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The Best Advice for Introducing My Son’s Father to My New Boyfriend

photo credit: Jessica Ashley

I cranked up the Carly Rae in the car and my son, dressed in his Taekwondo whites and readying himself for belt testing at his martial arts studio, belted out every single word to “Call Me Maybe.” I sang along, adding my best car dance moves. The Not Boyfriend, master of the white-man overbite, couldn’t deny the urge either.

I was hopped up on 27 cups of coffee, painted with my favorite lip gloss and giving off my very best calm-mama veneer. But I seemed to be the only one who was fretting about what was coming once the song ended and we pulled into a parking place.

My son would test for the red belt, breaking boards, doing practiced forms and sparring other small children swathed in giant pads. The Not Boyfriend and I would take pictures and video and cheer him on. Oh, and my son’s father would be there doing the same.

Let me underline that for you: We’d all be in the same room for the first time together.

Once I realized that coincidence and scheduling would mean my former husband and new(ish) boyfriend would meet, I spoke about it quietly and relatively casually to my son and then to the Not Boyfriend. I asked open-ended questions, nodded, squinted my eyes, validated, helped them measure pros and cons. And two minutes into each conversation, they were both decided, confident and at ease about this next step.

My brain buzzed. I applied more lip gloss and reheated more coffee to dull the worry.

I am not sure what exactly the worry was about. I knew no one would sob or take off running or pull out a shiv. I think I was mostly anxious about the standing in the middle as my old life shook hands with my new life. I’d been so skilled at keeping them compartmentalized, and now they would have a face to go with the names for each other.

I did what all good single moms in a dating conundrum do these days — I asked Facebook to help me through it. That one plea became a stream of advice from my friends, family, a few strangers and one Buddhist monk I hope to meet one day (if not in this lifetime than the next).

Since it took nearly three hours of sitting in folding chairs while little kids did knife-hand-strikes and jump-front-kicks at plastic boards before it all went down, it helped to breathe in and out all the wisdom people who knew me then and now shared with me. A quick scroll down Facebook while someone else’s kid took a roundhouse kick to the pads helped me prepare to pull the stitches through that old life and new one.

Here’s the advice I got on introducing my son’s dad to the Not Boyfriend. What advice would you add for single parents getting ready for the Big Introduction?

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  • Count the commonalities, not the differences 1 of 9
    Count the commonalities, not the differences
  • Trust that you’ve already done enough 2 of 9
    Trust that you've already done enough
  • Choose to believe it will go well 3 of 9
    Choose to believe it will go well
  • Let your friends stand with you (even in spirit) 4 of 9
    Let your friends stand with you (even in spirit)
  • Feel the fear but do it anyway 5 of 9
    Feel the fear but do it anyway
  • The kid is at the center, not you 6 of 9
    The kid is at the center, not you
  • Play your fight song, be it the Star Trek theme or a pop chart mind-worm 7 of 9
    Play your fight song, be it the Star Trek theme or a pop chart mind-worm
  • Let your friends be nervous for you 8 of 9
    Let your friends be nervous for you
  • No matter what happens, it will make a great story 9 of 9
    No matter what happens, it will make a great story

Want to know how the meeting turned out? Read what surprised me most about that meeting here.

 

Read more of Jessica’s adventures as a single mom in the city at Sassafrass.

Meet up on Twitter. 

Ogle shoes together on Pinterest.

 

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