Single mom seeking advice… about moving

by singlemomseeking on October 18, 2008

A single mom named Sharon wrote to me this week because she could really use some advice. Here’s the deal:

Sharon, age 33, was living with her boyfriend in North Carolina when she got transferred to a new job in Los Angeles. She and her boyfriend had had a rocky relationship for some time, so it seemed like the right time to part ways. Except that Sharon found out she was pregnant.

They decided to have the baby, and he wanted to be in their daughter’s life — “We decided not to force a relationship between us. He moved out to California and because I had a job, we moved in with each other.”

It was obvious very early on that there we’d lost the love between us and we were destined for friendship and parenthood. After our daughter was born, I went back to work. He stayed home with her.”

“But every night, I came home in tears because I just wanted to be with her. He also cried because he didn’t really be a stay-at-home dad. So, we decided to switch roles.”

He landed a new job in Washington, D.C. and the three of them moved across the country. “We lived in the same apartment, but we had separate rooms. We were not intimate.”

In the meantime, Sharon went back to school, got her Master’s, and landed a great job.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, last fall, Sharon started to date again.

I met a guy at a business conference out out of town and we hit it off instantly. It’s the first relationship that is void of insecurity. Not only do we both feel incredibly passionate, but we are so supportive. There is so much intellectual stimulation and a lot of fun!”

Unfortunately, her boyfriend lives in Dallas, TX.

“He is open to moving, although he has never lived outside of Texas. We’re talking a lot, just trying to take things slowly. I know that my company has an office in Dallas. I could move.”

But how about my daughter, who is now four? “I can’t deprive her the right to be as close as possible with her Daddy–”

“Her father and I thought we’d made the right decision to maintain geographic ties to each other. But maybe we’ve put constraints on our lives and can’t move on? We all deserve to have happiness in our lives, right?

Does this resonate for any of you?

Thank you for any feedback.

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November 14, 2008 at 11:42 am

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

SDMktg October 18, 2008 at 9:56 am

Having children is a commitment and though it is constraining as long as there’s no abuse or other major issues I think it’s always best if the kids can have both of their parents in their lives. There have been many many studies that show two loving, involved parents are better for kids. (Of course, that’s not always possible.)

Of course everyone deserves happiness but that particular line irks me as something people say when they need an excuse to do something selfish.

Moving her child just to be closer to her boyfriend would be very selfish and doesn’t take into account her daughter or the father’s feelings at all.

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judy October 18, 2008 at 10:19 am

1. Sharon moved for her job
2. Sharon left her job to stay home
3. Sharon went back to school to get a better job
4. Sharon wants to move to be near her boyfriend #2
Sharon sounds like you just want what you want

1. Boyfriend #1 moved to be with
his daughter
2. Boyfriend #1 went to work
because he didn’t want to be
home with his daughter

We all deserve to have happiness in our lives, right?
That includes your daughter who has not chosen this predicament.

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Trish October 18, 2008 at 10:43 am

New boyfriend needs to move. Nothing was said about him having such strong ties keeping him in Dallas like Sharon has in D.C. (Although just the fact that he’s in Texas is quite a big one.)

If he’s open to moving, then what’s the problem?

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Kindall Nelson October 18, 2008 at 10:43 am

Absolutely no moving. That poor girl doesn’t need her life ripped apart because her mom found a new boyfriend.

(Not that that my response would be much different, but we do have to make a note that this is just a new boyfriend… not a husband with a ring and a date and a lifetime commitment to the both of them.)

The fact that her father was willing to move across the country in the first place just to be with her and is still around says a lot about how involved he wants to be.

If the father were asking my advice I would tell him to do everything he could to keep them from moving, but if it happened anyway, to follow them. His job and ‘happiness’ need to take a second seat to his daughter’s well-being.

PS I to am tired of people using the ‘happiness’ as an excuse for ‘selfishness’.

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Angie October 18, 2008 at 11:56 am

Dallas and DC are really far from each other (obviously). I made this exact (almost) decision a little over a year ago.

I was adopted when I was 10 and reunited with my birth family roughly 4 years ago. I have siblings who are 5, 6, and 7 years younger than me who all live in the Chicago suburbs. I live in the DC suburbs. I moved here 10 years ago when I was in the Navy and had no reason to move back to Chicago when I got out of the Navy, I’m estranged from my adoptive family.

