John and Jennifer: Picture date - 2001
The year was 2001. As a divorced single father raising my 3 children, I worked in an all male unit in the military. Work began for me at 4:30 am when the alarm went off for me to get up out of bed. I had the children up by 5:00 and in daycare at 5:30 am when it opened. I had to be on base at a 6:00 am for a 15 minute platoon sergeant’s meeting and physical training began at 6:30. When the workday ended, usually around 6:00 pm, I was at daycare when they closed at 6:30 pm. When I got home, it was dinner time. Following dinner, bathing the children, brushing their teeth and tucking them in bed by 8:00 pm. From 8:00 pm to usually around 11:00, I did the dishes, some laundry if it was needed, cooked tomorrows meal (so all I had to do is heat it up the next day), got cleaned up myself and staged my gear for the next day. This routine happened Monday through Friday everyday of the week, so the weekends were dedicated to the children (such as playing at the park, reading books, watching a movie, playing getcha getcha – what amounted to horse play and hide and seek in the house) as well as shopping for groceries and other things needed or wanted.
I wrote the above to give you a picture of how life was for me as a single parent. There is really no time to date even if you wanted to try a relationship again. My days and hours were pretty much booked; and for good reason – my children are my priority. Some may ask how in the world I got custody with such a busy schedule, which is another story for another time. I have never written about it except a brief few sentences on a previous post. Bottom line was the children’s mother was in a far worse situation than mine.
It had been nearly 4 years since I was divorced and in 2001 and I wanted to try to date again and have a relationship, but how? As you can see, there isn’t really a way to date without taking time away from the children. As you can imagine taking away time from the children was not really an option; I work all week and barely see them as it is - I was not about to take the weekends away from them. During the last 4 years, I used instant messenger as a means to stay in touch with friends from previous duty stations and a means to have a social life.
The internet provided a means in which I could try to date (to get to know someone) without taking away time with the children. I thought that a divorced male, with three young children, who was in the military was a long shot, but at least you can cut through the initial friction of when to let people know you have children; they know right up front. On line would also eliminate the initial first date, where a lot of the normal conversation and questions could be asked. For example, where are you from, what do you do for a living, what do you like to do, how was your childhood – brothers, sisters, where did you go to school if you went, dreams, ambition, goals, expectations, etc…
To my surprise, I had three responses to my ad within 24hours. The first response was a separated woman, which was a no for me; I still considered separated as married and this was not a situation I wanted to get involved in. The second woman was divorced but was moving within two weeks almost 800 miles away and if I was going to continue past the initial “chat phase” the next logical step was to physically meet, so this one wasn’t a real option as well. The third was from an independent, never married, career woman who was tired of the dating games people played who lived about three hours away.
After hours spent on line and chatting on the phone, we finally met and as you can say the rest is history. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in 2012 and we couldn’t be happier.
I am not saying that there isn’t risk with on line dating but there are some benefits and for those who say they never have known an online relationship last… now they have read about one.
Thanks for reading.
Pictured to the left: John and Jennfier Nov 2012