For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Why I Chose Not to Date As a Single Mom of Younger Kids

In June 2010, my husband moved out. In February 2011, he died of a massive heart attack. I was 42 at the time, and my kids were 10 and 13.  That was seven years ago.

During the last seven years I have been on two "dates". I was told they fell into "date" status because I got dressed up, and he paid. Those two men I have loved as friends since high school.

There has been nothing romantic, not because there wasn't opportunity but because I made some choices with the intention of a specific outcome.

My kids had experienced a parent who wanted another life more than he wanted a full-time life with them.
They had an up close and personal reality check that life is not stable.
They knew what it felt to be "not valuable enough".
They were sad, angry, and grieving.
They wondered if it were their fault and if they had been something else would their dad have stayed.
They knew the devastation of not being able to depend on someone to stay and keep the world steady.

By the way, these are typical emotions for kids who experience divorce.

The kids did not need someone else they couldn't depend on. They didn't need to feel like they were a bother. They didn't need more chaos.

I couldn't undo what had been done, but I could keep it from getting worse, so I opted not to date casually because I didn't want men coming in and out of their lives who only strengthened the idea that men are not dependable but walk out on you.

I chose to focus my energy on my kids. Instead of going out with someone who made my heart flutter on Fridays, I stayed in with people whose hearts needed a steady presence.

I chose to make them first, and I canceled or said no to anything that conflicted with them.

I chose to be the stable force, and by doing so, I demonstrated with actions that they are valuable.

I stayed and made it clear to them that they were not too much, too loud, too demanding, or too big of a failure to be worth staying for. They were not the problem. And on days when the weight of responsibility got to be too heavy, I made it clear to them they were not the ones making me heavy. It was all the decisions, all the things I had to figure out, all of the rest of life, but THEY...they were the gift.

And I made sure no one came into their lives who might shake that.

Yes, I was asked out on occasion, but no one passed my four non-negotiable questions, so no one became part of the landscape, not even passing through. The kids knew I talked to this man or that man, but they also knew why it never went further than talking. I explained the non-negotiables and how I would not settle, and frankly, that made them feel safer and more stable.

My kids and their hearts were non-negotiable.

The only two men my kids have met are long time friends of mine that I knew would remain friends, and they have. My kids love both of them, and they love my kids. My kids have these friends' numbers in their phone and know they can call any time.

I won't lie and tell you it has been easy being alone this whole time. It isn't. Sometimes it isn't so bad, and other times it feels crushing, but the truth is it has been worth it. My kids are in good places emotionally and mentally. We have a great relationship. They know they are valued, and I am always here for them. They know I am fierce for them, and they feel crazy loved. Even when we strongly disagree, they know I'm not going anywhere.

I know when someone chooses to leave, it is tempting and easy to want someone to fill that void. It feels good to be wanted and loved. It feels exciting for someone to want to spend time with you and listen to you and be there for you. It feels good to the soul. I know. I really know. It also feels good to a kids' soul, and as parents, our priority should be the well-being of our kids. Sometimes giving that kind of stability and healing to your kids means you put your desire for all that on the back burner until your kids are okay.

My kids are now 17 and 20, still living at home but both in college, and for the first time, I am honestly open to dating again, and the kids are ready for it too. Not just because they are getting ready to leave home, but because they have been blessed with an intentionally safe home.

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