Life never works out the way that we think it will… well for some of us anyway. I don’t know about you but I had it all figured out. I was going to graduate, become a huge success, then find a husband, settle down and have two children and buy a house, all by the time I was 30. It’s quite laughable and incredibly naive when you stop and think about it now, but that was my plan. As I grew older, the age that I was going to do certain things, kept getting shunted back more and more until eventually I had to concede that you could not put a timer on these things; they would either happen or they wouldn’t. Alyssa was a surprise. I have never made any secret of that. Her father and I had broken up, we had been using contraception and it had failed. She was and of course still is the biggest and most wonderful surprise of my entire life and I wouldn’t change a thing. That does not mean that was the situation I wanted to be in when I brought a child into the world, but it was my choice and I would not change it for anything. It took me almost four years before I even remotely went anywhere near the dating pool again and of course I am so glad I did. The question that stood out to me most and one I have been messaged about by other single parents is, how did you introduce your new partner to your child?
As I said, it took me almost four years to try dating again and it didn’t begin very successfully (just read Harsh Realities of POF Dating) but eventually I decided to try one last time and I very thankfully met Mr Tutu (The First Date). We have had our ups and downs but 18 months on we are stronger than ever and I have found my own version of happily ever after that I never could have imagined.
Something that played on my mind when we first started dating was how to introduce them? When to introduce them? What if it went wrong and this hurt Alyssa too? So many different emotions and thoughts because obviously as parents we don’t want what we do to effect our children. Let me start by saying, there is no right or wrong way to do things. Everyone will work it out in their own way and do what is right for them and their family.
Alyssa’s dad had already been with his partner for a while at this point and Alyssa had met her and liked her (The Other Woman) but it had always been just her and I and I also worried about upsetting the dynamics of us or maybe Mr Tutu and Alyssa wouldn’t get along. I have said before that I am incredibly grateful that they love each other so much because if she hadn’t liked him, as much as I love him it wouldn’t have worked.
So, how did I introduce them? Well to be honest, I didn’t. Not for a long time. I kept them apart for a few months because I needed to make sure things were going to work and also, rather selfishly in a way, I wanted time to be a couple and not instantly jump into family mode. When it did come time to meet, I kept it really casual. Told her my friend was coming over for a coffee and he did and said hello. We weren’t a couple in front of her, just friends and he joined her in the sandpit for a while.
Once he had had his coffee, he left and we enjoyed the rest of our day as normal. I could see he was nervous but he did so well bless him and was also incredibly patient with me gradually introducing her. We slowly built things up from them; walks to the park and back, short trips out, going out for breakfast and also introducing her to his parents as well but keeping it all very calm and trying not to overwhelm her.
The key for all of this was to go at her place and also not to force affection upon her either. If she wanted to hug hello and goodbye she could but if she didn’t that was also okay and we let her know that. We gradually started to be affectionate towards each other in front of her. Initially she wanted to join in, making sure she was always part of cuddles and holding hands, I think until she realised her place wasn’t being taken and our affection just became part of every day life.
For a little while, several months to a almost a year in, she had moments of just wanting mummy and mummy being hers which is understandable. Bless his heart, Mr Tutu had to do some serious learning about not taking things personally and understood he needed to back off slightly and let her come to him.
Now, eighteen months in, I absolutely adore the relationship they have. Occasionally they bicker like siblings but it’s all in jest. They sit and play Mario Kart together, they hold hands and go to the park. She freely gives him love and affection and him likewise in return. If he is not around or at work she asks for him and the whole situation has just relaxed into something completely lovely.
She still calls him by his name, which is fine because she already has a daddy that cannot be replaced. However, you can never have too much love and both Mr Tutu and his family love her and me as if we have always been there, right from the beginning.
The one thing you cannot do is rush things. Dive in too quickly and push things too hard and too fast and you’re more likely to create problems. Children need time to learn and adjust and understand that change isn’t a bad thing and that actually it can bring light and happiness.
If you’re thinking of introducing a partner to your children and aren’t sure what to do I am always here to chat. I am no expert but I am always happy to listen.