Monthly Archives: November 2012

“Mama. Talk NO more.”

My son and I are great friends. We spend most of our time together and have very few problems, save a missed nap here and there that leads to cranky-pants. My son and I are great friends, except when his other mother is around too much. That sounds terrible. I know. To explain, S had five days off for Thanksgiving. We traveled to Atlanta to see her family. From the minute M knew she was home “all day” (as he likes to say), he was mean to me. He told me to go away. He didn’t want me to play with him. He didn’t want me, his primary caregiver, to help him use the potty or eat or go to sleep. He flat-out rejected me and I spent 5 days feeling crushed and heartbroken. He was on S’s boobs much of the time, nursing more than any 2 year old really needs to while somehow managing to keep me far away. I rationalized his behavior, telling myself that he misses S and gets to see me all the time. While I can understand where he is coming from, I still felt unloved. I am used to this type of behavior in the middle of the night. When he is half asleep, he only wants her. He will cry and cry for her, ignoring my soothing and asking me to leave the room. But this is not normal for the daylight hours. Not even on the weekends when S is home all day.

We returned home Saturday evening and I was excited to get things back to normal beginning with Sunday. Normally, M and I wake early and make pancakes together while S sleeps in. I love the early morning time with him, his cheeks still rosy from the night’s dreaming. This past Sunday, however, he wanted nothing to with me and I was done. I couldn’t take it anymore. As I dressed to go for a run, I was sobbing. Both S and I had been telling him that he needs to be nice to me and that the way he was talking to me hurts my feelings. But he is two and is not rational. So, I sat on the bed half-dressed and cried. After much coaxing, he came and sat with me. No hugs or kisses, but his eyes filled with tears as I told him that I was feeling sad. Nothing. He went to S and nuzzled into her neck, refusing physical contact with me.

When I talked to my dad about how hard my weekend away had been, he asked if we had considered weaning M totally. People keep saying that weaning him will be the great equalizer. Then everyone will have “no nanas”, as he calls my empty breasts. But, I am just not convinced that is the answer. What I am learning is that sometimes, we just need different things from different people. I know this to be true in my own life, so I just need to sit back and listen to my boy, who misses his Ima, tell me he needs her for a few days.

Everything got back to normal today. S went back to work. M and I took great adventures and had a blast. I got lots of kisses and hugs and those sweet giggles that make my heart melt. And when S came home from work, I still got attention from him. We did somersaults on the couch and played in the tub. I got to put him down for sleep tonight. We read books and sang songs and he didn’t ask for his other mother one time. Seems he loves me afterall.

-Betsy

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A Fine Balance

Often Betsy’s posts spur my own thoughts around what to write about- it’s a fabulous part of doing this blog together.  One of Betsy’s recent posts got me thinking and I had this realization about why it’s sometimes tricky for me to come up with material to share on this forum, even though I think opening up allows the most meaningful parts of my experience as a non-gestational parent to be shared and received.

We have a known donor and he is a good friend of ours. We don’t go shouting from the rooftops that he’s our donor, quite frankly it’s not really anyone’s business and I want to respect his privacy.  At the same time, it’s nothing we’re embarrassed or ashamed about and we feel strongly that being somewhat transparent helps normalize the reality of what we had to do to start our awesome, little family… so our good friends know as do some family members. I feel sensitive about what I share in regards to having a known donor since anyone with access to the World Wide Web can stumble upon this information.

I will admit that there are things that come up for me around being a queer non-gestational mother that are around having a known donor and how this fact impacts my life and experience as a parent.  Not because our donor is doing anything wrong- he’s actually incredibly thoughtful, respectful, and generous- but simply because of the reality of being a non-traditional family and me being the odd-lady-out so to speak in a society that institutionally and culturally doesn’t fully understand or support non-gestational parents (and I’m saying that living in a state where I actually have some legal protection).  The fact that he has a biological tie to our daughter and I don’t does make our situation a bit complicated.  Again, nothing he’s doing wrong, it just is what it is.  Maybe it’s more the fact that we have to have a donor period that makes it complicated.  I actually have found that as time has gone on I have come to associate love and warmth in regards to how our donor plays into our life as a family. He has been overwhelmingly cool and respectful about this whole gig. I can see that our daughter likes him and he cares about her and anyone who cares about her has won some high points in my book.  And yet there is this small, admittedly probably insecure, part of me that gets nervous and territorial sometimes like I need to defend my role and prominence in our family even though it’s probably not really being threatened… at least not by our donor.  It’s like I’m swinging quiet punches, but I can’t see my target and I don’t even want to be fighting.

At different points in my life I’ve thought about how polyamory* seems like something I could get behind, if I was born into a different world than this one that is (think Starhawk’s utopian San Francisco ala The Fifth Sacred Thing)… one where everyone involved was supremely intentional, thoughtful, safe, respectful and loving. Yet in reality it seems like a lot of work and rather exhausting, even though I know some people do it with grace and joy.  Maybe that’s a metaphor for my own little family and our donor: I want to believe it can work, and most of the time it really does, but the larger society makes me question things along the way.  I think I will have to use my instinct as my compass and hope for the best.  Right now it’s a balancing act between respecting my own needs and being open to what will bring the most joy, love and support into my family.  My compass is saying to trust the path.

– Charlotte

* “Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly], meaning ‘many’ or ‘several’, and Latin amor, “love”) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.” – Wikipedia, 2012

Barking Seals

Two days ago my son woke in the middle of the night with a barking cough, not able to catch his breath. He sounded like a seal calling out to its mate. Turns out, it was croup. As I read Dr. Sears, I started to panic. It said that sometimes kids with croup need immediate medical attention which, given the late hour, would mean a trip to the emergency room of our local hospital. Then I remembered that I moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina. Here, my relationship to my child has to have a paper trail a mile long to be seen as valid in the eyes of some people. Then I remembered we have just moved and I have no idea where the papers are that legalized our relationship to one another. What if they wouldn’t let me go back with him? What if some homophobic asshole decides that only his other mom could be with him, comfort him, hold him? In a time when I should have been able to just focus on my son, I felt panic for myself. Panic that I would be denied the opportunity to care for my son. MY son. And some fucking asshole (pardon my language) would make that decision for me and for my son based on some bastardized interpretation of the bible. I ran through the scenarios in my head as I waited for our pediatrician to call. I could sneak in behind a nurse’s aide, crouched down low so that the asshole who told me I couldn’t come in didn’t see me. I could grab a random patient in a wheelchair and push them down the hall like I knew just where I was going, all the while listening for my boy calling out to me. I could scream in the waiting room until they let me back or had me arrested. It took our pediatrician an hour to call back so I had a lot of time to create these scenarios, each ending in the loving embrace between a mother and her child. Turns out that he just needed a night to recover and then he was fine. No hospital necessary. I haven’t really talked to my partner about what happened in my head the other night, about the panic that ensued. I wonder if she ever has those kinds of reactions or if she just gets to be his parent without worry. The next morning I made sure we knew where my boy’s adoption papers were. Safely in the glove box of my car, just in case.

-Betsy