I have been a single mom for 8+ years, and have exactly zero family in DC.

I almost moved back to Chicago a year ago to be near my birth siblings and birth aunt.

But then my similar decision came crashing onto my head – what to do about Dad who is a part of my daughters life? Oddly – she was 4 when I was making this decision too :)

I made the decision to keep her here, near her father. It would have been very selfish to move her to Chicago. Sharon, you have the benefit of a boyfriend who will move near you. As hateful as it can be living in transplant land, sometimes you have to do what is right for you child ABOVE what is right for you. And, in 15 years, you can make your root back in Dallas, if you choose.

Another note, to add to your decision: the economy sucks right now. Fuel prices are making airline tickets insane…and we have no idea when the prices will stabilize. It might get to a point it will become to expensive to plan adequate visitation, leaving her father holding the very short end of the stick. Even if you decide to move to Dallas in the future – I think you need to postpone that decision until things stabilize in this country…

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Eathan October 18, 2008 at 1:20 pm

wow, this is a tough one. There have been business opportunities for me to move in the past. My biggest problem is I don’t want to leave my kids. I would rather see them on a regular basis. I’ve got the same commitment from their mom. I moved several times growing up and I learned a lot. I learned that I am still very close to my childhood friends. I regret not being close to them all the way through high school. If I had my choice, I’d never move my kids because of a relationship. I can justify a job, but that would be a last resort. Either way, if the relationship doesn’t work out, you are still going to be a parent. Then what?

That’s the tough decision you will have to make. I’m a parent 1st.. a single and dating man second.

Just my 2 cents… you can always send my change back if ya don’t agree..lol ;)

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NappyKitchen October 18, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Sharon … goodness … if her dad is a good dad, then do not separate them.

A boyfriend is no reason to uproot her and turn everyone’s lives into a chaotic mess.

How many times has a Prince Charming turned into a frog LONG after the first kiss?

It IS true what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder. Remember, sometimes long distance relationships last because they are LONG DISTANCE. When you are around a person on a regular basis, it loses some of the spark and magic.

I may have a different opinion if her father was some foaming-at-the mouth insane-psycho-freak and she was 4 MONTHS old instead of 4 YEARS old.

Keep that child with her father.

Realize that I’m not ‘fussing’ at you. I think you are very brave to ask for advice on this. This shows me that you DO want to do the right thing.

Good luck to you all …

NappyKitchen’s last blog post…The Case Against Hair Grease

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Kevin October 18, 2008 at 4:23 pm

This absolutely resonates with me….its like its almost my story, except I haven’t started dating anyone else and I havent moved in with my son’s mother…Here’s my advice for your reader..She could certainly see if her new boyfriend would move to where she is if things get serious, but she shouldn’t move herself, because, afterall, her kiddo’s dad is in play here and absolutely deserves to see her. Like the comment before me, a boyfriend is no reason to uproot. What if she moves and they break up? Then she is starting all over again. As long as the dad is doing his part, being a good dad, helping with the finances and all, she shouldnt move. Au revoir!

Kevin’s last blog post…Random ramblings: Daddy, bloody chins, and my link to ACORN

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laurakim October 18, 2008 at 8:31 pm

If her father is involved daily then I would not move.

If the r/ship moves to the next level and marriage is an option then I would try and get all parties involved and talk about a action plan. But if its simple a boyfriend then no I wouldnt move.

laurakim’s last blog post…I got an award! WOOOHOO

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VJ October 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm

I can see the other posters logic here. And it’s persuasive to a point. It’s certainly a difficult & reasonably complex situation.

Yes, we all should sacrifice for the sake of the kids. But for how long? A decade perhaps? Isn’t this how everyone started reacting against all the constrained normative roles for the women of the 1950′s generation? The mom was Always expected to knuckle down and sublimate her desires (no matter what) for the sake of the children. It was the received orthodoxy of the time. To some degree it’s still the ‘normal’ expectation in many minds.

So let’s go to what we know of the case presented:

“It was obvious very early on that there we’d lost the love between us and we were destined for friendship and parenthood. After our daughter was born, I went back to work. He stayed home with her.”

