For most of my dating life, as a childless woman I dated men without children. At one point in my life I swam exclusively in the dating pool of divorced dads (DDs). This made me a Divorced Dad Dater (DDD).
I love DDs because they always make sure you've had enough to eat and gone to the bathroom before long car rides. To me, they're more colorful than single men, navigating sanity, maturity and alimony coupled with the juggling capabilities and flexibility of a Cirque de Soleil performer.
My first date with a DD usually begins with his "last marriage soliloquy," delivered with a frown. I ask to see a photo of their kids, and his face transforms into beaming delight as he proudly shares their names and ages. Also, when I see children's faces I get an idea of how pretty the ex-wife is. I ask DDs questions about their kids, because how they treat their children is a lesson in how they'll treat their dates (me).
One summer I was seeing two DDs, eager to choose only one. Dad A said, "My son came home from summer camp crying because he didn't have his bathing suit today. It was drying at his mom's house, so I sent him without it."
"Why don't you get your son another bathing suit?" I asked.
"I pay enough child support so that she can go out and get him a swimsuit," he groused. I felt sad for Dad A's son.
I called Dad B and said, "How many bathing suits do your kids have?"
"I think they each have five. But today my youngest was pulling at her suit like it was too tight for her. So we ran to the store and got her a new one. It took five minutes and ten bucks," he explained.
Dad A was history.
Now don't get me wrong, being a DDD is quite complicated, and not for everyone. Many DDs have shared custody of their kids which includes a major part of every other weekend. Early in the relationship that means you'll have dateless nights and weekends without him...unless you date two DDs who have custody on alternate weekends.
Another downside to DDs is they have other mouths to feed besides yours. Money (and the lack of it) is a frequent topic of conversation, as well as the reason for less extravagant dates around holidays, birthdays and back-to-school season.
DDs have as much dating anxiety, fear of commitment and intimacy issues as single men. One twice-DD canceled a New Year's Eve date stating," I can't get too close to anyone while my kids are still young. When I look at you I see alimony in your eyes. Three strikes and I'm out."
The allure of DD's for me is that their life experience is more multifaceted than carefree, never-married single men or childless divorced guys. Some of their emotional baggage can walk and talk. I like the thought of getting close to children AFTER they've been toilet trained. Sure, I know a lot of kids are reluctant to like Dad's new squeeze, thinking she may last as long as Spring break. But having a relationship with a DD can provide the opportunity to build a loving rapport that could lead to a full family, INSTANTLY -- a loving husband and children to share nightly dinners, summer vacations, and everything in between.
DDs work hard, play hard and try to please everyone. At the end of the day, DDs need an adult to curl up to. According to my guy's child-care agreement, every third Saturday and Sunday was a non-parenting time. I looked forward to my visitation weekend.