I’m a single mother of two teen boys, and I’ve recently started dating an old friend. He has no job, no sense of responsibility and he never helps out. But he does have more charisma than George Clooney — and he has money. I know it’s shallow, but I’m tempted to make him a more fixed part of our lives. Am I out of my mind?
You aren’t out of your mind. As a single mom, you’ve likely been filing the taxes, making the lunches and attending every concert, game and checkup, all on your own. You are it. And when you are it, in the dark trenches of daily responsibility, it’s tempting to reach for something shiny.
Jobless George’s intentions may be good, but it sounds like he’s offering you a flashy form of love; when you turn it over under the light, as any jeweller will tell you, it’s probably not a real gem. It’s a fake. It is easy to surprise and delight someone. It is much harder to roll up your sleeves and take part in all of the duty, the toil and the beautiful, heart-rending exercise that is raising children. Given his track record, I think George will disappoint not only you but also your boys, who in their fiercely vulnerable teenage years are observing the adults in their life more keenly than ever. You have given them an example of steadfast love. Why change that now?
Claudia Dey is a novelist, columnist and Governor General’s Award–nominated playwright. She is the author of How to Be a Bush Pilot: A Field Guide to Getting Luckier.
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