This is a topic I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. When I think back to that time in 2013, it makes me smile, but the decision to introduce David to Ruby was one I agonised over for weeks. I hadn’t really made provision emotionally for doing this.
I’d been single for over three years, with the odd date and semi-relationship here and there, but nothing that made me feel happy about taking the next step of introducing them to Ruby, age seven at the time. In fact, I’d spend time lying in bed thinking about it. I wouldn’t say I worried about it, but it was almost a situation I could never see myself in. Introducing your most precious achievement to a man who isn’t their daddy is a scary thought. I wondered how people ever knew they were doing the right thing. I’d hear about friends of friends who’d taken this leap of faith and I honestly never saw myself as being able to trust anyone not to hurt my precious little girl by letting us down.
David and I met in early 2013. I hadn’t really felt like going on the date that night. I had a tick-list longer than the Great Wall of China, so I wasn’t too sure there was any point in even trying. But David was lovely and we began seeing each other regularly.
David knew about Ruby from the start and was keen to hear my stories about her, what we’d been up to at the weekend and so on. I’d spend my time alone trying to fathom David out. A couple of years younger than me, single, seemed lovely, asked the right questions, so where was the catch? But I didn’t let it bother me too much. I was having fun, with a really nice guy and I’d become quite good at ‘going with the flow.’ Being a single-mum teaches you this. (Here)
Until one day, when David took me completely by surprise. We were out at dinner and I was telling him about something Ruby had said and done, which we were both laughing about. Then he said, ‘Do you think I could meet her sometime?’
I lay in bed that night consumed with fear about what to do; that moment when you really need your instincts to do their instinctive thing and not let you down. But that’s a lot to ask of a single-mummy with all her super-protective powers in play.
David and I had only been seeing each other for about four months and this was my main concern. Did I trust my instincts enough to know this was right? The thought of potentially being responsible for her emotional turmoil if everything went wrong was consuming. It’s so much easier to not do something, to protect yourself emotionally, isn’t it? My usual mantra of ‘It’s better to regret something you have done, than to regret something you haven’t’ went completely out of the window.
I found myself googling ridiculous questions such as ‘How long should you wait before introducing a new partner’ which of course, came back with a plethora of answers but I suppose it did help me realise that I had to make the decision myself. Every situation is different and it’s important if you’re reading this trying to gauge when the time is right, that you really follow your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t right.
Weighing everything up, and after speaking to family members and David himself about the seriousness of meeting Ruby, I decided to go ahead and do it. I was happy that I knew who David was; we knew mutual friends, who confirmed he was an all-round good guy. I’d met his family, who were all so lovely and he’d invited me into his home.
We arranged to meet at a bowling alley and amusement complex close-by. I’m a creature of comfort and although I have an ever-increasing, wide circle of friends, it doesn’t really get added to with species of the male-kind. One evening at the dinner-table, I asked Ruby if she’d like to come bowling with my friend, Dave. Her reaction was priceless. ‘Okay,’ she said and ‘Is Dave a boy?’ I tried to play it cool and carried on clearing the dishes from the table but this is proof that children are so clever and extremely perceptive. I was met with a barrage of questions, including where did I meet him? Is he nice? Will I like him? How come your friend is a boy?’ and so on. Any concerns she had about meeting him were soon replaced with thoughts of who would win at bowling and she spent the next few nights looking forward to meeting David.
In my decision to allow David to meet Ruby, I had also considered his feelings. It was important that he knew what life with Ruby was like, I decided, and resigned myself to the fact that meeting her would make or break the relationship. I also needed to see how he reacted to her. I had no doubt he would be lovely with her, but until you try something, you’re never going to know if it works. I knew I liked David but if Ruby didn’t, it was a deal-breaker, so I braced myself for the situation to go either way.
We got to the bowling complex early. Ruby was like a bottle of pop waiting for David to arrive and I was honestly so nervous about what he’d think of her, of us, of me when he saw me in mummy-mode; would he still like me? Would it put him off? None of it mattered, of course. If he didn’t like it, then that would be the end of it, but I really wanted him to like us, and me in mummy-mode.
I saw David walk through the glass doors and pointed him out to Ruby. He was smiling as he came towards us and Ruby stayed by my side as he approached. I knew immediately that I’d done the right thing as he greeted her so warmly, saying ‘You must be Ruby. I’ve heard lots about you.’
As we got our bowling shoes, Ruby laughed at David putting them on and chatted so innocently to him, having no idea about how important this first meeting was for us all.
We found our lane and David asked Ruby if she wanted to type in our names on the screen. As they started doing that, I walked along two or three lanes to find a lighter bowling ball for Ruby. When I came back and looked at the screen, she had entered Ruby Doo, Davey Doo and was in the middle of writing Ruthie Doo. She and David had come up with the names as I had constantly referred to her as Ruby Doo on our dates. My heart melted.
Ruby watched as David rolled some duff balls and laughed when he scored zero. I was surprised at how good he was at all of this. Then Ruby said she need the loo so off we went.
As we walked along, she clearly didn’t need the loo at all, but just wanted some girl-time to discuss Mummy’s new friend. The conversation was rather one-sided and went like this:
Ruby: I like David. I like his tie. He’s nice. Is he your boyfriend?
Me: What? No!
Ruby: I think he loves you. I think he wants to marry you.
Me: No he doesn’t! Why do you say that?
Ruby: I can just tell. Do you like him?
Me: Let’s go back. We’ve left David all alone.
Ruby: Okay but do you think he can come for a pizza with us after?
Me: I don’t know. He might be busy.
And here is the evidence that we should never underestimate our children’s superior emotional intelligence. At no point did David and I hold hands, neither did he put his arm around me; she just knew.
As our bowling game came to an end, I was dreading Ruby asking if he wanted to come for a pizza, thinking he’d probably be shattered by now, but he said yes straight away and as we walked through the complex, she held a hand each and skipped along between us, without a care in the world. David had given me a couple of reassuring looks throughout the evening and I’d caught him watching me in mummy-mode, which surprisingly, he didn’t seem to mind.
At Pizza Express, David found himself wearing Ruby’s paper hat, while she peeled the stickers off her sheet and stuck them on his ear-lobes as earrings, then pretty much his whole face.
The car journey home was like David’s very own fan club. Again, the conversation was very one-sided and went something like this:
Ruby: I like David. Will we see him again?
Me: Maybe. Would you like that?
Ruby: Yes. Do you think he likes us? I do. Do you like him?
Me: Yes, he’s very nice.
Ruby: Do you love him? Do you think he loves you? I do.
Me: Oh, look at that over there.
Ruby met David four or five more times before I sat her down one evening to explain that David would like to be my boyfriend if it was okay with her, which was met with a huge hug and ‘Yay!’
And that was four and a half years ago. Becoming a family of three nearly didn’t happen but we got there in the end and now we’re a family of four.
Although David isn’t Ruby’s Daddy, he does a fantastic job of supporting and encouraging her. I think a man who chooses to do that is someone pretty special.
Thanks so much for reading.