I had been separated from the father of my kids for a year when I met, and quietly began a long-distance relationship with my now-fiancé, Sean. I had expected the two-home transition to break the hearts of my 5- and 7-year-old children, but to my surprise, they were mostly unfazed by the change, maybe even grateful for it. Coparenting had its fits and starts but, for the most part, everything was going relatively well.
At first, I wanted to shield the kids from knowing about him. I wasn’t sure where the relationship was going, and I recognized that my romantic involvement with someone who was not their dad might be a pretty big deal. We’d cross that bridge when we got to it, or if we got to it, I thought. As such, Sean and I mostly hung out (via video and voice calls) on the days the kids were with their dad, or at night when I was sure they were asleep. On three occasions, he flew out for brief 3-day visits, unbeknownst to, well, everyone but me.
Then came Thanksgiving. It was my ex’s turn with the kids, and he had decided to take them to see his parents in Las Vegas. Saddened by the thought of spending the holiday away from my kids for the first time, I booked an impromptu trip to Chicago to see my new flame. A solo vacation of any kind was harder to conceal, so I shared my plans, which more or less marked the end of the clandestine phase of our relationship and, I’ll admit, was a relief. I started to casually drop the name of my new ‘friend’ in Chicago, and I felt giddy every time I did. I was head-over-heels in love and I couldn’t wait to share my joy with my kids.
It wasn’t long before my daughter sniffed us out and started taunting me about whether or not he was my boyfriend. I copped to it, we all had a good laugh and the kids were more curious than ever about the mysterious guy from out of town who won my heart. I suspected the three of them would get along famously—a theory I tested with over-the-phone chess games (my daughter is kind of a whiz), sharing music over Spotify (both Sean and my son can really get down to “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas) and letting the children get out of bed on one or two occasions to eavesdrop on our conversations. Bottom line? The kids liked Sean and were excited to finally meet him in person.