I wanted to be the starting catcher for the Chicago Cubs as a kid growing up in the “burbs” of Chicago.
I watched firsthand as my parents’ divorce melted, and because of that I NEVER wanted to get married, let alone have kids. Life has its moments and because of the paths I chugged on, I now have a different perspective of girls—heck, have you watched Dance Moms? Sadly I have, and more than once.
During our courtship, my then-girlfriend and I agreed that if our kids did not get along, we would not continue our relationship. This might sound like a very extreme promise to each other, but we both knew that when “blended” families are thrown together, it could create undue stress, especially with kids who oftentimes feel they do not have a say. Annie is now my wife, so thankfully, as you can tell, our families merged well. Annie and I were very upfront with the situation, and “thank (your choice of deity)” that it all did work out.
When I was trying to figure out who I wanted to spend my time with romantically, I kept saying I didn’t want to date anyone with kids because I knew how hard it is to plan dates or the point of introducing a new person into a kid’s life.
I wanted a very simple dating life—plus, the selfish dad in me wanted to make sure that I could spend time with Connor and not worry about my potential girlfriend’s family, too. Yes, a true story—I’m ashamed to admit it. I wanted a lady with no kids and who liked the simple things. Well, the Almighty had different plans.
Today as I put this article together I will give you a slight peek behind the curtain of letting you know that there is a little tension between my “bonus” daughter, Betsy, and I. My biggest suggestion I offer to men who become “bonus Dad” is this:
Don’t be one of those “it’s my way or the highway” morons.
You earn respect with the kids. Betsy and I do not always see eye to eye, but I do respect her. I’ll let you men in on another tip about dating women with kids: When you “pop” the question, be old-fashioned. I not only got permission from Ann’s parents, but Betsy and I went out for coffee because I wanted her permission as well. It is not your way, but it is their way.
Becca, my other bonus daughter, is very much like my son Connor; they both desire to be people pleasers. Even when Ann and I just started dating, Becca kept asking me when I was going to propose.
Here is another tip, guys, about this dating and kids process: Ann and I dated a month before getting the kids together. I said earlier that we had set expectations (and you need to know about your partner first, and again, be honest). I would tell Becca that when it happens, I would let her know.
Sincerely, I never thought about getting married again after my divorce in 2008. My thought was that I did not want to go through that pain ever again. I was very protective when it came to Connor and his feelings about me getting into a relationship—and especially one where there would be other kids. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would take another walk down the aisle, let alone become a “bonus dad” to girls…I mean, really, come on, they have cooties!
But I wouldn’t change a thing.