to be more access, and I needed to stop being the enemy.

So this fall, I’m allowing the kids that access. And I’m backing off. Through social media, cell phones, and email, they can contact their Dad whenever they want to. And he can contact them. And I don’t have to know anything about it other than they talk. And that they talk regularly.

I’m pretty sure there was a whole lot more for me to learn from this, but it is catharsis….I can only handle it in chunks. And this is where we are today.

Oprah, Iyanla, and T.D. Jakes. They fixed my life…I think.