My Love Life After Marriage Has Turned Me Into a 'Bad' Mom

kid parentsI never thought falling in love would affect my parenting.

A little over two years ago, when I first split from my then-husband, I had a vision for my life. I would spend the next several years doting on my darling son, puttering around my garden, and enjoying the peace of solitary life. I would remain as chaste as the Virgin Mary. And he would have all of my attention.

How was I supposed to know love would find me again quickly, toss me upside-down, and turn me into the most distracted, half-assed mother ever?

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Oh, I'm exaggerating. Sort of. But no one ever warns you about how falling in love is going to affect your parenting. For the first time in my 10-year-old's life, another male who isn't his dad has my rapt attention. And it's really weird.

After waiting a full year after my separation to start dating, I met someone WAY faster that I was supposed to. Suddenly, I was half of one of those couples. You know the kind I'm talking about: The so-in-love, do-everything-together, best-sex-ever, goopy, mushy, totally-absorbed-with-each-other couples. That's us.

I did NOT see this coming. I was unprepared.

As a single mom who works full-time in the city, I don't have a lot of spare time. So a date night with my beau means an evening spent away from my son, and I feel guilty, sometimes. But not guilty enough to cancel date night -- EVER.

I spend Saturday nights through Monday mornings with my boyfriend. Some weekends I practically dance out the door. Other weeks I burst into tears the moment I'm out of range. I confess, I don't mind missing the school rush on most Monday mornings. But when I realized I wouldn't be there to see my son off for his first day of the new school year, we both bawled together. Is it supposed to be like this?

And then, during my first year of Being In Love, I was a distracted mess even when I was at home with my son.

I was late for everything. I packed shitty lunches. I was always daydreaming. About sex. You're not supposed to be thinking about sex when you're trying to help your kid with his homework, are you? But I was.

By now, a full year in, that new relationship glow should have worn off a bit. Well, it hasn't. But at least I'm starting to get a grip.

We're spending time all together now, the three of us. And it's great! My son gets to disappear behind his laptop while my boyfriend and I make googly eyes at each other. No one feels neglected! Haha! Not at all!

SIGH. Actually, I'm still totally flunking motherhood at this point.

No, you know what? I've gotten better -- I swear I have. I'm packing decent lunches now. And I'm not as late as I used to be. And I'm remembering to engage with my son more when I'm at home. I'm not flunking motherhood. I'm getting a C, maybe even a B- on my best days.

My son is at the age where kids start pulling away in order to establish their independence. But they still need to feel they have a nest to return to. I can sense this in my son. He drifts away, and then he comes back, claiming my time and attention as exclusively his. I go with the flow, telling him I love him over and over again.

And miracle of miracles, my son and my boyfriend actually like each other. Oddly enough, they seem to share a similar sense of humor. And that is a huge help because as we slowly, ever-so-carefully merge lives, what relieves the mommy guilt and makes this whole deal work is seeing my son and my boyfriend forge a friendship. We may all turn out okay after all.

Have you ever been in a similar situation? How do you deal with balancing motherhood with a new relationship?

 

Image © iStock/Izabela Habur

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