Just one of those days, I guess. T and I are participants in an online message board of other lesbian parents, and today the discussion has been a bit on the intimidating side.
I knew that being the non-biological/non-gestational parent might be difficult in ways that are unexpected and not normal in heterosexual parenting relationships. I knew that we'd be blazing our own trail, figuring things out as we go. I just didn't know exactly what the obstacles might be.
Now, I have something of an idea, thanks to that message board. Several women started out the discussion simply by being frustrated with their partners over parenting decisions. More and more jumped into it, adding their own personal fears and struggles and triumphs to the mixture. Overall, I was left feeling somewhat, well, panicked. And frustrated, because there isn't anything to do about what's coming, since we have no idea what's around the corner.
I never realized that what is likely to hamper us most as new parents is that both of us have too similar a notion about parenting - namely, that we've both grown up envisioning being mothers. Women get pregnant, give birth, and then there is this amazing newborn to care for. To soothe and comfort and breastfeed and love. That's how women become mothers, at least when we're talking about reproducing (rather than adopting). But how does a person mother when somebody is already that baby's mother?
Over the years, it's been brought up to me that two women are unnatural together because they are not one another's opposite. They are not the man to the woman, the male plug to the female outlet, the moon to the sun, the yin to the yang. Where is the balance? Regardless of this "unnatural female-female" dynamic argument, I've always thought to myself that it simply doesn't matter because we are who we are, and we've chosen each other so the point is moo. (Yep, I meant moo. Not moot. Because it's like a cow's opinion - it doesn't matter. It's moo.) Well now I'm feeling desperately out of harmony with this parenting idea. I have to be the balance to T's mothering our baby, but I don't identify as a father figure so where does that leave me? Right now, I see two choices: 1.) alter the way I view mothering. Begin to think of it as parenting instead, and be the complement to T instead of the replacement of her. 2.) continue to think of myself as mothering our child, and run into wall after wall of disappointment and disjointedness and redundancy, as our baby will have T to carry her and birth her and breastfeed her.
In addition, I'm feeling overly sensitive at this moment in time so today I've felt as if I'm barely holding myself together by threads at the edges of my life. It seems overly dramatic, and perhaps it is, but sometimes I just have to feel around where the bottom of a day is with my toes before I can climb back up the well. Everything I've hoped and dreamed and schemed for these past few years is becoming reality - but my reality is changing. I want to be a mother, more than anything. But this baby... he isn't going to be mine the way I dreamed he would be at first. I just have to figure out how to be his mama without being his mother.
Realizing this to be true comes with some grief. I hate the idea of mourning the loss of something that I haven't lost at all, but I feel a deep need to recognize in myself that there is some loss happening within me, however minute. I don't want to resent our child because she didn't grow inside my body. I fear holding myself or her at a distance, to prevent being hurt by rejection from a non-biological child who never did choose this life. After all, it was our decision to bring a new person into this world. And it's our responsibility to find a way to parent her as best we can.
I can't know what the future will bring us. I won't know where our biggest challenges lie until we're upon them. I cannot control what happens; I can only control myself and the way I behave.