Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Part 4: Pros & Cons of Dating a Sailor as a Single Mother

This is the fourth part of a series focused on the different stages and options associated with starting a family in the Military.

Part 1:Stephanie Carroll with the Pros & Cons of Not Having Kids in the Military


Part 3: Nanette Field on being a Navy Mom

Part 4: Elise on being Single Mother Dating a Sailor


Part 4: Pros & Cons of Dating a Sailor as a Single Mother By Elise
A Navy Girlfriend & 
a Single Mother

Elise with her son.
When planning for a future with someone and having a child (especially at a young age), you don't ever think about the unforeseen circumstances of getting a divorce or raising that child alone, however that was my case. I was married for 4 years, and although the marriage didn't last, out of it came a wonderful blessing.

I met my boyfriend online about 2 years after I divorced. My son was 6 at the time we started dating. Dating in itself is a chore, but you throw a child in the mix and it becomes a more sensitive matter. Not only am I the guardian of my heart but I am the protector and guardian of his as well. There are so many more factors you must consider, and after almost 2 years of being together there still are.
  
I didn't concern myself too much of his career when we first started dating, but It wasn't long until I opened my heart up to him and eventually, opened up to him being a part of the most valuable thing in my life, my son. As we became more serious, the demands of the service became more evident.

These are a few of my pros and cons for being a single parent who is dating someone in the military...

Pro: You have plenty to keep you occupied while he is away-
Between work, sack lunches, teacher conferences, meal planning, household chores and fun, inexpensive weekend activities, the weeks fly by. Although he is gone my routines stay consistent and the same.

Con: Sometimes you just want to stay in bed; but can't-
When my boyfriend first left overseas, there were times I wanted to just curl up in the fetal position and sleep the day away, but as lovely as that may have sounded it was unrealistic. My job doesn't allow heart break days and I can't pay my bills in soiled tissues. I have responsibilities that need my attention, curling up and waiting this out is not an option. Likewise, chicken nuggets for dinner are not meant to be a sustainable protein source.

My moods directly affect my child as well. With my son’s developmental delay, I have to give him many simple reminders and one step instructions. If I'm irritable following those sad and lonely, woe is me days, my patience and tone is not as giving as I'd like. Raising my voice only evokes his emotions, leaving us both feeling crummy.

Pro: Realizing what is important to you-
Elise with her son Jay.
I am grateful to have found someone that completes me and my readymade family. Military or not, that is something I deeply cherish. Marriage and raising children takes work. I can speak from experience; I yearn to have that again in my future. When he told me he had to transfer for a year or two, to complete his Sea time duties, I thought about the future, and to be honest, I couldn't see anything other than a life with him, nor did I want to. I quickly knew he was now a very important factor in my life. Sure, I could date and see other people within that two year period, but none of them would be what I wanted, or even come close to compare. My decision was evident, I would wait.

Con: Co-parenting and Finances-
Between us, we have three children to provide and care for from previous marriages. Both he and I are eager to have a family together, but having a blended family can be a lot of pressure. Naturally, it’s not common to think of parenting or being a parental figure to any children but your own, nevertheless, this is common in society today.

This can be a little stressful. Furthermore, it takes two very mature people to be hands on and co-parent without getting too involved or jealous with the third party (the other half of mommy or daddy). Thankfully, we have both been very fortunate in this department. It can become especially challenging if your partner isn't always around to help be the buffer, which can be expected in the military.

Additionally, with the responsibilities of a blended family comes the financial obligation for providing for not just your two or three but now for your five. This is something to consider not just for the military but for any circumstance.

Pro: Validation -
I have a strict don't waste my time policy, and respectfully I won’t waste yours in return. Either we are serious or have the potential to be serious, or I’ll keep it moving. Let’s be real, I am a single mother, and this is not Cinderella, I have no time for games. Knowing that his time is limited due to military obligations opens the opportunity for this needed dialog.

