"There is something about a girl who dates a guy who has kids." I've heard this saying for years and years now. It's not for everyone. Some people literally avoid it, by not dating people who have kids. Some people judge because of it. It's a choice, and not an easy one I might add. I can imagine that single parents want someone they date to love their kids unconditionally and that may be hard for some people, but not for me. Yes, parenting is hard, especially when you're not the parent. It's even harder when the kids don't see you as a parent figure in their life. I had someone recently say I'm "just the girlfriend." It hurt. Even though I am secure in my situation, it still hurt.
I date a guy with kids. We've been dating for over four years now. He has two boys. They are 13 and 6 and boy do they love to wrestle. It's hard to explain how much you are able to love kids that aren't yours. I cook, I clean, I do laundry, I make sure the fridge is stocked, I pay bills, I make their beds, I fold their laundry, I do all the things a normal mom does. But I'm not a real mom. People say things like, "well, when you're a mom." Or "well, when you have kids." Or "you'll understand when you have kids of your own." It's not that these statements aren't true, it's that I allow my feelings to get hurt when I hear them. It's not that I think less of myself because of my situation. It's that I wonder if people think less of me. Which is unhealthy. In all reality I love my life, these boys, and their dad with my whole heart. It's sometimes hard to hear words from people that don't align with how you feel about the life you're living. It could be great and incredible but even a few little words can hurt.
It's not easy being the girlfriend of a guy with kids. There are a lot of times where you're not going to feel like you belong. Like there are already people in place in every role in their lives, so where could you possibly fit in? I'm not a real mom. The boys aren't mine. They don't see me as a mother figure. They have moms, good ones that love them and would do anything for them. I am so thankful for that. It can be hard to feel like you have a place in a child's life when you're just a small fraction of that life. Sometimes I wonder what their mothers think, and then I tell myself that it's none of business and I need to stay in my lane. I beat myself up a lot but I also have to remember that grace is something God provides for me, even when it feels like I can't find any. I do have a place in their lives, whether it feels like it all the time or not. I do have an impact on their lives, even when it seems like me showing up might not be good enough.
You see, we can beat ourselves up all day long, but it accomplishes nothing in the end. We have to trust God and His path for our lives. I know that I was put in this position because I am filled with love, affection, compassion, and a big giant heart. Even my dad said when he first found out I was dating a guy with kids, that it takes a strong person to be in my shoes. I am learning daily that everything happens in due time. Maybe all of this will feel a lot different when I have a child of my own in our crazy little mix of a family. Sometimes I feel left out, but it's never because I'm not included in something. It's because I beat myself up allowing myself to believe the lie that I am not good enough for my situation.
It's so interesting how our hearts change over the years. I'll be in my thirties before you know it and I'm not married and I don't have any kids of my own yet, but I have a family. A family of my own, with a house and kids. Instead of judging people for the lives they live, why don't we try to support them? Let's imagine how they feel about the situation they are in before we make comments about the life they've been chosen to live. We all bleed red. God wants us to lift each other up, not tear each other down. Think about what you're saying before it leaves your mouth. There could be someone, like me, who has a family that doesn't look like yours. One that doesn't check every box. But one that fills their heart, just like yours does for you.
I have a lot of friends who are single parents now. It's not easy for them. But I know that they would be thrilled to have a person in their child's life who loves them unconditionally and whole- heartedly. That is my purpose within my family. To love and cherish, just like a real mom. I truly hope that the impact I make on these boys' lives is a positive one filled with joy and love. Maybe I am a real mom after all, just in a different way.