My name is *Nicole. As a woman in my late 30s, I juggle life as a single mum to two boys and a girl. My journey through love and relationships has been a rollercoaster of unexpected twists and beautiful discoveries.
The chapters of my life have unfolded, revealing a new love story that defies traditional norms, and it all began in the wake of my divorce in 2019 before the pandemic happened.
Now, I’m in a relationship with a woman.
Navigating uncharted emotional territories
Introducing *Robyn into my world stirred similar of reactions among my friends and sister. “So, are you a lesbian now?” was the common question I got.
While getting upset with them might have been easy, I empathised instead. They, like me, were trying to rationalise the information presented to them. Like me, they were confused.
I was navigating uncharted waters myself, questioning if this was merely “just a phase” or seemingly petty way of getting back at my ex-husband.
Until then, I had never dated a woman. My romantic interests had always leaned towards men. With this context in mind, I absolutely understood why their eyebrows were raised.
Friendship blossoms into romance
Robyn and I had been friends for several years. We were introduced to each other by mutual friends who noticed that we shared interests in sports and outdoor activities.
At the time, my children were fairly young, so, I was always looking for activities we could do as a family that would tire them out. As the only single person in our friendship group, Robyn was affectionately known as "fun aunty Robyn" and would volunteer to babysit the kids of our friends.
Our friendship grew organically as my children and I would joined her in these escapades. Our friendship was always easy. On these playdates, we’d spend delightful time chatting and having lunch together while the kids played.
Naturally, we became great friends and the closest pair in our friend group. Amid the laughter and camaraderie, a deep friendship was blossoming, one that would eventually evolve into something more profound.
When my marriage fell apart, I relied on my close friends for comfort, support, and companionship. I kept myself busy by spending time with my children, delving into their hobbies, and finding new outdoor activities for us to do together.
Robyn, of course, joined in some of these activities and became my steadfast support. At that time, I didn’t think of it as being romantic. It was fun to have her around, and I didn’t have to worry about anything. She would usually plan activities and meals, and invite us to join her.
It was refreshing for me not to have to think about these things anymore because they were some of the responsibilities I shared with my ex-husband, which I found frustrating.
Not long after, Robyn offered to take my kids out regularly so I could get more “me” time. I thought it was really sweet of her to do so. Occasionally, she’d take me out for meals, and because she was such a foodie, we’d go to new restaurants or bars.
These moments with her really reminded me of how important it was to take care of myself and how nice it was to treat myself occasionally.
Navigating confusion and self-discovery
Our relationship was a slow burn. Looking back, I realised that this was her way of subtly pursuing a deeper connection with me.
It wasn’t until a year and a half after I had separated from my husband that Robyn asked me out properly. Given that I was going through a lot emotionally and mentally, I appreciated that Robyn took things slowly and didn’t try to pursue me immediately. It gave me the time and space to learn about what I enjoyed and wanted.
Admittedly, I found myself pondering over the nature of my attraction towards her. Was I attracted to her physically, or did I just enjoy her companionship?
Before we could dive into uncharted romantic waters, I knew I needed to have some difficult and honest conversations with Robyn about my sexuality and what our relationship would mean for our friends and our respective families.
While her family was aware of her preferences, this would all be new information for my family and, more importantly, my children. Our relationship could have also impacted our connection with our friends.
The need for acceptance in revealing our relationship
Treading cautiously, we cautiously revealed our relationship to our closest friends, bracing for their reactions. They were shocked. Unsurprisingly, we knew this might happen.
While they were respectful, they did ask plenty of questions about how this all came to be and whether I always knew I was interested in women. Back then, I wasn’t quite able to answer their questions. Frankly, I still can’t.
Over time, I’ve learned that sexuality is a spectrum, and I’ve given up trying to define what or who I could be attracted to. It’s just pointless to do so.
