I never thought I'd be a single mom. My daughter was 1 when her father and I decided to break up. The relationship wasn't worth saving. We knew we weren't compatible and that we were just two kids who had to become adults overnight. It was a struggle. After we broke up, I thought, Who would want me now---young, broke, and with a child?
Little did I know, God was laughing at me as I made plans to move forward with my life alone. Less than a year after breaking up, I befriended a guy who would later become my man.
I did very little dating before recommitting. Even though I wanted everything to happen organically, I became vocal about what dating would look like as a single mom. I was clearer than ever before about my wants and needs in a relationship. The top priority was finding someone who understood my role as a mother and cherished that.
It started with a simple conversation that included my expectations, priorities, and duties. (It's helpful to note that during the beginning of our courtship, I was awarded sole custody of my daughter. This made it very easy for me to maneuver through our relationship with very little resistance from her father.) After three years of dating, we combined households. He took on the full-time parenting role and our family was complete.
Sounds like a fairy tale, right? Well, our union wasn't without faults.
We grew up in two different cultures with separate ideologies of what parenting looked like. I was raised in a single-parent household with a strong-willed mama, while he was raised by two traditional Nigerian parents. I knew that the only way to make this work was to work together, so we did. We set rules of engagement and talked about what his role would look like.
My new bae did not have to compete with her father. He needed to grow into his newfound position, and I had to give him the agency to do so.
We were very candid about the growing pains of a new living arrangement, which I credit to having a powerful breakthrough in our relationship. After six months, we finally hit our stride as lovers cohabitating and as parents. We made decisions together, from her diet and bedtime, to how many hours she spent using electronics. Our goal was to raise her in a loving environment, and having a shared vision allowed us to focus our energy on creating the outcomes we wanted to see.
Before he moved in, I asked my daughter her thoughts and concerns. She was three at the time but her age was not a factor for me. I wanted her to feel included in such a major decision. She was raised with the freedom to speak her mind and ask questions. This time was no different. Although she couldn't grasp the concept of us moving in together, she did understand changes were happening. She wasn't too keen on having another authority figure in the house. In fact, she was resistant.
There had never been a man in our house before then. (Truth be told, I wasn't used to living with a man, either. My father moved out when I was 9.) While she enjoyed our overnight sleepovers and vacations leading up to this point, those experiences weren't enough for her to fully convert. This was a huge problem for us.
We couldn't get to pure bliss if we weren't all on the same page. The solution started with intention and came to fruition with time. He took a concerted effort to win her trust and full respect.
He would help with her homework, and we'd all spend time together. Meeting her where she was and not where we wanted her to be allowed us to keep the peace in our household. We grew as a family and now he calls her his daughter. I couldn't be more grateful.
What's Next For Us
We're going into our third year of living together. Our blended family allows us to combine jollof rice and jerk chicken on special occasions while leaving room for the traditions that we create. My daughter is surrounded with love from both sides of our families and has a host of aunties, uncles, and cousins. I especially love how accepting his family was of us. They protect her like their own. I knew he was the one when I saw how he honored his family. I look forward to marriage and raising another child together.
Just give me a year or two. No rush.
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