It turned out I'd met them advising one of the widowed moms -- a thirty-something year old mom of two who had just completed her one-year customary mourning period and was about to get back into the world -- on how to get her groove back, so to say, and the kind of men she would do well to avoid, among other things.
The older widowed woman and the hot grandma had a pretty short, concise list of the attributes she would need to watch out for before saying yes to any man if she decided she wanted to get back on the man-boat. Having once had a young widowed mom myself, not to mention the fact that I am an unmarried mom too, I didn't only take notes at this unplanned meeting (it turned into some sort of fellowship too, but I'd write about that later), I had some to share as well. And I've crunched it all--theirs and mine--here.
The one type of man I know you do not want in your life as a single mom is the kind who thinks he's doing you a favor. Yes, they exist. These are men who take one look at you, a single mother, and decides that your kid(s) are in need of a father and/or worse, that you must be desperate for some malettention**. This man is not thinking to 'help you' out of the goodness of his heart; you will find, in fact, that help is the last thing on his mind: he is a user, of all resources mental and physical, and your perceived helpless desperation is what he hopes to take advantage of. You see, he is of the belief that you must feel so undesirable--what with your baggage and all--that you would consider having someone look your way a luxury, and as such would be willing to do anything to keep him. And you know what happens with partners who fancy themselves a catch? You couldn't keep them anyway. Letting this man into your life would not serve you well at all, mommy, because that which he has he would not give, physically or emotionally, and if he does give it would not be without making sure that you know how much it means that he's "doing this for" you--that he is with you; he would literally "squat with it", as Yoruba people say, seeing as he fancies his presence in your life a favor. Which simply means you will always owe this man. He will always remind you. And he would always collect, even much more than he ever gave--if he ever does give.
Which brings me to the entitled man. This man doesn't understand that you do not--can not--solely belong to him now. He can not make peace with the fact that your time has to be divided unequally between him and your kid(s), never mind that there's work in the mix there somewhere. This man wants all your time and attention, and it's not because he loves you oh so much; he is simply spoilt, and with a sense of entitlement so nasty that he would wrestle, in a manner of speaking, with your kids for your time and attention -- not that he has any reason to -- and you already can envision what being with this kind of man would do to you and your relationship with your kids if you let it happen without figuring out a way to let him know who takes what place. But then it's not like you could ever do enough for this man, anyway. He will whine and complain and b!tch about how he's not sure how much of you he really has. He never will be too--sure, I mean--and it'd have nothing to do with you. This bloke got issues all his own. And the more allowances you give, the more he would want, and it goes on and on, until you're drained, and he's out on the next hunt. And you know who pays if you enter into a solid commitment with an entitled man? Yes, your kids.
A man who chooses to love you, knowing you have kid(s)--an unshovable commitment, would understand that your children coming first doesn't threaten his place with you, and even better, he would put them first too.
The kind of man the hot grandma at the nail shop couldn't seem to drill into the widowed mom's ear enough is "the one you have to feed." Jeez, I wish I had a picture of this mama's face as she kept pulling her ear while repeatedly telling this young mom to not ever settle for a man whose mission, in her words, is "to come eat up all her children's food." And I could relate -- on a stepdad level. This is the selfishly irresponsible man. He would not give, and he would not let you keep what you have. He is 'Mr. Chopson'. This man wants to be fed before your kids get fed, not like he's Prophet Elijah too: feeding this man would empty your barrel of flour without refill and dry up your oil jar. He is a minus man through and through. You, never mind your kids, can not expect any support from this kind of man. He'll be there when you have, and literally go the way of winds when you have not, his money firmly glued to his pocket. This, of course, is not saying that you're on the look out for a man who's to come bear all your financial burdens, but you would do well to make sure he's not dumping his on your shoulders too.
But then again, how much can anyone stay with a partner who never offers to split the bill every now and then, really? Especially when they know you are responsible for more than just yourself. This is not even a gender based issue, but still, the man was made first for a reason. Argue with your cell leader, please.
To wrap it up in one tidy nutshell, and in my Oma's words: "If he's not good for your child, baby girl, he's not good for you." And I think that about sums up everything any single parent needs to consider before bringing anyone into their kids' lives.