Thursday, May 15, 2014

The b- word, no, the other one.

I guess I never thought it would be someone from my own family who would trot out this special label for my son, but, of course, I should've known. Other people are too polite to say what some of the members of my family have no qualms about broadcasting or throwing in my face.

My child's father and I were not married when my child was conceived. We were at the end of a tortured relationship wherein one would love and the other would act indifferently, and then the positions would reverse, like a seesaw in hell. It was a "one last time" fall into momentary comfort that began our son and finally ended our relationship. My child's father and I were friends who chatted every day for hours, who hung out several days a week, we were lovers, and we were each other's most gifted tormentors, each finding ways to "accidentally" hurt the other, or on purpose, or for whatever reasons we did all the stupid things we did to each other, it's like we were made for causing each other pain and suffering, healing each other over and over again just enough to have something to tear down.

I knew that I did not want to marry my child's father, and I knew that he did not want to marry me. I still chose to have our son and I knew that with that decision inevitably came the final abortion of the relationship. I accepted that loss as part of the price of becoming a mother. Accepting the loss and the gain didn't make it an easy choice to live with. I still had to figure out how to live without the person who had been my daily regular contact - the person who would send me silly links to brighten my day, listen/read my thoughts, make playlists for me, who told me I was his "Natalie Portman in Garden State", the person who had been my most constant companion, and who took almost all of our mutual friends with him. I had to learn how to say goodbye to every way I'd always dealt with problems, goodbye to the girl I was, and accept the wreck of my body and mind from the hormones and the baby. All of that was very hard. I had a lot of grieving to do and I made a lot of mistakes during that time.

In these days, so many people are born out of wedlock it shouldn't matter what relationship their parents had when they were conceived or born. (Man, even the word "wedlock" gives me the skeeviest feeling when I say or write it - it sounds like a sprung trap.) Maybe I feel weird about marriage because I was so hurt by all the people who, asked me about my "proud husband" or whether my "husband's excited to be a daddy" and waited expectantly for me to gush about this missing man, and instead were rewarded with, "Oh, I'm not married, but I'm really excited about being a mother," or "Well, he's kind of out of the picture, but my parents are excited to be grandparents",etc. Reactions like the "ohhhh" of coming to different conclusions about who I am because of my non-married state, the "I'm sorry" of barely masked curiosity dipped in rotten pity, the hundred other vague and slightly awful thoroughly awkward reactions I inspired just by being an unmarried, obviously pregnant, woman in a society that venerates marriage, likes to pretend that long-term relationships don't involve sex, and that extra-marital copulation never occurs except in movies.

My child exists in a world where he has two biological parents, a step-mother, and my boyfriend who basically acts as a step-father. He has more involved immediately relatable parental figures in his life than most kids born in wedlock do, and yet, he gets this stupid stigma because we didn't do things in a traditional way. Children whose parents got married first and had kids, and then later realized they were utterly unsuited for each other will never have to deal with the kinds of things my son, whose parents both cleverly realized their unsuitability for each other before his birth, does.

I've been ruminating over why I was so offended by the word "bastard". I can't deny that his father and I weren't married, and I wouldn't ever, so it's a true statement if you take it without connotation or judgment. My son has been legally claimed by his father so it's not like he's fatherless. The fact that we weren't married and will never be, shouldn't matter to anyone. It's not like we're in some royal dynasty and there's a question of who will rule the people of our fair country. Part of it was the tone in which the word was used, the way this blood relation of mine chose to try to make my lack of being married seem like a failure when really it's a success story, how they tried to paint my beautiful, wonderful, smart little boy, a child, as a sin and a crime against people who are married, as less than someone who was born to parents who were married. I think that's what did it, really. It was the insinuation of "less than" about MY child, that made me want to rip this idiot's tongue out through one their eyeballs. I didn't though. I laughed at this insensitive asinine relation and called them out for being a bully of small children. This caused other people to laugh at them as well and finally stopped the flame war.

Honestly, why would any grown person choose to publicly blast out insults against a child? It speaks more of this person's character than it does of mine or my child's.

I worry about my child, and I know I'll have to explain people like this relation to him at some point. I'll have to explain the "b" word and I'll have to talk with him about how to react to bullies. In the interim, I'm just shielding him from this kind of garbage and hoping that it's a long time before he encounters any of it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Alpha Beta Omega, whatever...

I'm just a parent.

There are all these different articles and books about Tiger Moms and Dolphin or Jellyfish Moms, Helicopter Parents, Alpha, Beta, and even Omega parents these days, it's just confusing.

I'm something of all these things at times. I love to read all about different styles and ways of being and behaving and learning and growing. I always have. The more things I've read, the more ideas I have and the better the toolkit I have to choose my tools from.

I don't know why people always seem to be looking for labels for each other and themselves.

I want to be authoritarian when it matters. I want to bend when it matters. I want my child to be exposed to many different experiences, and I want him to learn how to commit to something and stick to it, to practice at something until he's good at it, even if it's unpleasant for both of us in the interim. I want my child to be able to walk away from something that's just not the right fit for him, and I want him to be able to judge for himself and choose for himself what he would like to do and who he would like to be.

I just want to be the best parent for him that I can be. Things that will work for my son, may not work for him coming from another parent or work for me towards another child, and that's why, though I'm happy to tell people what I do, and give my reasons, sometimes whether I'm asked or not (d'oh!), I don't try to judge or enforce my ways as best. See, I don't know your kid that well, and you don't know mine that well, and I'll never be close enough to another parent (except my cohabiting one) to know what-all goes on in your home or what-all has happened in your history to make you who and how you are.

It's not my place to give you a label or to accept a label, and I don't think any one of us needs one. If you want one, that's cool though, more power to you. :)