One of the things I love so much about my boyfriend is that he understands my reasons for being so forward. He knows my heart and what is important to me. When he makes plans he concerns himself with not just me but my son. This gives me a glimpse into what the future may entail. I see someone who cares for me deeply, and the traits of an unselfish, supportive and amazing provider.

Con: the unpredictable military lifestyle-
I am not much of a spontaneous person, and one of my biggest complaints about this lifestyle is the constant helpless, unknown state you feel like you're in. It makes it extremely hard to have any sort of plans for the future and when you have kids, you have to have plans!

For instance, if my boyfriend was to find out tomorrow he was to be stationed in Italy for 3 years, I couldn't just pack up all of my stuff and my child in the middle of October to go join his side.

I have school routines to maintain, records I'd have to collect, my son gets therapies at school that I’d need to arrange AND although this wouldn't be an issue in my case, most people would have to take the rights of the child's other parent into account. Leaving the country without their consent may pose an issue later. If I were without a child in a similar situation, it would play out much differently.

BONUS- from a Sailor’s point of view:
Elise's son with her Sailor.

After brainstorming ideas for this post I asked my boyfriend if he could think of any pros or cons of dating someone who has a child while serving in the military.

Pro: knowing how someone is with children-
And I quote . . .

“When you’re with somebody you never really know how they are going to interact with your kids when they meet, or how he or she will be with their own kids. It’s hard to see that with other people who don't have any children. With you I see how you act towards Jay and it gives me an idea of how you will be with any children we have or if you have my children alone...”

When you get married, you have no idea how the other person feels about parenting—it’s often a conversation not had until the subject is forced upon you. However, when someone already has kids, you’ll see first-hand what their parenting style is like.

He then went into describing the current unfortunate events of child abuse that has been seen in the media. “It’s scary” he said, “What if those were your kids and you left them with that person?”

What if you had married that person?

Con: Learning the military-
As deeply saddened as he is being away from his daughters (12 and 9) he expressed his gratitude for their understanding, something my son does not fully grasp yet.

“They grew up knowing what daddy did and understood why I had to leave. They know that daddy is in the military and this is what daddy does. For Jay, he may not get that. To him it just may be that I've left and I am gone.”

He gave an example of his niece and nephews, referring to him as “Captain America” not really knowing what he does other than being in the military; they base their opinions off of what they see from TV.

Pro: Learning from others-
The fear of dating with kids is usually that you don’t want to have a parental figure come into your child’s life and then have to go because you break-up but in the military, coming and going is a way of life.

BUT - The benefit of him having children too, is that I can see they can come to understand and accept this way of life.


 About Elise


Hola! I am a God fearing 28 year old single mother who lives to love, and loves to live. My journey started almost 2 years ago, when I met my boyfriend online. Despite the hour and a half distance we made it work! I grew up in a patriotic home, but I didn't know anything about the military lifestyle, this was all new to me. He however, had been in the Navy for 12 years upon us meeting. About 6 months into our relationship we found out he was to be transferred early overseas. That is when I quickly grew accustomed to the demands of the service. Any plans to move in together were put on hold. We continued our long-distance relationship in anticipation of him leaving.

He’s only been gone a few months and we have at least 22 to go… Its been a roller coaster of emotions. During this short time I can certainly relate to the feeling of being unhinged. Coping with these emotions would often be followed by disappointment for allowing myself to be affected and seemingly weak. Its very lonely, which is what encouraged me to reach out to the internet. Given that we had never shared a home, it has made sleeping alone a little more bearable. It also gives me something wonderful to look forward, for when he returns home.

When I'm not holding down my man or my household, I work full time in the medical field serving others. My son is diagnosed with ADHD and has a mild intellectual delay; it poses its own challenges but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love to learn and ask a lot of questions! I am outgoing, expressive and a bit feisty. I've still got a long road ahead and a lot more to learn, but I am hopeful of the outcome!

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