There are a group of queer family bloggers who are coming together to blog about common topics. (I’ve been told they call this a “blog carnival” although I have not seen any cotton candy or carousels, so I call foul.) I’m taking a break from the mindless drivel of my life to pontificate more mindless drivel, though of the more serious variety. Current topic is how trying to make babies, making babies, and raising babies can affect your primary relationship. The link to the next post in the series is at the bottom of my post.
I have wanted to be a parent my whole life. I remember dreaming of parenthood when I was no more than seven, and that dream only grew and flourished as time passed. Every relationship I entered into had to pass “the parent test”: would I parent with this person? Is this person co-parent material? If not, why bother, right?
My wife and I got together in the space between my previous marriage crumbling and my willingness to settle down again. Being that she is patient (and stubborn), she was willing to let me sort some things out before making any kind of commitment. I was upfront about my desire to raise children and she seemed equally interested, but from a distance: later. Later, we will have children. We will have children but not now. This was complicated by the fact that she was to bear our children, so if she wasn’t ready, then what? Well as a Type A, goal-driven freak, I’ll tell you what: I made an appointment with a fertility clinic and before we both knew it, we were on the Crazy Train.
Trying to make a baby was a frustrating process, made more frustrating by our different approaches to it. I dove in head-first, consumed by research and reading and blogs and forums and the like and she… was content to let me do that. I made charts and graphs, I drove our doctor crazy, I analyzed fake symptoms. And I had my days completely disrupted by injections, ultrasounds, blood tests, pee tests… all in the name of science! I always wanted more from her, but didn’t have a good way to ask. I tried. And failed. Basically, I wished she was like some of the other women in the blogosphere who were checking out their wives’ cervices and plotting data points, although I had that under control.
I guess the crazy thing is that you know your partner has a certain personality and way of doing things and then you – wait for it – expect them to miraculously start doing something else because you’re trying to make a baby. Or because you managed to get pregnant. And then, if you’re lucky, you actually bring the baby home and guess what? There you are, at home, with your baby, expecting your partner to do things differently. You’re analyzing input and output, reading endless documents about swaddling, shushing, white noise, reflux, infant sleep (or lack thereof). You end up discovering on the 5th day of your baby’s life that not only is your milk not in, it is never coming in, and then you research some more. Alone.
Let me take a moment to interject with a story that illustrates our differences. I was pregnant. I scoured our local Freecycle list for every baby item I was hoping not to buy: baby bathtub, potty, extra stroller, baby clothing, cloth diapers, nursing shirts, you name it. She came home with a Freecycled drafting table and a grass seed spreader. And thus it began.
My life was ready for a baby before I ever even asked, “Do you think you want to have kids someday?” My HEART was ready for a baby well before that. And then, there she was. And I was struck by a confusion I hadn’t anticipated – which was my primary relationship? My wife had my heart, but now… now there was a little squirmy being for whom I would do anything. My wife tells me that she saw me physically change, right there on the delivery bed, the minute they handed the baby into my arms. She says my eyes changed, my voice changed, the way I carried my body changed – all in that moment. I don’t doubt it. I had lived my life for that moment.
Having kids has exposed how different we are in ways I never imagined. I always thought of us as somewhat similar, if not complementary, people. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We come to the same place on two very different roads, walking very different paces, and stop for different sights along the way. As long as we still have that same destination in our minds, I believe that we can continue to weather the storms that rumble through our home, but I’m not going to lie: it’s hard. It is hard to rarely feel like we are on the same page or even reading the same book. It is hard to feel like my life has been consumed by parenthood, that children have swallowed me up completely (and completely willingly), and not have someone to share that feeling with. That’s not to say that she is not consumed by parenthood in her own way, just that, well, she has been better at keeping a semblance of her pre-kid life in ways I have not.
I don’t know what the future holds and sometimes I don’t think the future looks very promising for what I thought was rock solid. But then again, sometimes I don’t feel like I’m a very good mom and I don’t stop momming it up just because I hit a rough spot. In fact, the times that are hardest with my kids are the times I need to dig deep and put even more of me and my heart into it. So why should my marriage be any different?
(Continue down this road at http://motheringmakena.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/the-one-where-i-spill-the-beans/ and use the password “mocha”)