I was in love with the man but not with his situation.
Being in a relationship with a full-time single father with two young kids has brought out the best in me. I never thought I would say that because I had been resistant about his life - I was in love with the man but not with his situation. But I believe the worst of situations often bring out the best in people. Because you cannot know one without the other - how would you know what you're really made of without being tested by adversity?
So I persisted with our relationship and never have I experienced such steep and unexpected growth as a woman. Being with Adam, who is the primary caretaker of two young children, I really had to shape up my selfish thoughts about how I wanted to be cared for as a girlfriend. When I overheard my ex-colleagues saying how they needed to 'train' their boyfriends to gift them better designer handbags, I really had to hold my tongue. Here I am with a man who has to care for a now three-year-old and six-year-old with no financial nor emotional support from their absent alcoholic mother, I'll be happy if we could manage a simple date night once a week.
It's a relationship with no 'honeymoon period'. The reality of his situation hit even before I entered a relationship with him. So every time I want to whine about not getting more of his time or attention because he needs to put his children to bed, I have to remind myself I got into this relationship with my eyes wide open.
By proxy, I've also come to love and care for Theodore and Clover deeply. They bring me such joys and when they frustrate me, they challenge me to question myself about the person that I am. I've also had to learn to be OK with innocent questions from their little friends about my relationship with them, "Is she your helper? You look nothing like her."
Of course, Adam continues to be a great source of support. There's nothing I cannot talk to him about and there's nothing too trivial for him to discuss with me. He's extremely sensitive about my nuances and there's not much I can hide from him anyway.
How often do you get to come across a man of such substance? Throughout our relationship, not only has he been taking care of the kids, he's also finishing his second PhD while emotionally supporting me through my big decision to quit my full-time employment to officially start my own floral business. Despite the immense stress that he's been facing the whole time, he has never backed out on his promises to me nor to his children. The way he lives his life and treats the people in his life deeply inspires me and I love how he and his children are constant reminders that I can always be a better person.
Ng Yi Lian