Thankfully for us, our friends accepted it and supported our relationship. They didn’t make us feel like outcasts, and though it took a while for them to get around seeing us being affectionate towards one another, they didn’t say anything. I do, without a doubt, think we’ve been quite thankful on this front.
Challenging dynamics of balancing the past and present
Navigating the delicate balance between my past and present became a challenge, especially concerning my children and my ex-husband.
In the first few months of my new relationship, I kept from posting anything on social media as I was still in touch with my ex-husband on those platforms and hadn’t yet broken the news to him. I was also not ready to share such personal news so openly. It was difficult to stay away from posting, especially when I was having an incredible time and was finally able and willing to enjoy life.
As my ex-husband and I were sharing custody of our kids, I also thought about how my new relationship could have impacted his thoughts on whether I was a good fit as a mother or if I was setting the right examples.
It was when my kids told me that my ex had started seeing someone new that I could master the courage to share that I was also seeing someone. Eventually, I told my ex-husband about Robyn when I dropped my kids off at his place for the weekend.
Our conversation went surprisingly well. Perhaps my kids had told him that mummy seemed happier, or maybe, he was just happier in his relationship with his new girlfriend. Whatever the case, I took it.
The only thing he requested was that nothing should change. Our visiting schedules would remain the same, and I should still consult him about any decisions we have to make regarding our children.
Managing motherhood and guilt amid emotional turmoil
My kids absolutely love Robyn. They often refer to her as “mummy’s special friend,” knowing that she’s more than just a good friend to me. I’ve not quite had the conversation about sexuality with them, but I know that eventually, I will. As my kids are all under 12, I still think I have the time before I eventually talk to them about it.
Sometimes, I do feel guilty about falling in love again and I worry that my relationship with Robyn would affect my children. I mean, how could it not? They’ve only ever seen mummy with daddy, not with another woman. This is also new to them. They’re also now “sharing” their mummy with someone else instead of having her all to themselves.
Striking a balance with conscious living arrangements
To keep the balance and the peace, our living arrangement reflected a conscious choice. My children and I live in our family home while Robyn has her own place. This way, the kids have a home that’s truly theirs, and Robyn and I have a space for ourselves. It also means that she’s got a private place to go to at the end of the day, if the kids are too much for her – which, of course, I would understand.
Not much has changed in our day-to-day either. The kids continue to spend time with their dad on alternate weekends, and Robyn and I spend time with each other as and when it’s possible for us to do so. I’m thankful and grateful that she’s not been pushy about wanting to spend more time together and is instead happy to cater to my needs and the needs of my children.
On occasions, though, she picks the kids up from school, sends them to enrichment classes, and takes them out for meals. This has helped grow their relationship as well. However, I remind the kids that Aunty Robyn isn’t replacing their dad, and I’ve clarified to Robyn that she’s not expected to fill the role as a parent either.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing Robyn bond with my kids and how much fun they have with her. Whenever she takes them out to grab a bite, they come back with stories about what they’ve discussed and the fun activities they do. It’s been great knowing that they get along with her.
Undoubtedly, my kids remain my priority. As much as I love Robyn, I know that if anything were to happen, I’d pick my kids over her any day. And she knows this. It’s an unpleasant reality, and while she’s never brought it up, I know this is a heartbreaking thing to accept.
Embracing uncertain futures
Despite this, I’m grateful she chose to stay. I can’t predict what our future will be like, and we’ve not quite discussed it yet. For now, we’re happy to just, well, be happy and in love.
Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been married before, but I’ve since stopped trying to plan for the future or trying to shape the outcome of my relationships. Instead, I’m pleased to just go with the flow and experience the fulfilment I get from my children. Naturally, we’ve had preliminary discussions about the future, but considering that LGBTQ+ marriages are not recognised in Singapore, Robyn, too, is happy to do the same.
Eventually, we might get married in Australia or elsewhere, but for now, we’re taking it slow and enjoying where our relationship takes us.
*Names and minor details have been changed to protect privacy. As told to Arika Kim.
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