I have done my fair share of dating post-separation and divorce, and without a doubt, most of my experiences have been incredibly positive. Weighing in on my own dating habits, I can clearly see that I’ve been drawn to the same kind of man. Like attractive forces between reactive particles, I’ve had an affinity for men who have hobbies that they would more proudly describe as life passions. They are men with strong personalities and they don’t care to fit the standard bell curve statistics of the modern world. I’m inspired by guys who look inward for greater self-awareness and growth, and they dare to share more of themselves to me than what’s on their surface. I’m drawn to men who are comfortable allowing emotions to be expressed, those who are open minded enough to recognize that we all have had some sort of uphill battle, and those that are up for the challenge in balancing their male strength, their determination and their confidence with equal parts of softness, vulnerability, and love. For me, when these character traits all come together, it writes itself out for some off-the-chart chemistry and a most incredible human story.
One man in my life so far, truly has the most fascinating human story. It’s magnetizing, really. I’ve seen him at his most vulnerable as he picked up the scattered pieces of his life after divorce, and even then he had enough strength to support me as I restructured the scattered pieces of mine. I see him at his softest, when he shares with me the pride in his children, and many of my readers understand that that the joy in his children has come from a long journey that few other parents will ever know. It is a raw, rare, and beautiful piece of humanity in the ways that he takes care of his three physically disabled kids, and I’m sometimes still in awe that he has enough space in his heart and time on his hands to love and cherish my two kids. I imagine there must be a raging dualism that plays out in his mind between the ways that he can parent his kids and the ways that he can be present for mine, and the strength and courage that it must take for him to be such an important figure in ALL of their worlds is the most inspiring experience to be a part of, and I’m standing here on this side of gratitude.
Here stands a man who proudly shows up for his three physically disabled children. While others may bear witness to his life on their far-away orbits, looking compassionately from afar, I, on the other hand, am positioned much closer the core, and therefore have the great fortune to be inspired so very often by him and his kids. There is caregiving that goes beyond parenting, there is responsibility that goes beyond being a Dad, and there are challenges and barriers that would put others, including myself sometimes, in a physical spin, never mind a mental one. With a hard exterior and a backbone stronger than most, he can humbly dissolve that protective shell when he shows up for his kids and I can assure you that he will speak of them to you with only the greatest of pleasure. Confidently, he father’s them his way, and I’ve watched this liberate him, as only a single parent could know, for there is a moment of realization when you’re parenting alone, when you discover that your method of caring for and loving your kids is just as successful as any other! In ways that are absolutely incredible to be a part of, I have had the great privilege to watch this parenting confidence grow.
All the while being present for his kids, he is equally and abundantly present for me and for mine. He is the ray of light that fills the room when he opens my front door and my kids shout out his name in excitement. They need no father other than their very own, but what child would not flourish with an extra adult’s attention and love?! He builds outdoor clubhouses and zip lines. He grabs a glove and a ball and randomly calls my son out to play. He plans outings and adventures. He’d do anything to hear my little girl giggle and squeal in delight, so much so that they often laugh to the point of silliness. Seeking not to take their father’s place, but just to be part of their journey, he’s an active, participating spectator in their young lives and they adore him for it.
My kind of guy also allows me to challenge him with what some might speculate to be incredibly uncomfortable moments: He celebrates occasions in my home or my backyard with my ex-husband present. He will sit with me, my kids, and their dad at the seder table, all of us there to rejoice in family and children. He could imagine going with me on a “family” trip that would include himself, my kids, my Ex and his girlfriend! He knows that I’m not interested in him marking his territory or forming “sides”, as I’d far rather live in between the lines. He has seen first-hand the value in nurturing a divorce relationship with a completely different mindset, and recognizes that it absolutely requires all parties to be on-board and amicable, all sides to work hard, and all sides to get uncomfortable. And he sees that my children reap quite the reward by living without parental lines drawn, talking and sharing openly about their Dad and his girlfriend with as much respect and excitement as they do about their Mom and her boyfriend.
Some days I feel as if I don’t quite fit the mold of today’s modern society. I measure my Life’s success in units of happiness and not dollars. Acquiring more money in my life’s timespan is not the compass that directs my choices, and I’ll be forever grateful to my parents for instilling in me this virtue. What one owns, who one knows, what one is wearing, or where one lives doesn’t impress upon me. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, as I consider myself more of a minimalist, carrying an inner sense of pride when I make less impact on the planet, rather than more. True success for me comes from experiencing love and adventure along the road of Life, and sharing those moments with my kind of guy makes it even better.
What a fascinating journey so far!