DATING with KIDS ABROAD
“There is nobody stronger than a single parent.”
Being a mother is hands down one of the…wait it may be the NUMBER ONE job in the world! I mean seriously, mothers give and nurture lives. That’s the greatest, most special and precious gift a woman could give. Knowing that women are given such a task imagine how you would cope with shaping and molding a life as a single parent. NOW, add to that to finding love. How do you handle the two? Our next featurette shares her view on how she handles raising children and maintaining a love life while living abroad.
TELL US WHO YOU ARE
I am Dr. Sabrina Barnette from Charlotte, North Carolina. I am a 43-year-old single mother of two amazing children and have been divorced for four years. I have been an educator since graduating from Virginia State University in 1996, but have been blessed to be able to use gifts as a dancer/choreographer across the country.
How long have you lived abroad?
I first moved abroad August 2013.
What places have you lived abroad and for how long?
I lived in Kazakhstan for 2 years and just finished my 2nd year in the UAE.
Did you travel abroad by yourself?
My then husband was adamant about not moving, although I had been asking for over 7 years. When I decided to make the move regardless, I was already aware that my marriage was over; we just needed to go through the official process. The original plan was to take my two children with me; however, at a few weeks before my departure date, my daughter, who was eight at the time, pulled me to the side she said, “Mommy, this is a wonderful opportunity for you and I know that you will be great. But…um…I want to stay with Daddy and my friends.” First of all, where did she get this vocabulary from…and the courage to speak up for what she felt was right for her? I was sad that she didn’t want to travel with me, but I listened to her and my husband and I made a plan. So, my first two years abroad, I traveled solo. It was the hardest decision of my life to leave my kids with their dad, but I truly believe that all things happen for a reason. Brianna sharing her desires and me listening to her…it was the best thing for us all. I needed to figure out who I was as a single woman again, after being married for 15 years. I needed to re-connect with Sabrina so that I could be the best version of myself for my children. So, my time alone was needed and valuable. My husband needed the kids with him to keep him grounded as his oldest son from a previous marriage was killed my first year abroad; a tragedy that would change all of our lives forever. I also realized, as I settled into my life in Kazakhstan, the kids were better off in the U. S., as life in KZ as a person of color can be very overwhelming.
What was your relationship status when moving abroad?
Separated with a divorce in progress.
What were your desires, anticipations and wants about relationships, dating or otherwise when moving abroad?
Honestly, just coming out of a marriage, I was NOT looking for anything. My purpose for moving was solely focused on my personal research of educational systems in various countries. My research was my focus, along with just focusing on myself…healing and rediscovering ME.
So…when I met the man that I am currently in a committed relationship with…2 weeks before leaving the US for Kazakhstan…I had no idea that 4 years later….we would be where we are today.
My sister said that I was about to enter my, Eat, Pray, Love phase of life…and well…she wasn’t exactly wrong…LOL
Since moving to abroad have you dated?
I found myself dating much quicker than I could have imagined.
How is dating abroad? Does it vary in different countries?
So, my biggest problem with dating abroad has been just the plethora of F*@K Boys of all ages. In KZ, I was THE ONLY black woman in the entire city and one of just a handful in the entire country. So, when people would come across my Internations profile, my inbox would be lit up!!! Internations was great because it allowed me to connect with other Americans in the country, along with finding other people of color. I knew every black person in KZ…LOL
So…I was a very sought after catch in KZ since I was an anomaly. It didn’t matter the age, from 21-60…they, were coming after me…naming me, Brown Sugar of KZ. Yes…I actually found that out once I left the country. All in all, men are men everywhere around the world, but dating was a bit different once I was actually dating someone. In my experience, the foreign men were much more into the fine details. For the most part, their approach to me was very different than those at home. The men that I seriously entertained came with a sophisticated swag and were impressed, instead of intimidated, by my intellect and tried to step up their game to match mine. Many American men would just say, “Oh, you are one of those educated, independent women that don’t need a man!” Um…I didn’t say that…you just assumed that. However, in the end, I ended up with a man that is American but is well traveled and has a great mix of the comfort from home that I like, but worldly views that I need.
Do you find that the pool of accessible men is big or small?
The real pool of age appropriate, single men is a small pool. The majority that are my age are married and want someone on the side, or have their family in their home country. Those in their late 20’s early 30’s that are not American fall in love after 1 conversation and are trying to hurry and get married and have kids. The one’s in their 20’s well…they are in their 20’s. I came to realize that no matter how mature they are…they are still 20something…and just NOT ready for my world. Then you have those that need a green card. No words for that group.
Are there advantages to dating abroad?
The difficulties, I believe, I addressed in my above response. The advantages would be truly being exposed to all types of people from all over the world and their culture. This can also be something that some may find difficult. In the US, we are all so westernized and we don’t really get to experience the true essence of other cultures outside of the various festivals that are available for us to attend. Also, planning dates can be really fun, especially when they involve travel.
What is your relationship status now? And has living abroad made this easy or difficult?
Today, I am in a committed relationship with the man I met 4 years ago, 2 weeks prior to my first living abroad year. During my time he has always lived in Atlanta, Georgia. We would meet in various places around the world, catching moments when time allowed. Recently, he said, it is time for us to be in the same part of the world.
He has accepted a position as Head of Radiology at a new hospital opening in Qatar. For the first time, we will live on the same continent. We are already looking at where we will travel together while here and mapping out our 5-year plan as individuals and as a couple. The distance right now has never really been too much of an issue; it will be interesting to see when closing our distance and being able to have a more…traditional courtship, how we will relate to each other. However, the fact that he is willing to pick up his life to meet me where I am in my life in an effort for us to have a life together…I am hopeful for our future.
How does having children affect living abroad and dating? How does it compare or contrast from living back home?
So, my children moved overseas with me once I made the move to the UAE. I don’t bring men around them. They may know Mommy has a date, but unless I see longevity in that relationship, they will never meet that man in person. They did meet and establish a relationship with a man that has become an important part of our family. He is younger than I am and we decided that our friendship was more valuable and suitable for us.
They LOVE living abroad and prefer living here to the US. I love that I get to expose them to things they have only read about in their school books. They have a better appreciation for other’s cultures, traditions, and way of life, as well as their own. I love that they no longer just talk about going to Carowinds as a family trip, but are planning trips to Japan and Africa. This experience has been amazing for them and waiting until not only I was adjusted to living abroad and could help them adjust, as well as, just waiting for them to be personally ready, it truly has made all of the difference.
What are your relationship goals? How do they or do they not align with your goals of living abroad?
Well, Duane and I are taking things one day at a time. As I said before, this will be the first time we have lived in the same continent our entire relationship. My goals are to continue to make myself happy; keep my babies happy and healthy, and work on incorporating Duane into our lives in a healthy way. My son, Xavier, asked me when I told the kids that Duane and I were going to be dating…and no, they have yet to meet him…they just know of him…Xavier asked, “Does he make you happy, laugh, and can he keep his word as a man?” This is my 9-year-old speaking…
I told him, so far, yes to all of those questions. He said good…then he can date us! LOL
Wow!! Thank you so much Sabrina for such a detailed and honest dialogue of your truth dating abroad with children. You show strength and tenacity! I absolutely loved your story and I wish much peace, love and success to you, your family and your new found relationship.
To my readers,
Much love, peace, and blessings to you