Wednesday, March 30, 2011
The Kids are Alright?
Teri and I have both different and similar experiences, aches, wounds, joys and mistakes around our motherhood and parenthood roles. We both suffered some very intense losses and challenges around our stepping into our lesbian identities and there are occasional flare-ups. We want to feel connected to the kids, but we don't want to overstep. We want to know what is going on in their lives, but we respect their right to tell us what they want to. We acknowledge that there are histories, distances, differences, personalities, and experiences to negotiate and while they are learning how to be adults, we are also learning how to be mothers of adults. Crap. Much easier said than done (and it isn't very easy to say either!)
Teri and I have both had to learn to share our kids with other parents, step-parents, aunts, uncles, etc. While intellectually, we are grateful that the kids have other loving and trusted adults to go to, we have had to let go of a sense of control or entitlement (or at least try to) as mothers and influencers. Emotionally, however, I don't know if I will ever be able to completely let that go--in my gut I feel fiercely connected and protective and can't believe anyone else could possibly think they have more of a claim than I!
In my heart and mind, Teri's daughters are mine as well. Of course, that is not how it is for them. They barely know me and the distance and young adulthood make it even more challenging to create the sense of merged family that I imagine and desire. I want everyone to feel included and connected and I don't always know how to do that and still respect those damn histories and precedent that existed long before I came on the scene. I tell people that my partner and I have 5 adult children and even this feels awkwardly inaccurate. In Teri's previous relationship, she was co-parent/step-parent to her partner's two children--helping to raise them for 10 years--and only one of those kids chooses to stay connected and involved despite her early post-break-up efforts. They are adults, they get to choose, and yet it feels strange to me to get to claim one and not the other...
For my kids, Teri is not another mother but, as Lucy explained it, she IS family. They are fortunate in that they live close and have gotten to know her and they get to spend time with us together. Whenever I chat with my son or we meet up for lunch, he never fails to ask me "How is Tiger?" (if she is not along for the outing) and that means the world to me. I get that this merging family-building is a life-long process, but it is the little things that make it start to feel cohesive.
The wedding is a way for us to include our children in a big piece of this process and yet, because of distance and differences, some are more involved and connected to the process than the others. I don't know what to do about that! I know that it is hard and painful for Teri not feeling the same excitement and involvement from her "side" as we have coming from mine. It is hard not to personalize or feel the heaviness of what sort of a mother am I now? We ask ourselves: Do they know me? Do I know them? How can I stay involved without being over-involved?
I don't ever know any more if the kids are truly alright--I worry, I fuss, I shed the occasional tear and then, each day, I try to heed Teri's motto that "no news is good news" and trust that everything is going to be just fine (and when it's not, I'm on standby.)