So after 4 years ‘Sharon’ meets a new guy she wants to be with. Granted, I agree with the posters who recommend that Mr. New be a bit more serious about his intentions, and Sharon more realistic about his possible future role in their lives. If he’s more serious than this years flavor BF? Then she’d have a case for considering a move to Dallas to be with him. Certainly discussing the entire situation hopefully like adults with all interested parties. (That may or may not be possible).

But even if they were married once, (which they weren’t), BF No. #1 (in this scenario) is no longer ‘due’ her undying and complete devotion. Sure he’s part of the package deal with raising their daughter, and he’s generously supported her ambitions in the past. But despite the advantages of raising their daughter together, they share little else but the same air in the household. Again not uncommon a scenario, just a bit Less common now than way back when we imagine. (This may be making a vicious come back however due to the miserable economy too).

But at what point does Sharon have to give up her chances for future happiness and possible marriage simply due to her past mistakes with a now romantically distant BF who she’ll (most likely Never marry? At mid 30′s if she ever wanted another child with a man she might actually marry, now may be her last realistic chance of doing so. Now that may sound perfectly silly to many. Trading a moderately ‘stable’ & yes even fairly supportive, if legally ill defined and ‘open’ relationship, for a possible romance with a potentially more marriageable mate from across the country. Thus needing to uproot their lives to do so.

But this is what making yes, fully Adult choices are all about. If you are judged to be a fully rational and Worthy actor, you can and yes you Must act consistently in your own best interest. No one’s going to do that for you. No one really can. And BTW, we should realistically Expect this of All adults too. And if you can’t decide who you can be with as a potential future mate due to your past poor choices, well then you’re pretty much constrained in your areas of all potential choices. And yes, we’re talking about all the big ones here: who to love, how & where. When & how & if to have kids, or more children. When, when & how to work.

Now some may come out and say that Most of all these expectations simply change with the character of parenthood. And they certainly do, no one’s arguing otherwise. But the argument here is what price sacrifice? Should you completely sacrifice your career or prospects of same for the kids? And why is it that it’s typically the women that are seen to do this, still?

Now the obvious answer here may be for BF No.1 to realize and recognize that his hold over Sharon was ever fairly tenuous and could not last. Her affections for him having been wholly transferred to their mutual concerns and support of their daughter, she was bound to find another love interest one day. The obvious answer would be for them to get together and decide where they might all live comfortably, if not exactly together. And for BF #1 to be as generous and understanding as he seems in this scenario. (It can happen). Typically though this is when jealousy rears it’s ugly head and when the lawyers or threat of same come into play.

We probably need a bit more information here, but I’m saying that Sharon should certainly consider moving to be closer to a potential BF who may become a decent husband and father. We can all agree that despite BF #1 doing a credible job at parenting, even a 4 years on, it may be high time for Sharon to ‘move on’, and to start thinking more seriously about her future with another man, rather than being forever tied down to her past. I realize that this may not be a popular opinion, but it’s also may be the only way for Sharon to actually marry someone who will not only be a father to her child but a decent and loving husband to her too.

So the ‘good of the child’ is not a bad test of intentions and potential outcomes of possible scenarios here. However this should not be seen as wholly incompatible with the adult needs and desires of mother, Sharon. Even if the mutual satisfaction of both may take some time to accomplish & ‘reunite’. If not we’d have a fraction of the divorces in this country, and no mom with kids under the age of 21 would ever dare to consider divorce. And we know better otherwise, right?

So just some more thoughts here.
Cheers & Good Luck, ‘VJ’

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singlemomseeking October 19, 2008 at 8:23 am

Sharon just wrote me an email to say that she feels so appreciative for the feedback!

She adds:

“I should clarify that her Daddy is dating, too. Also, there is NO way I would consider moving my daughter away after a four-month relationship; if I did uproot her from here, there would have to be serious commitment on the table (marriage).”

Moreover, her parents moved out to be closer to their granddaughter this year, and they’ve already said they will follow their daughter and granddaughter if they do relocate.

“All in all I have very supportive people in my life — but I feel that I can’t ask them for advice because they’ve all got too much at stake in this.”

Thanks to all of YOU!!

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Legal Editor Mom October 19, 2008 at 1:12 pm

I’d have to say the constraints these parents put on their personal lives would be more in living together, albeit platonically, rather than continuing to live in the same town. That, I would rethink. Moving out of state to be with a boyfriend, I would not consider.

Do you realize how many single parents (moms especially), would give anything to have the other parent involved in their children’s lives? It sounds as if the father has been an unselfish, active part of the daughter’s life and I would not compromise that for a new relationship. I agree that if the boyfriend is willing to move, then let him move. (But don’t move in with him, either!) Give the relationship time to grow, and see what happens.

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Ocean October 20, 2008 at 6:26 am

I second Legal Editor Mom’s comment. This child is stable in a place with invested grandparents, a mother, a father. How envious some of us are! Date TX for a year- yes, at a minimum, yes, long-distance. See what happens.

Ocean´s last blog post…Poem of the Day

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Sonya October 26, 2008 at 12:57 pm

I think that all the other posters have really great answers. I think that keeping the father in life should be very important, and if TX doesn’t have obligations there like Sharon does in DC, then the best choice would be for him to move. Everyone has to sacrifice in relationships, and TX moving to DC would be the least amount of sacrifice for all the others involved in the situation.

Sonya´s last blog post…It’s wrong?

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Deaha November 18, 2008 at 10:22 am

How come when men are not apart of teir kids lives or what to move, then oh well he is just being dad. Men are given so much freedom when it comes to being parents, but mothers carry the children, birth them, raise them, then also have to give up everything to make sure the dad also an adult gets to be aparent?? It’s not fair that we have to make constant sacrfices and men can play dad when they feel like or not at all. Children grow up

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Birdie June 26, 2009 at 7:24 am

I think most of your opinions are terrible. This mother has sacrificed years of her life, has gone above and beyond to create a “family” for her child and has probably been none too happy about living with a man who is not right for her. The best choices a parent can make are those that bring them happiness, because kids KNOW if their parents are happy vs. MISERABLE. I write this as a mother but as a former child, I would have to agree as well. Who wants a mother who sacrifices everything, including her happiness to martyr herself on the cross of motherhood? NO THANKS. She needs to follow HER dreams for once and in doing so she will teach her child to follow suit. You want to know why many of my dreams are unfulfilled? Because I had a mother who sacrificed herself. I learned to put others needs before my own. Now, at 29 and as a mother of an amazing AND adaptable 3 1/2 year old I am finally ready to live my dreams. I am faithful that although my son might not like all of the decisions I make, he WILL understand someday. I know that I am a good mother. Shame on anyone who tries to preach at this woman. Get real, and get a life.

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SingleMom August 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm

I am currently in the same situation. I am a single mom of an amazing 4 year old. Her father left when she was only 6 months old. We were never married. I have been on my own since then. I am in a low paying but stable job because it is a true 9-5 job and it makes our lives possible. Her father remarried about 2 months ago, and now his wife is pregnant with a new baby.

And I was fine with all of that, but now I’ve fallen in love.

He is a doctor who went back for a Ph.D. in Bioengineering who is incredibly smart, fun, kind, and loving. He chased me for a year before we started dating, and my daughter says “No one will ever love you as much as M___.” We are on the marriage track, but not married. We have had all the essential pre-marriage talks, and again as my daughter eloquently put it “he already is family.”

He was given an amazing, once in a life time job in Philly because his friend from college started a new Bioengineering company and he want my boyfriend to head the biomedical division. He will be making a very good salary, and, more importantly, he will be given an amazing amount of professional freedom.

He wants me to move with him, but it is my understanding that the state of Illinois will not condone removing my daughter from her father. I don’t want to out maneuver my ex to force him to let us move. I don’t think it is in our daughter’s best interest. The court process can bring out the very worst in people.

I want to help my ex to see that having me happy is in our daughter’s best interest. I know, I might be asking for a miracle. I don’t want to ruin my daughter’s life though, just so I can be happy. And having her father resent me will certainly be something he uses to torture her. At the same time I don’t know that I can be a good mother if I have to resent my daughter for taking away the best man I have ever known.

I don’t have an answer. I guess that’s why I came looking here.

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singlemomseeking August 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm

@SingleMom: Congratulations on healing and falling in love again!
Please keep me in touch re: what you decide.
I imagine that you’d like to move before your child starts kindergarten, yes?

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