On Friday night, my two worlds collided and I introduced the baldman to the kids.
I know I said I wouldn't, but that just goes to illustrate a point that I've been meaning to make for a while now:
I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE MY MIND.
The general consensus seems to be that because I ONCE was a happily-married suburbanite, I must ALWAYS be a happily-married suburbanite or I get accused of being a liar and a fraud. But what I really am is FLAWED! In all my terrible, magnificent humanity! Of all the horrors! Happiness isn't written in stone, people. Nothing is! I'm allowed to change my mind, even if it feels (as Linda so aptly put it) like my blog is a novel with a plot twist you don't agree with.
So, yeah, I said I'd never merge the two halves of my oddly dichotomous life (dating and kids) and then I went and CHANGED MY MIND.
Although, I'd argue that I'm not technically merging my "dating" life with my kids.
Because I'm not DATING Joel. Dating is a word I use to describe nefarious flings with cute boys. I had my share of those, Joel included, but now he's a lot more than that. Sure, he's cute, but he's also my boyfriend. We've stopped seeing other people. I've become addicted to waking up with his furry chest against my back and his breath on my neck. It's not a fling. Not anymore.
He's already met my parents, my sister, every good friend in my arsenal. They ALL adore him.
But I've kept him away from the two most important people in my life.
The Catch-22 is that I don't want to introduce my kids to a man until I know that it's serious, but I can't even BEGIN to know if it's serious until I introduce said man to my kids.
So we had to come up with a plan.
Step one was to tell Dave I was planning on making the introductions soon and to see if he wanted to meet Joel first. Personally, this is about the only thing I'd ask for when Dave finds a girlfriend (Are you there God? It's me Amanda...) I'd want to meet her before she hung around my kids. You know, check a bitch out. Only seems fair.
The offer will always be on the table, but this time Dave declined.
Step two was simple: KEEP IT CASUAL.
Keep it chaste.
We decided we'd set up PLAY DATES solely for the benefit of the children. My kids have known about Joel and Liza for a while and they were chomping at the bit to meet them both.
Alex: "His last name is GUNZ? How AWESOME!"
We decided to meet in public. We didn't hold hands. We just hung out. We invited Sara and Ethan so it would be a group. Less pressure, we figured. The more the merrier.
It wasn't about sneaking in date time when we're around the kids and it won't be about playing happy little family. It'll be a while before I invite Joel and Liza to our home because I want to keep my children in control of their personal space. It's THEIR home. I don't want attachments to form prematurely. I'm going into this with my eyes open wide.
But honestly? It went GREAT. My first impression was that I had somehow managed to make a really big deal out of something completely natural and totally obvious. It felt EXACTLY like a play date. We met up at Wunderland, a nickel arcade on Belmont. The kids were so busy kicking ass and taking names that they barely even NOTICED the grown ups, much less gave a shit that it was actually, for mom at least, A HONKING BIG DEAL.
For now, though, I feel an odd sense of relief about all of it. Particularly about Genoa, who's had a lot of stranger anxiety this year, especially around men. It shouldn't have been such a surprise, but they got along gangbusters, giggles and all.
He's a keeper, that one.
Anyway, we're still forging our little path here, so tell me! Please! My lovely divorced friends - how did YOU handle this? Any words of wisdom? I may be a woman scorned by the anger of her audience, but I'll always be humble enough to continue listening.