Step Families

Taking Out the Trash: How I Managed to Date with Three Kids.

Children are easy but marriage is a total pain in the ass. Still. people still insist on getting married and some nutty people are even fighting for the right to marry. Go ahead, throw a big party, buy a ridiculous dress or just run away to Vegas, any way you do it you only got a 50% chance of making it. Enjoy that cake!

Throw a kid or two into any type of relationship and you have the potential for disaster. Well, I had three kids in the first four years of my first marriage. That is Duggar worthy! But I’m no Michelle Duggar and I was not “into” my marriage. Maybe I loved my husband, I don’t know, I really didn’t think about it much and by the time I did get around to thinking about it we sorta hated each other. So either I had to completely change my worldview or I needed to face failure solidly in the face and admit defeat. Turns out, defeat comes with an attorney and costs a lot of money.

I was newly separated in 1999, youngish, still pretty foxy and starved for male attention so Hello Internet! Between OK Cupid, Match, Plenty-0-Fish and (believe it or not) AOL messenger, I had no loss for attention. I dated quite a bit and in fact, dated some of the nicest married men in the Central Ohio area. I did not intend on dating married men but as shocking as this is to comprehend, people quite often lie about their relationship status online!

I know that there are other ways to meet people, even some normal ways like at the library, or a civic league meeting or through friends but IRL I am not nearly as interesting as I am in my many online profiles. Plus, I like sitting around in bleached stained sweats A LOT usually with a Mike’s Hard Lemonade a beverage that is unfairly banned in my local libraby.

When the 50% of you married people get a divorce, you will marvel at how wonderful court mandated Shared Parenting can be. Suddenly adult people who blamed their children for every problem they have suddenly cherish spending time with their children. People who never bothered to match socks will become unglued if their children have a button missing. Jesus Christ himself couldn’t pull off that kind of transformation.

My particular ex-husband was a pretty good dad when we were married but he became a really excellent day care provider after the divorce. When we were married I longed to sneak out of the house to go out and close down the dance clubs and now I had ever other weekend available to do so. I was a much happier divorced person than I was sitting at home looking at all of the housework I was ignoring.

If more married people acted like divorced people, more married people wouldn’t have to get divorced.

After a few years of dating I learned to spot problem people like the already married, the too recently divorced, the commitment phobic and tried very hard to balance my time so that my house didn’t turn into some weird Cougar Sorority House. I tried to ensure that my kids spent equal time with their dad and me so they could resent us equally.

It wasn’t a perfect life even by the lowest standards but it could have been worse. After my divorce, I learned to trust myself and my judgement more and was a much better decision maker.

I remember other divorced people telling me how much they “hoped their kids would like ” whomever they were dating. Frankly I would be a little concerned if my kids had taken to having a new man around the house. I eliminated that problem by not introducing my kids to anyone I dated. I don’t think a 7 year old is a good judge of a life partner and more importantly, no 7 year old (or 14 year old) should be put in that position.

At some point in your life, usually when you’re knee deep in offspring, you realize that you are not the center of the universe. You are, however, part of the universe. You are a fallible beautiful mess of a person and it’s your job to try to make the world function a little cleaner and if that means getting out of a unproductive or harmful relationship please do so. Go get that divorce, you now have my permission. Namaste.

I did meet someone online who turned out to be a pretty good life partner. After 8 years together, my kids still think my now husband is kinda weird. I’m fairly sure that they at least like him but it really doesn’t matter because they didn’t have to marry him. Turns out I didn’t have to marry him either, I wanted to and everything worked out just fine.


Katie Anderson is a freelance writer and improv theater instructor. Her work has appeared in Alt Daily , HuffPost Parents and Anderson has written comedy for Panties in a Twist: All Female Comedy and a weekly live stage show, Second City This Week in Los Angeles. She is currently working on a practical guide for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals to be published sometime in the next few years (get off her back, it's hard to write a book). Katie holds a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She lives with her academic rock star husband, one of her three kids and two very spoiled cats in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @ improvperson.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply