Recently I found myself chatting with someone I’d met online. The number of kids I have came up as we chatted and flirted and talked about setting up a date, along with the fact that they’re not sure they could take on that many and survive. This is not an uncommon issue – probably half the women I match with ghost me or call off the conversation when they find out I’m a dad (and I bear them no ill-will about that). But there were a few things about this conversation that got my goat a little.
Firstly, my kids aren’t murderers and terrorists (usually). Survival is almost certainly guaranteed, in the same way I can almost certainly guarantee that England will raise hopes this summer only to then disappoint us all (with the last ten words of that sentence also being the title of my next sex tape). The only danger comes when they are mid-YouTube video or Fortnite game and I declare that it’s bedtime, but I’ve developed a range of safety procedures for just those circumstances.
Secondly, who at any stage mentioned that I was looking for a step-mother for them? The common societal norms dictate that the female in a relationship involving children will take on mothering duties while the man will take on a more distant role as main breadwinner.
And that’s just bullshit.
I don’t really want to blow my own horn here, but toot-toot. I’ve got this whole single parenting thing nailed, even if I do say so myself. We have a daily routine that on the whole works like clockwork. Weekends with them are spent either doing chores and homework or on fun adventures. We share family time on the sofa in front of Britain’s Got Talent, go to the shops to buy clothes as a team and everyone knows their list of post-dinner jobs perfectly. Some mornings, other than preparing lunchboxes and the occasional reminder to put clothes on the right way round I actually feel a little superfluous.
I’m definitely not saying that an extra pair of hands, ears and eyes to help deal with the demands of four kids wouldn’t be helpful, but I’m not saying they are a pre-requisite for us even going out on a first date. Yes, I do come as part of an unbreakable package, but the ultimate role of someone I choose to spend my life with doesn’t need to be as a mother-replacement for them. They already have a mother, whether or not they like her or want to live with her; nothing should ever try to replace that.
My dream partner will ultimately need to build a solid, trust-filled relationship with my kids, of course she will. If she is going to be a big part of my life then she also needs to be part of theirs too. But to go into things thinking that they will suddenly become a house-bound step-mother is taking things too far. If they’ve got the skills already to be an awesome auntie then they’ve got the skills to build a strong relationship within our little family unit.
Besides, I watch a lot of Disney cartoons. I know that all step-mums are evil and want to kill everyone to lay claim to title and property. I’m not stupid.